July 22, 2003
Who’s Unpatriotic Now?By PAUL
Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight
Ridder newspapers reported on intelligence officials who “charge that the
administration squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence analysts
are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House’s
argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States
that pre-emptive military action is necessary.” One official accused the
administration of pressuring analysts to “cook the intelligence books”;
none of the dozen other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.
The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the
concerns expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric
Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for
postwar occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this
war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.
Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn’t
attacked us and didn’t pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our
military position. Of the Army’s 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this
leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military
experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas,
mainly in Iraq, the Army’s readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for
only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two
retrain and refit.
And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the
reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the
windshield of a military truck that reads, “One weekend a month, my
To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N.
approval has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a
“huge coalition,” but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are
non-American — and administration pleas for more help are sounding
How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution
military analyst Michael O’Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as
“one of the best military institutions in human history,” warns that “the
Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep
on the current path.”
But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the
nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have
accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here’s Frank
Gaffney Jr. in The National Post: “Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam
Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of
recriminations, second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of
declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the
efforts of America’s armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the
enemy will be encouraged.”
Well, if we’re going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking
intelligence to promote a war that wasn’t urgent, the administration has
squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort
to Osama bin Laden — who really did attack America — and Kim Jong Il — who
really is building nukes.
And while we’re on the subject of patriotism, let’s talk about the
affair of Joseph Wilson’s wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who
was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi
uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since
then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it’s unpleasant
stuff. But here’s the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time
magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed
that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom
they identified as a C.I.A. operative.
Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson’s wife is
true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials
have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a
criminal act; it’s also definitely unpatriotic.
So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr.
Wilson, but also to send a message.
And that should alarm us. We’ve just seen how politicized, cooked
intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair
suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts
to tell it what it wants to
2003 The New York
Comments Off on Who\’s Unpatriotic Now? – Krugman
While it’s common enough for anyone who doesn’t fall lock-step into line behind the Administration to be labeled as “unpatriotic,” when the accused isn’t American, it’s a tougher job…so they slip some stories and innuendo to the likes of Matt Drudge and begin a smear campaign. Very nice.
The newest American insult: He’s a Canadian
White House blacklists reporter for Iraq story
Comments Off on White House blacklists Canadian reporter for Iraq story
For those of you who don’t have the patience or interest to read Greg
Palast’s excellent investigative book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, on
what happened in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, check out
this quick Flash presentation–it will give you a good portion of the
important data in an easily digested, one sentence at a time video
Grand Theft America
Comments Off on Grand Theft America
If you’ve been wondering what, exactly, our plan was or is for the post-war
Iraq, and what’s the deal anyway with Iran, this may help a little. It’s a
detailed discussion of the US’ counterinsurgency strategy options in Iraq,
and explains how “the key to a U.S. strategy in Iraq, therefore, rests in
Iran.” If you’ve got the stomach for it (as the saying goes, if you like
politics or sausage, you don’t want to know what goes into them), it’s very
The core options according to this author are:
1. Afghanistize the conflict. Move into secure base camps while
allowing the political situation on the ground to play itself
out. Allow the tension between Shiite and Sunni to explode into
civil war, manipulating each side to the U.S. advantage, while
focusing militarily on follow-on operations in Syria, Iran and
elsewhere. In other words, insulate the U.S. military from the
Iraqi reality, and carry on operations elsewhere.
2. Try to engage and defeat the guerrillas through
counterinsurgency operations, including direct military attacks
and political operations.
Read it and weep.
On Behalf Of Strategic Forecasting Alert
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 7:41 AM
Subject: Stratfor Weekly: U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategies in Iraq
Please feel free to send the Stratfor Weekly to a friend
THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
7 July 2003
by Dr. George Friedman
U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategies in Iraq
The appointment of Gen. John Abizaid as head of U.S. Central
Command opens a new phase in both the Iraq campaign and the war
on al Qaeda. In order to wage follow-on operations against al
Qaeda, an effective counterinsurgency operation must be launched
against the Iraqi guerrillas. This is a politico-military
imperative. Politically, the United States must demonstrate its
effectiveness against the full spectrum of opponents. Militarily,
the United States must show it can project forces from Iraq while
the base of operations remains insecure. Directly suppressing an
insurrection without indigenous support historically has been
difficult, but Iraq has a built-in opposition to the guerrillas:
the Shiites in the south. But their desire to dominate an Iraqi
government — and their ties to Iran — runs counter to U.S.
policy. This means Washington will have to make some difficult
choices in Iraq, and in the end will give away some things it
does not want to give away.
U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid will officially take over as head of
Central Command during the week of July 7. His mission will be
not only to stabilize the situation in Iraq, but also to command
the main U.S. offensive against al Qaeda. The summer offensive
that Stratfor has written about has begun, and Abizaid’s mission
will be to wage war, integrate the various operations into a
coherent whole and achieve the goal of the offensive: to further
undermine al Qaeda’s ability to strike at the U.S. homeland.
In war, no plan unfolds as expected. This war began in a
completely unexpected fashion on Sept. 11, 2001. As is
inevitable, the course of the war has taken unexpected turns. The
most recent and significant turn of this war has been the
emergence of a guerrilla war in Iraq. To be more precise, it
appears to us that in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, the fighters on
the ground understood that they could not win a conventional war.
Rather than engage in the sort of conflict at which the United
States excels, they put up token conventional resistance, all the
while planning to engage the United States in unconventional
warfare over an extended period.
In other words, the Iraqi forces understood that they could not
defeat the United States in conventional war. Instead, the Iraqi
war plan consisted of declining conventional engagement and
subsequently engaging U.S. forces in operations in which their
advantages were minimized and their weaknesses were exposed.
This has left the United States with the following battle
problem: It must wage the broader summer offensive while
simultaneously containing, engaging and defeating the Iraqi
guerrillas. This is not an easy task, not only because it spreads
U.S. forces thinner than planned, but also because the challenge
posed by the guerrillas has trans-military implications,
politically and psychologically. Abizaid must not ignore these
considerations and must integrate them into his war plan. This is
neither easy nor optional.
It is useful to begin by recalling the overarching strategic
purpose of all of these operations: the disruption of al Qaeda
and potential follow-on groups to prevent further major attacks
on the United States. The Iraq campaign was an element in this
broader strategy, designed to achieve these three goals, in
1. The elimination of a regime that potentially could support al
2. The transformation of the psychological architecture of the
Islamic world. The perception in the Islamic world, developed
since the U.S. withdrawal from Beirut in 1983 and reaffirmed by
events since then, was that the United States was incapable of
resolute action. The United States was seen as powerful
militarily, but as lacking the political will to use that power.
U.S. forces withdrew after taking minimal casualties in Beirut
and Somalia. In Afghanistan, the United States halted operations
after seizing major cities, apparently because it was unwilling
to engage in more extended conflict. The U.S. invasion of Iraq
was designed to change the Islamic world’s perception —
accepting anger at the United States in exchange for greater
3. The creation of a base of operations that would allow the
United States to bring political and military pressure to bear on
a cluster of nations the U.S. administration sees as directly or
indirectly sustaining al Qaeda operations — in particular Saudi
Arabia, Syria and Iran. Riyadh began shifting its position prior
to the Iraq invasion. Immediately after the end of the campaign,
the United States turned its attention to follow-on operations
against Syria and Iran. These operations have been primarily
political since the end of the Iraq campaign, but the constant
threat exists that they could move to a military phase at any
The guerrilla war in Iraq strikes directly at the second
objective of the Iraqi campaign. It is what Stratfor has called a
trans-military goal: It is rooted in a military operation but
ultimately arrives at an issue that transcends the purely
military — namely the psychological perception of the United
States and the credibility of U.S. military threats. As a
secondary matter, it also complicates the logistics of follow-on
operations after Iraq. At the moment, that is not the primary
issue — although it should be emphatically noted that an
evolution in the conditions in Iraq very well could undermine the
U.S. ability to use Iraq as a base of operations.
