It appears there’s some confusion about yesterday’s story, so let me clear things up: I don’t think that the CIA is bribing Iraqi parliamentarians to vote the U.S. out of Iraq. The scenario seems thoroughly implausible. The only thing notable about the rumor – which, based on one email I received, may have originated in a casual joke that was transformed into theory and spread via the traditional Washington echo chamber–is that it suggests just how dire the situation is on the ground.
Meanwhile, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield wrote me to take issue with the comments of a former intelligence official quoted in my story. That official said said the agency is “pretty much out to lunch in Baghdad.” Mansfield said the source doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that “CIA officers throughout Iraq take risks each day to collect intelligence that makes a critical difference to our country. Some of the information they gather is tactical, helping save the lives of American and Iraqi soldiers, and some is strategic, helping our government understand trends in the region.”
While that’s the CIA’s official position, many people familiar with the situation in Iraq say the agency, like the rest of the bureaucracy supporting the American occupation, is bogged down in the Green Zone.