Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

The C.I.A. Report

August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007

Editorial (NYT)

The C.I.A. Report

The C.I.A. inspector general’s report on the agency’s failures before Sept. 11 was devastating — but not because it showed that America’s spies missed the rise of Al Qaeda. George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, rang the Qaeda alarm. He sent a memo to the entire intelligence community saying that he wanted no effort spared in the “war” with Osama bin Laden. He took on the president’s closest advisers to agitate for a strike on a Qaeda base in Afghanistan.

The disturbing thing was that this all happened under President Bill Clinton. When George W. Bush won the White House, Mr. Tenet seems to have shifted his priorities. The C.I.A. chief suddenly seemed consumed with hanging on to his job.

The Bush team was so busy in 2001 trying to upend America’s global relationships according to a neo-conservative agenda that the then national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, did not see any urgency in reports that Al Qaeda was determined to strike in the United States. Mr. Tenet later helped hype the “slam dunk” intelligence that Mr. Bush used to justify diverting the military from the war of necessity against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to the war of choice in Iraq.

Another disturbing aspect of the report released on Tuesday was its date, June 2005, which neatly sums up Mr. Bush’s policies on transparency and accountability — he doesn’t believe in either. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the report wasn’t released in 2005. Mr. Bush had just given Mr. Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his “pivotal” role in fighting Al Qaeda.

But it’s distressing that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, still says that he would not have released the report if the Democratic-led Congress had not required it. Like his predecessor, Porter Goss, who also quashed the report, General Hayden does not seem to have much confidence in the American people. “It will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed,” he said, adding that the inspector general’s office cannot do its work unless it is hush-hush.

We could not disagree more. The recommendations of the inspector general were tepid — a panel should decide whether senior leaders should be called to account on relatively narrow issues — and the administration has already refused to comply. But more broadly, the obsession with secrecy and refusal to accept public scrutiny have made a tragic mess of national security policy.

Americans still don’t have the full story of how Mr. Bush hustled them into a war in which United States soldiers are trapped without hope of victory. Congress has rushed to pass profoundly dangerous changes to the constitutional fabric — the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, recent changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — without real deliberation.

The good news is that Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, now runs the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he forced the release of this report. He also is pushing the committee to finally finish its investigation into the creation of the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

This is not about plowing old ground. Ignoring the mistakes of the past dooms a nation to repeat them. Just look at the comparison Mr. Bush drew yesterday between Iraq and Vietnam. The only lesson he found in the nation’s last foreign quagmire of a war was that it ended too quickly.

An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly cited the changing of the name of the C.I.A. headquarters building as a sign of shifting priorities by its former director, George Tenet, after President Bush assumed office in 2001. The building was renamed in honor of George H.W. Bush, the current president’s father, in 1999.

The Black Sites

August 9, 2007

A Reporter at Large

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mayer?printable=true

The Black Sites

A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program.

by Jane Mayer August 13, 2007

Text Size:
Small Text
Medium Text
Large Text

Print E-Mail Feeds

In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

Keywords
Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh;
Secret Interrogations;
Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.);
Al Qaeda;
Torture;
Pearl, Mariane;
Pearl, Daniel

In March, Mariane Pearl, the widow of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, received a phone call from Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General. At the time, Gonzales’s role in the controversial dismissal of eight United States Attorneys had just been exposed, and the story was becoming a scandal in Washington. Gonzales informed Pearl that the Justice Department was about to announce some good news: a terrorist in U.S. custody—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda leader who was the primary architect of the September 11th attacks—had confessed to killing her husband. (Pearl was abducted and beheaded five and a half years ago in Pakistan, by unidentified Islamic militants.) The Administration planned to release a transcript in which Mohammed boasted, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”

Pearl was taken aback. In 2003, she had received a call from Condoleezza Rice, who was then President Bush’s national-security adviser, informing her of the same news. But Rice’s revelation had been secret. Gonzales’s announcement seemed like a publicity stunt. Pearl asked him if he had proof that Mohammed’s confession was truthful; Gonzales claimed to have corroborating evidence but wouldn’t share it. “It’s not enough for officials to call me and say they believe it,” Pearl said. “You need evidence.” (Gonzales did not respond to requests for comment.)

The circumstances surrounding the confession of Mohammed, whom law-enforcement officials refer to as K.S.M., were perplexing. He had no lawyer. After his capture in Pakistan, in March of 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency had detained him in undisclosed locations for more than two years; last fall, he was transferred to military custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There were no named witnesses to his initial confession, and no solid information about what form of interrogation might have prodded him to talk, although reports had been published, in the Times and elsewhere, suggesting that C.I.A. officers had tortured him. At a hearing held at Guantánamo, Mohammed said that his testimony was freely given, but he also indicated that he had been abused by the C.I.A. (The Pentagon had classified as “top secret” a statement he had written detailing the alleged mistreatment.) And although Mohammed said that there were photographs confirming his guilt, U.S. authorities had found none. Instead, they had a copy of the video that had been released on the Internet, which showed the killer’s arms but offered no other clues to his identity.

Further confusing matters, a Pakistani named Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh had already been convicted of the abduction and murder, in 2002. A British-educated terrorist who had a history of staging kidnappings, he had been sentenced to death in Pakistan for the crime. But the Pakistani government, not known for its leniency, had stayed his execution. Indeed, hearings on the matter had been delayed a remarkable number of times—at least thirty—possibly because of his reported ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, which may have helped free him after he was imprisoned for terrorist activities in India. Mohammed’s confession would delay the execution further, since, under Pakistani law, any new evidence is grounds for appeal.

A surprising number of people close to the case are dubious of Mohammed’s confession. A longtime friend of Pearl’s, the former Journal reporter Asra Nomani, said, “The release of the confession came right in the midst of the U.S. Attorney scandal. There was a drumbeat for Gonzales’s resignation. It seemed like a calculated strategy to change the subject. Why now? They’d had the confession for years.” Mariane and Daniel Pearl were staying in Nomani’s Karachi house at the time of his murder, and Nomani has followed the case meticulously; this fall, she plans to teach a course on the topic at Georgetown University. She said, “I don’t think this confession resolves the case. You can’t have justice from one person’s confession, especially under such unusual circumstances. To me, it’s not convincing.” She added, “I called all the investigators. They weren’t just skeptical—they didn’t believe it.”

Special Agent Randall Bennett, the head of security for the U.S. consulate in Karachi when Pearl was killed—and whose lead role investigating the murder was featured in the recent film “A Mighty Heart”—said that he has interviewed all the convicted accomplices who are now in custody in Pakistan, and that none of them named Mohammed as playing a role. “K.S.M.’s name never came up,” he said. Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. officer, said, “My old colleagues say with one-hundred-per-cent certainty that it was not K.S.M. who killed Pearl.” A government official involved in the case said, “The fear is that K.S.M. is covering up for others, and that these people will be released.” And Judea Pearl, Daniel’s father, said, “Something is fishy. There are a lot of unanswered questions. K.S.M. can say he killed Jesus—he has nothing to lose.”

Mariane Pearl, who is relying on the Bush Administration to bring justice in her husband’s case, spoke carefully about the investigation. “You need a procedure that will get the truth,” she said. “An intelligence agency is not supposed to be above the law.”

Mohammed’s interrogation was part of a secret C.I.A. program, initiated after September 11th, in which terrorist suspects such as Mohammed were detained in “black sites”—secret prisons outside the United States—and subjected to unusually harsh treatment. The program was effectively suspended last fall, when President Bush announced that he was emptying the C.I.A.’s prisons and transferring the detainees to military custody in Guantánamo. This move followed a Supreme Court ruling, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which found that all detainees—including those held by the C.I.A.—had to be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions. These treaties, adopted in 1949, bar cruel treatment, degradation, and torture. In late July, the White House issued an executive order promising that the C.I.A. would adjust its methods in order to meet the Geneva standards. At the same time, Bush’s order pointedly did not disavow the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would likely be found illegal if used by officials inside the United States. The executive order means that the agency can once again hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black sites, without notifying their families or local authorities, or offering access to legal counsel.

The C.I.A.’s director, General Michael Hayden, has said that the program, which is designed to extract intelligence from suspects quickly, is an “irreplaceable” tool for combatting terrorism. And President Bush has said that “this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives, by helping us stop new attacks.” He claims that it has contributed to the disruption of at least ten serious Al Qaeda plots since September 11th, three of them inside the United States.

According to the Bush Administration, Mohammed divulged information of tremendous value during his detention. He is said to have helped point the way to the capture of Hambali, the Indonesian terrorist responsible for the 2002 bombings of night clubs in Bali. He also provided information on an Al Qaeda leader in England. Michael Sheehan, a former counterterrorism official at the State Department, said, “K.S.M. is the poster boy for using tough but legal tactics. He’s the reason these techniques exist. You can save lives with the kind of information he could give up.” Yet Mohammed’s confessions may also have muddled some key investigations. Perhaps under duress, he claimed involvement in thirty-one criminal plots—an improbable number, even for a high-level terrorist. Critics say that Mohammed’s case illustrates the cost of the C.I.A.’s desire for swift intelligence. Colonel Dwight Sullivan, the top defense lawyer at the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, which is expected eventually to try Mohammed for war crimes, called his serial confessions “a textbook example of why we shouldn’t allow coercive methods.”

The Bush Administration has gone to great lengths to keep secret the treatment of the hundred or so “high-value detainees” whom the C.I.A. has confined, at one point or another, since September 11th. The program has been extraordinarily “compartmentalized,” in the nomenclature of the intelligence world. By design, there has been virtually no access for outsiders to the C.I.A.’s prisoners. The utter isolation of these detainees has been described as essential to America’s national security. The Justice Department argued this point explicitly last November, in the case of a Baltimore-area resident named Majid Khan, who was held for more than three years by the C.I.A. Khan, the government said, had to be prohibited from access to a lawyer specifically because he might describe the “alternative interrogation methods” that the agency had used when questioning him. These methods amounted to a state secret, the government argued, and disclosure of them could “reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage.” (The case has not yet been decided.)

Given this level of secrecy, the public and all but a few members of Congress who have been sworn to silence have had to take on faith President Bush’s assurances that the C.I.A.’s internment program has been humane and legal, and has yielded crucial intelligence. Representative Alcee Hastings, a Democratic member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said, “We talk to the authorities about these detainees, but, of course, they’re not going to come out and tell us that they beat the living daylights out of someone.” He recalled learning in 2003 that Mohammed had been captured. “It was good news,” he said. “So I tried to find out: Where is this guy? And how is he being treated?” For more than three years, Hastings said, “I could never pinpoint anything.” Finally, he received some classified briefings on the Mohammed interrogation. Hastings said that he “can’t go into details” about what he found out, but, speaking of Mohammed’s treatment, he said that even if it wasn’t torture, as the Administration claims, “it ain’t right, either. Something went wrong.”

Since the drafting of the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross has played a special role in safeguarding the rights of prisoners of war. For decades, governments have allowed officials from the organization to report on the treatment of detainees, to insure that standards set by international treaties are being maintained. The Red Cross, however, was unable to get access to the C.I.A.’s prisoners for five years. Finally, last year, Red Cross officials were allowed to interview fifteen detainees, after they had been transferred to Guantánamo. One of the prisoners was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. What the Red Cross learned has been kept from the public. The committee believes that its continued access to prisoners worldwide is contingent upon confidentiality, and therefore it addresses violations privately with the authorities directly responsible for prisoner treatment and detention. For this reason, Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman in Washington, said, “The I.C.R.C. does not comment on its findings publicly. Its work is confidential.”

The public-affairs office at the C.I.A. and officials at the congressional intelligence-oversight committees would not even acknowledge the existence of the report. Among the few people who are believed to have seen it are Condoleezza Rice, now the Secretary of State; Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; John Bellinger III, the Secretary of State’s legal adviser; Hayden; and John Rizzo, the agency’s acting general counsel. Some members of the Senate and House intelligence-oversight committees are also believed to have had limited access to the report.

Confidentiality may be particularly stringent in this case. Congressional and other Washington sources familiar with the report said that it harshly criticized the C.I.A.’s practices. One of the sources said that the Red Cross described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.

Concern about the legality of the C.I.A.’s program reached a previously unreported breaking point last week when Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the intelligence committee, quietly put a “hold” on the confirmation of John Rizzo, who as acting general counsel was deeply involved in establishing the agency’s interrogation and detention policies. Wyden’s maneuver essentially stops the nomination from going forward. “I question if there’s been adequate legal oversight,” Wyden told me. He said that after studying a classified addendum to President Bush’s new executive order, which specifies permissible treatment of detainees, “I am not convinced that all of these techniques are either effective or legal. I don’t want to see well-intentioned C.I.A. officers breaking the law because of shaky legal guidance.”

A former C.I.A. officer, who supports the agency’s detention and interrogation policies, said he worried that, if the full story of the C.I.A. program ever surfaced, agency personnel could face criminal prosecution. Within the agency, he said, there is a “high level of anxiety about political retribution” for the interrogation program. If congressional hearings begin, he said, “several guys expect to be thrown under the bus.” He noted that a number of C.I.A. officers have taken out professional liability insurance, to help with potential legal fees.

Paul Gimigliano, a spokesman for the C.I.A., denied any legal impropriety, stressing that “the agency’s terrorist-detention program has been implemented lawfully. And torture is illegal under U.S. law. The people who have been part of this important effort are well-trained, seasoned professionals.” This spring, the Associated Press published an article quoting the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Silvestre Reyes, who said that Hayden, the C.I.A. director, “vehemently denied” the Red Cross’s conclusions. A U.S. official dismissed the Red Cross report as a mere compilation of allegations made by terrorists. And Robert Grenier, a former head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, said that “the C.I.A.’s interrogations were nothing like Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo. They were very, very regimented. Very meticulous.” He said, “The program is very careful. It’s completely legal.”

Accurately or not, Bush Administration officials have described the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo as the unauthorized actions of ill-trained personnel, eleven of whom have been convicted of crimes. By contrast, the treatment of high-value detainees has been directly, and repeatedly, approved by President Bush. The program is monitored closely by C.I.A. lawyers, and supervised by the agency’s director and his subordinates at the Counterterrorism Center. While Mohammed was being held by the agency, detailed dossiers on the treatment of detainees were regularly available to the former C.I.A. director George Tenet, according to informed sources inside and outside the agency. Through a spokesperson, Tenet denied making day-to-day decisions about the treatment of individual detainees. But, according to a former agency official, “Every single plan is drawn up by interrogators, and then submitted for approval to the highest possible level—meaning the director of the C.I.A. Any change in the plan—even if an extra day of a certain treatment was added—was signed off by the C.I.A. director.”

On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a secret Presidential finding authorizing the C.I.A. to create paramilitary teams to hunt, capture, detain, or kill designated terrorists almost anywhere in the world. Yet the C.I.A. had virtually no trained interrogators. A former C.I.A. officer involved in fighting terrorism said that, at first, the agency was crippled by its lack of expertise. “It began right away, in Afghanistan, on the fly,” he recalled. “They invented the program of interrogation with people who had no understanding of Al Qaeda or the Arab world.” The former officer said that the pressure from the White House, in particular from Vice-President Dick Cheney, was intense: “They were pushing us: ‘Get information! Do not let us get hit again!’ ” In the scramble, he said, he searched the C.I.A.’s archives, to see what interrogation techniques had worked in the past. He was particularly impressed with the Phoenix Program, from the Vietnam War. Critics, including military historians, have described it as a program of state-sanctioned torture and murder. A Pentagon-contract study found that, between 1970 and 1971, ninety-seven per cent of the Vietcong targeted by the Phoenix Program were of negligible importance. But, after September 11th, some C.I.A. officials viewed the program as a useful model. A. B. Krongard, who was the executive director of the C.I.A. from 2001 to 2004, said that the agency turned to “everyone we could, including our friends in Arab cultures,” for interrogation advice, among them those in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, all of which the State Department regularly criticizes for human-rights abuses.