The problems that have arisen in Afghanistan and Iraq are rooted
in U.S. strategy. The United States invaded both countries as a
means toward other ends, rather than as ends in themselves. The
invasion of Afghanistan was intended to disrupt al Qaeda’s main
operational base. The invasion of Iraq was intended to bring U.S.
power to bear against al Qaeda’s enablers in the region. In
neither case did the United States have an intrinsic interest in
either country — including control of Iraq’s oil.
The United States could achieve its primary purpose in each
country without complete pacification. In Afghanistan, the U.S.
administration accepted from the beginning that the complex
tribal and ideological conflicts there would make pacification
impossible. U.S. forces seized the major cities and a few
strategic points, kept most forces in protected garrisons and
conducted military operations as opportunities to combat al Qaeda
arose. U.S. forces avoided any attempts at pacification projects,
understanding that the level of force and effort required to
achieve any degree of pacification far outstripped U.S. interests
and probably U.S. resources. The United States had a limited
mission in Afghanistan and ruthlessly focused on that, while
publicly professing ambitious and complex goals.
The Iraq campaign took its primary bearings from the Afghan
campaign. The goals were to shatter the Iraqi army and displace
the Iraqi regime. These goals were achieved quickly. The United
States then rapidly pivoted to use its psychological and military
advantage to pressure Syria and Iran. As in Afghanistan,
pacification was not a primary goal. Pacification was not
essential to carrying on the follow-on mission. But the U.S.
reading of the situation in Iraq diverged from that of
Afghanistan. The U.S. administration always understood that the
consequences of the invasion of Afghanistan would be the
continuation and intensification of the chaos that preceded that
invasion. The underlying assumption in Iraq was that the postwar
Iraqi impulse would be toward stability. The U.S. administration
assumed that the majority of the Iraqi public opposed Saddam
Hussein, would welcome the fall of his regime, would not object
to an American occupation and, therefore, would work harmoniously
with the United States in pacification projects, easing the
burden on the United States tremendously.
The U.S. administration expected the defeat of the Taliban to
devolve into guerrilla warfare. The United States did not expect
the defeat of the Baath regime to devolve into guerrilla warfare.
It did not expect the Shiites to be as well-organized as they
are, nor did they expect this level of Shiite opposition to a
U.S. occupation. In other words, the strategic understanding of
the Iraqi campaign took its bearings from the Afghan campaign —
and the United States had no interest in pacification — but at
the same time, the United States did not expect this level of
difficulty and danger involved in pacifying Iraq, because U.S.
intelligence misread the situation on the ground.
At its current level of operations, the guerrilla war does not
represent a military challenge to the United States. Therefore,
the first and third goals are for the moment achieved. The United
States has displaced the Iraqi regime, limiting its ability to
engage in strategic operations with the United States, and U.S.
forces can conduct follow-on operations should they choose to.
But the United States is in serious danger of failing to achieve
its second goal: transforming the psychological perception of the
United States as an irresistible military force.
It certainly is true that the guerrilla war does not represent a
strategic threat to the United States. But on one level, the
reality is irrelevant. Perception is everything. The image that
the U.S. Army is constantly taking casualties and is unable to
cripple the guerrillas undermines the perception that the United
States wanted to generate with this war. The reality might be
that the United States is overwhelmingly powerful and the
guerrilla war is a minor nuisance. The perception in the Islamic
world will be that the United States does not have the power to
suppress Saddam Hussein’s guerrillas. It will complicate the
politico-military process that the United States wanted to put
into motion with the invasion. It is therefore a situation that
the United States will have to deal with.
The United States has, in essence, two strategic options:
1. Afghanistize the conflict. Move into secure base camps while
allowing the political situation on the ground to play itself
out. Allow the tension between Shiite and Sunni to explode into
civil war, manipulating each side to the U.S. advantage, while
focusing militarily on follow-on operations in Syria, Iran and
elsewhere. In other words, insulate the U.S. military from the
Iraqi reality, and carry on operations elsewhere.
2. Try to engage and defeat the guerrillas through
counterinsurgency operations, including direct military attacks
and political operations.
The dilemma facing the United States is this: From a strictly
military perspective, Option 1 is most attractive. From a
political and psychological perspective, Option 1 is
unacceptable. It also creates a military risk: The insurgency,
unless checked, ultimately could threaten the security of U.S.
forces in Iraq no matter how well-defended they were in their
secure facilities. On the other side of the equation,
counterinsurgency operations always require disproportionate
resources. The number of insurgents is unimportant. The number of
places they might be and the number of locations they might
attack dictate the amount of resources that must be devoted to
them. Therefore, a relatively small group of guerrillas can tie
down a much larger force. A sparse, dispersed and autonomous
guerrilla force can draw off sufficient forces to make follow-on
The classical counterinsurgency dilemma now confronts the United
States. The quantity of forces needed to defeat the guerrillas is
disproportionate to the military advantage gained by defeating
them. Failure to engage the guerrilla force could result in a
dramatic upsurge in their numbers, allowing them to become
unmanageable. The ineffective engagement of guerrillas could
result in both the squandering of resources and the failure to
contain them. The issue is not how large the guerrilla force is
but how sustainable it is. At this stage of operations, the
smaller the force the more difficult it is to suppress — so long
as it is large enough to carry out dispersed operations, has
sufficient supplies and the ability to recruit new members as
needed. At this point, the Iraqi guerrilla force is of
indeterminate size, but it is certainly well-dispersed and has
sufficient supplies to operate. Its ability to recruit will
depend on arrangements made prior to the U.S. occupation and the
evolution of the conflict. This sort of guerrilla warfare does
not provide readily satisfactory solutions for the occupying
The classic solution of a guerrilla threat to an occupying power
is to transfer the burden of fighting to an indigenous force. Not
accidentally, the Iraqi guerrillas in recent days attacked and
killed seven Iraqis being trained for this role. Inventing a
counterinsurgency force beyond your own forces in the midst of
conflict is not easy. Nevertheless, successful containment of a
guerrilla force must involve either an indigenous force motivated
to suppress the guerrillas or, alternatively, forces provided by
a faction hostile to the guerrilla faction — an ethnic or
religious group that shares the occupier’s interest in
suppressing the guerrillas.
The greatest threat the United States faces in Iraq is not the
guerrillas. It is the guerrillas combined with a rising among the
Shiites south of Baghdad. If the guerrilla rising combines with
an intifada — a mass rising that might not use weapons beyond
stones, but that could lead to a breakdown of U.S. controls in
the south — it would represent a most untenable situation. An
intifada, apart from its intrinsic problems, could complicate
logistics. Demonstrators likely would clog the supply routes from
the south. Suppressing an intifada not only is difficult, it has
political and psychological consequences as well.
