Category "The Politics of Intelligence"

Why ‘’White House v. Wilson/Plame'’ Matters

July 29th, 2005 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

Why “White House v. Wilson/Plame” Matters
By Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works at Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He had a 27-year career as an analyst at CIA and is on the Steering Committee of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. This article appeared first on

The key issue in the affair has little directly to do with former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson; or his wife, Valerie Plame; or Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby; or even President George W. Bush’s alter ego, Karl Rove. White House v. Wilson/Plame is about Iraq, where our sons and daughters - and many others - are daily meeting violent death in an unwinnable war.

And it’s about manipulation.

It’s about how our elected representatives were deceived into voting for an unprovoked war and what happened when one man stood up and called the administration’s bluff. And it’s about the perfect storm now gathering, as:

* more lies are exposed (whether in journalists’ e-mails or in the minutes of high-level meetings at 10 Downing Street),
* the guerrilla war escalates in Iraq, and
* more and more Americans find themselves agreeing with Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., that administration leaders seem to be “making it up as they go along.”

It wasn’t envisaged this way by the nve “neoconservative” ideologues that got us into the quagmire in Iraq. Actually they still seem to believe that all will be well if the Iraqi people can only get it into their heads that we are liberators, not occupiers.

So much smoke is being blown over White House v. Wilson/Plame that it is becoming almost impossible to see the forest for the trees. Bewildered houseguests from outside the Beltway throw up their hands: “It’s all just politics…and character assassination.” And that may well be precisely the impression the media wish to leave with us. Otherwise, left to our own devices, we might conclude they served us poorly with the indiscriminate, hyper-patriotic cheerleading that helped slide us into the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation’s history.

Read the rest of this article here…

Memo Underscored Issue of Shielding Plame’s Identity

July 23rd, 2005 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

Memo Underscored Issue of Shielding Plame’s Identity
By Anne Marie Squeo and John D. McKinnon
The Wall Street Journal
July 19, 2005

A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband’s intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn’t be shared, according to a person familiar with the document.
A special prosecutor is investigating whether Bush administration officials broke the law by intentionally outing a covert intelligence operative. Investigators are trying to determine if the memo, dated June 10, 2003, was how White House officials learned that Valerie Wilson was an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency.

News that the memo was marked for its sensitivity emerged as President Bush yesterday appeared to backtrack from his 2004 pledge to fire any member of his staff involved in the leaking of the CIA agent’s name. In a news conference yesterday that followed disclosures that his top strategist, Karl Rove, had discussed Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment with two reporters, Mr. Bush adopted a different formulation, specifying criminality as the standard for firing.

“If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration,” Mr. Bush said. White House spokesman Scott McClellan later disputed the suggestion that the president had shifted his position.

The memo’s details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn’t realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, may also be looking at whether other crimes — such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information — were committed.

On July 6, 2003, former diplomat Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, disputing administration arguments that Iraq had sought to buy uranium ore from Africa to make nuclear weapons. The following day, President Bush and top cabinet officials left for Africa, and the memo was aboard Air Force One.

The paragraph in the memo discussing Ms. Wilson’s involvement in her husband’s trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn’t be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive. The memo, though, doesn’t specifically describe Ms. Wilson as an undercover agent, the person familiar with the memo said.

Generally, the federal government has three levels of classified information — top secret, secret and confidential — all indicating various levels of “damage” to national security if disclosed. There also is an unclassified designation — indicating information that wouldn’t harm national security if shared with the public — but that wasn’t the case for the material on the Wilsons prepared by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It isn’t known what level of classification was assigned to the information in the memo.

Who received the memo, which was prepared for Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, and how widely it was circulated are issues as Mr. Fitzgerald tries to pinpoint the origin of the leak of Ms. Wilson’s identity. According to the person familiar with the document, it didn’t include a distribution list. It isn’t known if President Bush has seen the memo.

Mr. Fitzgerald has subpoenaed the phone logs from Air Force One for the week of the Africa tour, which precedes the revelation of Ms. Wilson’s CIA identity in a column by Robert Novak on July 14. In that piece, Mr. Novak identified Valerie Plame, using Ms. Wilson’s maiden name, saying that “two senior administration officials” had told him that Ms. Wilson suggested sending her husband to Niger.

Mr. Novak attempted to reach Ari Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, in the days before his column appeared. However, Mr. Fleischer didn’t respond to Mr. Novak’s inquiries, according to a person familiar with his account. Mr. Fleischer, who has since left the administration, is one of several officials who testified before the grand jury.

In an October 2003 article4 on the memo, The Wall Street Journal reported that it details a meeting in early 2002 in which CIA officials discussed how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium ore from Niger. Ms. Wilson, an agent working on issues related to weapons of mass destruction, recommended her husband, an expert on Africa, to travel to Niger to investigate the matter.

White House officials had been warning reporters off the notion that the trip to Niger was ordered by Vice President Dick Cheney, as Mr. Wilson had suggested. Emails and a first-person account published this week of his grand-jury testimony by Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper support this notion. The grand jury is set to expire in October in this case, though its tenure could be extended for six months.