The C.I.A. knew even less about running prisons than it did about hostile interrogations. Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of European operations at the C.I.A., and the author of a recent book, “On the Brink: How the White House Compromised U.S. Intelligence,” said, “The agency had no experience in detention. Never. But they insisted on arresting and detaining people in this program. It was a mistake, in my opinion. You can’t mix intelligence and police work. But the White House was really pushing. They wanted someone to do it. So the C.I.A. said, ‘We’ll try.’ George Tenet came out of politics, not intelligence. His whole modus operandi was to please the principal. We got stuck with all sorts of things. This is really the legacy of a director who never said no to anybody.”

Many officials inside the C.I.A. had misgivings. “A lot of us knew this would be a can of worms,” the former officer said. “We warned them, It’s going to become an atrocious mess.” The problem from the start, he said, was that no one had thought through what he called “the disposal plan.” He continued, “What are you going to do with these people? The utility of someone like K.S.M. is, at most, six months to a year. You exhaust them. Then what? It would have been better if we had executed them.”

The C.I.A. program’s first important detainee was Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda operative, who was captured by Pakistani forces in March of 2002. Lacking in-house specialists on interrogation, the agency hired a group of outside contractors, who implemented a regime of techniques that one well-informed former adviser to the American intelligence community described as “a ‘Clockwork Orange’ kind of approach.” The experts were retired military psychologists, and their backgrounds were in training Special Forces soldiers how to survive torture, should they ever be captured by enemy states. The program, known as SERE—an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape—was created at the end of the Korean War. It subjected trainees to simulated torture, including waterboarding (simulated drowning), sleep deprivation, isolation, exposure to temperature extremes, enclosure in tiny spaces, bombardment with agonizing sounds, and religious and sexual humiliation. The SERE program was designed strictly for defense against torture regimes, but the C.I.A.’s new team used its expertise to help interrogators inflict abuse. “They were very arrogant, and pro-torture,” a European official knowledgeable about the program said. “They sought to render the detainees vulnerable—to break down all of their senses. It takes a psychologist trained in this to understand these rupturing experiences.”

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’ ” He said that, inside the C.I.A., where a number of scientists work, there was strong internal opposition to the new techniques. “Behavioral scientists said, ‘Don’t even think about this!’ They thought officers could be prosecuted.”

Nevertheless, the SERE experts’ theories were apparently put into practice with Zubaydah’s interrogation. Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was not only waterboarded, as has been previously reported; he was also kept for a prolonged period in a cage, known as a “dog box,” which was so small that he could not stand. According to an eyewitness, one psychologist advising on the treatment of Zubaydah, James Mitchell, argued that he needed to be reduced to a state of “learned helplessness.” (Mitchell disputes this characterization.)

Steve Kleinman, a reserve Air Force colonel and an experienced interrogator who has known Mitchell professionally for years, said that “learned helplessness was his whole paradigm.” Mitchell, he said, “draws a diagram showing what he says is the whole cycle. It starts with isolation. Then they eliminate the prisoners’ ability to forecast the future—when their next meal is, when they can go to the bathroom. It creates dread and dependency. It was the K.G.B. model. But the K.G.B. used it to get people who had turned against the state to confess falsely. The K.G.B. wasn’t after intelligence.”

As the C.I.A. captured and interrogated other Al Qaeda figures, it established a protocol of psychological coercion. The program tied together many strands of the agency’s secret history of Cold War-era experiments in behavioral science. (In June, the C.I.A. declassified long-held secret documents known as the Family Jewels, which shed light on C.I.A. drug experiments on rats and monkeys, and on the infamous case of Frank R. Olson, an agency employee who leaped to his death from a hotel window in 1953, nine days after he was unwittingly drugged with LSD.) The C.I.A.’s most useful research focussed on the surprisingly powerful effects of psychological manipulations, such as extreme sensory deprivation. According to Alfred McCoy, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, who has written a history of the C.I.A.’s experiments in coercing subjects, the agency learned that “if subjects are confined without light, odors, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked.”

Agency scientists found that in just a few hours some subjects suspended in water tanks—or confined in isolated rooms wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs—regressed to semi-psychotic states. Moreover, McCoy said, detainees become so desperate for human interaction that “they bond with the interrogator like a father, or like a drowning man having a lifesaver thrown at him. If you deprive people of all their senses, they’ll turn to you like their daddy.” McCoy added that “after the Cold War we put away those tools. There was bipartisan reform. We backed away from those dark days. Then, under the pressure of the war on terror, they didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

The U.S. government first began tracking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 1993, shortly after his nephew Ramzi Yousef blew a gaping hole in the World Trade Center. Mohammed, officials learned, had transferred money to Yousef. Mohammed, born in either 1964 or 1965, was raised in a religious Sunni Muslim family in Kuwait, where his family had migrated from the Baluchistan region of Pakistan. In the mid-eighties, he was trained as a mechanical engineer in the U.S., attending two colleges in North Carolina.

As a teen-ager, Mohammed had been drawn to militant, and increasingly violent, Muslim causes. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of sixteen, and, after his graduation from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro—where he was remembered as a class clown, but religious enough to forgo meat when eating at Burger King—he signed on with the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, receiving military training and establishing ties with Islamist terrorists. By all accounts, his animus toward the U.S. was rooted in a hatred of Israel.

In 1994, Mohammed, who was impressed by Yousef’s notoriety after the first World Trade Center bombing, joined him in scheming to blow up twelve U.S. jumbo jets over two days. The so-called Bojinka plot was disrupted in 1995, when Philippine police broke into an apartment that Yousef and other terrorists were sharing in Manila, which was filled with bomb-making materials. At the time of the raid, Mohammed was working in Doha, Qatar, at a government job. The following year, he narrowly escaped capture by F.B.I. officers and slipped into the global jihadist network, where he eventually joined forces with Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Along the way, he married and had children.

Many journalistic accounts have presented Mohammed as a charismatic, swashbuckling figure: in the Philippines, he was said to have flown a helicopter close enough to a girlfriend’s office window so that she could see him; in Pakistan, he supposedly posed as an anonymous bystander and gave interviews to news reporters about his nephew’s arrest. Neither story is true. But Mohammed did seem to enjoy taunting authorities after the September 11th attacks, which, in his eventual confession, he claimed to have orchestrated “from A to Z.” In April, 2002, Mohammed arranged to be interviewed on Al Jazeera by its London bureau chief, Yosri Fouda, and took personal credit for the atrocities. “I am the head of the Al Qaeda military committee,” he said. “And yes, we did it.” Fouda, who conducted the interview at an Al Qaeda safe house in Karachi, said that he was astounded not only by Mohammed’s boasting but also by his seeming imperviousness to the danger of being caught. Mohammed permitted Al Jazeera to reveal that he was hiding out in the Karachi area. When Fouda left the apartment, Mohammed, apparently unarmed, walked him downstairs and out into the street.

In the early months of 2003, U.S. authorities reportedly paid a twenty-five-million-dollar reward for information that led to Mohammed’s arrest. U.S. officials closed in on him, at 4 A.M. on March 1st, waking him up in a borrowed apartment in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The officials hung back as Pakistani authorities handcuffed and hooded him, and took him to a safe house. Reportedly, for the first two days, Mohammed robotically recited Koranic verses and refused to divulge much more than his name. A videotape obtained by “60 Minutes” shows Mohammed at the end of this episode, complaining of a head cold; an American voice can be heard in the background. This was the last image of Mohammed to be seen by the public. By March 4th, he was in C.I.A. custody.

Captured along with Mohammed, according to some accounts, was a letter from bin Laden, which may have led officials to think that he knew where the Al Qaeda founder was hiding. If Mohammed did have this crucial information, it was time sensitive—bin Laden never stayed in one place for long—and officials needed to extract it quickly. At the time, many American intelligence officials still feared a “second wave” of Al Qaeda attacks, ratcheting the pressure further.

According to George Tenet’s recent memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Mohammed told his captors that he wouldn’t talk until he was given a lawyer in New York, where he assumed he would be taken. (He had been indicted there in connection with the Bojinka plot.) Tenet writes, “Had that happened, I am confident that we would have obtained none of the information he had in his head about imminent threats against the American people.” Opponents of the C.I.A.’s approach, however, note that Ramzi Yousef gave a voluminous confession after being read his Miranda rights. “These guys are egomaniacs,” a former federal prosecutor said. “They love to talk!”

A complete picture of Mohammed’s time in secret detention remains elusive. But a partial narrative has emerged through interviews with European and American sources in intelligence, government, and legal circles, as well as with former detainees who have been released from C.I.A. custody. People familiar with Mohammed’s allegations about his interrogation, and interrogations of other high-value detainees, describe the accounts as remarkably consistent.

Soon after Mohammed’s arrest, sources say, his American captors told him, “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back.” He was first taken to a secret U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan. According to a Human Rights Watch report released two years ago, there was a C.I.A.-affiliated black site in Afghanistan by 2002: an underground prison near Kabul International Airport. Distinctive for its absolute lack of light, it was referred to by detainees as the Dark Prison. Another detention facility was reportedly a former brick factory, just north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. The latter became infamous for the 2002 death of a detainee, reportedly from hypothermia, after prison officials stripped him naked and chained him to the floor of his concrete cell, in freezing temperatures.

In all likelihood, Mohammed was transported from Pakistan to one of the Afghan sites by a team of black-masked commandos attached to the C.I.A.’s paramilitary Special Activities Division. According to a report adopted in June by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, titled “Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees,” detainees were “taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes.” (Some personnel reportedly wore black clothes made from specially woven synthetic fabric that couldn’t be ripped or torn.) A former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the “takeout” of prisoners as a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location.

A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories during the takeout of detainees, likened the treatment to “sodomy.” He said, “It was used to absolutely strip the detainee of any dignity. It breaks down someone’s sense of impenetrability. The interrogation became a process not just of getting information but of utterly subordinating the detainee through humiliation.” The former C.I.A. officer confirmed that the agency frequently photographed the prisoners naked, “because it’s demoralizing.” The person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said that photos were also part of the C.I.A.’s quality-control process. They were passed back to case officers for review.

A secret government document, dated December 10, 2002, detailing “SERE Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure,” outlines the advantages of stripping detainees. “In addition to degradation of the detainee, stripping can be used to demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor or to debilitate the detainee.” The document advises interrogators to “tear clothing from detainees by firmly pulling downward against buttoned buttons and seams. Tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.” The memo also advocates the “Shoulder Slap,” “Stomach Slap,” “Hooding,” “Manhandling,” “Walling,” and a variety of “Stress Positions,” including one called “Worship the Gods.”

In the process of being transported, C.I.A. detainees such as Mohammed were screened by medical experts, who checked their vital signs, took blood samples, and marked a chart with a diagram of a human body, noting scars, wounds, and other imperfections. As the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry put it, “It’s like when you hire a motor vehicle, circling where the scratches are on the rearview mirror. Each detainee was continually assessed, physically and psychologically.”

According to sources, Mohammed said that, while in C.I.A. custody, he was placed in his own cell, where he remained naked for several days. He was questioned by an unusual number of female handlers, perhaps as an additional humiliation. He has alleged that he was attached to a dog leash, and yanked in such a way that he was propelled into the walls of his cell. Sources say that he also claimed to have been suspended from the ceiling by his arms, his toes barely touching the ground. The pressure on his wrists evidently became exceedingly painful.

Ramzi Kassem, who teaches at Yale Law School, said that a Yemeni client of his, Sanad al-Kazimi, who is now in Guantánamo, alleged that he had received similar treatment in the Dark Prison, the facility near Kabul. Kazimi claimed to have been suspended by his arms for long periods, causing his legs to swell painfully. “It’s so traumatic, he can barely speak of it,” Kassem said. “He breaks down in tears.” Kazimi also claimed that, while hanging, he was beaten with electric cables.

According to sources familiar with interrogation techniques, the hanging position is designed, in part, to prevent detainees from being able to sleep. The former C.I.A. officer, who is knowledgeable about the interrogation program, explained that “sleep deprivation works. Your electrolyte balance changes. You lose all balance and ability to think rationally. Stuff comes out.” Sleep deprivation has been recognized as an effective form of coercion since the Middle Ages, when it was called tormentum insomniae. It was also recognized for decades in the United States as an illegal form of torture. An American Bar Association report, published in 1930, which was cited in a later U.S. Supreme Court decision, said, “It has been known since 1500 at least that deprivation of sleep is the most effective torture and certain to produce any confession desired.”

Under President Bush’s new executive order, C.I.A. detainees must receive the “basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.” Sleep, according to the order, is not among the basic necessities.

In addition to keeping a prisoner awake, the simple act of remaining upright can over time cause significant pain. McCoy, the historian, noted that “longtime standing” was a common K.G.B. interrogation technique. In his 2006 book, “A Question of Torture,” he writes that the Soviets found that making a victim stand for eighteen to twenty-four hours can produce “excruciating pain, as ankles double in size, skin becomes tense and intensely painful, blisters erupt oozing watery serum, heart rates soar, kidneys shut down, and delusions deepen.”

Mohammed is said to have described being chained naked to a metal ring in his cell wall for prolonged periods in a painful crouch. (Several other detainees who say that they were confined in the Dark Prison have described identical treatment.) He also claimed that he was kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room, where he was doused with ice water. The practice, which can cause hypothermia, violates the Geneva Conventions, and President Bush’s new executive order arguably bans it.

Some detainees held by the C.I.A. claimed that their cells were bombarded with deafening sound twenty-fours hours a day for weeks, and even months. One detainee, Binyam Mohamed, who is now in Guantánamo, told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that speakers blared music into his cell while he was handcuffed. Detainees recalled the sound as ranging from ghoulish laughter, “like the soundtrack from a horror film,” to ear-splitting rap anthems. Stafford Smith said that his client found the psychological torture more intolerable than the physical abuse that he said he had been previously subjected to in Morocco, where, he said, local intelligence agents had sliced him with a razor blade. “The C.I.A. worked people day and night for months,” Stafford Smith quoted Binyam Mohamed as saying. “Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and doors, screaming their heads off.”

Professor Kassem said his Yemeni client, Kazimi, had told him that, during his incarceration in the Dark Prison, he attempted suicide three times, by ramming his head into the walls. “He did it until he lost consciousness,” Kassem said. “Then they stitched him back up. So he did it again. The next time, he woke up, he was chained, and they’d given him tranquillizers. He asked to go to the bathroom, and then he did it again.” This last time, Kazimi was given more tranquillizers, and chained in a more confining manner.