It is imperative that the United States prevent a rising among
the Shiites. It is also imperative that the United States find a
native faction in Iraq that is prepared to take on some of the
burden of suppressing the primarily Baathist guerrillas. The
United States is afraid of a Shiite uprising, but could use the
Shiites in suppressing the Baathists. The Shiites are the center
of gravity of the situation.
Shiite leaders have made it clear that they want to dominate any
new Iraqi government — and that they expect the United States to
create such a government. The United States has been concerned
that Iran influences and even might control the Shiites and that
handing over power to the Iraqi Shiites would, in effect, make
Iran the dominant force in Iraq and ultimately in the Persian
Gulf. That is a reasonable concern. Indeed, it violates the core
U.S. strategy. The United States invaded Iraq, in part, to coerce
Iran. To argue that the only way to stay in Iraq is to strengthen
Iran makes little sense. On the other hand, if the United States
continues to refuse to create a native government in Iraq, the
probability of a Shiite rising is substantial.
The key to a U.S. strategy in Iraq, therefore, rests in Iran. If
regime change in Iran could be rapidly achieved or a substantial
accommodation with the Iranian government could be negotiated,
then using the Iraqi Shiites to man an Iraqi government and bear
the brunt of the counterinsurgency operation would be practical.
The key is to reach an agreement with Iran that provides the
United States with substantial assurances that the Iranian
government would neither support nor allow Iranians to provide
support to al Qaeda.
The regime in Tehran has no love for the Sunnis, nor do the
Sunnis for the Shiites. The events in Pakistan show how deeply
sectarian religious violence is rooted in the Islamic world. The
United States cannot supplant Islamic fundamentalism. It can
potentially manipulate the situation sufficiently to control the
direct threat to the United States. In other words, if the United
States can reach an understanding with Iran over al Qaeda and
nuclear weapons, then the Shiites in Iraq could become a solution
rather than a problem.
If there is to be an agreement with Iran, the United States must
demonstrate to Iranian hardliners first that it has the ability
to destabilize the Islamic Republic, and second that it is
prepared not to do so in return for Shiite cooperation. Without
this, any alliance with Iran over Iraq rapidly would spiral out
of U.S. control, and Iran would become uncontrollable. The key
for the United States is to demonstrate that it has leverage in
Iran. The United States does not want to overthrow the Iranian
government. It simply wants to demonstrate its ability to
destabilize Iran if it chose to. If it can do that, then other
things become possible.
It follows that the United States likely shortly will work to
reignite the demonstrations in Iran — in all probability in the
next few days. The purpose will not be to overthrow the Iranian
government — that is beyond U.S. capabilities. Instead, it will
be designed to persuade Iranian leaders — including Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — that some form of cooperation
with the United States over issues that matter to the Americans
is in their interest, and could result in something that the
Iranians have longed dreamed of: a Shiite-dominated Iraq.
This strategy is extraordinarily convoluted and fraught with
difficulties. But the prospect of fighting a counterinsurgency
campaign in Iraq, alone, without indigenous support, is equally
fraught with danger. So too is attempting an Afghan solution —
packing forces into air bases and army camps and allowing the
insurrection to evolve. There are few good choices in Iraq at the
moment. Alliance with the Shiites is extremely difficult and
risky, but the other choices are equally difficult. If the
Iranian/Shiite play fails, then it will be time to choose between
counterinsurgency and enclaves.
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Comments Off on U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategies in Iraq – Stratfor Weekly
I lied. There actually is another episode of your favorite
GetRealList serial show, “WMD? Where?” for today. Thanks to “an alert reader”
for submitting these!
an excellent article from The Washington Post summarizing the contradictions in
the statements of various Adminstration officials throughout this saga:
President Defends Allegation On Iraq
Bush Says CIA’s Doubts Followed Jan. 28 Address
In that article, they discuss Bush’s Jan.
28 State of the Union speech, wherein he told a startlingly clear lie.
“Defending the broader decision to go to war
with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein
“a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in.”
president’s assertion that the war began because Iraq did not admit inspectors
appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in
fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because
he did not believe them effective.”
Just another example of the way that Bush
continually twists the truth to suit the purposes of the day, or the proverbial
Next, a similar article by Newsday on the subject:
In his session with journalists after a
meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Bush asserted
incorrectly that “we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he
wouldn’t let them in. And therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to
remove him from power … “
In fact, Hussein allowed UN weapons
inspectors to return to Iraq last fall after a four-year absence; Bush
launched the war after claiming that the inspections were ineffectual.
And finally, that alert reader’s comments:
” Wow. That’s
unbelievable. That’s more than misspeaking–Bush is coherently (for him) stating
a complete fiction. Note that “he wouldn’t let them in” is incontrovertibly
false. They WERE in. Actually they found a lot more significant WMD (long-range
missiles, chemical warheads) than we have despite the massive expenditure of
troops to find them.
Actually, it’s two: “after a reasonable request”? What request was that,
the one where we said that someone killing him (“one bullet”) might avert the
Stay tuned…I have a feeling this serial
may run for several seasons.
P.S. I choose to protect my readers’
privacy by referring to everyone as “an alert reader.” You never know where this
stuff may travel. But if you prefer to have your identity known, just let me
know and you’ll be appropriately credited when I send out your stuff to the
Comments Off on Bush lies about weapons inspectors
on June 3, I wrote to one member of this list, “Wouldn’t it be ironic
lies about Iraq’s WMD turned out to be the very petard* upon which we
finally hoist these guys?”
Well, that irony is
looking more and more substantive.
just one more piece about the Administration’s lies about WMD for today. An
“ There is no “The President wasn’t told”
justification available here, no Iran/Contra loophole. He knew. He lied. His
people knew. They lied.
Death knows no political affiliation, and
a bloody lie is a bloody lie is a bloody lie. The time has come for Congress to
fulfill their constitutional duties in this matter, to defend the nation and the
soldiers who live and die in her service. The definition of ‘is’ has flown right
out the window. This ‘is’ a crime. George W. Bush lied to the people, and lied
to Congress. There are a lot of people dead because of it.“
(* I double-checked
the meaning of “petard” and found to my surprise that it derives from “Middle
French, from peter
to break wind” Hah! Ain’t that a
Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 11 July 2003
There was a picture on
the front page of the New York Times on Tuesday, July 8. It showed several
American soldiers in Iraq sitting in utter dejection as they were informed by
their battalion commander that none of them were going home anytime soon, and
no one knew exactly when they were going home at all. PFC Harrison Grimes sat
in the center of this photo with his chin in his hand, staring at ground that
was thousands of miles from his family and friends. A soldier caught in the
picture just over PFC Grimes’ shoulder had a look on his face that could break
212 of PFC Grimes’ fellow soldiers have died in Iraq, and
1,044 more have been wounded. The war created chaos in the cities, and it
seems clear now that very little in the way of preparation was made to address
the fact that invasion leads to social bedlam, not to mention a lot of
shooting. Last Sunday, CNN’s Judy Woodruff showed a clip of a Sergeant Charles
Pollard, who said, “All we are here is potential people to be killed and
According to the numbers, almost two thirds of
the soldiers killed in Iraq since May 1 died in “non-combat related” mishaps
like accidental weapons discharges, accidental detonations of unexploded
ordnance, and questionable car crashes. There are some in the world who might
take comfort from the fact that only one third of the dead since May came from
snipers or bombs or rocket-propelled grenades. Dead is dead, however. There is
no comforting them.
