23 July 2005

Intelligence was manipulated, mangled, ignored, and analysts were harassed and bullied to present the false picture that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S.

That is the assessment of James Bamford, noted investigative journalist who's covered intelligence gathering for more than two decades in his book A Pretext for War. Every American should be outraged at how the Bush administration and the cabal of hawkish neoconservatives deceived and misrepresented intelligence in their quest for an already predetermined, preemptive war.
In talking with intelligence analysts and case officers, in the months leading up to the war none believed that Iraq posed a threat to the U.S. The most basic evidence was the fact that Iraq had never begun work on a long-range missile system (unlike Iran and North Korea), something that can be easily seen by imaging satellites space with a resolution down to the centimeter. And no country has ever built a warhead without simultaneously building a delivery system.

One CIA analyst from the Iraq Nonproliferation section told me that his boss once called his office together (about 50 people) and said, "You know what " if Bush wants to go to war, it's your job to give him a reason to do so." The former analyst added, "And I said, 'All right, it's time, it's time to go". And I just remember saying, 'This is something that the American public, if they ever knew, they would be outraged.'"

Congress was also lied to. Because Iraq had no long-range missiles, they were told in secret session that Iraq was planning to launch a series of unmanned drones loaded with chemical and biological agents against the East Coast of the U.S. Many members of Congress voted for the resolution exclusively because of that warning. It later turned out that not only did Iraq not have such warheads, the few drones they had were rudimentary, short range, and there was no way to launch them from sea off the East Coast in the first place. There were many such falsehoods.

In the first half of the book, Bamford gives a chronological view of events that lead up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strike on World Trade Center towers and Pentagon. He details a intelligence community ill prepared to advise properly and/or take corrective action. Military and intelligence leaders were paralyzed, and were informed on events unraveling by the same medium as the general public — cable news networks. These agencies were structured for the cold war, and had been slow in changing to meet the requirements for threats in a new global age. Intercepts that could have alerted authorites sat untranslated, FBI reports of suspicious flight school students were ignored, and agencies were plagued by a dearth of language translators.

The ascent of George Tenet is covered, and his campaign to modernize the agency. Historically, the CIA is tied to foreign embassies — without that lifeline, they are blinded. Ironic, that just a few years earlier, the Afghanistan campaign to rid the country of Soviet rule was celebrated as an monumental intelligence community victory. But Tenet only has a grip on 15% of the nation's intelligence operations — Donald Rumsfled controls the other 85% and embarked on setting up additional groups to tell him what he wanted to hear.

Still, the latter third of Pretext for War is the alarming section, where the neconservative capture of foreign policy dictates is explained. How the original Iraq invasion was a plan for Israel and then prime minister Netanyahu rejected it. But immediately after taking office, the President's top national security advisors — Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser began pleading for an invasion of Iraq, eager to unravel their plans initially designed for Israel and Netanyahu. Having worked for conservative pro-Israeli think tanks before Bush came to office, these individuals appear to be more concerned with the Likud party of Israel as they urged the United States to pull out of peace negotiations with the Palestinians and made the case for preemptive war to "rollback" Arab neighbors, and insitute puppet leaders friendly to Israel. When 9/11 occurred, this was the "crisis can be opportunity" moment the bloodlust yearning neoconservatives salivated for, and instead of focusing on the aftermath of the attacks, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz wanted to invade Iraq, despite there being no evidence of Iraq's involvement.

Bamford shows how dubious claim after dubious claim was trotted out by the Bush administration to justify a preemptive war with Iraq. Every charge is proven false, or garnered from an unreliable source. A compliant, obedient press eagerly regurgitated the PR copy handed to it, and elevated a convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi, whom the CIA discarded as incredulous years prior, to the front page of the New York Times. Obvious forgeries were floated as proof Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, yet the IAEA, ambassador Joseph Wilson, and after the invasion, the Iraq Survey Group all easily debunked this spurious claim. Other evidence referenced by the Bush administration was of equally suspicious quality — unnamed exiles belonging to Ahmed Chalabi's INC, and other fantastic, unreal accusations, uncollaborated and unsubstantiated.