The case of Khaled el-Masri, another detainee, has received wide attention. He is the German car salesman whom the C.I.A. captured in 2003 and dispatched to Afghanistan, based on erroneous intelligence; he was released in 2004, and Condoleezza Rice reportedly conceded the mistake to the German chancellor. Masri is considered one of the more credible sources on the black-site program, because Germany has confirmed that he has no connections to terrorism. He has also described inmates bashing their heads against the walls. Much of his account appeared on the front page of the Times. But, during a visit to America last fall, he became tearful as he recalled the plight of a Tanzanian in a neighboring cell. The man seemed “psychologically at the end,” he said. “I could hear him ramming his head against the wall in despair. I tried to calm him down. I asked the doctor, ‘Will you take care of this human being?’ ” But the doctor, whom Masri described as American, refused to help. Masri also said that he was told that guards had “locked the Tanzanian in a suitcase for long periods of time—a foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit.” (Masri did not witness such abuse.)

Masri described his prison in Afghanistan as a filthy hole, with walls scribbled on in Pashtun and Arabic. He was given no bed, only a coarse blanket on the floor. At night, it was too cold to sleep. He said, “The water was putrid. If you took a sip, you could taste it for hours. You could smell a foul smell from it three metres away.” The Salt Pit, he said, “was managed and run by the Americans. It was not a secret. They introduced themselves as Americans.” He added, “When anything came up, they said they couldn’t make a decision. They said, ‘We will have to pass it on to Washington.’ ” The interrogation room at the Salt Pit, he said, was overseen by a half-dozen English-speaking masked men, who shoved him and shouted at him, saying, “You’re in a country where there’s no rule of law. You might be buried here.”

According to two former C.I.A. officers, an interrogator of Mohammed told them that the Pakistani was kept in a cell over which a sign was placed: “The Proud Murderer of 3,000 Americans.” (Another source calls this apocryphal.) One of these former officers defends the C.I.A.’s program by noting that “there was absolutely nothing done to K.S.M. that wasn’t done to the interrogators themselves”—a reference to SERE-like training. Yet the Red Cross report emphasizes that it was the simultaneous use of several techniques for extended periods that made the treatment “especially abusive.” Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been a prominent critic of the Administration’s embrace of harsh interrogation techniques, said that, particularly with sensory deprivation, “there’s a point where it’s torture. You can put someone in a refrigerator and it’s torture. Everything is a matter of degree.”

One day, Mohammed was apparently transferred to a specially designated prison for high-value detainees in Poland. Such transfers were so secretive, according to the report by the Council of Europe, that the C.I.A. filed dummy flight plans, indicating that the planes were heading elsewhere. Once Polish air space was entered, the Polish aviation authority would secretly shepherd the flight, leaving no public documentation. The Council of Europe report notes that the Polish authorities would file a one-way flight plan out of the country, creating a false paper trail. (The Polish government has strongly denied that any black sites were established in the country.)

No more than a dozen high-value detainees were held at the Polish black site, and none have been released from government custody; accordingly, no first-hand accounts of conditions there have emerged. But, according to well-informed sources, it was a far more high-tech facility than the prisons in Afghanistan. The cells had hydraulic doors and air-conditioning. Multiple cameras in each cell provided video surveillance of the detainees. In some ways, the circumstances were better: the detainees were given bottled water. Without confirming the existence of any black sites, Robert Grenier, the former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, said, “The agency’s techniques became less aggressive as they learned the art of interrogation,” which, he added, “is an art.”

Mohammed was kept in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation, during which every point of reference was erased. The Council on Europe’s report describes a four-month isolation regime as typical. The prisoners had no exposure to natural light, making it impossible for them to tell if it was night or day. They interacted only with masked, silent guards. (A detainee held at what was most likely an Eastern European black site, Mohammed al-Asad, told me that white noise was piped in constantly, although during electrical outages he could hear people crying.) According to a source familiar with the Red Cross report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that he was shackled and kept naked, except for a pair of goggles and earmuffs. (Some prisoners were kept naked for as long as forty days.) He had no idea where he was, although, at one point, he apparently glimpsed Polish writing on a water bottle.

In the C.I.A.’s program, meals were delivered sporadically, to insure that the prisoners remained temporally disoriented. The food was largely tasteless, and barely enough to live on. Mohammed, who upon his capture in Rawalpindi was photographed looking flabby and unkempt, was now described as being slim. Experts on the C.I.A. program say that the administering of food is part of its psychological arsenal. Sometimes portions were smaller than the day before, for no apparent reason. “It was all part of the conditioning,” the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said. “It’s all calibrated to develop dependency.”

The inquiry source said that most of the Poland detainees were waterboarded, including Mohammed. According to the sources familiar with the Red Cross report, Mohammed claimed to have been waterboarded five times. Two former C.I.A. officers who are friends with one of Mohammed’s interrogators called this bravado, insisting that he was waterboarded only once. According to one of the officers, Mohammed needed only to be shown the drowning equipment again before he “broke.”

“Waterboarding works,” the former officer said. “Drowning is a baseline fear. So is falling. People dream about it. It’s human nature. Suffocation is a very scary thing. When you’re waterboarded, you’re inverted, so it exacerbates the fear. It’s not painful, but it scares the shit out of you.” (The former officer was waterboarded himself in a training course.) Mohammed, he claimed, “didn’t resist. He sang right away. He cracked real quick.” He said, “A lot of them want to talk. Their egos are unimaginable. K.S.M. was just a little doughboy. He couldn’t stand toe to toe and fight it out.”

The former officer said that the C.I.A. kept a doctor standing by during interrogations. He insisted that the method was safe and effective, but said that it could cause lasting psychic damage to the interrogators. During interrogations, the former agency official said, officers worked in teams, watching each other behind two-way mirrors. Even with this group support, the friend said, Mohammed’s interrogator “has horrible nightmares.” He went on, “When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but it’s well outside the norm. You can’t go to that dark a place without it changing you.” He said of his friend, “He’s a good guy. It really haunts him. You are inflicting something really evil and horrible on somebody.”

Among the few C.I.A. officials who knew the details of the detention and interrogation program, there was a tense debate about where to draw the line in terms of treatment. John Brennan, Tenet’s former chief of staff, said, “It all comes down to individual moral barometers.” Waterboarding, in particular, troubled many officials, from both a moral and a legal perspective. Until 2002, when Bush Administration lawyers asserted that waterboarding was a permissible interrogation technique for “enemy combatants,” it was classified as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. American soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War.

A C.I.A. source said that Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding only after interrogators determined that he was hiding information from them. But Mohammed has apparently said that, even after he started coöperating, he was waterboarded. Footnotes to the 9/11 Commission report indicate that by April 17, 2003—a month and a half after he was captured—Mohammed had already started providing substantial information on Al Qaeda. Nonetheless, according to the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, he was kept in isolation for years. During this time, Mohammed supplied intelligence on the history of the September 11th plot, and on the structure and operations of Al Qaeda. He also described plots still in a preliminary phase of development, such as a plan to bomb targets on America’s West Coast.

Ultimately, however, Mohammed claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony became to seem inherently dubious. In addition to confessing to the Pearl murder, he said that he had hatched plans to assassinate President Clinton, President Carter, and Pope John Paul II. Bruce Riedel, who was a C.I.A. analyst for twenty-nine years, and who now works at the Brookings Institution, said, “It’s difficult to give credence to any particular area of this large a charge sheet that he confessed to, considering the situation he found himself in. K.S.M. has no prospect of ever seeing freedom again, so his only gratification in life is to portray himself as the James Bond of jihadism.”

By 2004, there were growing calls within the C.I.A. to transfer to military custody the high-value detainees who had told interrogators what they knew, and to afford them some kind of due process. But Donald Rumsfeld, then the Defense Secretary, who had been heavily criticized for the abusive conditions at military prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, refused to take on the agency’s detainees, a former top C.I.A. official said. “Rumsfeld’s attitude was, You’ve got a real problem.” Rumsfeld, the official said, “was the third most powerful person in the U.S. government, but he only looked out for the interests of his department—not the whole Administration.” (A spokesperson for Rumsfeld said that he had no comment.)

C.I.A. officials were stymied until the Supreme Court’s Hamdan ruling, which prompted the Administration to send what it said were its last high-value detainees to Cuba. Robert Grenier, like many people in the C.I.A., was relieved. “There has to be some sense of due process,” he said. “We can’t just make people disappear.” Still, he added, “The most important source of intelligence we had after 9/11 came from the interrogations of high-value detainees.” And he said that Mohammed was “the most valuable of the high-value detainees, because he had operational knowledge.” He went on, “I can respect people who oppose aggressive interrogations, but they should admit that their principles may be putting American lives at risk.”

Yet Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later the State Department’s top counsellor, under Rice, is not convinced that eliciting information from detainees justifies “physical torment.” After leaving the government last year, he gave a speech in Houston, in which he said, “The question would not be, Did you get information that proved useful? Instead it would be, Did you get information that could have been usefully gained only from these methods?” He concluded, “My own view is that the cool, carefully considered, methodical, prolonged, and repeated subjection of captives to physical torment, and the accompanying psychological terror, is immoral.”

Without more transparency, the value of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program is impossible to evaluate. Setting aside the moral, ethical, and legal issues, even supporters, such as John Brennan, acknowledge that much of the information that coercion produces is unreliable. As he put it, “All these methods produced useful information, but there was also a lot that was bogus.” When pressed, one former top agency official estimated that “ninety per cent of the information was unreliable.” Cables carrying Mohammed’s interrogation transcripts back to Washington reportedly were prefaced with the warning that “the detainee has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead.” Mohammed, like virtually all the top Al Qaeda prisoners held by the C.I.A., has claimed that, while under coercion, he lied to please his captors.

In theory, a military commission could sort out which parts of Mohammed’s confession are true and which are lies, and obtain a conviction. Colonel Morris D. Davis, the chief prosecutor at the Office of Military Commissions, said that he expects to bring charges against Mohammed “in a number of months.” He added, “I’d be shocked if the defense didn’t try to make K.S.M.’s treatment a problem for me, but I don’t think it will be insurmountable.”

Critics of the Administration fear that the unorthodox nature of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program will make it impossible to prosecute the entire top echelon of Al Qaeda leaders in captivity. Already, according to the Wall Street Journal, credible allegations of torture have caused a Marine Corps prosecutor reluctantly to decline to bring charges against Mohamedou Ould Slahi, an alleged Al Qaeda leader held in Guantánamo. Bruce Riedel, the former C.I.A. analyst, asked, “What are you going to do with K.S.M. in the long run? It’s a very good question. I don’t think anyone has an answer. If you took him to any real American court, I think any judge would say there is no admissible evidence. It would be thrown out.”

The problems with Mohammed’s coerced confessions are especially glaring in the Daniel Pearl case. It may be that Mohammed killed Pearl, but contradictory evidence and opinion continue to surface. Yosri Fouda, the Al Jazeera reporter who interviewed Mohammed in Karachi, said that although Mohammed handed him a package of propaganda items, including an unedited video of the Pearl murder, he never identified himself as playing a role in the killing, which occurred in the same city just two months earlier. And a federal official involved in Mohammed’s case said, “He has no history of killing with his own hands, although he’s proved happy to commit mass murder from afar.” Al Qaeda’s leadership had increasingly focussed on symbolic political targets. “For him, it’s not personal,” the official said. “It’s business.”

Ordinarily, the U.S. legal system is known for resolving such mysteries with painstaking care. But the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program, Senator Levin said, has undermined the public’s trust in American justice, both here and abroad. “A guy as dangerous as K.S.M. is, and half the world wonders if they can believe him—is that what we want?” he asked. “Statements that can’t be believed, because people think they rely on torture?”

Asra Nomani, the Pearls’ friend, said of the Mohammed confession, “I’m not interested in unfair justice, even for bad people.” She went on, “Danny was such a person of conscience. I don’t think he would have wanted all of this dirty business. I don’t think he would have wanted someone being tortured. He would have been repulsed. This is the kind of story that Danny would have investigated. He really believed in American principles.”

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer: Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

July 27, 2007

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer: Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer
Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

By Webster G. Tarpley
7-21-7

“The greatest threat now is ‘a 9/11’ occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities.”
— Dick Cheney on Face the Nation, CBS, April 15, 2007

A few days ago, a group of lawyers from western Massachusetts met with the local congressman, Democrat John Olver. Their request was that Olver take part in the urgent effort to impeach Bush and Cheney. Olver responded by saying that he had no intention of doing anything to support impeachment. He went further, offering the information that the United States would soon attack Iran, and that these hostilities would be followed by the imposition of a martial law regime here.

According to reports in the British press, the Cheney war party has gained the upper hand in the secret councils of the Bush White House, pushing aside the purported hesitations of Miss Rice, Secretary Gates, and the NATO allies to chart a direct course towards war with Iran:

‘The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned. The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.” at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. “The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern,” the source said this week. “Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact,” said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.’ (“Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran; Military solution back in favour as Rice loses out; President ‘not prepared to leave conflict unresolved'”, Guardian, July 16, 2007.)

Deluded supporters of the Democratic Party may soon have to throw away their pathetic countdown clocks, those self-consoling little devices that remind them of how much time remains until noon on January 20, 2009, the moment when it is thought that Bush will finally leave office. These countdown clocks make no provision for the Cheney doctrine, which calls for a new super 9/11 with weapons of mass destruction in the US, to be used as the pretext for a nuclear attack on Iran and for martial law at home. Those who think the Republicans cannot hold the White House in 2008 have forgotten that neocons always prefer a coup d’etat to an election. As Cheney told Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation on April 15, 2007:

‘The greatest threat now is “a 9/11 occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities.”‘

Pelosi and Reid need to toss out their fatuous countdown clocks, and get out their impeachment stopwatches fast.

CHERTOFF’S GUT FEELING FOR TERRORISM

could cite, Chertoff called his “gut feeling the nation faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer.” “I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” said Chertoff. “Summertime seems to be appealing to them. … We worry that they are rebuilding their activities.” The desperate demagogues of the Republican Party are facing a hecatomb at the polls in November 2008. Their idea seems to be that of the fascist Prime Minister Aznar of Spain in March 2004: if you are sure to lose an election, stage a terror attack, declare martial law, and perpetuate your power that way. Aznar was stopped by a general strike of about one third of the entire Spanish people. If all else fails, would Americans be capable of a mass strike against war and dictatorship? We may soon find out.

Chertoff’s troubled gut has already given rise to a White House interagency group of top intelligence and law enforcement functionaries that meets every Friday afternoon at 1PM. Will this committee run the coup? Reports followed of dozens of FBI agents fanning out to pursue a “worry list” of some seven hundred alleged leads, including 100 in the New York area. Some of these derived from the recent British terror stunts in London and Glasgow used by MI-5 and MI-6 to smooth the transition from the Tony Blair quasi-police state to the Gordon Brown version of the same thing. MI-5 and MI-6 displayed the same mixture of comic ineptitude and phlegmatic homicide which was their hallmark during the long years when London was the prey of bombs by the “Irish Republican Army,” now revealed to have been top-heavy with government intelligence agents who called the shots. The Glasgow airport event consisted of a burning car crashed into a building, the films of which were shown all afternoon the by the US cable news networks. One was tempted to propose a caption: “Only one burning car a good day on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.” Yet for one burning car, the world was supposed to stop. These British events had been preceded by several weeks of hysteria about allegedly looming terror attacks against US installations in the Rhein-Main area of Germany, featuring the Wiesbaden spa, all based on CIA claims made to the government in Berlin and relentlessly trumpeted through the controlled media.