A significant portion of the dead and
wounded came after Bush performed his triumphant swagger across the deck of an
aircraft carrier that was parked just outside San
Diego bay. Those dead and wounded came because the Bush
administration’s shoddy planning for this whole event left the troopers on the
firing line wide open to the slow and debilitating bloodletting they have
endured. A significant portion of the dead and wounded came after Bush stuck
his beady chin out on national television and said, “Bring ’em
When a leader sends troops out into the field of battle,
they become his responsibility. When his war planning is revealed to be
profoundly faulty, flawed in ways that are getting men killed, he should not
stick his banty rooster chest out to the cameras and speak with the hollow
bravado of a man who knows he is several time zones away from the violence and
Such behavior is demonstrably criminal from a moral
standpoint. The events that led to this reprehensible display were criminal in
a far more literal sense.
Bush and the White House told the
American people over and over again that Iraq was in possession of vast
stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Bush and the White
House said over and over again that this was a direct threat to the United
States. Bush and the White House told the American people over and over again
that Iraq was directly connected to al Qaeda terrorism, and would hand those
terrible weapons over to the terrorists the first chance they got. Bush and
the White House told Congress the same thing. Very deliberately, Bush and the
White House tied a war in Iraq to the attack of September 11.
was all a lie. All of it.
When George W. Bush delivered his
constitutionally-mandated State of the Union Address in January 2003, he
stated flatly that Iraq was attempting to develop a nuclear weapons program.
“The British government has learned,” said Bush in his speech, “that Saddam
Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.” He
delivered this proclamation on the basis of intelligence reports which claimed
that Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from the African nation of
Vice President Cheney got the Niger ball rolling in a
speech delivered August 26, 2002 when he said Saddam Hussein had “resumed his
effort to acquire nuclear weapons.” As the data clearly shows, Mr. Cheney was
a central player in the promulgation of the claim that Iraq was grubbing for
uranium in Africa. This statement was the opening salvo.
Director George Tenet made this same claim in a briefing to the Senate
Intelligence Committee on September 24, 2002. This briefing was the deciding
factor for a number of Senatorial fence-sitters unsure about voting for war.
Bush, in a speech delivered on the eve of the Congressional vote for war on
Iraq, referenced the Niger uranium claims again when he raised the specter of
a “mushroom cloud” just three sentences after evoking “The horror of September
That sealed the deal. Congress voted for war, and a clear
majority of the people supported the President.
In the last
week, a blizzard of revelations from high-ranking members of the intelligence
community has turned these Bush administration claims inside out. It began
with a New York Times editorial by Joseph Wilson, former US ambassador to
several African nations. Wilson was dispatched in February of 2002 at the
behest of Dick Cheney to investigate the veracity of the Niger evidence.
Wilson spent eight days digging through the data, and concluded that the
evidence was completely worthless. The documents in question which purportedly
indicated Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium were crude
Upon his return in February of 2002, Ambassador
Wilson reported back to the people who sent him on his errand. According to
his editorial, the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council
and the Vice President’s office were all informed that the Niger documents
were forged. “That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well
ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president’s
State of the Union address,” said Wilson in a ‘Meet the Press’ interview last
“I have little choice but to conclude that some of the
intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to
exaggerate the Iraqi threat,” Wilson wrote in his Times editorial. “A
legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.” He
elaborated further in a Washington Post interview, saying, “It really comes
down to the administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a
fundamental justification for going to war. It begs the question, what else
are they lying about?”
Ambassador Wilson’s claims are not easily
dismissed. Wilson is a 23-year veteran of the foreign service who was the top
diplomat in Baghdad before the first Gulf War. In 1990, he was lauded by the
first President Bush for his work. “What you are doing day in and day out
under the most trying conditions is truly inspiring,” cabled Bush Sr. “Keep
fighting the good fight.”
A great hue and cry has been raised as
to the timing of the data delivery to the policy-makers. Don Rumsfeld and
Condoleezza Rice have both claimed they knew nothing of the forged Niger
evidence, claiming the information was buried in the “bowels” of the
intelligence services. Vice President Cheney’s office has made similar
demurrals. Obviously, the administration is attempting to scapegoat the
Given the nature of Wilson’s claims, and given who he is,
and given the fact that he was sent to Niger at the behest of Dick Cheney, it
is absurd to believe the administration was never given the data they
specifically asked for over a year before the war began, and eleven months
before Bush’s fateful State of the Union Address.
veteran Ray McGovern, writing in a recent editorial, described a conversation
he had with a senior official who recently served at the National Security
Council. “The fact that Cheney’s office had originally asked that the
Iraq-Niger report be checked out,” said the official, “makes it inconceivable
that his office would not have been informed of the results.”
Wilson is not alone. Greg Thielmann served as Director of the State
Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research until his retirement in
September. Mr. Thielmann has come forward recently to join Ambassador Wilson
in denouncing the Bush administration’s justifications for war in
“I believe the Bush administration did not provide an
accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq,”
said Thielmann on Wednesday. During his press conference, Mr. Thielmann said
that, as of the commencement of military operations in March of 2003, “Iraq
posed no imminent threat to either its neighbors or to the United States”. Mr.
Thielmann also dismissed the oft-repeated claims of a connection between Iraq
and al Qaeda. “This administration has had a faith-based intelligence
attitude,” he said.
Thielmann could have saved his breath, and
Wilson could have saved himself a trip, if the Bush administration had
bothered to pay any attention to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The
IAEA’s chief spokesman, Mark Gwozdecky, said on September 26, 2002 that no
such evidence existed to support claims of a nascent Iraqi nuclear
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on July 8 stood
before the press corps and said the President’s statements during the State of
the Union address had been “incorrect.”
Let us look at the
timeline of this and consider the definition of “incorrect”:
February 2002: Ambassador Joseph Wilson is dispatched by Cheney to Niger to
investigate Iraq-uranium claims. Eight days later, he reports back that the
documentary evidence was a forgery;
· August 26, 2002: Dick
Cheney claims Iraq is developing a nuclear program;
24, 2002: CIA Director Tenet briefs the Senate Intelligence Committee on the
reported Iraqi nuclear threat, using the Niger evidence to back his
· September 26, 2002: The IAEA vigorously denies that
any such nuclear program exists in Iraq;
· October 6, 2002:
George W. Bush addresses the nation and threatens the American people with
“mushroom clouds” delivered by Iraq, using the same Niger
· October 10, 2002: Congress votes for war in Iraq,
based on the data delivered by Tenet and by the nuclear rhetoric from Bush
four days prior;
· January 2003: George W. Bush, in his State of
the Union Address, says, “The British government has learned that Saddam
Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in
· March-April 2003: War in Iraq kills thousands of
civilians and destabilizes the nation;
· April-July 2003: No
evidence whatsoever of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons can be found in
Iraq. 212 American soldiers have died, and 1,044 more have been wounded, as a
guerilla war is undertaken by Iraqi insurgents;
· July 2003:
Amid accusations from former intelligence officials, the Bush administration
denies ever having known the Niger evidence was fake.
administration knew full well that their evidence was worthless, and still
stood before the American people and told them it was fact. Bush sent the
Director of the CIA to the Senate under orders to use the same worthless
evidence to cajole that body into war.
