History has a way of repeating itself and that certainly seems true at times. As the unfolding mess of a post-war Iraq appears in front of our very eyes, it increasingly seems as if the same fanatical fervour with which Senator Joe McCarthy pursued what he saw as reds under the bed in every corner of America in the 1950s, is the same conspiracy theory mentality which sees the current Bush administration going to war against a country they seemed certain was out to get them, when it now seems likely that they actually did not have anything with which to get them with in the first place.

With the neo-cons like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney within the White House seemingly convinced that Saddam Hussein was one step away from nuking the US off the face of the earth, it now seems that it actually took very little factual information of any kind to convince them of this fantasy.

The tiniest of particles of intelligence such as meetings in Hungary between Iraqi intelligence officers and al-Qaida operatives and purported purchase of yellowcake from Niger were deemed to be conclusive proof that the Saddam-led apocalypse on America was due any minute now and counting.

So skewed was the administration's convenient and selective interpretation of this at times that it choose to even go as far as believing things that we subsequently have learnt never even happened in the first place.

How ironic then that with this sort of approach to matters, the CIA should now look like becoming the fall guy yet again for events. Just as they were made the primary scapegoat for pre-9/11 events, they are now probably going to get blamed for being at fault for post-9/11 events too.

And whilst there is little doubt that US intelligence agencies will not win any awards for efficiency any time soon, the underlying dishonesty of this is the reality that quality of information is somewhat irrelevant anyway when you have already made your mind up beforehand on who the bad guy is and the need to wage war against him.

2004 then will see a new chapter in this tale as the US moves towards its next Presidential Election in November.

Whilst still George Bush will make for no concessions now about the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction, the arrival of the New Year will start to make such a claim increasingly lacking in credibility, and less and less so with the months piling up now as the war is supposedly over.

Inevitably then, George Tenet and the CIA will once again get dragged more and more into the fray as the White House whipping boys.

The fact that Tenet was a Clinton administration appointee will make dumping the blame upon him all the easier to live with.

How this will play out as Democrats ramp up their pre-election attacks on Bush only time will tell but, for once, it might not go quite as smoothly as before as the CIA are already fighting back against what they know will be accusations of incompetence dropped on their doorstep by a partisan, Republican-led Senate Committee shrewdly looking to lay the foundation now for protecting their Presidential candidate in time to come next year.

Ultimately however, if the CIA is made the fall guy for all of this then George Bush may well end up being the winner as he persuades the American electorate to re-elect him next year.

Unfortunately though, with morale reportedly at an all time low within the US intelligence community at large and operatives seemingly resigning/leaving at record rates, the real question here is whether the American public will be the real losers in the end as the ability to protect them against future attacks is completely undermined by security agencies who feel they are being used and abused for political gain and little else.

John Bourke
Especiallay for "PRAVDA.Ru"

Author`s name Pavel Morozov