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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 27, 2005 / 20 Tammuz, 5765

Failures of intelligence

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Three weeks before the London bombings of July 7, Britain's Joint Terrorist Analysis Center advised policymakers that ''at present there is not a group with both the current intent and the capability to attack the UK.'' That reassuring message from the country's top intelligence and law enforcement officials, The New York Times reported last week, prompted the British government to lower its terror alert. Less than a month later, 52 people were murdered and 700 wounded when three subway trains and a bus were blown up in the worst act of terrorism the United Kingdom has experienced since the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

Obviously this was a serious intelligence failure. Undoubtedly there will be investigations into the cause of the blunder. Perhaps heads will roll for failing to ''connect the dots'' in time to prevent the 7/7 atrocities. (Or perhaps not: CIA Director George Tenet not only retained his job long after Sept. 11, 2001, he was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.) Whatever is ultimately learned, we can safely assume, will promptly become political fodder for British partisans of every stripe.

But the botched terror assessment raises a question for us, too: Which kind of intelligence failure is better — the kind that badly understates a threat, such as the one in London, or the kind that overstates a threat, such as the insistent warnings before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein was armed with weapons of mass destruction?

Of course no intelligence failure is desirable. But even in the best intelligence services, they are sometimes inevitable. Foresight will never be as sharp as hindsight. Only after the fact — after the Underground blows up, after 9/11, after the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons are nowhere to be found — is it clear what the picture looks like once the ''dots'' are ''connected.'' Before the fact, it isn't always clear that there are even any dots to search for, let alone what shape they might take or how reliable they might be.

So what kind of culture do we want intelligence agencies to foster among their operatives and analysts: one that tends to be overly focused on possible threats, or one that is more likely to downplay them? In general, would we rather take action to eliminate a danger that turns out to have been overstated — or take no action, and then be stunned when the enemy strikes?

Surely the question answers itself. When the enemy is an international terrorist organization or a violent and dictatorial regime, preemption must trump reaction. Ousting the most brutal and homicidal tyrant in the Arab world, even if we then discover that he didn't pose the WMD threat we had envisioned, beats watching Osama bin Laden's acolytes steer jetliners into the World Trade Center. Bombing the Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak, as Israel did in 1981, beats waiting until Iraq launches its first nuclear strike. International law has always recognized that states have a right of self-defense, including anticipatory self-defense. So did US presidents long before George W. Bush entered the White House.

''We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril,'' John F. Kennedy said during the Cuban missile crisis. ''Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.'' If that was true in 1962, it is even truer today.

To those hyperventilating in the ''Bush-lied-people-died'' fever swamps, of course, all this is irrelevant. In their view, the administration's prewar message that Saddam was armed with WMD had nothing to do with 12 years of Iraqi intransigence — the flouting of Security Council resolutions, the expulsion of weapons inspectors, and the failure to account for toxic agents. Nor, they seem to believe, was Bush restating a warning about Saddam that had been stated just as insistently by many Democrats (''And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them'' — President Clinton, Dec. 16, 1998).

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Above all, they scoff at the notion that the war in Iraq was based in part on mistaken intelligence about Saddam's WMD programs — those were no mistakes, they say, those were lies. It was all a ''fraud,'' in Ted Kennedy's words, ''made up in Texas.''

But most Americans understand that intelligence failures are not the same thing as lies. And the intelligence failures about Saddam Hussein did not begin under the incumbent President Bush. Back when his father was president, before the first Iraq war, the CIA badly underestimated the extent of Saddam's quest for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

Fortunately, he was stupid enough to invade Kuwait. That triggered the Gulf War, in the course of which the world discovered just how deadly a WMD menace the Iraqi butcher had become. It is chilling to imagine what the planet would be like today if Saddam had managed to complete and deploy those weapons before the United States even realized he had them.

If intelligence failures are inevitable — and in a world of human fallibility, they are — we are better off worrying too much about our enemies and taking steps to defeat them than worrying too little and being caught, unready, when they attack. Worrying too much led the United States and Britain to topple a brutal tyrant. Worrying too little led to 9/11 and 7/7.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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