Recognising Politicization: The CIA and the Path to the 2003 War in Iraq

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The concept of ‘politicization’ of the US intelligence services, and in particular the CIA, has been debated by scholars for many years. However, it has also been easily dismissed by those investigating recent US foreign policy, as in the Robb-Silberman Commission's assurance over the 2003 Iraq War that ‘the Intelligence Community needs to be pushed’. This essay seeks an extension of the critique of politicization by considering the historical context since the formation of the CIA. It seeks an application of that critique by putting forth, when evaluating the policy and operations of the George W. Bush administration, the notion of an ‘alternative network’ within the government. The argument is that politicization must be linked to a conception of ‘Executive power’, both within the American bureaucracy and in the projection and rationalization of US aims overseas.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-227
JournalIntelligence and National Security
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2011