It is possible that reporters learned Ms. Wilson’s identity from government officials who hadn’t seen the memo. Mr. Cooper has testified and written that he was first told of Mr. Wilson’s wife by Mr. Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff. Mr. Rove didn’t identify Ms. Wilson by name. Similarly, one of Mr. Cooper’s other sources, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, said he had heard Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA, but he didn’t identify her any further, according to Mr. Cooper.

The fact that two top White House officials discussed a CIA agent with reporters has prompted a furor in Washington, with Democrats calling for the firing of Mr. Rove.

A new ABC News poll signaled how the matter has damaged the administration’s credibility — and the political peril Mr. Rove still faces. Just 25% of Americans say the White House is fully cooperating with the federal investigation into the leak of Ms. Wilson’s identity, down from about half when the investigation began nearly two years ago. Moreover, 75% said Mr. Rove should lose his job if he leaked classified information. The poll of 1,008 adults, conducted July 13-17, has a margin of error of three percentage points.

John Harwood contributed to this article.

Write to Anne Marie Squeo at and John D. McKinnon at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

British Memo Reopens War Claim

June 17th, 2005 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

British Memo Reopens War Claim
By Stephen J. Hedges and Mark Silva
The Chicago Tribune

May 17th, 2005

Leaked briefing says US intelligence facts `fixed’ around policy.

Washington - A British official’s report that the Bush administration appeared intent on invading Iraq long before it acknowledged as much or sought Congress’ approval–and that it “fixed” intelligence to fit its intention–has caused a stir in Britain.
But the potentially explosive revelation has proven to be something of a dud in the United States. The White House has denied the premise of the memo, the American media have reacted slowly to it and the public generally seems indifferent to the issue or unwilling to rehash the bitter prewar debate over the reasons for the war.

All of this has contributed to something less than a robust discussion of a memo that would seem to bolster the strongest assertions of the war’s critics.

Frustrated at the lack of attention to the memo, Democrats and war critics are working to make sure it gets a wider hearing, doing everything from writing letters to the White House to launching online petitions.

The memo was written by British national security aide Matthew Rycroft, based on notes he took during a July 2002 meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisers, including Richard Dearlove, the head of Britain’s MI-6 intelligence service who had recently met with Bush administration officials.

Since being leaked to a British newspaper, the memo has raised questions anew about whether the Bush administration misrepresented prewar intelligence about suspected weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD,” the memo said. “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening hi-bility was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

Blair’s office has not disputed the authenticity of the memo, but the White House categorically denies the assertions in it. And on Capitol Hill, where investigations already have denounced prewar intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as “deeply flawed,” there appears to be little appetite for reopening the question of why the U.S. went to war.

“I suppose it hasn’t played there because, basically, didn’t everyone know that Bush decided early on to get rid of Saddam?” asked Philip Stephens, a Blair biographer and associate editor of the Financial Times of London.

Stephens argues that there was a basic difference in the argument over the invasion of Iraq in Britain and the U.S.

“The contexts of the debates have always been different,” Stephens said. “There was never really a question [in the U.S.] about whether it was justified or not to go for regime change. This was the administration’s objective. People either agreed with it or disagreed with it. There really wasn’t a disagreement about the legal basis for it.”

Dubbed “the Downing Street Memo,” the report of the July 23, 2002, meeting of Blair and his aides purported to recount the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq at that point. The memo asserted that Bush had decided to remove Hussein nearly eight months before U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq.

Summarizing the view of intelligence chief Dearlove after consulting with U.S. officials, the memo said: “Military action was now seen as inevitable.”

Public Told Another Story

At the time, the Bush administration was assuring the public that a decision to go to war had not been made and that Iraq could prevent military action by complying with existing United Nations resolutions that were intended to curtail its chemical, nuclear, biological and missile weapons programs.

The memo was divulged earlier this month by the Sunday Times of London, four days before Blair’s re-election. It caused a stir in Britain, where the war in Iraq has been deeply unpopular.

In the U.S., however, the account has drawn only passing attention, even in Washington, where the debate over prewar intelligence on Iraq once dogged the White House. No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and Iraqi scientists have told U.S. inspectors that any weapons Iraq did possess were destroyed years ago.

Opponents of the war and administration have launched e-mail campaigns to elevate the issue. One Web site,, encourages visitors to sign a petition and “take action.” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) wrote a letter earlier this month to the White House, signed by 89 House Democrats, that expressed concern about the memo’s revelations.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, asked Monday about the memo’s implication that intelligence was being “fixed” on Iraq, said, “The suggestion is just flat-out wrong.

White House’s Response

“Anyone who wants to know how the intelligence was used only has to go back and read everything that was said in public about the lead-up to the war,” said McClellan, noting that Bush was pursuing diplomatic negotiations with Iraq through the United Nations into autumn 2003.

However, a commission appointed by the president to investigate intelligence gathering that led to the invasion concluded that all of the intelligence community’s information about the existence of biological or any other weapons of mass destruction was “deeply flawed.”

