Looking at the Overview of the WMD in Iraq Report, indicate three areas that you think indicate lacks in critical thinking.
#9: YES! Instead of focusing on the real issues, the stated mission goals of Iraq to create weapons, and of course the Afghanistan issue, the mere possibility of WMD (not the faculty for creation, or the full intent as stated multiple times) became the watchwords, the entire reason for our mission, and the scapegoat when they were not directly found. It wasn't enough to have plans and intel from sources, or facilities found with equipment; the debate became entirely about the actual existence of WMD and so anything else became secondary.
The problem with the report, to me, was based on the problem with the mission of the investigators. There was immense political pressure to find WMDs, given that this was the rationale of the US declaring Saddam Hussein a threat to allies and America, and was the reason for going to war in March of 2003. Starting an investigation, then, with pressure for a predetermined outcome, in my mind compromised the mission of the inspectors and the language of the report.
Another area of the lack of critical thinking is in the area of understanding culture. There is little evidence that Americans understand the customs of the Middle East. The world does not always work in the way America assumes. All this is to say that there was a lack of information and in particular, a lack of cultural information. Something like this could have helped tremendously in the area of diplomacy.
Yes, as other editors comment, the biggest failure in critical thought comes when assumptions were used to fill in the gaps of a lack of information. This meant that people made massively crucial military decisions based on their own ideas and assumptions on Saddam Hussein rather than sticking to the facts.
To me, a key sentence in the document you provided to us is this one:
The Intelligence Community is also fragmented, loosely managed, and poorly coordinated; the 15 intelligence organizations are a “Community” in name only and rarely act with a unity of purpose.
If this description is valid (as it apparently is), then it would be very difficult for these agencies to engage in critical thinking even under the very best of circumstances.
I, too, have to agree that it was a lack of information. The words/phrases "flaw," "knows disturbingly little," and "irrelevant" (in regards to information) support that there was simply a lack of information. It seems that too many people had their own ideas about what another was capable of and relied upon that fact alone.
The biggest problem cited in the report is not so much a lack of critical thinking, but rather a lack of information. According to this report, in the absence of reliable information, policy-makers fell back on old assumptions. This is where critical thinking comes in. The intelligence community started from the assumption that Iraq was developing WMD, and tended to regard evidence supporting this assumption as more credible than other information. As the report concludes, the reports that made their way to the President and other decision-makers were "disastrously one-sided." The report calls for a climate of critical thinking, including the possibility of outside consultants to serve as "devil's advocates."
Basically, the major lack of critical thinking was an inability to examine assumptions logically. People clung to their assumptions about Saddam Hussein rather than thinking about them in a purely logical way. There was also a lack of critical thinking in the organization of the intelligence community, which was too set in its ways to adapt to new realities.
Could it also be the fear of acting late. I really sense that it had nothing to do with weapons but a reason to get the people of the United States of America to back their course.