Editor’s note: This article is the second part of a four-part
series on Truthdig called “Universal Empire”—an examination of the
current stage of the neocon takeover of American policy that began after
World War ll. Read Part 1. Part 3 will be published Wednesday. Part 4 will be published Thursday.
Most Americans outside Washington policy circles don’t know about
Team B, where it came from or what it did, nor are they aware of its
roots in the Fourth International, the Trotskyist branch of the
Communist International. Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center
for American Progress and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to
1985, attributed the intelligence failure represented by 9/11 to Team B
and had this to say about it in a 2004 article for the Los Angeles Times.
The roots of the problem go back to May 6, 1976, when the
director of Central Intelligence, George H.W. Bush, created the first
Team B to assess a report his agency had done on Soviet strategic
objectives. The report—a National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE,
completed the previous year—did not endorse a worst-case scenario of
Soviet capabilities and, as a result, some outsiders demanded access to
the same classified intelligence used by the CIA in preparing it so that
they could come to their own conclusions.
The concept of a “competitive analysis” of the data done by an
alternative team had been opposed by William Colby, Bush’s predecessor
as CIA director and a career professional. But Bush caved in, under
pressure from President Ford, who was facing a strong challenge from
right-wing Republicans in that year’s presidential primary, as well as
from then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, which was
trying to undermine support for Henry Kissinger’s detente with the
The outside experts on Team B were led by Harvard professor Richard
Pipes and included such well-known Cold War hawks as Paul Nitze, William
Van Cleave and Paul Wolfowitz. Not surprisingly, Team B concluded that
the intelligence specialists had badly underestimated the threat by
relying too heavily on hard data instead of extrapolating Soviet
intentions from ideology.
The Team B report was enthusiastically received by conservative
groups such as the Committee on the Present Danger. But the report
turned out to be grossly inaccurate. … Team B was right about one thing.
The CIA estimate was indeed flawed. But it was flawed in the other