Because we say so

Uggabugga has an excerpt from last night's "News Hour": discussion about the evidence for Iraq's WMDs. I caught a few minutes of the program (featuring not one but two members of the Defense Policy Board), and was floored, partly because Richard Perle just looks so much like a scheming ghoul. He should be directing orcs and hissing orders in a fantasy movie somewhere.

But I was really and truly floored by this statement (also featured at Uggabugga) by Perle, on the subject of political pressure and the "selling" of the WMD evidence:

bq. RICHARD PERLE: There were a lot of mistakes made including among intelligence analysts who ignored whole bodies of material because they were pursuing a theory, and the material was inconsistent with the theory. And this charge of politicization which is aimed at the Department of Defense is totally without merit.

What Perle is trying to do is justify the _re-analysis_ of certain intelligence, by arguing that the previous analysts just weren't looking hard enough for the connections between material. Next, he says:

bq. ...four people in the Defense Department -- were asked to review material that had been collected by other intelligence organizations with a view to seeing whether there were connections in there that had been missed in previous examinations.

See, the analysts missed all the connections because they were working _the wrong theory_ -- which theory that was, we're unsure. Perle's rather sneaky here: He gets to imply that those nasty analysts are either biased or outright incompetent, and that's why the evidence needed reassessment. But what Perle is saying boils right down to looking at the same information with a _different_ theory, and bingo! finding what you're looking for. Perle would then have us believe that the new analysis coincided with the course of an already-moving war machine not because of base politicization but because it was indisputably correct.

The problem is that Perle is clinging to a justification that gets "slippier every day": Based on the data _now_ available, Perle's explanation that initial analysts (who didn't find WMDs) were blinded by the wrong hypothesis seems not only spectacularly wrong, but downright misleading. I can't figure out what these guys think they're doing, or why Perle has a shred of public credibility anymore.