A NEW 9/11 THE KEY TO BOLSTERING WESTERN RESOLVE

Chertoff’s rationale was illuminated by an interview with Lt. Colonel Doug Delaney, the chair of the war studies program at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, a NATO intelligence center. Delaney was addressing the problems raised by the rising Canadian losses in Afghanistan, but he provided a valuable window into the minds of military planners when he observed, in the words of the interviewer: “It may well be that the key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago, he says. If nothing happens, it will be harder still to say this [Canadian meddling in Afghanistan] is necessary.” In other words, it may be time for a new false flag synthetic terror operation to gin up hysteria in North America to permit the present bankrupt elites to retain power and further grind down any spirit of popular resistance to such irrational rule. Chertoff’s fear-mongering was backed up by ousted Republican senator and notorious scoundrel Rick Santorum, who told a radio interviewer that “between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public is going to have a very different view of this war.” Chertoff’s reckless and inflammatory ventriloquism was the harbinger of the new US National Intelligence Estimate issued on July 17.

THE BOOZ ALLEN NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE: “AL QAEDA” THREAT TO USA LOOMS

This pitiful NIE ranks with the lying NIEs issued before the attack on Iraq in 2003 as a tissue of lies and prevarications. The main thesis is that al Qaeda branches around the world are striving to infiltrate more operatives into the US for terror attacks on the US “homeland:” “Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here,” opines the declassified summary of the underlying secret screed. “As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.” (cnn.com, July 17) The new faked NIE has been produced under the supervision of Admiral Michael McConnell, the current US intelligence czar, whose credentials include ten years at Booz Allen Hamilton, the premier private military firm. Some analysts have asked what was going on at Booz Allen on September 11, 2001, and in the days leading up to that event, and what McConnell personally might have been working on. Back on January 7, 2007, Raw Story had portrayed the newly-nominated McConnell as a Cheney asset, and quoted CIA old boy Vince Cannistraro calling the McConnell nomination “a disaster.” In the same article, CIA vet Larry Johnson predicted that McConnell, a weak manager, would cave in to Bush-Cheney on key issues. The fabrications of the new NIE have been assisted by Cheney’s office, by convicted Iran-contra felon Elliot Abrams (now a dominant personality inside the Bush White House), by Abrams’ military aide Gen. Kevin Bergner, and by other neocon assets.

Intelligence community veteran Philip Giraldi of the CIA has dismissed the new NIE with its talk of “high impact plots” against the US as “a tour de force of misinformation disguised as fact.” Giraldi also noted: “It is possibly no coincidence that there has been a significant increase in the anti-Iran rhetoric emanating from both the Bush administration and Congress over the past few weeks, mostly seeking to establish a casus belli by contending that Iran is masterminding lethal attacks against US troops in Iran and NATO forces in Afghanistan.” ( antiwar.com, July 17)

CHENEY’S PERSIAN ADVENTURE

A nuclear attack on Iran remains the central obsession of the George Shultz-Rupert Murdoch-Cheney faction. On July 10, the Pentagon announced that it would be sending another aircraft carrier battle group, this time that of the USS Enterprise, to the waters off Iran. This means that whenever that carrier joins the two already there, three US attack carriers will be within striking range of Iranian targets. The Pentagon followed up shortly thereafter with another statement, assuring the world that soon only one carrier would patrol off Iran. But that was only a dubious promise, and in the meantime the three carriers would shortly be ready to attack.

On July 10, the Washington Post and Reuters stoked international hysteria with reports that mysterious and sinister tunnels were being built by the Iranian authorities near one of the suspected nuclear facilities of Natanz. These reports were accompanied by aerial photographs and satellite imaging that has been gussied up with labels to make them look as much as possible like the famous U-2 photographs of Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba back in October 1962. The claim was that the supposed tunnel “could be used to hide and protect key nuclear components.” The implication was that the Iranian atomic bomb could not be far off, a notion for which there is no proof.

In the late winter, Pelosi, House Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer and Reid had bowed to the demands of AIPAC, the subversive pro-Israeli lobbying organization whose employees have been implicated in espionage, and removed from the defense bill a provision warning Bush that he was required to consult Congress before attacking Iran. A similar provision pushed for a while by Senator Webb of Virginia has also disappeared from view. As for the Republican presidential candidates, on June 7 they with the solitary exception of maverick Ron Paul outbid one another in enthusiasm for a nuclear attack on Iran. These ultra-Hitlerian outbursts occurred in response to manipulation by Wolf Blitzer, an obvious asset of the war party. For the good of the American people, the warmonger GOP candidates, along with Blitzer, should have been hauled away at once in a net by burly orderlies in white coats.

CHENEY’S BREAKAWAY ALLY CHARADE

A key component of Cheney’s argument is that Israel may soon strike unilaterally against Iran with a sneak attack deploying nuclear weapons, breaking the post-1945 taboo on atomic bombs. This would represent the old “breakaway ally” scenario, by which Israel presents the US with such an attack as a fait accompli, and then expects Washington to enter the war on the side of the Israeli aggressors. Cheney’s talking point is that the US must be ready to strike because the Israelis are going to act on their own anyway. The lying nature of Cheney’s line is shown by Bush’s remark to Chirac at the St. Petersburg G-8 summit in July 2006, when Bush was adamant that the Israeli aggression against Lebanon then ongoing was not an Israeli-conceived war, but rather a US war which had been assigned to Israel as a proxy and surrogate for the US. According to Will Thomas, a dress rehearsal for the breakaway ally charade occurred on January 7, 2007 when Israeli warplanes flew over Iraq and manifested the intention to “go downtown” meaning an apparent nuclear strike into Iran. At some point the Israelis were allegedly told by the US to go back, and they desisted from the attempt. This reported incident came shortly before the US raided the Iranian consulate in Irbil in northern Iraq, illegally arresting Iranian diplomats. Around the same time, reports that an Iranian missile had hit a US ship caused a stir on Wall Street, while Iran reported shooting down another US drone over its territory. ( infowars.com, willthomas.net)

The Israeli war party is represented first of all by Avigdor Lieberman, the Minister of Strategic Threats who is himself a strategic threat. On Friday July 13, a day of ill omen, Lieberman boasted before a group of NATO and European Union officials that Israel had received a green light from the U.S. and Europe for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the U.S. will support us,” said Lieberman. According to Israel Today magazine, Lieberman argued that ongoing hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan are “going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities,” so they are telling Israel to “prevent the threat herself.”

Another Israeli incendiary is Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of the Research Division of Israeli Military Intelligence. On July 10, Kuperwasser told the Jerusalem Post that economic sanctions alone will not stop Iran, and that the window of opportunity to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations was running out. Kuperwasser claimed that Iran is “very close” to the technological threshold for enriching uranium at an industrial level. The Iranians will then be able to manufacture a nuclear device within two to three years, according to Kuperwasser. “The program’s vulnerability to a military operation is diminishing as time passes,” Kuperwasser said, “and they are very close to the point that they will be able to enrich uranium at an industrial level.”

EL BARADEI WARNS AGAINST NEOCON “NEW CRAZIES”

This kind of thinking in the US, UK, and Israel was what Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had in mind when he issued his famnous June 2, 2007 warning about a coming attack on Iran: “I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis innocent civilians are dying …I have no brief other than to make sure we don’t go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.’ ” And who are the “new crazies”? “Those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.” It is not possible to “bomb knowledge.”

A grave doubt casts its shadow over any scenario of US nuclear attack on Iran: as William Thomas reported last February, the fuses of cheap Chinese silicon chips now being used by the US military in ships, tanks, planes, and other applications may be too weak to resist the high levels of electromagnetic pulse (emp) which would be unleashed by a nuclear bombardment of the Iranian nuclear sites. The outsourced chips, coherent with the Rumsfeld “war on the cheap” strategy, could cripple a large proportion of the US Central Command’s military hardware, with disruptive effects that would reach back to the command’s Florida headquarters and possibly to the Pentagon. ( rense.com, February 21, 2007, and willthomas.net) If these report are correct, US nuclear bombers might crash, the the carriers that launched them might suddenly find themselves dead in the water, quite independent of what the Iranians might do.

CHENEY’S LEBANON-SYRIA GAMBIT

In addition to the hypothesis of an attack on Iran, there is also the immediate threat to Iran’s ally, Syria. According to a UPI dispatch dated July 9 under the byline of Claude Salhani, numerous signs currently point towards hostilities between Israel and the Damascus government, with a renewed Israeli attack on Lebanon a likely element in this strategy. According to former State Department official Dennis Ross, “there is a risk of war” between Syria and Israel in the summer. Ross told YnetNews, Yedioth Ahronoth’s Internet edition: “no one has made any decisions, but the Syrians are positioning themselves for war.” The neocon exoteric New York Sun claimed to cite a supposed Syrian official saying that added that, by allegedly pulling Syrian nationals out of Lebanon by mid-July, “Damascus is preparing for Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September.” “If Israel doesn’t vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerillas will immediately launch ‘resistance operations’ against the Golan’s Jewish communities,” the alleged Syrian added. These remarks reflect scenarios being developed by the Israelis.

But the Masada party of national suicide is not the only game in town for Israelis. On July 11, an anonymous leaker from inside Israeli Military Intelligence warned his associates to remember their ignominious defeat at the hands of Hezbollah in last summer’s war. According to this source, “war with Syria would be ten times worse than with Hezbollah.”

THE ATTACK ON PAKISTAN: MIDSUMMER OF NEOCON MADNESS

Cheney also has the option of attacking into Pakistan. Cheney had visited Pakistan at the end of February with an obvious ultimatum to General Musharraf to get ready to mount a land war against Iran this summer. Equally and immediately obvious was the fact that Musharraf, who considers himself the heir to the great Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of Turkey, had told the Vice President to go Cheney himself. With Pakistan refusing to attack its neighbor, Cheney suddenly discovered that Osama bin Laden was being protected by Musharraf! The US-UK destabilization of Pakistan began in grand style, with the New York Times helpfully publishing lists of generals whom Washington would be delighted to see take power in a putsch in Islamabad. Pawns of the destabilization included the Chief Justice of Pakistan, reputed to be a British agent, and riots by lawyers in business suits. Then came the slaughter at the Red Mosque, staged by the usual CIA/MI-6 fundamentalists. Pakistan, under tremendous pressure from the US, has announced a military crackdown on so-called Taliban forces in the northern tribal areas of Waziristan, an enterprise sure to stir up a hornet’s nest of resistance even if none had been there before. The neocons demanded that the US invade Pakistan, under the pretext of looking for Osama bin Laden. On July 12, neocon fascist madman William Kristol told Fox News: “I think the president’s going to have to take military action there over the next few weeks or months…. Bush has to disrupt that sanctuary. I think, frankly, we won’t even tell Musharraf. We’ll do what we have to do in Western Pakistan and Musharraf can say, ‘Hey, they didn’t tell me.'” Ironically, bin Laden’s second in command, reputed MI-6 speaking tube Ayman al Zawahiri, at around the same time issued a fatwa declaring jihad against Musharraf’s Pakistani regime. If Musharraf was haboring Osama, why would al Qaeda declare war against Musharraf? The answer is what it has always been: “al Qaeda” is a troupe of agents provocateurs founded by the CIA and the British, and remains so until this day. As for the neocon plan to attack Pakistan, it is the very midsummer of madness: if Iran has three time the population of Iraq, Pakistan with 164 million is more than five times more numerous than Iraq. If the neocon plans succeed, the US would soon be at war with almost 300 million people far too many for the hollow US force of 10 divisions, whatever technology they might possess.

WARNINGS: RON PAUL, PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, CINDY SHEEHAN, PAT BUCHANAN

Among other authoritative voices across the political spectrum warning of an imminent Bush-Cheney attack on Iran:

Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul commented to Alex Jones: “I think we’re in great danger of it. We’re in danger in many ways, the attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that’s in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment which endangers our troops and our national defense.”

Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under the Reagan Administration, wrote in his latest column: “Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran. Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of ‘executive orders’ that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, ‘terrorist’ events in the near future.” (Paul Craig Roberts, “Impeach Now or Face the End of Constitutional Democracy,” Counterpunch, July 16, 2007) In a July 19 interview with Thomm Hartmann of Air America, Roberts cited Bush’s July 17 executive order, which allows the US regime to seize the property of anyone found to be interfering with the reconstruction of Iraq. This radio warning was reported by the RIA-Novosti news agency of Moscow in numerous languages. The Moscow summary, dated July 20, begins: “A former Reagan official has issued a public warning that the Bush administration is preparing to orchestrate a staged terrorist attack in the United States, transform the country into a dictatorship, and launch a war with Iran within a year.”

Pat Buchanan is convinced that the danger of a new war provocation by Bush-Cheney will come in August, when the Democratic Congress will conveniently be out of Washington and on vacation. Buchanan asks important questions:

Is the United States provoking war with Iran, to begin while the Congress is conveniently on its August recess? One recalls that it was in August 1964, after the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, that the Tonkin Gulf incident occurred.

Has Bush secretly authorized covert attacks inside Iran? Are U.S. and Israeli agents in Kurdistan behind the attacks across the border to provoke Iran? On July 11, Iranian troops clashed with Kurd rebels inside Iran, and the Iranians fired artillery back into Iraq.

Is this yet another abdication by Congress of its moral and constitutional duty to decide when and whether America goes to war?

Why is Congress going on vacation? Why are a Democratic-controlled House and Senate not asking these questions in public hearings? Why is Congress letting Bush and Vice President Cheney decide whether we launch a third war in the Middle East? Or is Congress in on it?” (“Tonkin Gulf II and the Guns of August?,” World Net Daily, July 17, 2007)

Based on the John Olver remarks, the Democrats are in on it. As for Buchanan, he should say these things on MSNBC.
Also warning of new war provocations was Cindy Sheehan, who was traveling towards Washington DC to declare her challenge to failed House Speaker Pelosi. She commented that there was a “distinct possibility” that America will be hit with another staged terror attack that will allow Bush to enact the martial law provisions he recently imposed by executive order. These measures allow Bush to declare a domestic state of emergency in response to virtually any minor incident anywhere in the world. (Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet, July 12, 2007, “Sheehan: Distinct Chance Of Staged Attack, Martial Law; Peace Mom warns of false flag terror as she prepares to take on sell-out Pelosi.”)

BUSH ANTICS STUN REPUBLICANS FROM THE HILL

This past week, the tenant of the White House showed new signs of mental instability by barging in to a routine meeting between White House communication director Ed Gillespie, spokesman Tony Snow, and a group of Republican congressional leaders. Bush was there to insist that everybody stay the course of Iraq.
“It was stunning,” said one GOP aide who attended the meeting. “We couldn’t believe he came in.” “We kept looking at each other, amazed he came in,” said another Republican colleague. According to one press account, “Bush was described as folksy, adamant and mildly profane as he interrupted the meeting. His message: the policy on Iraq isn’t changing. He is not backing down and no one on Capitol Hill should be confused into thinking he is letting up.”

A new threat to US policy comes from the formidable Turkish military establishment, which is sick and tired of constant cross-border attacks by PKK Kurdish terrorists operating from the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. The US, UK, and Israelis are using the PKK for terror operations into Kurdish territories of Iran. These PKK terrorist are paid and armed directly by the US military, bringing any notion of a US “war on terror” to a new nadir of absurdity. For some time, the Turks have been lobbing shells and raiding into Kurdish Iraq. 140,000 Turkish troops are massed along the border in question, and if Turkish patience runs out, the Kurds will be crushed.

