SusanG reviews two extremely revealing books. The stories are frightening.
First is Still Broken: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon by A.J. Rossmiller. Rosmiller was an analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He describes being sent to Iraq where he develops intelligence on the bad guys and hands it off to the troops who go out to pick them up. When the identified bad guys aren't there, the troops pick up anyone in the area. Those innocent individuals were then sent to abu Ghraib on the assumption that the Intelligence people and MPs at the prison would sort out the innocents from the bad guys. But at the prison, the assumption was that everyone who was sent to then was automatically guilty. The best intelligence he would send to the consumers would be kicked back by his supervisors as too pessimistic. They were looking for happy talk that agreed with their bias, not real Intelligence. Rossmiller finally quit and has now written this expose.
The second book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits, and the President Failed on Iraq by Greg Mitchell. Mitchell is the editor of the publishing industry's magazine, Editor & Publisher. He describes an American media that, like Rossmiller's DIA, has been going along to get along and publishing happy talk news when the truth is too harsh and negative to face. The result is an ignorant American public which gets angry when someone tries to tell them something different from what they believe. The Editors then cater to the ignorant Yahoos instead of informing them (ensuring their continued ignorance), while also rejecting all criticism of their work as coming from ignorant Yahoos. The book is a collection of six years of Gregg's columns with introductions that describe the actual situation at the time the rotten news he castigates was published.
Since 9/11 America has been flying blind. Our military forces in Iraq are afraid to look at the reality they are operating in, probably because their political masters have carefully promoted only those military officers who tell them what they want to hear. those compliant officers have institutionalized rejection of harsh truths that do not confirm the leader's beliefs. Here at home the Media has performed a similar form of self-blinding to meet the desires of the Republican Party who depends on public ignorance if they are to remain power.
The conservative Republicans cannot remain in power unless the American public is frightened and ignorant, and with control over the White House and Congress they have been able to ensure that those conditions existed. But it appears that the Republicans have swallowed their own blinding Kool-aide. A government that fakes its Intelligence cannot operate effectively in reality, which explains the Katrina disaster and the almost total failure of Republican governance. With FOX News, the Washington Times, and a totally encompassing set of propaganda outlets masquerading as News outlets they have been able to fool the American public for the last six years, but it is beginning to unravel.
The current economic situation, being spun by, among others, our illustrious President as "not a recession and not likely to become one", is another example. This comes from the guy who is so unaware of reality that he does not know that the price of gasoline is approaching $4.00 per gallon. The government does not recognize reality because they have the best experts pumping out happy talk instead of real analysis. I would not be surprised to find out that they have been "cooking" the economic data that the federal government publishes, at least around the edges. That would make the economic reports we all depend on to tell us how the Macro economy is performing little more than the same economic happy talk the financial sales people and the politicians have been feeding us.
Napoleon warned against the General who lost contact with his enemy. Such a general, operating blind, can expect to be defeated. America is in much the same situation right now. Our political leaders are unaware that accurate bad news is completely superior to inaccurate news that confirms what they want to believe, so they manipulate the news - the Intelligence - they are given. They have lost contact with reality.
Those two books SusanG reviewed are efforts to make reality impinge on the rest of us.