That is not being
“incorrect.” That is lying. In the context of Bush’s position as President,
and surrounded by hundreds of dead American soldiers piled alongside thousands
of dead Iraqi civilians, that is a crime.
know it, too.
A report hit the Reuters wires late Tuesday night
announcing the arrest of an Iraqi intelligence official named Ahmad Khalil
Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. An unnamed “US official” claimed al-Ani had reportedly
met with 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta in Prague just months before the
attack. The old saw about Iraq working fist in glove with al Qaeda to bring
about September 11 was back in the news.
According to the story,
neither the CIA or the FBI could confirm this meeting had taken place. In
fact, a Newsweek report from June 9 entitled “Where are the WMDs?” shows the
FBI was completely sure such a meeting had never taken place. The snippet
below is from the Newsweek article; the ‘Cabal’ statement refers to Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld and his coterie of hawks who have been all-out for war on
Iraq since 1997:
“The Cabal was eager to find a link between
Saddam and Al Qaeda, especially proof that Saddam played a role in the 9-11
attacks. The hard-liners at Defense seized on a report that Muhammad Atta, the
chief hijacker, met in Prague in early April 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence
official. Only one problem with that story, the FBI pointed out. Atta was
traveling at the time between Florida and Virginia Beach, Va. (The bureau had
his rental car and hotel receipts.)”
Amid the accusations that
have exploded surrounding the revelations of Wilson, Thielmann and other
high-ranking intelligence officials, comes now again reports of the infamous
Iraq-al Qaeda connection, an administration claim meant to justify the war. As
with the Niger forgery, however, it is too easily revealed to be utterly
It reeks of desperation. This administration is learning
a lesson that came to Presidents Nixon and Johnson with bitter tears:
Scapegoat the CIA at your mortal peril.
There are many who
believe that blaming George W. Bush for the errors and gross behavior of his
administration is tantamount to blaming Mickey Mouse for mistakes made by
Disney. There is a great deal of truth to this. Groups like Rumsfeld’s
‘Cabal,’ and the right-wing think tanks so closely associated to the creation
of administration foreign policy, are very much more in control of matters
Yet Bush knew the facts of the matter. He allowed CIA
Director Tenet to lie to Congress with his bare face hanging out in order to
get that body to vote for war. He knew the facts and lied himself, on
countless occasions, to an American people who have been loyally supporting
him, even as he beats them over the head with the image of collapsing towers
and massive death to stoke their fear and dread for his own purposes. In doing
these things, he consigned 212 American soldiers to death, along with
thousands of innocent bystanders in Iraq. Given the current circumstances,
there will be more dead to come.
There is no “The President
wasn’t told” justification available here, no Iran/Contra loophole. He knew.
He lied. His people knew. They lied.
Death knows no political
affiliation, and a bloody lie is a bloody lie is a bloody lie. The time has
come for Congress to fulfill their constitutional duties in this matter, to
defend the nation and the soldiers who live and die in her service. The
definition of ‘is’ has flown right out the window. This ‘is’ a crime. George
W. Bush lied to the people, and lied to Congress. There are a lot of
people dead because of it.
One Congresswoman, Democratic
Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, released a statement on July 8 that
cuts right to the heart of the matter:
“After months of denials,
President Bush has finally admitted that he misled the American public during
his State of the Union address when he claimed that Iraq attempted to purchase
uranium in Africa. That is why we need an independent commission to determine
the veracity of the other so-called evidence used to convince the American
people that war with Iraq was unavoidable.
“It is not enough for
the White House to issue a statement saying that President Bush should not
have used that piece of intelligence in his State of the Union address at a
time when he was trying to convince the American people that invading Iraq was
in our national security interests. Did the president know then what he says
he only knows now? If not, why not, since that information was available at
the highest level.
else did the Bush Administration lie about? What other faulty information did
Administration officials, including President Bush, tell the American people
and the world? Did the Bush Administration knowingly deceive us and
manufacture intelligence in order to build public support for the invasion of
Iraq? Did Iraq really pose an imminent threat to our nation? These questions
must be answered. The American people deserve to know the full
The voice of Rep. Schakowsky must be followed by others both within and
without the majority. If nothing is done about this, American justice is a
sad, sorry, feeble joke.
William Rivers Pitt is the
Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times best-selling author of
two books – “War On Iraq” available now from Context Books, and “The Greatest
Sedition is Silence,” now available from Pluto Press at www.SilenceIsSedition.com.
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Comments Off on Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar – William Rivers Pitt
Here’s a brief interview from the Democracy Now! radio show, discussing how
some 35 large US companies (375 companies worldwide) are doing big business
in parts of the world that the Congress and the State Department have
declared off limits, intentionally skirting sanctions and lining their own
“There’s a difference between the president’s public rhetoric about the
dangers that these states pose to the U.S., and the White House’s conduct in
terms of dealing with these countries that are — these American companies
who are skirting sanctions.”
Example: The oil service contracts in Iraq that were awarded without bidding
to Halliburton by the Army Corps of Engineers, now topping $400 million and
with no fixed limit.
Why do we tolerate the Administration’s rhetoric about “axis of evil”
countries, when we know full well that our own companies are doing billions
of dollars of business with those same countries (especially Iran), endorsed
and facilitated by the same members of that administration? The hypocrisy
just boggles the mind.
Trading With the “Enemy”: Halliburton & GE Make Millions Trading With Iran
Comments Off on Trading With the \"Enemy\": Halliburton & GE Make Millions Trading With Iran
now, another word from that rabid SF Leftie, Mark Morford
====== SF Gate Morning
July 16, 2003 — Corey Feldman is 32 today
lean into the fire, and laugh”~~ nil desperandum ~~
== Mark’s Notes & Errata
Where opinion meets benign syntax abuse
Nothing Left To Lie About
With BushCo reaming the nation on just about every possible
front, is implosion imminent?
By Mark Morford
And the lies, the
flagrant GOP *censored* slappings of the American public, the maniacal jabs
straight in eye of truth with the icepick of utter BS, have just reached
some sort of critical mass, some sort of saturation point of absurdity
and pain and ridiculousness and you just have to stand up and applaud.
Really. It’s almost as if you should cheer the
invidiousness, it is so spectacular, unprecedented, the tower of lies
reaching the point where you, Jaded and Benumbed American Citizen, are
forced to either recoil and ignore and deny, succumb and scream and
laugh, or, like Bush himself, just sort of stand there, wide eyed,
dumfounded, blinking hard, looking more blank and confused than ever, as
the unified BushCo front begins to gloriously unravel.
This much we now know, as compiled by the CIA and
the U.N. and U.S. military leaders and Bush’s own teams of experts and
scientists and lackeys and pretty much anyone with any sort of common
sense or astute observation as yet unclouded and unmisled by the raging
masturbatory pro-war gropings of, say, Fox News. A brief summary:
- Saddam was all over 9/11. Funny how U.S.
intelligence never found a single connection. Funny how BushCo
knowingly led the nation on to believe there was one. Funny how the only role Saddamn
actually played in 9/11 was to watch it unfold on CNN and exclaim,
“Holy Allah with a case of Cuban cigars, Hashim, a million dinars says
BushCo uses that as an excuse to come swipe our oil and pump up
Halliburton and build a Starbucks in downtown Baghdad! Prepare the
- Iraq was al Qaeda’s *censored*. See above. Fact
is, U.S. intelligence found no proven link between Iraq and any recent
terrorism threats against the U.S. Fact is, bin Laden hated Saddam and
denounced his socialist Baath party as
“infidels.”. Fact is, BushCo worked
extremely hard to manipulate the media to make you think the two were
so close they might as well have been gay lovers. Curiously, this
sinister obfuscation is still not clear to millions of Americans, most
of whom tend to live in Texas and/or anywhere near major military
manufacturing plants. Go figure.