“The intelligence community was absolutely uniform, and uniformly wrong, about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. And they pushed that position,” said Judge Laurence Silberman, co-chairman of the commission.

Critics of the Bush administration have long argued that Bush appeared intent on invading Iraq long before Congress voted to authorize military action in October 2002 if Hussein didn’t abandon his alleged illegal weapons programs.

Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who was chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee when Democrats ruled, has written in his book, “Intelligence Matters,” about his visit to MacDill Air Force Base, home of the U.S. Central Command, on Feb. 19, 2002. He was going for a status report on Afghanistan, Graham wrote, but CENTCOM’S Gen. Tommy Franks called him aside to tell him, “Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan.”

“Excuse me?”‘ Graham replied.

“Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq,” Graham quoted Franks as saying.

Graham wrote: “I was stunned. This was the first time I had been informed that the decision to go to war with Iraq had not only been made but was being implemented, to the substantial disadvantage of the war in Afghanistan.”

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

White House ‘Exaggerating Iraqi Threat’

April 6th, 2005 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

White House ‘Exaggerating Iraqi Threat’
By Julian Borger
The Guardian U.K.

October 9th, 2002

Bush’s televised address attacked by US intelligence

President Bush’s case against Saddam Hussein, outlined in a televised address to the nation on Monday night, relied on a slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday.
Officials in the CIA, FBI and energy department are being put under intense pressure to produce reports which back the administration’s line, the Guardian has learned. In response, some are complying, some are resisting and some are choosing to remain silent.

“Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there’s a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA,” said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA’s former head of counter-intelligence.

In his address, the president reassured Americans that military action was not “imminent or unavoidable”, but he made the most detailed case to date for the use of force, should it become necessary.

But some of the key allegations against the Iraqi regime were not supported by intelligence currently available to the administration. Mr Bush repeated a claim already made by senior members of his administration that Iraq has attempted to import hardened aluminium tubes “for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons”. The tubes were also mentioned by Tony Blair in his dossier of evidence presented to parliament last month.

However, US government experts on nuclear weapons and centrifuges have suggested that they were more likely to be used for making conventional weapons.

“I would just say there is not much support for that [nuclear] theory around here,” said a department of energy specialist.

David Albright, a physicist and former UN weapons inspector who was consulted on the purpose of the aluminium tubes, said it was far from clear that the tubes were intended for a uranium centrifuge.

Mr Albright, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington thinktank, said: “There’s a catfight going on about this right now. On one side you have most of the experts on gas centrifuges. On the other you have one guy sitting in the CIA.”

Mr Albright said sceptics at the energy department’s Lawrence Livermore national laboratory in California had been ordered to keep their doubts to themselves. He quoted a colleague at the laboratory as saying: “The administration can say what it wants and we are expected to remain silent.”

There is already considerable scepticism among US intelligence officials about Mr Bush’s claims of links between Iraq and al-Qaida. In his speech on Monday, Mr Bush referred to a “very senior al-Qaida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year”.

An intelligence source said the man the president was referring to was Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was arrested in Jordan in 2001 for his part in the “millennium plot” to bomb tourist sites there. He was subsequently released and eventually made his way to Iraq in search of treatment. However, intercepted telephone calls did not mention any cooperation with the Iraqi government.

There is also profound scepticism among US intelligence experts about the president’s claim that “Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases”.

Bob Baer, a former CIA agent who tracked al-Qaida’s rise, said that there were contacts between Osama bin Laden and the Iraqi government in Sudan in the early 1990s and in 1998: “But there is no evidence that a strategic partnership came out of it. I’m unaware of any evidence of Saddam pursuing terrorism against the United States.”

A source familiar with the September 11 investigation said: “The FBI has been pounded on to make this link.”

In making his case on Monday, Mr Bush made a startling claim that the Iraqi regime was developing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which “could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas”.

“We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States,” he warned.

US military experts confirmed that Iraq had been converting eastern European trainer jets, known as L-29s, into drones, but said that with a maximum range of a few hundred miles they were no threat to targets in the US.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me if he meant United States territory,” said Stephen Baker, a retired US navy rear admiral who assesses Iraqi military capabilities at the Washington-based Centre for Defence Information.

Mr Cannistraro said the flow of intelligence to the top levels of the administration had been deliberately skewed by hawks at the Pentagon.

“CIA assessments are being put aside by the defence department in favour of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles,” he said. “Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now.”

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Why The CIA Thinks Bush Is Wrong

April 4th, 2005 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

Why The CIA Thinks Bush Is Wrong
Sunday Herald (U.K.)
October 13th, 2002

The president says the US has to act now against Iraq. The trouble is, his own security services don’t agree. Neil Mackay reports

GEORGE Bush was about to be hoist by his own petard. It was Monday last week, and the president was glad-handing with the great and the good at the Cincinnati Museum Centre in Ohio as he waited to give one of his most bellicose speeches yet.

