A Prediction Predicament

by Chris Bodenner

David Rothkopf lays into the "serious" mistakes of the Obama administration yesterday:

The worst of them was CIA Director Leon Panetta's absolutely inexcusable and shockingly atypical decision to announce to the Congress that in his view Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would likely be out of office by midnight. Obviously, the agency was feeling the heat because it had failed to call the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the one region of the world to which the most agency assets are (likely) directed. So it made the classic error of overcompensating for the past failure to predict event... by predicting one that didn't actually happen. 

This was a lose-lose idea.

Had Panetta been right, how would it have looked if the CIA had actually been the first entity to announce Mubarak's departure? Might it have fueled perceptions that the United States was pulling the strings behind the scenes in Cairo, that Suleiman was the CIA's guy? (Not exactly a big stretch to begin with.) Who thought it was appropriate that the U.S. ought to get in front of Egypt's story? 

The answer, one has to assume, is someone in the White House. It is hard to imagine that on this issue this administration would let its CIA Director make public remarks to the Congress without vetting them beforehand.

Rothkopf goes on to criticize Obama's two speeches of the day - one before Mubarak's speech and one after. Ackerman zooms out and explains why the CIA's Middle East forecasts "kinda suck".