- Those 9/11 terrorists? Buncha snarling
Iraqis. Well, no. Most were, in fact, Saudi. There were no Iraqis
at all. Saudi Arabia remains a desperately important American ally,
one that provides billions in U.S. investment and hence BushCo loves
them and kisses their rings and doesn’t say a peep about the millions
they also give to terrorist cells — like, say, those of al Qaeda —
to protect their oil fields. Shhh.
- Saddam has millions of drumfuls of scary
chemicals ready at a moment’s notice to poison the entire world and
most of EuroDisney. Not even close. Huge chunks of “proof” of
Iraq’s purported chemical-weapons and nuclear-weapons programs have
already been dismissed by U.N. inspectors and weapons experts. Saddam did,
however, possess large quantities of bootlegged Britney Spears
posters, which, if dropped on Israel, would have certainly caused
pandemonium if not outright giggling and many heavy longing sighs.
- Saddam scored uranium from Niger to make
nukes. This is so cutely wrong it’s painful. The document stating
this was forged and bogus and BushCo knew it and referenced
it anyway in the State of the Union address to help justify the war,
and now he’s all flustered and denying everything and the CIA director
is bumbling in as the fall guy, and oh my freaking God do they ever
think you are stupid.
- The war on Iraq will be as easy as lancing a
boil on Dick Cheney’s forehead. Yes! Instant and painless and easy
it will be, and it will cause minimal casualties and we’d be all done
in a week and America would be back home and happily watching “The
Bachelorette” and the world would love us and see how glorious and
righteous we are and everyone will convert to Christianity and join
Promise Keepers and the 700 Club and never have sex and we will ban
all icky gay people to Canada. Whee!
Never you mind that thousands of soldiers are to
be stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq “indefinitely,” for years to come. Or that more than half of the U.S. Army’s entire combat
force is bogged down in Iraq right now. Or that U.S. soldiers are
still dying in Iraq every day, more than 80 so far (33 in hostile
fire), with more to come, endless guerrilla warfare possibly requiring even more
U.S. troops, months after BushCo declared the war essentially over.
Whoops. Gosh. Sorry.
- The Jessica Lynch “rescue” was all-American
heroism at its finest. So cute. The “rescue” was actually
all-American Pentagon PR bulls** at its finest, a rather embarrassingly staged
hoax so full of overblown stunts and dumb
machismo and awkward twists that not even Fox News would touch the
story after a while, and they’ll run anything. No wonder the Pentagon
has refused to release the unedited video footage of the “resue.”
- Iraq’s oil money will go straight to
“liberated” Iraqi people. Seriously now. Did anyone really ever
believe this, even in their most drunken and heavily Xanaxed state?
The money, of course, is going straight into U.S. and U.K. coffers as
“payment” for the Gulf War, with only a fraction going for
“rebuilding.” But the bottom line is, we control the oil. We control Iraq’s billions. We do not care who knows it.
Special note from Donny “Beady Eyes” Rumsfeld to all you people who
somehow genuinely believed we bombed Iraq for the betterment of the
Iraqi people: Tthhppbbbhhhppbb.
- Oh my God look just look at all those scary
WMDs. There are no WMDs. There are no WMDs. There are no WMDs. And
there never were. Two little words from BushCo, straight to you:
The list goes on. This list is nearly endless. The
list is growing and expanding and now threatens to split and explode and
spread like some sort of giant viscous blob and invade small towns and
kill plants and induce women to slap their hands to their faces and
scream while it slowly steamrolls innocent children as they innocently
stand there in the street playing innocent Frisbee, innocently.
And there are others. There are flagrant lies and
cover-ups and misprisions not even related to the war, more about
increasingly nauseating domestic issues, major budget crises and
unabashed pro-corporate decisions and anti-gay anti-women anti-sex fun
for the whole terrified white Christian family.
There is, for example, the recent hacking to death
of the EPA’s major greenhouse-gas/air-quality study. There was the
(failed) attempt to kill the Bureau of Labor Statistics
report that tracked factory closings in the U.S. There is the secret $135 mil in budget moneys set aside to
cram invidious sexless Christian “abstinence only until marriage”
programs down the throats of jaded American teens and desperate
There was, as Slate so effortlessly delineates, the regular and
rather sneering deep-sixing of serious economic data and fiscal
forecasting — much of it generated by Bush’s own teams — because it
didn’t match the GOP’s makeshift rosy scenarios.
There is massive unemployment. There is the largest
budget deficit in history, now a staggering $455 billion,
over $50 billion more than the administration predicted just five months
ago. There are state and local governments broke to the point of having
to cut back essential services like police and fire departments,
hospitals, public schools, road maintenance and sewers. There is Lynne
Cheney. ‘Nuff said.
There appears to be no end. There appears to be a
limitless supply of lies and half-truths and misinformations BushCo can
invent on the spot, and is now a good time to recall how Clinton was
savaged and vilified and attacked and nearly impeached because he lied
about having big dumb sex with a rather unappealing intern.
And yet here is BushCo, openly and shamelessly lying
about leading this nation into a vile and petroleum-drunk war,
massacring tens of thousands, killing hundreds of U.S. soldiers (and
counting), gutting the budget, favoring the rich with useless tax cuts,
hiding and prevaricating and dodging and treated the First, Fourth,
Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution the way a crusty
abusive Catholic priest treats an altar boy.
This is where you have to laugh. This is where you
applaud. Stand up and cheer, for it has been a masterful performance, a
rather unprecedented series of major cover-ups and well-orchestrated PR
maneuvers and outright fabrications unmatched in recent history. Hell,
the epic scale of BushCo’s strocities make Clinton’s little oral-sex
fixation seem like a jaywalking violation.
Is now the time? Is this is where we start to notice
how it is all coming unraveled, Bush’s snide web of lies just too
flagrant and too insulting for too long, CIA directors and intelligence
experts and military leaders and scientists and the like all coming
forward now to refute any number of false BushCo claims, the chinks in
the armor now becoming cracks and fissures and flubs and stumbles and
ultimate raging implosions?
Is this why impeachment proceedings have yet to
begin in earnest against BushCo? Because we’re just too stunned, too
frozen in disbelief at the mounting mountains of evidence that we have
been duped and misled and lied to on a scale we can’t really begin to
assimilate? Could very well be.
Because the tower of lies, oh how it teeters, how it
quivers, how it feels oh so ready to fall.
== Story Pick O’ The Morning ==
semi-fresh from the wires for your edification
Weapons Of Mass Google Cuteness
It’s the story behind that snarky little “I’m Feeling Lucky”
prank wending its way all over the Web that way, way too many of your
friends have been sending to you and insisting you try because it’s just
The hunt for weapons of mass destruction isn’t going
so well in Iraq. It’s not going so well on Google, either.
Type “weapons of mass destruction” into the Internet
search engine and hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button. What you’ll get is
an authentic-looking error message created as a lark by a British
pharmacist now enjoying his 15 minutes of Internet fame.