In the audience were Ohio state governor Bob Taft and a host of business and political luminaries. As the deadline approached for the Senate and House of Representatives vote on whether or not to give Bush the backing he wanted to attack Iraq, this speech was to be the president’s final flourish in the propaganda war to get the US marching in line behind him.
Calling Saddam Hussein a ‘murderous tyrant’, he made it clear why America had to finish off the Iraqi dictator. ‘Facing clear evidence of peril,’ he told the audience, ‘we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.’ He went on: ‘We have every reason to assume the worst and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from happening.’

What Bush could not have guessed was that his claims that Iraq was intent on attacking the USA had already began to unravel. The denouement started a few days before, on Thursday, October 3, when Senator Bob Graham, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, metaphorically donned his hob-nailed boots and began delivering some well-aimed kicks to the head of George Tenet, the director of the CIA. The CIA, Graham said, were monkeying with democracy. The agency was not telling his committee what they needed to know about the Iraqi regime. Tenet was damaging the ability of Congress to assess the need for military action.

With one week until Congress voted on authorising Bush to use force, Graham was impatient. These are serious times, he said , and he needed serious answers. Graham and the committee had received an anodyne intelligence report from the CIA on the threat posed by Iraq the day before — Wednesday, October 2. This, however, answered none of the questions the Senate committee wanted answered: would Saddam use weapons of mass destruction (WMD); how would his regime react if attacked; and what would be the consequences of war?

On October 9, almost a week after Tenet received his whipping at the hands of Graham, the senator’s hardman approach paid off when the director of the CIA admitted that the only reason Saddam would use WMDs against the United States was if he was backed into a corner — due to a strike by the American military — and realised he was about to fall. Saddam, Tenet was saying, would only become the nightmare that Bush envisaged, if Bush attacked him first. Within two days, then, of Bush’s flag-waving call to arms, his most senior intelligence officer had pulled the rug from under the biggest project of his presidency.

Tenet’s admission left Bush in disarray with revelations making it appear as if the president was exaggerating the threat from Iraq, to say the least. Tenet, a loyal subject of the Bush administration, had no option but to come clean — no matter how difficult a position it put the president in.

The CIA director’s hands were tied on October 3 by Senator Graham, a democrat who represents Florida, when he told the CIA it was acting ‘unacceptably’, and added: ‘We’re trying to carry out a very important responsibility, and given the nature of this classified information, we are the only means by which the intelligence community can communicate to the legislative branch of government.’

There was no way that Tenet could play fast and loose with the Senate. Both the FBI and CIA have been attacked repeatedly in Congressional hearings since September 11 for a series of intelligence cock-ups.

Later on October 3, after Graham met with Tenet, his mood had changed — Graham seemed to be cooler, calmer. He said the meeting had been frank and candid. What Graham wanted was a flavour of the classified National Intelligence Estimates, prepared by the National Intelligence Council, whose analysts report directly to Tenet. On Monday, October 7, around the time Bush was in Ohio cheerleading for war , Graham received just what he had been looking for — it came in the shape of a letter from the CIA director. It made astonishing reading. Two days later, on Wednesday, October 9, the Senate intelligence committee voted to make the full text of Tenet’s letter public.

Tenet’s letter said he was declassifying selected material to help the Senate’s deliberations on whether or not to support the president over attacking Iraq. ‘Baghdad, for now, appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW (chemical and biological weapons) against the United States,’ the declassified material read.

‘Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions. Such terrorism might involve conventional means … or CBW.

‘Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a WMD attack against the US would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.’

Tenet went on to declassify formerly secret evidence given at a closed hearing of the Senate’s intelligence committee in which democrat Carl Levin, was told by a ’senior intelligence witness’ that the ‘probability … would be low’ of Saddam initiating a WMD attack. The agent also said the chances were ‘pretty high’ that Saddam would launch a WMD attack ‘if we initiate an attack and he thought he was in extremis’. Tenet’s revelations left the entire basis of Bush’s call to arms in ruins, and the CIA director swiftly became an embarrassment to the president as the propaganda war backfired . Tenet was not deliberately trying to undermine Bush — he was simply forced into a corner by the Senate and compelled to reveal his true understanding of the Iraqi crisis.

Kenneth M Pollack, who worked as a military analyst at the CIA before serving as a top aide on Persian Gulf affairs on President Clinton’s National Security Council, said: ‘The agency line is that it is basically unlikely that Iraq would give WMDs to terrorists under most circumstances. The Bush administration is trying to make the case that Iraq might try to give WMDs to al-Qaeda under certain circumstances. But what the agency is saying is that Saddam is likely to give such weapons to terrorists only under extreme circumstances when he believes he is likely to be toppled.’

The White House tried to put a different spin on the Tenet letter. Sean McCormack, the White House National Security Council spokesman, said the portions of the letter released by Graham gave a misleading impression of the CIA’s overall conclusion. ‘There were parts of the Tenet letter that weren’t read in,’ he said. Other parts were ‘taken out of context’, he said. However, Graham’s spokesman, Paul Anderson, denied there had been any misquoting, and the full document, which the Senate committee has released, supports Anderson’s line.

Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, added pointedly: ‘It’s an overwhelming temptation to manipulate intelligence to serve policy and, to some extent, I think that’s what’s happening here with Iraq.’