US IRAQ SUPPLY LINES IN GRAVE DANGER

Washington still cultivates delusions of grandeur: the moment of truth for Iraq will be in mid-September, or perhaps in November or December. But, as one British writer once put it, what if the bear blows first? What if US forces in Iraq experience catastrophic military defeat at some point in the future? What if it takes the form of pocketing or encirclement, the “Dunkirk if you’re lucky, Stalingrad if you’re not so lucky” outcome?

It is not clear whether or when Iraqi resistance forces will move decisively to attack the Achilles heel of the US occupation forces, the 400-mile truck convoys between Kuwait City and Baghdad, but the longer the US forces continue their present futile efforts, the more likely this tragic outcome will become. These are trucks driven by Pakistanis, Turks, Bangladeshis, and Filipinos, and protected by private military contractors by poorly armed mercenaries. A recent report by Jim Michaels in USA Today indicates that the strategy most dangerous to the US forces is indeed gaining ground among the resistance: Michaels writes that “attacks on supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions. There were 869 such attacks from the beginning of June 2006 to the end of May this year. For the preceding 12 months, there were 281 attacks.” Of all the news coming out of Iraq, this is perhaps the most ominous. Any military debacle by the US forces in Iraq would be immediately blamed on Iran, and would infallibly be seized upon by Cheney as a pretext for massive retaliation against Iran.

DOLLAR HYPERINFLATION A FACTOR

An important contributing factor in the Cheneyac war hysteria is the beginning of dollar hyperinflation. Two Bear Sterns hedge funds have blown up, wiping out $9 billion of capital in a few days, and Helicopter Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve says that the subprime mortgage bubble meltdown will lead to $100 billion in losses by US banks, and this is clearly a lowball figure. Two analysts quoted by the Toronto Globe and Mail on July 19 suggest that the entire US banking establishment may now be looking at a 15% to 20% devaluation because of mortgage-related losses. Only frenetic pumping in of new dollar liquidity by Helicopter Ben and his men is staving off big bankruptcies, but this sloshing liquidity spells hyperinflation . The Dow has passed 14,000, but the dollar has also reached an all-time low of almost $1.40 to a euro, with a 26-year low against the British pound. With oil well above $75 and gold above $680 per ounce, while raw materials and food prices skyrocket, the US may soon resemble Germany of 1923, when people took their money to the grocery store in a wheelbarrow, and brought home their purchases in their pocket. Small wonder that the worldwide dumping of the bankrupt US dollar continues apace, with Iran now asking Japan to pay for oil transactions in yen, cutting Wall Street out of another lucrative commodity flow.

US SITUATION TRAGIC

These points bring into sharp relief the dire predicament of our tragically drifting country in the summer of 2007, a summer which Cheney’s backers and controllers are determined to transform into the Summer of Fear. Skeptics may object that they have heard all this before in the spring and the autumn of 2004, in the late summer of 2005, and in March-April of 2007 and that so far the general war with Iran had not occurred. This is true, but it is no argument against the urgency of the warnings that the present writer and others have issued from time to time over the last three years. It only shows that the world has been lurching and careening along the edge of a much wider war in the Middle East since about May of 2004 at the latest. For much of this time we have lived in the shadow of the Cheney doctrine, which calls for a nuclear attack on Iran in the wake of a new super 9/11 terrorist provocation (coming from the bowels of the US intelligence community) as revealed by Philip Giraldi in The American Conservative in August of 2005. Each time some combination of internal US institutional resistance and inertia, objections by NATO allies, and foreign threats or pressure have somehow avoid the worst. So far we have muddled through. But Cheney’s backers and controllers the ones designated as the Cheneyacs in this analysis have unfailingly pulled themselves together after each rebuff, and have marshaled their forces for a new drive over the brink of the abyss. As long as Bush and Cheney are in power, as long as the 9/11 rogue networks in the US intelligence community continue their work unpurged and undisturbed, we will face one war emergency after another, until the likely moment when humanity’s luck runs out. Under any political system committed to its own survival, each of the Cheneyac war drives over the past three years should have lead to the impeachment, removal from office, and indictment of the dour and snarling old reprobate himself, and a general mop-up of his followers. It is the fact that the corrupt and cowardly parliamentary cretins of the Democratic Party have failed to impeach and oust Bush-Cheney over the last six months since they took power which represents the most immediate cause of the fix we are now in. Congressman Kucinich has introduced the needed articles against Cheney, but the Pelosi-Reid opportunists have been hostile to this needed measure. It is time for honest activists to join with the Philadelphia Platform to get on with the business at hand before martial law is imposed by these neocon fascist madmen, since by then it may be too late.

BRZEZINSKI: “A TERRORIST ACT IN THE US BLAMED ON IRAN”

The Democratic Party Congressional leadership has known all about Cheney’s plans for six months or more, as can be shown from the public record. On February 1, 2007, Zbigniew Brzezinski warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of ongoing machinations designed to procure war with Iran and beyond: “A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran; culminating in a ‘defensive’ US action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” Over the past half year, events have followed Brzezinski’s scenario closely. Blaming Iran for the missed benchmarks in Iraq is now the daily stock in trade of the Bush administration and the US Central Command, who whine continuously about Iranian interference in Iraq. There have been several military provocations in Iraq which the US has tried to pin on Iran, most notably March 23, 2007 incident involving 15 British Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel who were taken into custody by the Iranians. This incident was a part of Cheney’s winter-spring war drive, which peaked with two US B-1 bombers deliberately violating Iranian airspace over the city of Abadan in oil-rich Khuzestan province on March 31. This crisis was defused by a mobilization of persons of good will around the world, with Russian President Putin and the RIA-Novosti news agency playing a critical role. In particular, a pointed March 28 warning from Putin to Bush about attacking Iran created enough uncertainty in Washington about how Moscow might respond to nuclear aggression against Iran so that cooler heads than Cheney’s prevailed.

FIGHT BACK WITH THE PHILADELPHIA PLATFORM

That leaves us with Brzezinski’s third scenario point: a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran. What Brzezinski is talking about here is high treason, insurrection , genocide, high crimes against humanity under US law and the Nuremberg Code. Why has he not been called upon to tell all he knows about this sinister plot, so obviously operating through the Cheney-Addington office, and through Eliot Abrams at the White House? Because the Democrats who heard that warning Senators Biden, Dodd, and Obama on the committee, plus Hillary Clinton have done nothing to raise a hue and cry, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, demand documents, or begin impeachment hearings against those involved. The Democratic Party must therefore be seen as fully complicit under the Nuremberg Code in any future crimes by Cheney regarding a wider war in the Middle East. The Democratic Party has failed, and the viable peace movement must now organize independently on a multi-issue basis including 9/11 truth, as called for in the July 4, 2007 Philadelphia Platform, which can be seen at actindependent.org.

Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

July 21, 2007

Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Jump to Comments

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, July 20, 2007

A presidential Executive Order issued on July 17th, repeals with the stroke of a pen the right to dissent and oppose the Iraq war.

In substance, the Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” provides the President with the authority to confiscate the assets of “certain persons” who oppose the US led war in Iraq:

“I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.”

The Executive Order criminalizes the antiwar movement. It is intended to “blocking property” of US citizens and nationals. It targets those “Certain Persons” in America who oppose the Bush Administration’s “peace and stability” program in Iraq, characterized, in plain English, by an illegal occupation and the continued killing of innocent civilians.

The Executive Order also targets those “Certain Persons” who are “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction”, or who, again in plain English, are opposed to the confiscation and privatization of Iraq’s oil resources, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants.

The order is also intended for anybody who opposes Bush’s program of “political reform in Iraq”, in other words, who questions the legitimacy of an Iraqi “government” installed by the occupation forces.

Moreover, those persons or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), who provide bona fide humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians, and who are not approved by the US Military or its lackeys in the US sponsored Iraqi puppet government are also liable to have their financial assets confiscated.

The executive order violates the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution. It repeals one of the fundamental tenets of US democracy, which is the right to free expression and dissent. The order has not been the object of discussion in the US Congress. Sofar, it has not been addressed by the US antiwar movement, in terms of a formal statement.

Apart from a bland Associated Press wire report, which presents the executive order as “an authority to use financial sanctions”, there has virtually no media coverage or commentary of a presidential decision which strikes at the heart of the US Constitution..

Broader implications

The criminalization of the State is when the sitting President and Vice President use and abuse their authority through executive orders, presidential directives or otherwise to define “who are the criminals” when in fact they they are the criminals.

This latest executive order criminalizes the peace movement. It must be viewed in relation to various pieces of “anti-terrorist” legislation, the gamut of presidential and national security directives, etc., which are ultimately geared towards repealing constitutional government in the case of an impending “national emergency”.

The war criminals in high office are intent upon repressing all forms of dissent which question the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. The executive order combined with the existing anti terrorist legislation is eventually intended to be used against the anti-war and civil rights movements. It can be used to seize the assets of antiwar groups in America as well as block the property and activities of non-governmental humanitarian organizations providing relief in Iraq, seizing the assets of alternative media involved in a critique of the US-led war, etc.

In May 2007, Bush issued a major presidential National Security Directive (National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive NSPD 51/HSPD 20), which would suspend constitutional government and instate broad dictatorial powers under martial law in the case of a “Catastrophic Emergency” (Second 9/11 terrorist attack.

On July 11, 2007 the CIA published its National Intelligence Estimate which pointed to an imminent Al Qaeda attack on America, a second 9/11 which would according to NSPD 51 immediately be followed by the suspension of constitutional government.

NSPD 51 grants unprecedented powers to the Presidency and the Department of Homeland Security, overriding the foundations of Constitutional government. It allows the sitting president to declare a “national emergency” without Congressional approval The adoption of NSPD 51 would lead to the de facto closing down of the Legislature and the militarization of justice and law enforcement.

The executive order to confiscate the assets of antiwar/peace activists is broadly consistent with NSPD 51. It could be triggered even in the absence of a “Catastrophic emergency” as envisaged under NSPD 51. It goes one step further in “criminalizing” all forms of opposition and dissent. to the US led war and “Homeland Security” agenda.

Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage

July 18, 2007

Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage
Why did IntelCenter, the middleman between “Al-Qaeda” and the media, a group that has government and Pentagon ties, re-release old footage and why did the media report it as new when it had already aired twice before?

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

reddit_url=’http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2007/180707oldfootage.htm’ reddit_title=’Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage’

digg_title = ‘Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage’; digg_bodytext = ‘A videotape that was heralded as “new” footage of Osama bin Laden by many quarters of the press has been conclusively proven to be more than 5 year old re-released footage, leading to questions about why the government and the media continue to act as willing propagandists for the terrorists while striking fear into Americans by claiming an attack is inevitable.’;

A videotape that was heralded as “new” footage of Osama bin Laden by many quarters of the press has been conclusively proven to be more than 5 year old re-released footage, leading to questions about why the government and the media continue to act as willing propagandists for the terrorists while striking fear into Americans by claiming an attack is inevitable.

Though some reports included the proviso that the tape could contain old footage, the importance and ceremony attached to the re-release of the Bin Laden tape over the weekend left the distinct impression that the footage was new and that it correlated with the alleged increase of “chatter” amongst terrorist organizations indicating that a new attack is imminent, a message that was again pushed by the U.S. government following the release of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday.

In reality, the tape was being released for the third consecutive time, having first popped up in 2002 before re-airing again in 2003. The footage of Bin Laden was filmed six years ago in October 2001. The Associated Press ran the tape as a top story on Saturday under the headline “Bin Laden Appears in New al-Qaida Video”.

Euro News, the propaganda arm of the European Union broadcast in dozens of countries around Europe, described the footage as “apparently new”.

“Possible New Message From Osama Bin Laden,” reported ABC News, noting that “a brief clip of an older-looking Osama bin Laden is contained in a new al Qaeda videotape,” when in reality the graying in Bin Laden’s beard was exactly the same as when he appeared in a 2001 videotape, while also wearing the exact same jacket.

The footage was not new and any small amount of cursory research would have verified that fact, and yet the media went full board with the story, creating the illusion that it was new, while rabid Neo-Cons lauded the tape as another reason for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq while fearmongering about upcoming terror attacks at home.

The footage first appeared in May 2002, having been released by a Pakistani security official to the Al-Ansaar Islamic news agency, based in Birmingham, England. This CBS video clip clearly shows the same footage as the apparent “new” tape.

Here is a screenshot from the 2002 tape (right) compared to the new tape (left). Notice the sloping mountain in the left background.

Sources indicate that the footage was shot in either October 2001 or March 2002, with the earlier date being the favorite as Bin Laden’s appearance matches with the footage from a different tape that was released in October 2001.

Al-Jazeera said they had the footage as far back as October 2001, but chose not to air it as they saw it as “not newsworthy” and “nothing more than a PR stunt.” Six years later, and with the footage having been released on two separate occasions already, the western media insinuated that the tape was new and splashed it everywhere as a top headline.

In our previous groundbreaking investigation, we exposed IntelCenter, the middleman between “Al-Qaeda’s media arm” and the press, and the organization that routinely obtains the tapes, as little more than a Pentagon front group staffed by individuals with close connections to the military-industrial complex.

IntelCenter were also behind the release of the “new” Osama tape – having previously released the same footage (the second time it had appeared) in October 2003!

IntelCenter issued a tacit warning that the footage may be re-hashed when they released the “new” tape to the media, but they failed to mention the fact that they released portions of the exact same clips in October 2003. The screenshots of Bin Laden which clearly correlate with the “new” tape were on their website all along, and yet they still labeled the footage as “significant”. IntelCenter knew the tape was definitely old, yet their meandering uncertainty left doubts that the media exploited to the full in claiming the footage may be new.


The screenshot from IntelCenter’s website from a tape released in October 2003 clearly match with screenshots from the “new” tape, a fact completely ignored by both IntelCenter themselves and the mass media.

Even a senior Bush administration official admitted to Newsbuster, “Intelligence agencies have determined the video was previously aired as a portion of a longer show first on MBC TV (Middle East broadcast station) on April 17, 2002,” and yet retractions to the supposition that the footage was new are nowhere to be seen in the media.

“What’s the result of the MSM’s sloppy “air-first-verify-later” approach? The world’s most evil and despicable terrorists are given tons of free air time and print exposure,” adds Newsbuster.

—————————————————————————————————————
The Internet leader in activist mediaPrison Planet.tv. Get access to hundreds of special video reports, audio interviews, books and documentary films. Subscribers also get instant access to our hugely popular forum where you can network with like-minded people, meet up and get active! Click here to subscribe.
—————————————————————————————————————

Even if you believe that Al-Qaeda itself is deciding to re-package old footage and constantly re-release it, and that this isn’t a crude propaganda ploy on behalf of IntelCenter in collusion with the Neo-Cons, why are the government and the media consistently affording lavish attention and giving prominence to such activity, aiding the terrorists to spread their propaganda ad infinitum?

It would be foolishly naive to think that the re-release of this tape – for the third time running – has little to do with the fact that the Bush administration has been ramping up the fearmongering and hinting at the inevitability of another attack over the past two weeks – ostensibly for political purposes to mute dissent.

Six months after the failed “surge” in Iraq and with Bush’s approval ratings sliding to all time lows while calls for impeachment reach a crescendo, a slew of information threatening a new Al-Qaeda attack gets released and up pops Osama – in a tape that is re-hashed for a third time – to validate the Neo-Cons insistence that to leave Iraq is to hand the terrorists a victory. That tape is released by an organization with clear links to the military-industrial complex who had knowingly released the same footage years earlier.

