Top U.S. Officials: CIA Role "prostituted" by Bush Regime

Discussion in 'Politics' started by TigerO, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. TigerO



    "Case for war confected, say top US officials


    Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

    09 November 2003

    An unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.

    A new documentary film beginning to circulate in the United States features one powerful condemnation after another, from the sort of people who usually stay discreetly in the shadows - a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago.

    Between them, the two dozen interviewees reveal how the pre-war intelligence record on Iraq showed virtually the opposite of the picture the administration painted to Congress, to US voters and to the world. They also reconstruct the way senior White House officials - notably Vice-President Dick Cheney - leaned on the CIA to find evidence that would fit a preordained set of conclusions.

    "There was never a clear and present danger. There was never an imminent threat. Iraq - and we have very good intelligence on this - was never part of the picture of terrorism," says Mel Goodman, a veteran CIA analyst who now teaches at the National War College.

    The case for accusing Saddam Hussein of concealing weapons of mass destruction was, in the words of the veteran CIA operative Robert Baer, largely achieved through "data mining" - going back over old information and trying to wrest new conclusions from it. The agenda, according to George Bush Senior's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, was both highly political and profoundly misguided.

    "The theory that you can bludgeon political grievances out of existence doesn't have much of a track record," he says, "so essentially we have been neo-conned into applying a school of thought about foreign affairs that has failed everywhere it has been tried."

    The hour-long film - entitled Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War - was put together by Robert Greenwald, a veteran TV producer in the forefront of Hollywood's anti-war movement who never suspected, when he started out, that so many establishment figures would stand up and be counted.

    "My attitude was, wow, CIA people, I thought these were the bad guys," Mr Greenwald said. "Not everyone agreed on everything. Not everyone was against the war itself. But there was a universally shared opinion that we had been misled about the reasons for the war."

    Although many elements in the film are not necessarily new - the forged document on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq, the aluminium tubes falsely assumed to be parts for nuclear weapons, the satellite images of "mobile biolabs" that turned out to be hydrogen compression facilities, the "decontamination vehicles" that were in fact fire engines - what emerges is a striking sense of professional betrayal in the intelligence community.

    As the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern argues with particular force, the traditional role of the CIA has been to act as a scrupulously accurate source of information and analysis for presidents pondering grave international decisions. That role, he said, had now been "prostituted" and the CIA may never be the same. "Where is Bush going to turn to now? Where is his reliable source of information now Iraq is spinning out of control? He's frittered that away," Mr McGovern said. "And the profound indignity is that he probably doesn't even realise it."

    The starting point for the tarnishing of the CIA was a speech by Vice-President Cheney on 26 August 2002, in which he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville that Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons programme and was thus threatening to inflict "death on a massive scale - in his own region or beyond".

    According to numerous sources, Mr Cheney followed up his speech with a series of highly unorthodox visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in which he badgered low-level analysts to come up with information to substantiate the extremely alarming - but entirely bogus - contents of his speech.

    By early September, intelligence experts in Congress were clamouring for a so-called National Intelligence Estimate, a full rundown of everything known about Iraq's weapons programmes. Usually NIEs take months to produce, but George Tenet, the CIA director, came up with a 100-page document in just three weeks.

    The man he picked to write it, the weapons expert Robert Walpole, had a track record of going back over old intelligence assessments and reworking them in accordance with the wishes of a specific political interest group. In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier. On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defence system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defence and a key architect of the Iraq war.

    Mr Walpole's NIE on Iraq threw together all the elements that have now been discredited - Niger, the alumin- ium tubes, and so on. It also gave the misleading impression that intelligence analysts were in broad agreement about the Iraqi threat, relegating most of the doubts and misgivings to footnotes and appendices.

    By the time parts of the NIE were made public, even those few qualifications were excised. When President Bush's speechwriters got to work - starting with the address to Congress on 7 October that led to a resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq - the language became even stronger.

    Mr Tenet fact-checked the 7 October speech, and seems to have played a major role in every subsequent policy address, including Colin Powell's powerful presentation to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February. Of that pivotal speech, Mr McGovern says in the film: "It was a masterful performance, but none of it was true."

  2. OK so I'm reading all of this, and the one question that now bubbles up in my mind is this -- "who is going to pay the price for this bullshit war?" i mean, alot of innocent people died in this war -- american soldiers, iraqi civilians, UN civilians (numerous embassy bombings) -- for no fucking reason.

    so who gets to fight the lawsuits from the families of those who were killed? i mean, sure, we can (well, not really) string up the leaders in the hague for starting the war, but that still doesn't cover the financial responsibilities/liabilities of those who instigated the war.
  3. msfe


    Dreamers and Idiots

    Bush and Blair did everything necessary to prevent the outbreak of peace

    By George Monbiot.

    11th November 2003

    Those who would take us to war must first shut down the public imagination. They must convince us that there is no other means of preventing invasion, or conquering terrorism, or even defending human rights. When information is scarce, imagination is easy to control. As intelligence gathering and diplomacy are conducted in secret, we seldom discover - until it is too late - how plausible the alternatives may be.