Tenet did, however, leave the Bush conspiracists something to cling to. In his letter to Graham, he played up the alleged links between al-Qaeda and Iraq, saying: ‘We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade.

Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression … we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaeda members … we have credible reporting that al-Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq, who could help them acquire WMD capabilities … Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.’

This was not a smoking gun, but it kept suspicions alive that Iraq might just pass terrorists WMDs any day now. Tenet’s tentative connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda is a far cry from the findings of his counterparts in Europe. Try as it might, the UK has been unable to produce any evidence clearly linking Saddam to bin Laden, and the French have positively ruled out any connection. Jean-Louis Brugui?re, France’s leading terrorist investigator, says years of investigation into radical Islamic terror groups have not produced a trace of evidence linking them to Iraq.

Brugui’re is an investigative magistrate empowered to view French domestic and foreign intelligence material. Much of the material he sees is passed on to the CIA and FBI by French intelligence. He says: ‘We have not found any link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Not a trace. There is no foundation to our investigations for the information given by the Americans.’

The French believe the secular nature of Saddam’s regime deters him from getting into bed with the likes of bin Laden. It also makes cosying up to Saddam an anathema to the fundamentalists of al-Qaeda. Despite the admissions in the Tenet letter, the Senate voted 77-23 in the early hours of last Friday morning to authorise Bush to use force against Iraq. Earlier, the House of Representatives had voted the same way by a margin of 296-133.

It seems that most of the Senate listened to the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s reply to claims that the White House was exaggerating the Iraqi threat.

‘Each of us has a solemn responsibility,’ he said, ‘to do everything in our power to ensure that, when the history of this period is written, the books won’t ask why we slept.’

The doubts of the intelligence community were washed away against such patriotic phrase-making. It should be noted, however, that a few senators listened to Tenet’s admissions and voted ‘no’. Among them was Senator Bob Graham.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

You Call This Liberation

December 11th, 2004 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

You Call This Liberation
By Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian U.K.

December 2nd, 2004

Pentagon experts have made a discovery: Muslims do not hate America’s freedoms, but its policies.

Who wrote this - a pop sociologist, obscure blogger or anti-war playwright? “Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic - namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is - for Americans - really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is … heightened by election-year atmospherics, but none the less sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims, they are talking to themselves.”
Actually, this is the conclusion of the report of the defense science board taskforce on strategic communication - the product of a Pentagon advisory panel - delivered in September. Its 102 pages were not made public in the presidential campaign, but, barely noticed by the US press, silently slipped on to a Pentagon website on Thanksgiving eve.

The taskforce of military, diplomatic, academic and business experts, assigned to develop strategy for communications in the “global war on terrorism”, had unfettered access, denied to journalists, to the inner workings of the national security apparatus. There was no intent to contribute to public debate, much less political controversy; the report was for internal consumption only.

They discovered more than a government sector “in crisis”, though it found that: “Missing are strong leadership, strategic direction, adequate coordination, sufficient resources, and a culture of measurement and evaluation.” As it journeyed into the recesses of the Bush foreign policy, the taskforce documented the failure of fundamental premises. “America’s negative image in world opinion and diminished ability to persuade are consequences of factors other than the failure to implement communications strategies,” the report declares. What emerges is an indictment of an expanding and unmitigated disaster based on stubborn ignorance of the world and failed concepts that bear little relation to empirical reality, except insofar as they confirm and incite gathering hatred among Muslims.

The Bush administration, according to the defense science board, has misconceived a war on terrorism in the image of the cold war. However, the struggle is not the west versus Islam; while we blindly call this a “war on terrorism”, Muslims “in contrast see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration” against “apostate” Arab regimes allied with the US and “western modernity - an agenda hidden within the official rubric of a ‘war on terrorism’”.

In this conflict, “wholly unlike the cold war”, the Bush administration’s impulse has been to “imitate the routines and bureaucratic … mindset that so characterized that era”. So the US projects Iraqis and other Arabs as people to be liberated, like those “oppressed by Soviet rule”. And the US accepts authoritarian Arab regimes as allies against the “radical fighters”. All this is nothing less than a gigantic “strategic mistake”.

“There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-US groundswell among Muslim societies - except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the US so determinedly promotes and defends.” Rhetoric about freedom is received as “no more than self-serving hypocrisy”, highlighted daily by the US occupation in Iraq. “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’, but rather they hate our policies.” The “dramatic narrative … of the war on terrorism”, Bush’s grand storyline connecting all the dots from the World Trade Center to Baghdad, has “borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars”. As a result, jihadists have been able to transform them selves from marginal figures in the Muslim world into defenders against invasion, with a following of millions.

“Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim world is not one of ‘dissemination of information’, or even one of crafting and delivering the ‘right’ message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none - the United States is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims … Inevitably, therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the ‘loud and clear’ channel: the enemy.”

Almost three months ago, the board delivered its report to the White House. But, a source told me, it has received no word back. The report has been ignored by those to whom its recommendations are directed.

