Early on the morning of Nov. 13, 2006, members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group gathered around a dark wooden conference table in the windowless Roosevelt Room of the White House.
For more than an hour, they listened to President Bush give what one panel member called a 'Churchillian' vision of 'victory' in Iraq and defend the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. 'A constitutional order is emerging,' he said.
Later that morning, around the same conference table, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.
"The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."...
Hayden's bleak assessment, which came just a week after Republicans had lost control of Congress and Bush had dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was a pivotal moment in the study group's intensive examination of the Iraq war, and it helped shape its conclusion in its final report that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating."
In the eight months since the interview, neither Hayden nor any other high-ranking administration official has publicly described the Iraqi government in the uniformly negative terms that the CIA director used in his closed-door briefing. ...
A senior intelligence official familiar with Hayden's session with the Iraq Study Group said that Hayden told the panel his assessment was "somber" and acknowledged that Hayden had used the term "irreversible." But the official insisted that Hayden instead said, "The current situation, with regard to governance in Iraq, was probably irreversible in the short term, because of the world views of many of the [Iraqi] government leaders, which were shaped by a sectarian filter and a government that was organized for its ethnic and religious balance rather than competence or capacity."
But another senior intelligence official confirmed the thrust and detail of Hayden's assessment, saying that the intelligence out of Iraq this month shows that the ability of the Maliki government to execute decisions and govern Iraq remains "awful." ...
Former defense secretary William J. Perry, one of the five Democrats on the Iraq Study Group, confirmed that Hayden told them the Iraqi government seemed beyond repair.
"That was what we'd been hearing everywhere," Perry said. "He just said it a little more clearly and more explicitly than other people."
Can you fool all of the people all of the time?
It seems the Bush Administration is willing to die trying.*
(* Ooops, forgot. That's other people who will die. Got to be careful with these metaphor things.)