Any meddling with the Pentagon whatsover -- even modest cuts in the defense budget, proposals for reorganization, or criticisms of strategy in Iraq and elsewhere -- are met with rebukes based on the idea that the military has "intelligence" that we (the lowly general public) do not and should not have access to. This "intelligence" renders the Pentagon qualified to make decisions costing us hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of lives, and "We the People" have no basis for criticizing military policy.
This is a myth.
I believe it was in the movie "9-11 Press for Truth" where I first heard CIA analyst Ray McGovern say
Here I have to reveal a trade secret, which punctures the mystique of intelligence analysis. Generally speaking, 80 percent of the information one needs to form judgments on key intelligence targets or issues is available in open media.This is important for those of us who wish to privatize national defense.
Arthur Silber has taken McGovern's observation and concluded in his worthwhile essay, You, Too, Can and Should Be an "Intelligence Analyst". Not that an ordinary American can render judgments on specific, detailed, bullet-level covert operations, but ordinary Americans have enough facts that they can render judgments about theatre-wide foreign policy commitments. We have and had all the information needed to conclude that the federal government should not spend $900 Billion to overthrow Saddam Hussein and set up an Islamic Theocracy in Iraq. There is no arcane "intelligence" hidden away in the untranslated transcript of a foreign wiretap available to and comprehendable only by highly-trained intelligence specialists which can justify the entire war and authoritatively silence any public opinion to the contrary.
"We the People" may not be able to identify specific species of trees by genus and phylum, but we can see a forest.
And we can see a forest fire.
The Bush foreign policy is going up in flames.
But the inferno cannot be blamed only on Bush and his adivsors. The same policies animated Clinton, LBJ, Truman and Roosevelt. Ordinary well-read Americans have every right to criticize all their wars without being told they don't have access to "the same intelligence" they did. All of these Presidents and those who supported them believe that the State is our Savior. There are no classified technical intelligence briefings that can possibly justify the idolatry of the Messianic State.
America's Founding Fathers would still agree.
Now let's have that discussion about privatizing "national defense."