For the Bush administration, expert analysis is extraneous, as it is making clear to national security professionals in its partisan scapegoating of the CIA. Experts can only be expert in telling the White House what it wants to hear. Expertise is valued not for the evidence it offers for correction, but for propaganda and validation. But no one, not in the White House, Congress or the dwindling coalition of the willing, can claim the catastrophe has not been foretold by the best and most objective minds commissioned by the Pentagon - perhaps for the last time.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is Washington bureau chief of

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

The Politicization of Intelligence

November 30th, 2004 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

The Politicization of Intelligence
By Pierre Lacoste
Le Figaro

November 22nd, 2004

The nomination of Bush loyalist Porter Goss to CIA head has triggered new torment in United States’ intelligence circles and violent controversy in Congress. It’s one more episode in the saga of discordant relations between the Agency and the White House. It illustrates a fundamental question, that of the independence and objectivity of intelligence services confronted with executive power ideological and political partisanship. It’s the well-known phenomenon of “politicization of intelligence.”
Several CIA high officials have resigned from their positions, horrified by the aggressive behavior demonstrated by members of Porter Goss’ team, who want to overthrow the service’s structures and functioning.

A few Democratic Senators and Representatives, members of the Congressional committees charged with secret services’ oversight, express the keenest reservations over this new manifestation of White House interference, while the President has still not gained acceptance for creation of the post of supervisor for the totality of the American intelligence community. We may hope that in spite of the Republican majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, Congressional checks and balances will oppose a departure so extremely worrying for American democracy.

The question is, in fact, an essential problem. It had been illustrated by the false declarations made by official representatives of the United States at the United Nations’ podium to justify the 2003 war against Iraq. Only skillful legal sophistries allowed G. W. Bush and Tony Blair to make their intelligence services “take the fall” to cover up their own errors of judgment with regard to Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. One has only to consult the works of witnesses as unimpugnable as UN Disarmament Inspectors’ Head, Hans Blix, or former White House official in charge of anti-terrorism operations, Richard Clarke, to have no doubt about the way Washington’s ultraconservatives deliberately engaged in diverse manipulations of intelligence. One had only to refer to the first declarations of the newly elected president at the beginning of 2000 to know their intentions. From that moment, the creation of an intelligence analysis unit at the center of the Pentagon allowed one to glimpse how Donald Rumsfeld’s team would go about supplying the President with its own intelligence to influence his decisions, to the detriment of State Department and CIA viewpoints. The evolution of the war in Iraq has shown that, since the Defense Department analyses prevailed, the consequences of the initial battle were totally underestimated.

This deliberate blindness, this form of autism, has already, however, been illustrated by numerous examples from history. One of the most spectacular was Stalin in 1941. Even though the best intelligence networks of the day were at his disposal, he allowed himself to be surprised by Hitler’s June attack. Paralyzed by fear ever since the terrible years of purges and Moscow show trials, NKVD officials transmitted only the raw information, refraining from any commentary that might have contradicted the Kremlin master’s brilliant deductions. Consequently, it was he alone who decided not to take into account the most precise and specific information he was furnished about the imminence of the German attack. He refused to listen to Churchill’s warnings, under the pretext that they were a trap, the proof of an anti-Bolshevik conspiracy between the Germans and the British!

Without going to such extreme demonstrations of paranoia, other leaders have committed errors of the same order. In 1956, Anthony Eden chose not to take the advice of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the most extraordinary organization for the coordination of intelligence ever available to any democratic government, before launching the country in the deplorable 1956 Suez expedition against Nasser’s Egypt.

Under Eisenhower’s presidency, evaluations of the strength of Soviet bombers were deliberately exaggerated by the US Air Force’s intelligence service in order to justify the development of the Strategic Air Command and to allow powerful aerospace and arms industry companies to benefit from considerable budgetary credits. The President remembered the episode, when, as he left office, he warned his compatriots against the excesses of the “military-industrial complex”.

In their present form, the politicization of United States’ intelligence services is a response partly to business and profit motivations, but much more to digressions of an ideological and political order. The ideology of the struggle of Good against Evil is expressed as the “war against terrorism”, which is a poorly targeted response to asymmetric threats that cannot be handled by military power alone. Politics must recover its rights in an effective application of the balance of power between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. We also hope that the American intelligence community will be capable of overcoming the present crisis to become the model of an independent institution dedicated solely to the search for objectivity, and, as close as possible, for the truth.

Admiral Pierre Lacoste, former commandant of the Ecole supérieur de guerre navale [Naval Warfare School] and of the Mediterranean Squadron, as well as former Director General of French Foreign Intelligence (DGSE).

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

CIA Chief Tells Workers to Back Admin Policies

November 21st, 2004 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

New C.I.A. Chief Tells Workers to Back Administration Policies
By Douglas Jehl
The New York Times

November 17th, 2004

WASHINGTON - Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to “support the administration and its policies in our work,” a copy of an internal memorandum shows.

“As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies,” Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking “to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road.”
While his words could be construed as urging analysts to conform with administration policies, Mr. Goss also wrote, “We provide the intelligence as we see it - and let the facts alone speak to the policymaker.”