Is all this a coincidence, or does such chicanery and crass manipulation of the electorate and the political process demand an immediate Congressional investigation as to why the U.S. government and its lapdog media fronts are working with the terrorists to artificially boost their profile while scaring the holy crap out of the American people at the most politically opportune moments?

U.S. Intel Officer: Al Qaeda Leadership Allowed To Operate Freely

July 17, 2007

U.S. Intel Officer: Al Qaeda Leadership Allowed To Operate Freely
Intimate links between ISI, CIA, Al Qaeda exposed

 

Steve Watson
Infowars.net

Mon
day, July 16, 2007

 
 
 
 
 

A U.S. intelligence official last week testified to Congress that he believes the Bush administration is allowing the leadership of Al Qaeda to operate freely in Pakistan and is choosing not to disrupt its activities.

Demanding to know why the U.S. has not taken more decisive action against a known enemy, Tom Fingar of the office of the Director of National Intelligence told a Congressional hearing:

“It’s not that we lack the ability to go into that space, but we have chosen not to do so without the permission of the Pakistani government.”

“The U.S. has provided $5.6 billion in coalition support funds to Pakistan over the past five years, with zero accountability,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., at the hearing.

“Why is Pakistan still being paid these large sums of money, even after publicly declaring that it is significantly cutting back patrols in the most important border area?” he asked.

Fingar’s claims are supported by the recent revelation that a secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan.

While the Neocon hijackers of the U.S. government are warning daily of imminent bone crushing terror attacks and the lengths they may have to go to in order to protect “the homeland”, the leadership of the so called greatest threat to our way of life is being allowed to operate with impunity in Pakistan, a country ruled by a military dictator, because the Bush cabal has for some reason decided that in this instance alone interventionism is wrong.

Meanwhile the American public has been treated to another round of fearmongering with the latest re-hash of Bin Laden footage.

The President painstakingly pointed out to journalists this weekend that the same people that carried out the 9/11 attacks are the ones now threatening the U.S., yet the leadership of this movement not only remains wholly untouched, both by U.S. special forces and by a foreign government to whom the Neocons are throwing billions of dollars towards.

Why is this the case? Because there is a great need to perpetuate the mythical war on terror in order to maintain the pretext for the geopolitical genocide currently being undertaken by globalist advances into the middle east “rogue” (independent) nations.

A brief look at the history of the war on terror shows that Pakistan, working directly under the CIA and MI6, has its fingerprints all over the global terrorist explosion attributed to Al Qaeda.

Before 9/11 Pakistan worked directly with the CIA to create the Taliban in Afghanistan. Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars stated:

“The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan. The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent.

The old associations between the intelligence agencies continue. The CIA still has close links with the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence).

Today that money and those weapons have helped build up the Taliban, Harrison said. The Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI. The Taliban are now “making a living out of terrorism.”

Harrison confirmed that the creation of the Taliban had been “actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA and that Pakistan had been building up Afghan collaborators who would “sustain Pakistan”.

Remember that Al Qaeda itself was a joint CIA/ISI intelligence database of mujahudeen fighters they had recruited in the late 70s and eighties to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

It was later revealed via de-classified Defence Intelligence Agency documents of 2001 that the DIA was aware that the ISI was sponsoring the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the Bush Administration chose to ignore its findings.

B Raman, former additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, analysed three recently de-classified DIA documents of 2001 relating to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and said, “From these documents, it is clear that the DIA knew of the ISI’s role in sponsoring not only the Taliban, but also the Al Qaeda.”

No surprise then that in 2003 two senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, went on record to state that Pakistan’s ISI was sheltering Taliban fighters along the border, thus undermining the stability of Afghanistan.

The Senators told the New York Times that there was evidence that ISI might be helping the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives along the border infiltrate into Afghanistan.

Then in 2005 CIA officer Gary Schroen, who spearheaded US’ search for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, stated that ISI officials are very well aware of the whereabouts of the leadership of Al Qaeda, including Bin Laden himself.

The veteran CIA officer said that regardless of how much reward money America offers, “Bin Laden would not be captured and handed in” because the leadership of Pakistan, including Musharraf, are afraid of the internal political consequences.

Two days before 9/11, the leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, Commander Ahmad Shah Masood, was assassinated. The Northern Alliance informed the Bush Administration that the ISI was allegedly implicated in the assassination, stating:

“A `Pakistani ISI-Osama-Taliban axis’ [was responsible] of plotting the assassination by two Arab suicide bombers…. `We believe that this is a triangle between Osama bin Laden, ISI, which is the intelligence section of the Pakistani army, and the Taliban,”

Thus the Afghans that would be fighting on the side of the U.S. in the upcoming war after 9/11 are on record with their belief that the ISI and Al Qaeda are intimately connected. Yet the Bush administration began operating with Pakistan and the ISI as an ally.

Not even the corporate US media could whitewash these facts and so explained it away by alleging that US officials had sought cooperation from Pakistan because it was the original backer of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic leadership of Afghanistan accused by Washington of harboring Bin Laden.

Then the so called “missing link” came when it was revealed that the head of the ISI was the principal financier of the 9/11 hijackers.

In various terror attacks, alerts and foiled plots since 9/11, further links between Al Qaeda, the ISI and U.S. and British Intelligence have emerged.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out in his excellent expose, all these links are even corroborated by the House of Representatives International Relations Committee. A Statement in 2000 by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, Hearing of The House International Relations Committee on “Global Terrorism And South Asia” highlighted that U.S. support funneled through the ISI to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden has been a consistent policy of the US Administration since the end of the Cold War:

…[T]he United States has been part and parcel to supporting the Taliban all along, and still is let me add… You have a military government [of President Musharraf] in Pakistan now that is arming the Taliban to the teeth….Let me note; that [US] aid has always gone to Taliban areas… We have been supporting the Taliban, because all our aid goes to the Taliban areas. And when people from the outside try to put aid into areas not controlled by the Taliban, they are thwarted by our own State Department… At that same moment, Pakistan initiated a major resupply effort, which eventually saw the defeat, and caused the defeat, of almost all of the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan and the ISI is the go between of the global terror explosion. Pakistan’s military-intelligence apparatus, which literally created and sponsored the Taliban and Al Qaeda, is directly upheld and funded by the CIA. These facts are not even in dispute, neither in the media nor in government.

Therefore when we are told by the neocon heads of the new world order that they are doing everything in their power to dismantle the global terror network what we are hearing is the exact opposite of the truth. They assembled it, they sponsored it and they continue to fund it. As any good criminal should, they have a middleman to provide plausible deniability, that middleman is the ISI and the military dictatorship of Pakistan.

Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When The Neo-Cons Need It Most

July 16, 2007

Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When The Neo-Cons Need It Most
Video released by Pentagon-affiliated IntelCenter, previous tapes proven to be linked to CIA, federal government

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Monday, July 16, 2007

reddit_url=’http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2007/160707dubioustape.htm’ reddit_title=’Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When The Neo-Cons Need It Most’

digg_title = ‘Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When The Neo-Cons Need It Most’; digg_bodytext = ‘If Osama Bin Laden really is still alive then the CIA owe him a pay rise for his continued sterling efforts to bail out USS Bush every time the administration is about to capsize, but the reality is that this is just another crude propaganda ploy and the latest installment in a series of hoax terror tapes edited and released by the Neo-Cons at the most politically expedient time.’;

If Osama Bin Laden really is still alive then the CIA owe him a pay rise for his continued sterling efforts to bail out USS Bush every time the administration is about to capsize, but the reality is that this is just another crude propaganda ploy and the latest installment in a series of hoax terror tapes edited and released by the Neo-Cons at the most politically expedient time.

Whether it’s to justify a war, win an election or divert from a scandal, Bin Laden can always be relied upon to come up with the goods and save Bush’s bacon.

As soon as the 6 month wait and see period for the “surge” is up and right when Bush’s last remaining Republican cheerleaders desert him on Iraq, Bin Laden pops up to remind us all of the necessity of “staying the course” and winning the war on terror by feeding more troops into the meatgrinder.

It’s so transparent, a three-year-old could see through the hoax, but the media barely even question it. In another development over the weekend, ABC News reports that, “Taliban military commander Mansour Dadullah, in an interview broadcast on ABC News’ “World News With Charles Gibson,” said the London attacks were “not enough” and that bigger attacks were coming.”

Right on time, when Homeland Security head Chertoff says there will be an attack, and top Neo-Cons as well as military analysts are inviting one in order to “save a doomed foreign policy,” the Taliban, Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda pop up and promise to deliver for their bosses.

“Osama bin Laden stresses the importance of martyrdom for Muslim causes in a videotape that purportedly contains a 50-second message from the al Qaeda leader,” reports CNN.

“The videotape, titled “A Special Surprise from As-Sahab. Heaven’s Breeze Part I,” was made in the last four weeks, but the clips appear to be old, said Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs. There is no indication of where it was shot, and CNN cannot verify its authenticity.” But don’t for a minute take the media’s claim of “authenticity” as anything other than a worthless platitude, because every time a new tape is released they fail to even mention the fact that the majority of these videos in the past have been at best slapped together old footage or in some cases outright hoaxes that led directly back to the federal government, the Pentagon and the CIA.

The most obvious example of this occurred in October last year, when footage depicting two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers laughing as well as a Bin Laden speech was purportedly released by Al-Qaeda’s media arm.

In reality, as our report outlined, the U.S. government had been in possession of the footage since 2001. How? Because they filmed it!

Segments of the video that were interspersed with footage of the “laughing hijackers,” Jarrah and Atta, showing Bin Laden giving a speech to an audience in Afghanistan on January 8 2000, were culled from what terror experts described as surveillance footage taken by a “security agency.”

Furthermore, film of the Bin Laden speech, reported by the dominant media as new footage, was previously broadcast in the UK docudrama The Road to Guantanamo, which was first seen on British television nearly seven months before the release of the tape in March 2006.

News reports at the time contained the admission that the U.S. government had been in possession of the footage since 2002, while others said it was found when the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and yet it was still bizarrely reported that the tape, bearing all the hallmarks of having been filmed and edited by undercover US intelligence and having admittedly been in US possession for five years, was released over the weekend of October 1st 2006 by “Al-Qaeda”.

IntelCenter, the group which is also behind the latest Bin Laden tape, is the middleman between Al-Qaeda’s alleged media arm, As-Sahab, and the mainstream media – they acquire the tapes and pass them on to the press, and have occasionally even predicted when tapes would be released beforehand.

All the more interesting therefore, as our previous investigation discovered, that IntelCenter is run by Ben Venzke, who used to be the director of intelligence at a company called IDEFENSE, which is a Verisign company. IDEFENSE is a web security company that monitors intelligence from the Middle East conflicts and focuses on cyber threats among other things.

It is also heavily populated with long serving ex-military intelligence officials.

The Director of Threat intelligence, Jim Melnick, served 16 years in the US army and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and worked in psychological operations. From the IDEFENSE website:

Prior to joining iDefense, Mr. Melnick served with distinction for more than 16 years in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency. During this period, Mr. Melnick served in a variety of roles, including psychological operations, international warning issues with emphasis on foreign affairs and information operations and Russian affairs. He also served in active political/military intelligence roles with an emphasis on foreign affairs. Mr. Melnick is currently a U.S. Army Reserve Colonel with Military Intelligence, assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Melnick has been published in numerous military and foreign affairs journals, and has received numerous military and DIA awards. Mr. Melnick has a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a Master of Arts in Russian studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Westminster College.

So here we have a company that by its own admission has a senior military psy-op intelligence officer who has worked directly for the Pentagon and Donald Rumsfeld. As Intelcenter and Ben Venzke are directly connected to IDEFENSE, this puts the Pentagon just three small steps away from the Al Qaeda propaganda videos – including the latest Bin Laden “martyrdom” hoax. Al-Qaeda have a long and fruitful history of miraculously releasing video tapes at the most opportune political time for the Bush administration. Both Kerry and Bush attributed the President’s 2004 re-election to Osama Bin Laden’s appearance in a video tape just days before the vote. Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite mused that the whole farce was a Karl Rove orchestrated set-up.

On the eve of the Iraq war during Colin Powell’s infamous presentation to the UN, an audio tape in which bin Laden claimed he was allied with Saddam Hussein surfaced, a gift-wrapped present for the Neo-Cons who had consistently been proven wrong in their assertion that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11.

—————————————————————————————————————
The Internet leader in activist mediaPrison Planet.tv. Get access to hundreds of special video reports, audio interviews, books and documentary films. Subscribers also get instant access to our hugely popular forum where you can network with like-minded people, meet up and get active! Click here to subscribe.
—————————————————————————————————————

Ayman Al-Zawahiri appeared right on cue at the exact same time two years running, days before the State of the Union, to slam Bush as a “butcher” and a “failure.” His timing is impeccable! Right when Bush needs to reinforce the fear of the shadowy enemy each January to mute his critics before the big speech, al-Zawahiri pops up with the goods.

Previous tapes which featured Ayman al-Zawahiri were found to be cobbled together from old footage but that doesn’t bother a lapdog media well versed in manufacturing consent and never offering retractions when said tapes turn out to be questionable frauds.

Too numerous to divulge in one article, linked below are a plethora of articles about past “Al-Qaeda tapes” and how in every instance they were highly questionable at best if not completely fraudulent.

———————————

Al Qaeda Tapes: Direct Link To Military Psyops And Donald Rumsfeld

“Al-Qaeda Videos” Lead Back To Rumsfeld, Pentagon

Bin Laden Tape Betrays ‘Phony Hijacker’ Contradiction

Latest Bin Laden Tape: Another of the NeoCons’ “Greatest Hits”

Bin Laden tape a fake, Swiss lab says

Bin Laden tape is old material – French expert

Professor Says Bin Laden Tape a Fake Leaked by Pakistanis

October Surprise Bin Laden Appears Right On Cue

Analysis: Bin Laden Tape Boosts Bush

AP Recycles Old Bin Laden Tape For New Propaganda

Bush Admits Bin Laden’s Help Ensured Election Win

Bin Laden threats may boost Bush

Al-Zarqawi Video Is A Pentagon Propaganda Psy-Op

Al-Qaeda Propagandizes For Bush On Eve Of State of the Union

Kerry: Bin Laden Cost Me Election

Al-Qaeda Run PR For Bush Before Union Speech

Mossad Agent Pearlman Releases Phony “Al-Qaeda Tape”

New Zogby Poll Frightens Masters Of Terror Into Releasing ‘Bin Laden Tape’

The Killing Machine by Fidel Castro

July 11, 2007
The Killing Machine
by Fidel Castro; July 03, 2007

Sunday is a good day to read something that would appear to be science fiction.

 

 It was announced that the CIA would be declassifying hundreds of pages on illegal actions that included plans to eliminate the leaders of foreign governments. Suddenly the publication is halted and it is delayed one day. No coherent explanation was given. Perhaps someone in the White House looked over the material.

 

The first package of declassified documents goes by the name of “The Family Jewels”; it consists of 702 pages on illegal CIA actions between 1959 and 1973. About 100 pages of this part have been deleted.  It deals with actions that were not authorized by any law, plots to assassinate other leaders, experiments with drugs on human beings to control their minds, spying on civil activists and journalists, among other similar activities that were expressly prohibited.