“These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be
displayed,” it reads. “The country might be experiencing technical
difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors
No hacking was involved — or necessary.
Anthony Cox, 34, of Birmingham, England, created the
site in February to get a few chuckles from friends. Those friends —
and friends of their friends — started linking to his page from their
sites and Web diaries.
The number of links to a particular site is a major
factor that Google considers when indexing pages to be returned via its
search engine. The “lucky” button takes users to the top-ranked page for
a particular search.
Cox, previously best known on the Web for his day
job of studying drug safety, says he had no idea the page would reach
the top of the list for WMD searches.
“It was really just a private joke among a few
individuals and then I sent it off to a newsgroup,” he said. “It just
spread like wildfire throughout February. … And then it started to die
down during the war. During that time it had accumulated links from
other Web sites, which pushed it up the Google page ranking system.
“Then it just went through the stratosphere in terms
of hits,” he said. “It became even more funny that Google couldn’t find
Cox’s site isn’t the only popular page to take a
tongue-in-cheek approach to serious queries. Type in “French military
victories” and hit the “lucky” button. A page designed to look like it’s
from Google asks, “Did you mean: French military defeats.”
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google declined to
comment on specifics, but a spokesman confirmed that those sites are at
the top of the list because they scored the highest under the company’s
For users who hit the regular search button, Google
returns 1.4 million pages on the search “weapons of mass destruction.”
Though Cox’s joke is on top, the remainder are mostly serious.
Cox says the number of hits reached a crescendo
during the week of July 4 and has not showed any sign of slowing down.
He’s received hundreds of e-mail messages, including from weapons
inspectors who found it amusing.
A number of e-mails criticized Cox, who said he was
not against the war.
“It’s been widely seen as anti-war, but that’s not
what my intention was,” he said.
Cox does not spare “Old Europe” either.
“If you are an Old European Country trying to
protect your interests, make sure your options are left wide open as
long as possible,” it reads. “Click the Tools menu, and then click on
League of Nations. On the Advanced tab, scroll to the Head in the Sand
section and check settings for your exports to Iraq.”
Cox says he hasn’t experienced any major
repercussions from the joke.
“I don’t have the White House or Donald Rumsfeld
breathing down my neck yet,” he said. “There hasn’t been a SEAL
extraction team to get me yet.”
All contents, except the swearing
and the random blasphemy, ™ (c) 2003 SF
Nothing recedes like success.
— Walter Winchell
Comments Off on Nothing Left To Lie About by Mark Morford
Dr. Kelly, the purported BBC “mole” on the British WMD scandal, has
apparently turned up dead. Quote:
Gilligan said his source “knew, better than anyone,” that evidence of a
weapons of mass destruction programme in Iraq “didn’t amount to the
‘imminent threat’ touted by ministers”.
Kelly: Blair promises public inquiry
I guess Tenet must be thinking he got off light now!
Comments Off on BBC \"mole\" on WMD turns up dead
fabric of justification for the Iraq war begins to unravel, and the Bush
administration offers up various fall guys in a desperate bid for plausible
deniability (did they really think that Tenet would just roll over and play dead
for them, after the way they treated him in the run-up to war?), some very
interesting things are coming to light.
But none more interesting than this. Have you ever heard of the Office of
Special Plans (OSP), a “shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by
ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the
Defence Intelligence Agency?” Well, until I read this article, I hadn’t either.
But now everything makes much more sense. Not only that, now I know what Newt
has been up to. I remember thinking about a year ago, where is he? With
Republicans in control of the Congress, a compliant media, open season on
everybody we don’t like and a blank check to go fight them, this is his game!
Where’s the new Contract On America? Well, here it is. Only now it’s the core of
the neo-con agenda.
those of you who still believe that we have a “liberal media” in this country,
ask yourselves: with all the journalism and questioning surrounding the
administrations claims about WMD, why have you never heard of the Office
of Special Plans until now, and why are you learning of it from a UK
paper? Especially since the OSP is clearly the behind all this? Then compare
that interesting media observation with this: on Fox news last night, in a
matter of four minutes, I heard an interviewee use no less than ten
disparaging terms to describe the search for the truth about the WMD claims,
ranging from “overblown” to “ridiculous” to “excitement over the equivalent of
getting a parking ticket.” No doubt this guy was sure that the famous Oval
Office blow job was tantamount to treason.
very grateful to The Guardian for doing the difficult journalism about America
that no US paper seems to have the guts to do.
The spies who pushed for war
Borger reports on the shadow rightwing intelligence network set up in Washington
to second-guess the CIA and deliver a justification for toppling Saddam Hussein
Wednesday July 16 2003
As the CIA director, George Tenet, arrived at the Senate
yesterday to give secret testimony on the Niger uranium affair, it was becoming
increasingly clear in Washington that the scandal was only a small,
well-documented symptom of a complete breakdown in US intelligence that helped
steer America into war.
It represents the Bush administration’s second
catastrophic intelligence failure. But the CIA and FBI’s inability to prevent
the September 11 attacks was largely due to internal institutional weaknesses.
This time the implications are far more damaging for the White House, which
stands accused of politicising and contaminating its own source of
According to former Bush officials, all defence and
intelligence sources, senior members of the administration created a shadow
agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete
with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence
The agency, known as the Office of Special Plans (OSP) was
set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA
information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the
top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including
Vice-President Dick Cheney.
The ideologically driven network
functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and
beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a
struggle with the state department and the CIA by establishing a justification
Mr Tenet has officially taken responsibility for the
president’s unsubstantiated claim in January that Saddam Hussein’s regime had
been trying to buy uranium in Africa, but he also made it clear his agency was
under pressure to justify a war that the administration had already decided
How much Mr Tenet reveals of where that pressure was coming
from could have lasting political fallout for Mr Bush and his re-election
prospects, which only a few weeks ago seemed impregnable. As more Americans die
in Iraq and the reasons for the war are stripped bare, his victory in 2004 no
longer looks like a foregone conclusion.
The president’s most
trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow network’s sharp end. He made
several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more
“forward-leaning” interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not
there to make his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby was.
Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was
unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure on CIA
officials to come up with the appropriate results.
visitor was Newt Gingrich, the former Republican party leader who resurfaced
after September 11 as a Pentagon “consultant” and a member of its unpaid defence
advisory board, with influence far beyond his official title.
intelligence official confirmed Mr Gingrich made “a couple of visits” but said:
“There’s nothing at all unusual about people both in and out of government
coming here to engage in a dialogue and to exchange views on a range of
In that guise he visited Langley three times in the
run-up to war, and according to accounts, the political veteran sought to
browbeat analysts into toughening up their assessments of Saddam’s
Mr Gingrich gained access to the CIA headquarters and was
listened to because he was seen as a personal emissary of the Pentagon, and in
particular, of the OSP.