The memorandum suggested an effort by Mr. Goss to spell out his thinking as he embarked on what he made clear would be a major overhaul at the agency, with further changes to come. The changes to date, including the ouster of the agency’s clandestine service chief, have left current and former intelligence officials angry and unnerved. Some have been outspoken, including those who said Tuesday that they regarded Mr. Goss’s warning as part of an effort to suppress dissent within the organization.

In recent weeks, White House officials have complained that some C.I.A. officials have sought to undermine President Bush and his policies.

At a minimum, Mr. Goss’s memorandum appeared to be a swipe against an agency decision under George J. Tenet, his predecessor as director of central intelligence, to permit a senior analyst at the agency, Michael Scheuer, to write a book and grant interviews that were critical of the Bush administration’s policies on terrorism.

One former intelligence official said he saw nothing inappropriate in Mr. Goss’s warning, noting that the C.I.A. had long tried to distance itself and its employees from policy matters.

“Mike exploited a seam in the rules and inappropriately used it to express his own policy views,” the official said of Mr. Scheuer. “That did serious damage to the agency, because many people, including some in the White House, thought that he was being urged by the agency to take on the president. I know that was not the case.”

But a second former intelligence official said he was concerned that the memorandum and the changes represented an effort by Mr. Goss to stifle independence.

“If Goss is asking people to color their views and be a team player, that’s not what people at C.I.A. signed up for,” said the former intelligence official. The official and others interviewed in recent days spoke on condition that they not be named, saying they did not want to inflame tensions at the agency.

Some of the contents of Mr. Goss’s memorandum were first reported by The Washington Post. A complete copy of the document was obtained on Tuesday by The New York Times.

Tensions between the agency’s new leadership team, which took over in late September, and senior career officials are more intense than at any time since the late 1970’s. The most significant changes so far have been the resignations on Monday of Stephen R. Kappes, the deputy director of operations, and his deputy, Michael Sulick, but Mr. Goss told agency employees in the memorandum that he planned further changes “in the days and weeks ahead of us” that would involve “procedures, organization, senior personnel and areas of focus for our action.”

“I am committed to sharing these changes with you as they occur,” Mr. Goss said in the memorandum. “I do understand it is easy to be distracted by both the nature and the pace of change. I am confident, however, that you will remain deeply committed to our mission.”

Mr. Goss’s memorandum included a reminder that C.I.A. employees should “scrupulously honor our secrecy oath” by allowing the agency’s public affairs office and its Congressional relations branch to take the lead in all contacts with the media and with Congress. “We remain a secret organization,” he said.

Among the moves that Mr. Goss said he was weighing was the selection of a candidate to become the agency’s No. 2 official, the deputy director of central intelligence. The name being mentioned most often within the C.I.A. as a candidate, intelligence officials said, is Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, the director of the National Security Agency, which is responsible for intercepting electronic communications worldwide. The naming of a deputy director would be made by the White House, in a nomination subject to Senate confirmation.

In interviews this week, members of Congress as well as current and former intelligence officials said one reason the overhaul under way had left them unnerved was that Mr. Goss had not made clear what kind of agency he intended to put in place. But Mr. Goss’s memorandum did little to spell out that vision, and it did not make clear why the focus of overhaul efforts to date appeared to be on the operations directorate, which carries out spying and other covert missions around the world.

“It’s just very hard to divine what’s going on over there,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, who said he and other members of the Senate intelligence committee would be seeking answers at closed sessions this week. “But on issue after issue, there’s a real question about whether the country and the Congress are going to get an unvarnished picture of our intelligence situation at a critical time.”

Mr. Goss said in the memorandum that he recognized that intelligence officers were operating in an atmosphere of extraordinary pressures, after a series of reports critical of intelligence agencies’ performance in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq.

“The I.C. and its people have been relentlessly scrutinized and criticized,” he said, using an abbreviation for intelligence community. “Intelligence-related issues have become the fodder of partisan food fights and turf-power skirmishes. All the while, the demand for our services and products against a ruthless and unconventional enemy has expanded geometrically and we are expected to deliver - instantly. We have reason to be proud of our achievements and we need to be smarter about how we do our work in this operational climate.”

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

The Peter Principle And The Neocon Coup

November 17th, 2004 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

The Peter Principle And The Neocon Coup
By Robert Scheer
The Los Angeles Times

November 16th, 2004

The bloodletting has begun.

I’m not referring to the latest attempt to reconquer Iraq, but rather the wholesale political revenge campaign being waged by the hard-liners in the Bush administration against anybody and everybody inside the government who challenged the way the second Persian Gulf war in a decade was marketed and run.
Out: Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose political epitaph should now read, “You break it, you own it” for his prescient but unwanted warning to the president on the danger of imperial overreach in Iraq.

Out: Top CIA officials who dared challenge, behind the scenes, the White House’s unprecedented exploitation of raw intelligence data in order to sell a war to a Congress and a public hungry for revenge after 9/11.