 

The documents began to be gathered together 14 years after the first of the events took place, when then CIA director, James Schlessinger became alarmed about what the press was writing, especially all the articles by Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein published in The Washington Post, already mentioned in the “Manifesto to the People of Cuba”.  The agency was being accused of promoting spying in the Watergate Hotel with the participation of its former agents Howard Hunt and James McCord.

 

In May 1973, the Director of the CIA was demanding that “all the main operative officials of this agency must immediately inform me on any ongoing or past activity that might be outside of the constituting charter of this agency”.  Schlessinger, later appointed Head of the Pentagon, had been replaced by William Colby. Colby was referring to the documents as “skeletons hiding in a closet”. New press revelations forced Colby to admit the existence of the reports to interim President Gerald Ford in 1975. The New York Times was denouncing agency penetration of antiwar groups. The law that created the CIA prevented it from spying inside the United States. 

 

That “was just the tip of the iceberg”, said then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. 

 

Kissinger himself warned that “blood would flow” if other actions were known, and he immediately added: “For example, that Robert Kennedy personally controlled the operation for the assassination of Fidel Castro”. The President’s brother was then Attorney General of the United States. He was later murdered as he was running for President in the 1968 elections, which facilitated Nixon’s election for lack of a strong candidate. The most dramatic thing about the case is that apparently he had reached the conviction that Jack Kennedy had been victim of a conspiracy. Thorough investigators, after analyzing the wounds, the caliber of the shots and other circumstances surrounding the death of the President, reached the conclusion that there had been at least three shooters.  Solitary Oswald, used as an instrument, could not have been the only shooter. I found that rather striking. Excuse me for saying this but fate turned me into a shooting instructor with a telescopic sight for all the Granma expeditionaries. I spent months practicing and teaching, every day; even though the target is a stationary one it disappears from view with each shot and so you need to look for it all over again in fractions of a second.

 

Oswald wanted to come through Cuba on his trip to the USSR. He had already been there before. Someone sent him to ask for a visa in our country’s embassy in Mexico but nobody knew him there so he wasn’t authorized. They wanted to get us implicated in the conspiracy. Later, Jack Ruby, –a man openly linked to the Mafia– unable to deal with so much pain and sadness, as he said, assassinated him, of all places, in a precinct full police agents.

 

Subsequently, in international functions or on visits to Cuba, on more than one occasion I met with the aggrieved Kennedy relatives, who would greet me respectfully. The former president’s son, who was a very small child when his father was killed, visited Cuba 34 years later. We met and I invited him to dinner.

 

The young man, in the prime of his life, and well brought up, tragically died in an airplane accident on a stormy night as he was flying to Martha’s Vineyard with his wife. I never touched on the thorny issue with any of those relatives. In contrast, I pointed out that if the president-elect had then been Nixon instead of Kennedy, after the Bay of Pigs disaster we would have been attacked by the land and sea forces escorting the mercenary expedition, and both countries would have paid a high toll in human lives. Nixon would not have limited himself to saying that victory has many fathers and defeat is an orphan.  For the record, Kennedy was never too enthusiastic about the Bay of Pigs adventure; he was led there by Eisenhower’s military reputation and the recklessness of his ambitious vice-president. 

 

I remember that, exactly on the day and minute he was assassinated, I was speaking in a peaceful spot outside of the capital with French journalist Jean Daniel. He told me that he was bringing a message from President Kennedy. He said to me that in essence he had told him: “You are going to see Castro. I would like to know what he thinks about the terrible danger we just experienced of a thermonuclear war. I want to see you again as soon as you get back.”  “Kennedy was very active; he seemed to be a political machine”, he added, and we were not able to continue talking as someone rushed in with the news of what had just happened. We turned on the radio. What Kennedy thought was now pointless.

 

Certainly I lived with that danger. Cuba was both the weakest part and the one that would take the first strike, but we did not agree with the concessions that were made to the United States. I have already spoken of this before.

 

Kennedy had emerged from the crisis with greater authority. He came to recognize the enormous sacrifices of human lives and material wealth made by the Soviet people in the struggle against fascism. The worst of the relations between the United States and Cuba had not yet occurred by April 1961. When he hadn’t resigned himself to the outcome of the Bay of Pigs, along came the Missile Crisis. The blockade, economic asphyxiation, pirate attacks and assassination plots multiplied. But the assassination plots and other bloody occurrences began under the administration of Eisenhower and Nixon.

 

After the Missile Crisis we would have not refused to talk with Kennedy, nor would we have ceased being revolutionaries and radical in our struggle for socialism. Cuba would have never severed relations with the USSR as it had been asked to do. Perhaps if the American leaders had been aware of what a war could be using weapons of mass destruction they would have ended the Cold War earlier and differently. At least that’s how we felt then, when there was still no talk of global warming, broken imbalances, the enormous consumption of hydrocarbons and the sophisticated weaponry created by technology, as I have already said to the youth of Cuba.  We would have had much more time to reach, through science and conscience, what we are today forced to realize in haste.

 

President Ford decided to appoint a Commission to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency. “We do not want to destroy the CIA but to preserve it”, he said.

 

As a result of the Commission’s investigations that were led by Senator Frank Church, President Ford signed an executive order which expressly prohibited the participation of American officials in the assassinations of foreign leaders. 

 

The documents published now disclose information about the CIA-Mafia links for my assassination.

 

Details are also revealed about Operation Chaos, carrying on from 1969 for at least seven years, for which the CIA created a special squadron with the mission to infiltrate pacifist groups and to investigate “the international activities of radicals and black militants”.  The Agency compiled more than 300,000 names of American citizens and organizations and extensive files on 7,200 persons.

 

According to The New York Times, President Johnson was convinced that the American anti-War movement was controlled and funded by Communist governments and he ordered the CIA to produce evidence.

 

The documents recognize, furthermore, that the CIA spied on various journalists like Jack Anderson, performers such as Jane Fonda and John Lennon, and the student movements at Columbia University.  It also searched homes and carried out tests on American citizens to determine the reactions of human beings to certain drugs. 

 

In a memorandum sent to Colby in 1973, Walter Elder who had been executive assistant to John McCone, CIA Director in the early 1970s, gives information about discussions in the CIA headquarters that were taped and transcribed: “I know that whoever worked in the offices of the director were worried about the fact that these conversations in the office and on the phone were transcribed. During the McCone years there were microphones in his regular offices, the inner office, the dining room, the office in the East building, and in the study of his home on White Haven Street. I don’t know if anyone is ready to talk about this, but the information tends to be leaked, and certainly the Agency is vulnerable in this case”.

 

The secret transcripts of the CIA directors could contain a great number of “jewels”. The National Security Archive is already requesting these transcripts.

 

A memo clarifies that the CIA had a project called OFTEN which would collect “information about dangerous drugs in American companies”, until the program was terminated in the fall of 1972.  In another memo there are reports that manufacturers of commercial drugs “had passed” drugs to the CIA which had been “refused due to adverse secondary effects”.

 

As part of the MKULTRA program, the CIA had given LSD and other psycho-active drugs to people without their knowledge.  According to another document in the archive, Sydney Gottlieb, a psychiatrist and head of chemistry of the Agency Mind Control Program, is supposedly the person responsible for having made available the poison that was going to be used in the assassination attempt on Patrice Lumumba.

 

CIA employees assigned to MHCHAOS –the operation that carried out surveillance on American opposition to the war in Vietnam and other political dissidents –expressed “a high level of resentment” for having been ordered to carry out such missions.

 

Nonetheless, there is a series of interesting matters revealed in these documents, such as the high level at which the decisions for actions against our country were taken.

 

The technique used today by the CIA to avoid giving any details is not the unpleasant crossed out bits but the blank spaces, coming from the use of computers.

 

For The New York Times, large censored sections reveal that the CIA still cannot expose all the skeletons in its closets, and many activities developed in operations abroad, checked over years ago by journalists, congressional investigators and a presidential commission, are not in the documents.

 

Howard Osborn, then CIA Director of Security, makes a summary of the “jewels” compiled by his office. He lists eight cases –including the recruiting of the gangster Johnny Roselli for the coup against Fidel Castro –but they crossed out the document that is in the number 1 place on Osborn’s initial list: two and a half pages.

 

“The No. 1 Jewel of the CIA Security Offices must be very good, especially since the second one is the list for the program concerning the assassination of Castro by Roselli,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive who requested the declassification of “The Family Jewels” 15 years ago under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

It is notable that the administration which has declassified the least information in the history of the United States, and which has even started a process of reclassifying information that was previously declassified, now makes the decision to make these revelations.

 

I believe that such an action could be an attempt to present an image of transparency when the government is at an all time low rate of acceptance and popularity, and to show that those methods belong to another era and are no longer in use. When he announced the decision, General Hayden, current CIA Director, said: “The documents offer a look at very different times and at a very different Agency.”

 

Needless to say that everything described here is still being done, only in a more brutal manner and all around the planet, including a growing number of illegal actions within the very United States. 

 

The New York Times wrote that intelligence experts consulted expressed that the revelation of the documents is an attempt to distract attention from recent controversies and scandals plaguing the CIA and an Administration that is living through some of its worst moments of unpopularity.

 

The declassification could also be an attempt at showing, in the early stages of the electoral process that the Democratic administrations were as bad, or worse, than Mr. Bush’s.

 

In pages 11 to 15 of the Memo for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, we can read:

 

“In August 1960, Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards with the objective of determining whether the Security Office had agents who could help in a confidential mission that required gangster-style action. The target of the mission was Fidel Castro.

 

“Given the extreme confidentiality of the mission, the project was known only to a small group of people. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was informed and he gave it his approval.  Colonel J. C. King, Head of the Western Hemisphere Division, was also informed, but all the details were deliberately concealed from officials of Operation JMWAVE. Even though some officials of Communications (Commo) and the Technical Services Division (TSD) took part in initial planning phases, they were not aware of the mission’s purpose.

 

 “Robert A. Maheu was contacted, he was informed in general terms about the project, and he was asked to evaluate whether he could get access to gangster-type elements as a first step for achieving the desired goal.

 

“Mr. Maheu informed that he had met with a certain Johnny Roselli on several occasions while he was visiting Las Vegas. He had only met him informally through clients, but he had been told that he was a member of the upper echelons of the ‘syndicate’ and that he was controlling all the ice machines on the Strip. In Maheu’s opinion, if Roselli was in effect a member of the Clan, he undoubtedly had connections that would lead to the gambling racket in Cuba.

 

“Maheu was asked to get close to Roselli, who knew that Maheu was a public relations executive looking after national and foreign accounts, and tell him that recently he had been contracted by a client who represented several international business companies, which were suffering enormous financial losses in Cuba due to Castro. They were convinced that the elimination of Castro would be a solution to their problem and they were ready to pay $ 150,000 for a successful outcome. Roselli had to be made perfectly aware of the fact that the U.S. government knew nothing, nor could it know anything, about this operation.

 

“This was presented to Roselli on September 14, 1960 in the Hilton Plaza Hotel of New York City.  His initial reaction was to avoid getting involved but after Maheu’s persuasive efforts he agreed to present the idea to a friend, Sam Gold, who knew “some Cubans”. Roselli made it clear that he didn’t want any money for his part in all this, and he believed that Sam would do likewise. Neither of these people was ever paid with Agency money.

 

“During the week of September 25, Maheu was introduced to Sam who was living at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It was not until several weeks after meeting Sam and Joe –who was introduced as courier operating between Havana and Miami –that he saw photos of these two individuals in the Sunday section of Parade. They were identified as Momo Salvatore Giancana and Santos Trafficante, respectively. Both were on the Attorney General’s list of the ten most wanted. The former was described as the boss of the Cosa Nostra in Chicago and Al Capone’s heir, and the latter was the boss of Cuban operations of the Cosa Nostra. Maheu immediately called this office upon learning this information.  

 

“After analyzing the possible methods to carry out this mission, Sam suggested that they not resort to firearms but that, if they could get hold of some kind of deadly pill, something to be put into Castro’s food or drink, this would be a much more effective operation. Sam indicated that he had a possible candidate in the person of Juan Orta, a Cuban official who had been receiving bribery payments in the gambling racket, and who still had access to Castro and was in a financial bind.

 

“The TSD (Technical Services Division) was requested to produce 6 highly lethal pills.

 

“Joe delivered the pills to Orta. After several weeks of attempts, Orta appears to have chickened out and he asked to be taken off the mission. He suggested another candidate who made several unsuccessful.”

 

Everything that was said in the numerous paragraphs above is in quotes. Observe well, dear readers, the methods that were already being used by the United States to rule the world.

 

I remember that during the early years of the Revolution, in the offices of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, there was a man working there with me whose name was Orta, who had been linked to the anti-Batista political forces. He was a respectful and serious man. But, it could only be him. The decades have gone by and I see his name once more in the CIA report. I can’t lay my hands on information to immediately prove what happened to him. Accept my apologies if I involuntarily have offended a relative or a descendent, whether the person I have mentioned is guilty or not.

 

The empire has created a veritable killing machine that is made up not only of the CIA and its methods. Bush has established powerful and expensive intelligence and security super-structures, and he has transformed all the air, sea and land forces into instruments of world power that take war, injustice, hunger and death to any part of the globe, in order to educate its inhabitants in the exercise of democracy and freedom. The American people are gradually waking up to this reality.

 

“You cannot fool all of the people all of the time”, said Lincoln.

 

Fidel Castro Ruz

 

June 30, 2007

 

6:45 p.m.

: Powers on George Tenet, the CIA, and the Invasion of Iraq

July 10, 2007

Tomgram: Powers on George Tenet, the CIA, and the Invasion of Iraq

[Note for Tomdispatch readers: Think of this as the first “gone fishing” notice of the summer. The next Tomdispatch will probably appear the Sunday after July 4th. By the way, if you have a moment on the Fourth, check out the Declaration of Independence for a glimpse of the bad old days when Americans were ruled by a King George, who, as the document’s authors made clear, refused “his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” “affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power,” and “transport[ed] us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.” Tom]

In a week dominated by the CIA — the Agency of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s — it might be easy enough to forget the Agency of the new century, the one known for creating its own offshore Bermuda triangle of injustice, including a global system of secret (or borrowed) prisons, as well as for kidnappings, ghost prisoners, torture, assassination, covert programs aimed at “regime change” in countries like (as in 1953) Iran, and, of course, everything we don’t yet know because the “family jewels” for this period are nowhere near being released. Note, by the way, that even the recently released “family jewels” from that older era are not complete and remain heavily redacted — in the case of one document (scroll down), far more so than in a version that was released in the 1970s.

In addition, this cache of documents seems to deal only passingly, at best, with the Vietnam War, despite the CIA’s infamous Phoenix Program; nor does it focus on the Agency’s covert wars and other major actions abroad, many of which were laid out in Roger Morris’ three-part profile of Robert Gates at this site. Of course, one difference between those ancient decades and today is that the CIA is now but one jostling agency among the 16 that make up the official American “Intelligence Community,” whose combined budget, while unknown, runs into the many tens of billions of dollars.

All that’s missing, as Thomas Powers, an expert on the CIA and author of Intelligence Wars, makes so clear in the following essay, posted at this site thanks to the kindness of the editors of the New York Review of Books, is actual, serviceable “intelligence.” Tom

What Tenet Knew

Unanswered Questions
by Thomas Powers [This essay, which considers At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA by George Tenet with Bill Harlow (HarperCollins, 549 pp., $30.00) appears in the July 19th, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books and is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.]

