I agree that Hayden’s testimony is momentous and shows how presumption and emotional predisposition to believe and thing to be true and then scuttle around to heap up facts to support what is mainly a desire results in disastrous intelligence collection.
There are certain steps required to produce good intelligence no matter what the enterprise or what the issue is at hand. The chief difference between failure and success is not how much you know but how much you know about the right things. And figuring out the right things to know about –which is to say the things that will help you directly reach a particular objective –is one of the trickiest, least understood, most underrated jobs in the world. What’s required to do this job is not expertise in one or another specific subject or issue but rather to recognize what factors will most influence that specific subject or issue. Anyone who knows how to determine what need to be known to reach one objective can also determine what needs to be known to reach any other objective.
In other words, the question in intelligence that matters is, what do our policymakers need to know to achieve their stated objective?
The incredible misjudgments of the Bush administration shows clearly that there is some kind of moral error –willfulness, self-righteousness, wishful thinking — that lies at the basis of even our intellectual mistakes.