Out: Veteran CIA counterterrorism expert and Osama bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer, better known as the best-selling author “Anonymous,” whose balanced and devastating critiques of the Iraq war, the CIA and the way President Bush is handling the war on terror have been a welcome counterpoint to the “it’s true if we say it’s true” idiocy of the White House PR machine.

Meanwhile, incompetence begat by ideological blindness has been rewarded. The neoconservatives who created the ongoing Iraq mess have more than survived the failure of their impossibly rosy scenarios for a peaceful and democratic Iraq under U.S. rule. In fact, despite calls for their resignations - from the former head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Anthony Zinni, among others - the neocon gang is thriving. They have not been held responsible for the “16 words” about yellowcake, the rise and fall of Ahmad Chalabi, the Abu Ghraib scandal, the post-invasion looting of Iraq’s munitions stores and the disastrous elimination of the Iraqi armed forces.

As of today, the neocons on Zinni’s list of losers - Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz; the vice president’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby; National Security Council staffer Elliott Abrams; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - are all still employed even as Bush’s new director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, is eviscerating the CIA’s leadership.

This is the culmination of a three-year campaign by the president’s men to scapegoat the CIA for the fact that 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch.

So far, half a dozen of the nation’s top spymasters have been forced out abruptly - a strange way to handle things at a time when Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are still seeking to attack the U.S. Ironically, this all comes as Goss is suppressing a lengthy study, prepared for Congress by the CIA’s inspector general, that, according to an intelligence official who has read it, names individuals in the government responsible for failures that paved the way for the 9/11 attacks.

Thus Bush, with Goss as his hatchet man, is having it both ways: He can be seen to be cleaning house at the CIA - when he is simply punishing independent voices - while denying Congress access to an independent audit of actual intelligence failures.

We should remember that as flawed as its performance was under former Director George J. Tenet, the CIA at least sometimes tried to be a counterweight to the fraudulent claims of Rumsfeld’s and Dick Cheney’s neoconservative staffs. All of the nation’s traditional intelligence centers were bypassed by a rogue operation based in Feith’s Office of Special Plans. Feith was given broad access to raw intelligence streams - the better to cherry-pick factoids and fabrications that found their way into even the president’s crucial prewar State of the Union address.

Now, by successfully discarding those who won’t buy into the administration’s ideological fantasies of remaking the world in our image, the neoconservatives have consolidated control of the United States’ vast military power.

With the ravaging of the CIA and the ousting of Powell - instead of the more-deserving Rumsfeld - the coup of the neoconservatives is complete. They have achieved a remarkable political victory by failing upward.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

CIA Plans To Purge Its Agency

November 16th, 2004 by Andy in The Politics of Intelligence

CIA Plans To Purge Its Agency
By Knut Royce

November 14, 2004

Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bush

The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
“The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House,” said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. “Goss was given instructions … to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president’s agenda.”

One of the first casualties appears to be Stephen R. Kappes, deputy director of clandestine services, the CIA’s most powerful division. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Kappes had tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Goss’ chief of staff, Patrick Murray, but at the behest of the White House had agreed to delay his decision till tomorrow.

But the former senior CIA official said that the White House “doesn’t want Steve Kappes to reconsider his resignation. That might be the spin they put on it, but they want him out.” He said the job had already been offered to the former chief of the European Division who retired after a spat with then-CIA Director George Tenet.

Another recently retired top CIA official said he was unsure Kappes had “officially resigned, but I do know he was unhappy.”

Without confirming or denying that the job offer had been made, a CIA spokesman asked Newsday to withhold naming the former officer because of his undercover role over the years. He said he had no comment about Goss’ personnel plans, but he added that changes at the top are not unusual when new directors come in.

On Friday John E. McLaughlin, a 32-year veteran of the intelligence division who served as acting CIA director before Goss took over, announced that he was retiring. The spokesman said that the retirement had been planned and was unrelated to the Kappes resignation or to other morale problems inside the CIA.

It could not be learned yesterday if the White House had identified Kappes, a respected operations officer, as one of the officials “disloyal” to Bush.

“The president understands and appreciates the sacrifices made by the members of the intelligence community in the war against terrorism,” said a White House official of the report that he was purging the CIA of “disloyal” officials. ” . . . The suggestion [that he ordered a purge] is inaccurate.”

But another former CIA official who retains good contacts within the agency said that Goss and his top aides, who served on his staff when Goss was chairman of the House intelligence committee, believe the agency had relied too much over the years on liaison work with foreign intelligence agencies and had not done enough to develop its own intelligence collection system.

“Goss is not a believer in liaison work,” said this retired official. But, he said, the CIA’s “best intelligence really comes from liaison work. The CIA is simply not going to develop the assets [agents and case officers] that would meet the intelligence requirements.”

Tensions between the White House and the CIA have been the talk of the town for at least a year, especially as leaks about the mishandling of the Iraq war have dominated front pages.

Some of the most damaging leaks came from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, who wrote a book anonymously called “Imperial Hubris” that criticized what he said was the administration’s lack of resolve in tracking down the al-Qaida chieftain and the reallocation of intelligence and military manpower from the war on terrorism to the war in Iraq. Scheuer announced Thursday that he was resigning from the agency.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

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