it is clear that many other nations had doubts
about this guy's credibility. However, since his fabricated version of
events and circumstances aligned with what the White House wanted to
hear, they seized on him as an oracle.
I didn't do a good job last go, maybe I can make amends this time.
This is a great post to use because it illustrates one of the widely
held views very well. The reason humint can be seen as a failure here
is not that the White House heard what they wanted to hear. It's that
the people in charge of humint told the President what they thought he
wanted to hear. Their goal was to please the President, not inform
Human intelligence operations are all about extracting facts from very
biased individuals, and weaving a larger tapestry from the threads
pulled from many very biased individuals. It is that tapestry, the
big picture, which is important. Not the individual threads. The CIA
fell over on this because the people most qualified to weave that
tapestry are gone. Retired, dead, making policy, who knows?
But what happened wasn't necessarily the White House actively seeking
justification to go to war (although they may have been doing that
too!) but the failure of the CIA to properly assess the information
they were getting and the greater failure of not properly aggregating
it. They never developed a coherent picture of the situation, yet
they reported on it anyway as though they had.