    So those of us who called for peace before the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan were mocked as effeminate dreamers. The intelligence our governments released suggested that Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were immune to diplomacy or negotiation. Faced with such enemies, what would we do?, the hawks asked, and our responses felt timid beside the clanking rigours of war. To the columnist David Aaronovitch, we were "indulging ... in a cosmic whinge".1 To the Daily Telegraph, we had become "Osama bin Laden's useful idiots".2

    Had the options been as limited as the western warlords and their bards suggested, this may have been true. But, as many of us suspected at the time, we were lied to. Most of the lies are now familiar: there appear to have been no weapons of mass destruction and no evidence to suggest that, as President Bush claimed in March, Saddam had "trained and financed ... al Qaeda".3 Bush and Blair, as their courtship of the president of Uzbekistan reveals, appear to possess no genuine concern for the human rights of foreigners.

    But a further, and even graver, set of lies is only now beginning to come to light. Even if all the claims Bush and Blair made about their enemies and their motives had been true, and all their objectives had been legal and just, there may still have been no need to go to war. For, as we discovered last week, Saddam Hussein proposed to give Bush and Blair almost everything they wanted before a shot had been fired.4 Our governments appear both to have withheld this information from the public and to have lied to us about the possibilities for diplomacy.

    Over the four months before the coalition forces invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein's government made a series of increasingly desperate offers to the United States. In December, the Iraqi intelligence services approached Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorism, with an offer to prove that Iraq was not linked to the September 11th attacks, and to permit several thousand US troops to enter the country to look for weapons of mass destruction.5 If the object was regime change, then Saddam, the agents claimed, was prepared to submit himself to internationally-monitored elections within two years.6 According to Mr Cannistraro, these proposals reached the White House, but were "turned down by the president and vice president."7

    By February, Saddam's negotiators were offering almost everything the US government could wish for: free access to the FBI to look for weapons of mass destruction wherever it wanted, support for the US position on Israel and Palestine, even rights over Iraq's oil.8 Among the people they contacted was Richard Perle, the security adviser who for years had been urging a war with Iraq. He passed their offers to the Central Intelligence Agency. Last week he told the New York Times that the CIA had replied, "Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad."9

    Saddam Hussein, in other words, appears to have done everything possible to find a diplomatic alternative to the impending war, and the US government appears to have done everything necessary to prevent one. This is the opposite to what we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair. On March 6th, 13 days before the war began, Bush said to journalists, "I want to remind you that it's his choice to make as to whether or not we go to war. It's Saddam's choice. He's the person that can make the choice of war and peace. Thus far, he's made the wrong choice.".10 Ten days later, Blair told a press conference, "we have provided the right diplomatic way through this, which is to lay down a clear ultimatum to Saddam: cooperate or face disarmament by force ... all the way through we have tried to provide a diplomatic solution."11 On March 17th, Bush claimed that "Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war".12 All these statements are false.

    The same thing happened before the war with Afghanistan. On September 20th 2001, the Taliban offered to hand Osama bin Laden to a neutral Islamic country for trial if the US presented them with evidence that he was responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington.13 The US rejected the offer. On October 1st, six days before the bombing began, they repeated it, and their representative in Pakistan told reporters "we are ready for negotiations. It is up to the other side to agree or not. Only negotiation will solve our problems."14 Bush was asked about this offer at a press conference the following day. He replied, "There's no negotiations. There's no calendar. We'll act on [sic] our time."15

    On the same day, Tony Blair, in his speech to the Labour party conference, ridiculed the idea that we could "look for a diplomatic solution". "There is no diplomacy with Bin Laden or the Taliban regime. ... I say to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists; or surrender power. It's your choice."16 Well, they had just tried to exercise that choice, but George Bush had rejected it.

    Of course, neither Bush nor Blair had any reason to trust the Taliban or Saddam Hussein: these people were, after all, negotiating under duress. But neither did they have any need to trust them. In both cases they could have presented their opponents with a deadline for meeting the concessions they had offered. Nor could the allies argue that the offers were not worth considering because they were inadequate: both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were attempting to open negotiations, not to close them: there appeared to be plenty of scope for bargaining. In other words, peaceful resolutions were rejected before they were attempted. What this means is that even if all the other legal tests for these wars had been met (they had not), both would still have been waged in defiance of international law. The charter of the United Nations specifies that "the parties to any dispute ... shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation."17

    None of this matters to the enthusiasts for war. That these conflicts were unjust and illegal, that they killed or maimed tens of thousands of civilians, is irrelevant, as long as their aims were met. So the hawks should ponder this. Had a peaceful resolution of these disputes been attempted, Osama bin Laden might now be in custody, Iraq might be a pliant and largely peaceful nation finding its own way to democracy, and the prevailing sentiment within the Muslim world might be sympathy for the United States, rather than anger and resentment. Now who are the dreamers and the useful idiots, and who the pragmatists?
  4. maxpi


    The Iraqis were screwing with the inspectors almost right up to the day the bombs started falling, what was up with that? Just a nervous habit on their part??

  5. Hey man, as soon as the USA allows weapons inspectors into places like Plum Island, people can complain all they want about Iraq.
  6. Pabst



    Don't forget, the inspections were a condition of Saddam's 1991 surrender! He wasn't randomly being picked on, he was the loser in the Gulf War in which the entire world opposed him.Saddam caught a break by not being taken down twelve years ago and was hardly the humble loser after the war. I hope we have gained a strategic foothold in the Middle East and if need be, we kill every extremist in the region. I won't shed one tear for the death of those who use terror as a means of promoting Islamic fundamentalism.