In the days after September 11, Mr Rumsfeld
and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, mounted an attempt to include Iraq in the war
against terror. When the established agencies came up with nothing concrete to
link Iraq and al-Qaida, the OSP was given the task of looking more
William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Mr
Cheney, runs the day-to-day operations, answering to Douglas Feith, a defence
undersecretary and a former Reagan official and Washington lobbyist for Israel
The OSP had access to a huge amount of raw
intelligence. It came in part from “report officers” in the CIA’s directorate of
operations whose job is to sift through reports from agents around the world,
filtering out the unsubstantiated and the incredible. Under pressure from the
hawks such as Mr Cheney and Mr Gingrich, those officers became reluctant to
discard anything, no matter how far-fetched. The OSP also sucked in countless
tips from the Iraqi National Congress and other opposition groups, which were
viewed with far more scepticism by the CIA and the state
There was a mountain of documentation to look through
and not much time. The administration wanted to use the momentum gained in
Afghanistan to deal with Iraq once and for all. The OSP itself had less than 10
full-time staff, so to help deal with the load, the office hired scores of
temporary “consultants”. They including like-minded lawyers, congressional
staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing thinktanks in the US
capital. Few had experience in intelligence.
“Most of the people
they had in that office were off the books, on personal services contracts. At
one time, there were over 100 of them,” said an intelligence source. The
contracts allow a department to hire individuals, without specifying a job
As John Pike, a defence analyst at the thinktank
GlobalSecurity.org, put it, the contracts “are basically a way they could pack
the room with their little friends”.
“They surveyed data and picked
out what they liked,” said Gregory Thielmann, a senior official in the state
department’s intelligence bureau until his retirement in September. “The whole
thing was bizarre. The secretary of defence had this huge defence intelligence
agency, and he went around it.”
In fact, the OSP’s activities were
a complete mystery to the DIA and the Pentagon.
analogy is a good one,” said a senior officer who left the Pentagon during the
planning of the Iraq war. “No one from the military staff heard, saw or
discussed anything with them.”
The civilian agencies had the same
impression of the OSP sleuths. “They were a pretty shadowy presence,” Mr
Thielmann said. “Normally when you compile an intelligence document, all the
agencies get together to discuss it. The OSP was never present at any of the
meetings I attended.”
Democratic congressman David Obey, who is
investigating the OSP, said: “That office was charged with collecting, vetting
and disseminating intelligence completely outside of the normal intelligence
“In fact, it appears that information collected by this
office was in some instances not even shared with established intelligence
agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the national security
council and the president without having been vetted with anyone other than
The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered
conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged
close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon’s
office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush
administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam’s Iraq than Mossad – a
highly professional body – was prepared to authorise.
“None of the
Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,” said
one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith’s
authority without having to fill in the usual forms.
exchange of information continued a long-standing relationship Mr Feith and
other Washington neo-conservatives had with Israel’s Likud
In 1996, he and Richard Perle – now an influential Pentagon
figure – served as advisers to the then Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. In a
policy paper they wrote, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the
Realm, the two advisers said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and Syria,
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would have to be overthrown or destabilised, for
Israel to be truly safe.
The Israeli influence was revealed most
clearly by a story floated by unnamed senior US officials in the American press,
suggesting the reason that no banned weapons had been found in Iraq was that
they had been smuggled into Syria. Intelligence sources say that the story came
from the office of the Israeli prime minister.
The OSP absorbed
this heady brew of raw intelligence, rumour and plain disinformation and made it
a “product”, a prodigious stream of reports with a guaranteed readership in the
White House. The primary customers were Mr Cheney, Mr Libby and their closest
ideological ally on the national security council, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza
In turn, they leaked some of the claims to the
press, and used others as a stick with which to beat the CIA and the state
department analysts, demanding they investigate the OSP leads.
big question looming over Congress as Mr Tenet walked into his closed-door
session yesterday was whether this shadow intelligence operation would survive
national scrutiny and who would pay the price for allowing it to help steer the
country into war.
A former senior CIA official insisted yesterday
that Mr Feith, at least, was “finished” – but that may be wishful thinking by
As he prepares for re-election, Mr Bush may opt
to tough it out, rather than acknowledge the severity of the problem by firing
loyalists. But in that case, it will inevitably be harder to re-establish
confidence in the intelligence on which the White House is basing its decisions,
and the world’s sole superpower risks stumbling onwards half-blind, unable to
distinguish real threats from phantoms.
Guardian Newspapers Limited
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After a lengthy pause, I’m ready to send you load of new material. And what
better way to kick things off than a last look at one of the most skillful
liars in Washington, Air Fleisher, doing what he does best. Scott McClellan
has some big shoes to fill.
Ari & I
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Monday, July 14, 2003 – 12:00 PM
by Russell Mokhiber
Note from Russell Mokhiber: Today was Ari Fleischer’s
last White House press briefing. He’s leaving the
White House to start a consulting firm that will
advise corporate executives on how to handle the news
media. Starting tomorrow, the new White House Press
Secretary will be Scott McClellan. I’m hoping to
continue to this feature under the headline: “Scottie
Mokhiber: Ari, in the 2002 election campaign, the
Republican Party took in $7.2 million from convicted
criminals. Is the President okay with his party
taking millions of dollars from convicted criminals?
Ari Fleischer: I have no idea what you are referring
Mokhiber: I’m referring to, let me tell you –
Ari Fleischer: Obviously, if money is received – both
parties from people who are later found out to be
people who shouldn’t be giving money – then it gets
Mokhiber: These are actually major corporations
convicted of crimes. ADM gave $1.7 million, Pfizer
$1.1 million, Chevron $875,000. Is the President
okay with those companies giving direct contributions
to the Republican Party after being convicted of
Ari Fleischer: Russell, as you know, the Presidential
campaign takes no money from corporations.
Mokhiber: I’m talking about the party.
Ari Fleischer: Well, you’ll have to address your
questions to the party.
Mokhiber: Well, as the titular head of the party, is
he okay with the party taking money from convicted
Ari Fleischer: I don’t know what information you have
where you can that this corporation is a criminal.
Mokhiber: Convicted – they pled guilty to crimes.
Ari Fleischer: Were the crimes of such a nature that
they are no longer in existence?
Mokhiber: ADM pled guilty to one of the most massive
antitrust crimes and paid a $100 million fine.
Ari Fleischer: I think you need to address any
questions about specific companies with the specifics
in mind, and if that company is still doing
business and is still in operation, that means it is
still in operation with the law, and every case in
individual, and the party decides about whether
the money needs to be returned or not. But I don’t
Mokhiber: One follow-up.
Ari Fleischer: Go ahead, Russell.
Mokhiber: One follow up. It’s actually a broad
philosophical question. Is the President okay with
taking money from convicted criminals?
Ari Fleischer: I informed you that the President does
not take money from corporations.
Mokhiber: No, I’m talking about – as titular head of
the party, is he okay with the party taking money from
convicted criminals. For example, in Enron –
Ari Fleischer: I just have to differ with your notion
that because a company has been fined –
Mokhiber: No, they pled guilty to crimes. They pled
guilty to crimes.
Ari Fleischer: Even so – I don’t know what specifics
you are referring to – that that company is a
Mokhiber: If you plead guilty to a crime, you are a
Ari Fleischer: Does that mean that they need to go out
Mokhiber: I’m asking – should the Republican Party
take money from convicted criminals?
Ari Fleischer: You need to address your question to
the Republican Party.
Mokhiber: But he’s the titular head of the party.
Ari Fleischer: And the titular head of the party
refers you to the party.
-Thanks to Russell Mokhiber
White House reporter Russell Mokhiber is the editor of
the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter –
www.corporatecrimereporter.com. He co-authors the
weekly Focus on the Corporation column with Robert
Weissman which Common Dreams publishes. He can be
reached at: email@example.com
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