The final chapter is a doozie, devoted to Colin Powell's UN Security Council speech, where Powell was cajoled into selling the invasion, despite his better judgement that the material in the script handed to him was blatantly false. Powell would argue for the removal of items, and those items would be then reinserted. He knew even as he spoke, the case was "anything but solid". But in fact, the cited evidence was all bad, largely supplied by Chalabi's team of con men. Sadly, the public was never told how weak and ambiguous the evidence was.

It was a triumph of the power of lies, not logic, in a massive disinformation campaign, abetted by a lazy and timid press.

19 July 2005

An astonishing ignorance of the intelligence community and the role of cover

11 former intelligence officers delivered this letter to Democrat and Republican leadership in the House and Senate and take umbrage with the official RNC talking points repeated ad nauseum across conservative media land.
These comments reveal an astonishing ignorance of the intelligence community and the role of cover. The fact is that there are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who “work at a desk” in the Washington, D.C. area every day who are undercover. Some have official cover, and some have non-official cover. Both classes of cover must and should be protected.

While we are pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting an investigation and that the U.S. Attorney General has recused himself, we believe that the partisan attacks against Valerie Plame are sending a deeply discouraging message to the men and women who have agreed to work undercover for their nation’s security.

We are not lawyers and are not qualified to determine whether the leakers technically violated the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act. However, we are confident that Valerie Plame was working in a cover status and that our nation’s leaders, regardless of political party, have a duty to protect all intelligence officers. We believe it is appropriate for the President to move proactively to dismiss from office or administratively punish any official who participated in any way in revealing Valerie Plame's status. Such an act by the President would send an unambiguous message that leaks of this nature will not be tolerated and would be consistent with his duties as the Commander-in-Chief.

We also believe it is important that Congress speak with one non-partisan voice on this issue. Intelligence officers should not be used as political footballs. In the case of Valerie Plame, she still works for the CIA and is not in a position to publicly defend her reputation and honor. We stand in her stead and ask that Republicans and Democrats honor her service to her country and stop the campaign of disparagement and innuendo aimed at discrediting Mrs. Wilson and her husband.

16 July 2005

Take a look at a real asshole

A loser in North Union Township, PA.
A T-ball coach seeking to keep a player with a mental disability off the field allegedly asked another player to hurt the boy, state police said Friday.

The alleged incident happened June 27 at R.W. Clark Little League Field in North Union Township, Fayette County, police said.

During pre-game warmups, Mark Reed Downs Jr. offered one of his players $25 to hit the 8-year-old boy in the head with a baseball, according to a police news release.

2 July 2005

And he just got back into his car and floored it

A VP for one of the nation's most prominent conservative think tanks reportedly shoves a 105 pound female ballet dancer to the ground in case of road rage.
But then the silver-haired, retired Navy lieutenant got out of his car, approached the red-headed ballet dancer riding a bike and allegedly shoved her to the ground, authorities said. He got back into his car and, as bystanders followed him, drove down the block to his nearby office, the bicyclist said.

The man was identified as Ted E. Schelenski, 64, vice president for finance and operations at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that promotes conservative policies. He pleaded not guilty this week to a charge of simple assault.

Just another prominent conservative bully, nothing to see here, move along…

1 July 2005

Real storyline of "Big Money" vs. "Ordinary Americans"

Reporters seem to prefer the fake storyline of "conservative" vs. "liberal", but even the selection of a Supreme Court replacement justice is going to boil down to a preference for a "corporate hack" that favors "big money".
Now it's true - the media will make this whole story about the Religious Right vs. Evil Secular Liberals. But behind the curtains in a dark little peep-show-like room, Corporate America will be busy lubing up the process and panting with glee as they take over our judiciary.

Surprised that this is what's really going on? Think I am making this up? Not so - read Big Business's paper of record, the Wall Street Journal, to get the real story. There you will find a story about how Corporate America is already scheming.