How we got into Iraq is the great open question of the decade but George Tenet in his memoir of his seven years running the Central Intelligence Agency takes his sweet time working his way around to it. He hesitates because he has much to explain: the claims made by Tenet’s CIA with “high confidence” that Iraq was dangerously armed all proved false. But mistakes are one thing, excusable even when serious; inexcusable would be charges of collusion in deceiving Congress and the public to make war possible. Tenet’s overriding goal in his carefully written book is to deny “that we somehow cooked the books” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. If he says it once he says it a dozen times. “We told the president what we did on Iraq WMD because we believed it.”

But repetition is not enough. Tenet’s problem is that the intelligence and the war proceeded in lockstep: no intelligence, no war. Since Tenet delivered the (shockingly exaggerated) intelligence, and the President used it to go to war, how is Tenet to convince the world that he wasn’t simply giving the boss what he wanted? Tenet naturally dislikes this question but it is evident that the American public and Congress dislike it just as much. Down that road lie painful truths about the character and motives of the President and the men and women around him. But getting out of Iraq will not be easy, and the necessary first step is to find the civic courage to insist on knowing how we got in. Tenet’s memoir is an excellent place to begin; some of what he tells us and much that he leaves out point unmistakably to the genesis of the war in the White House — the very last thing Tenet wants to address clearly. He sidles up to the question at last on page 301: “One of the great mysteries to me,” he writes, “is exactly when the war in Iraq became inevitable.”

Hans Blix, director of the United Nations weapons inspection team, did not believe that war was inevitable until the shooting started. In Blix’s view, reported in his memoir Disarming Iraq, the failure of his inspectors to find Saddam Hussein’s WMD meant that a US invasion of Iraq could certainly be put off, perhaps avoided altogether. For Blix it was all about the weapons. Tenet’s version of events makes it clear that WMD, despite all the ballyhoo, were in fact secondary; something else was driving events.

Tenet’s omissions begin on Day Two of the march to war, September 12, 2001, when three British officials came to CIA headquarters “just for the night, to express their condolences and to be with us. We had dinner that night at Langley,….as touching an event as I experienced during my seven years as DCI.” This would have been an excellent place to describe the genesis of the war but Tenet declines. We must fill in the missing pieces ourselves.

The guests that night were David Manning, barely a week into his new job as Tony Blair’s personal foreign policy adviser; Richard Dearlove, chief of the British secret intelligence service known as MI6, a man Tenet already knew well; and Eliza Manningham-Buller, the deputy chief of MI5, the British counterpart to the FBI. Despite the ban on air traffic, Dearlove and Manningham-Buller had flown into Andrews Air Force Base near Washington that day. But David Manning was already inside the United States. The day before the attack on the World Trade Center, on September 10, he had been in Washington for a dinner with Condoleezza Rice at the home of the British ambassador, Christopher Meyer. Early on September 11 Manning took the shuttle to New York and from his airplane window on the approach to Kennedy Airport he saw smoke rising from one of the World Trade Center towers. By the time he landed the second tower had been struck.

It took a full day for the British embassy to fetch Manning back to Washington by car, and he arrived at Langley that night carrying the burden of what he had seen. It was a largish group that gathered for dinner. Along with the three British guests and Tenet were Jim Pavitt and his deputy at the CIA’s Directorate for Operations; Tenet’s executive secretary Buzzy Krongard; the chief of the Counter Terrorism Center, Cofer Black; the acting director of the FBI, Thomas Pickard; the chief of the CIA’s Near East Division, still not identified; and the chief of the CIA’s European Division, Tyler Drumheller.

Tenet names his British guests, but omits all that was said. Tyler Drumheller, barred by the CIA from identifying the visitors in his own recent memoir, On the Brink, reports an exchange between Manning and Tenet, who were probably meeting for the first time. “I hope we can all agree,” said Manning, “that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq.”

“Absolutely,” Tenet replied, “we all agree on that. Some might want to link the issues, but none of us wants to go that route.”

******

Manning already understood that people close to President Bush wanted to go after Iraq, and Tenet of course knew it too. Conspicuous among them, in his mind that night, was the neo-conservative agitator and polemicist Richard Perle, an outspoken advocate of removing Saddam Hussein by military force. On the very first page of Tenet’s memoir, he tells us that he had run into Perle that very morning — September 12 – as Perle was leaving the West Wing of the White House. They knew each other in a passing way, as figures of note on the Washington scene. As Tenet reached the door Perle turned to him and said, “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.”

This made a powerful impression on the director of the CIA:

“I was stunned but said nothing…. At the Secret Service security checkpoint, I looked back at Perle and thought: What the hell is he talking about? Moments later, a second thought came to me: Who has Richard Perle been meeting with in the White House so early in the morning on today of all days? I never learned the answer to that question.”

The meeting with Perle and the dinner with Manning and Dearlove took place on Wednesday. On Saturday, Tenet was at Camp David where President Bush was weighing the American response to the attacks of September 11. During the discussion, arguments for removing Saddam were pressed by Paul Wolfowitz, another neoconservative and longtime friend of Perle who was the deputy secretary of defense under Donald Rumsfeld. “The president listened to Paul’s views,” Tenet writes, “but, fairly quickly, it seemed to me, dismissed them.” The vote against including Iraq “in our immediate response plans” was four to zero against, with Rumsfeld abstaining. Tenet adds, “I recall no mention of WMD.”

Four days later, at a meeting in the White House, Bush made a request of Tenet. Through a video hookup Vice President Dick Cheney was in the room as well. “I want to know about links between Saddam and al Qaeda,” said the President. “The Vice President knows some things that might be helpful.”

What the Vice President thought he knew was that one of the September 11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had met in Prague earlier in the year with an official of Iraqi intelligence. Tenet responded within days to say that evidence from phone calls and credit cards demonstrated that Atta was in the United States at the time of the alleged meeting, living in a Virginia apartment not far from the CIA. A proven link between Saddam and September 11 would have ended the debate about “regime change” right there. None was ever established, then or later, but Cheney and his personal national security adviser, I. Lewis Libby, known by his nickname as Scooter, argued and reargued the case for the link until the eve of war. Often they went to the agency personally, bringing fresh allegations acquired from their own sources, and pressing CIA analysts to “re-look” the evidence.

Under continuing White House pressure the agency treated their claims respectfully. Analysts conceded that “cooperation, safe haven, training, and reciprocal nonaggression” were all discussed by al-Qaeda and Iraqi officials. “But operational direction and control?” Tenet asks. “No.”

The Vice President did not take no for an answer. He often cited the link in public and he wanted the CIA to back him up. In June 2002, the deputy director for intelligence, Jami Miscik, complained to Tenet that Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz would not let the subject drop. Tenet reports that he told Miscik to “just say ‘we stand by what we previously wrote.'” But six months later, in January 2003, Stephen Hadley at the National Security Council summoned Miscik to the White House for yet another revision of a “link” paper. Infuriated, Miscik went to Tenet’s office and told him she would resign before she would change another word. Tenet says he called Hadley. “‘Steve,’ I said, ‘knock this off. The paper is done…. Jami is not coming down there to discuss it anymore.'”

Ron Suskind tells the same story but quotes Tenet differently on the phone to Hadley: “It is fucking over. Do you hear me! And don’t you ever fucking treat my people this way again. Ever!” Even that was not the end. In mid-March 2003, less than a week before the U.S. launched its attack, Cheney sent a speech over to the CIA for review making all the old arguments that there was a “link.” Tenet tells us that he telephoned Bush to say, “The vice president wants to make a speech about Iraq and al-Qa’ida that goes way beyond what the intelligence shows. We cannot support the speech, and it should not be given.”

Why did Cheney press this point so relentlessly? Tenet tells a story that helps to explain the motives behind the struggle over “intelligence” between September 11 and the day American cruise missiles began to land on Baghdad, eighteen months later. Only a few days after September 11, Tenet writes, a CIA analyst attended a White House meeting where he was told that Bush wanted to remove Saddam. The analyst’s response, according to Tenet:

“If you want to go after that son of a bitch to settle old scores, be my guest. But don’t tell us he is connected to 9/11 or to terrorism because there is no evidence to support that. You will have to have a better reason.”

The better reason eventually settled on by President Bush was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The evidence for WMD turned out to be even weaker than the evidence for “the link,” but Cheney, with the full backing of the White House and the National Security Council, hammered without let-up on the horrific consequences of error — discovering too late that Iraq had nuclear weapons meant that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud. It was vaguely believed at the time, by the public and foreign intelligence services alike, that the CIA must have learned something new; why else in early 2002 had Saddam Hussein suddenly become a threat to the world?

In fact only one thing had changed — the American frame of mind, something clearly understood by advisers to Britain’s Tony Blair, who had decided immediately after September 11 that he was going to back the American response, whatever it was. David Manning’s hope, expressed at his dinner with Tenet, that the Americans would settle for the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban was soon dashed. A week later Tony Blair himself was at the White House. Bush took him immediately by the elbow, according to the British ambassador, Christopher Meyer, and moved the prime minister off into a corner of the room.

Don’t get distracted, Blair told the President; Taliban first.

“I agree with you, Tony,” Bush replied. “We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.”

The Taliban were in retreat by the end of the year; on March 1, Robert Einhorn, an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, testified in Congress that Bush had come back to Iraq: “A consensus seems to be developing in Washington in favor of ‘regime change’ in Iraq, if necessary through the use of military force.”

As it happened, it took a year to get from point A to point B — from developing consensus to war. During that year George Tenet’s CIA played an indispensable part in raising fears of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but in his memoir Tenet is reluctant to approach the Iraq problem. He writes proudly of the agency’s success in removing the Taliban — which was in fact a marvel of the light touch, especially in retrospect — and insists he was slow to recognize that Iraq was next:

“My many sleepless nights back then didn’t center on Saddam Hussein. Al-Qa’ida occupied my nightmares…. Looking back, I wish I could have devoted equal energy and attention to Iraq…. Iraq deserved more of my time. But the simple fact is that I didn’t see that freight train coming as early as I should have.”

******

When did war become inevitable? When did Tenet see the freight train coming? Does he really hope to convince us that it took him longer than the British, who signed on for war at a meeting with Bush at his Texas ranch in April 2002?

What we know about the extraordinarily close British-American relationship in the run-up to war comes mainly from a series of high-level British government papers known collectively as “the Downing Street memos.”5 An unknown person gave them to the British newspaper correspondent Michael Smith — a first batch of six, in September 2004, when Smith was working for the Telegraph; and two more the following May after Smith had moved over to the London Times. These documents reveal British plans in a language of bald directness and candor. There is no fudge; there is no evasion of awkward fact; there is frank admission of where they want to get and how they plan to get there.

The British had no objection to overthrowing Saddam by military means but feared that the American willingness to go it alone would undermine the case, anger the world, and make it impossible for Britain to take part. The solution was to cast Saddam as the villain, and the British saw promise in his serial rejection of UN resolutions. If he could be coaxed to defy one last and final offer to disarm, worded carefully to make UN demands sound fair, then the world might come around to seeing war as reasonable. This was the strategy the British hoped to sell to the Americans in the spring of 2002. In a first step, David Manning in mid-March flew again to Washington where he met twice with the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. He reported in a memo to Blair on March 14:

“These were good exchanges, and particularly frank when we were one-on-one at dinner…. Condi’s enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties…. From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions: how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified;… what happens on the morning after?”

Blair was in a strong position, in Manning’s view. “Bush will want to pick your brains,” he told the prime minister in his memo. “He also wants your support.” The price of that support, Manning told Rice, would be recognition of British concerns:

“[I]n particular: the UN dimension. The issue of the weapons inspectors must be handled in a way that would persuade European and wider opinion that the US was conscious of the international framework, and the insistence of many countries on the need for a legal base. Renewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument.”

A few days after Manning’s dinner with Rice, Christopher Meyer invited Paul Wolfowitz to lunch at the ambassador’s residence. He reported the result to Manning on March 18: “I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week.” Yes, Britain supported regime change but the world had to be brought along. Wolfowitz wanted to talk about Saddam’s crimes and his connections to al-Qaeda — “did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting” of Mohamed Atta with the Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague? Meyer stuck to the script: “I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UNSCRs [Security Council Resolutions]….”

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, expanded on this argument in his options paper for Blair at the end of the month. Making the case, in Straw’s view, meant going back to the UN:

“That Iraq is in flagrant breach of international legal obligations imposed on it by UNSC provides us with the core of a strategy…. I believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors is essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.”

Straw appended a memo from the Foreign Office political director, Peter Ricketts, who described the immediate challenge as explaining why Iraq, and why now?

“The truth is that… even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up…. We are still left with a problem of bringing public opinion to accept the imminence of a threat from Iraq. This is something the Prime Minister and President need to have a frank discussion about.”

Blair met with Bush in Crawford, Texas, on April 6 and promised to join a military campaign for Saddam’s removal, but only, Blair stressed, after “the options for action to eliminate Iraq’s WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.” Bush did not say yes to this at the time and as spring of 2002 moved into summer the Vice President argued against any return to the UN. Cheney feared that Baghdad would renew its cat-and-mouse game with inspectors, the process would drag on, and the administration’s determination to invade and occupy Iraq would gradually erode, leaving a defiant Saddam still in power.

The British made a final effort to convince Bush to obtain a UN resolution in July, beginning with a trip to Washington by MI6’s director, Richard Dearlove, to check the temperature of American thinking. On Saturday, July 20, Dearlove and other British intelligence officials visited the CIA in Langley, where George Tenet took Dearlove aside for a private talk that lasted an hour and a half. On July 23, back in London, Dearlove reported on his frank discussions in Washington.

******

But first let us consider Tenet’s account of this episode in his memoir. It is deceptive in the extreme. “In May of 2002,” he writes, Dearlove came to Washington and met with Rice, Hadley, Scooter Libby, and Congressman Porter Goss, then chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Three years later the documents leaked to the British press quoted Dearlove describing his findings in Washington at a cabinet meeting. Tenet writes, “Sir Richard later told me that he had been misquoted.”

May of 2002? Tenet is off by two months. I suspect that Dearlove really did come in May as well, and that Tenet cites the earlier visit to muddy the waters about his meeting with Dearlove on July 20 — neither denying it took place nor lying about what was said. After May 2005 — a full year after Tenet had left the CIA — Dearlove “told me that he had been misquoted.” Tenet knows what he told Dearlove; does he think his views were misrepresented by Dearlove’s report to the cabinet, as recorded in the minutes? Tenet does not say. He adds that Dearlove “believed that the crowd around the vice president was playing fast and loose with the evidence.” In short, Tenet is trying to put a country mile of daylight between Dearlove’s unvarnished report to the British cabinet and Tenet’s ninety-minute, private conversation with Dearlove at the CIA only three days earlier.

We may assume that the whole of Dearlove’s remarks as reported in the cabinet meeting minutes were colored by what Tenet told him:

“C [the traditional designation for the chief of MI6] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

Tenet has done his utmost — short of lying — to hide his role as Dearlove’s informant, but every point the MI6 director made was something Tenet was uniquely positioned to tell him.

The danger from Blair’s point of view was a bull-headed American drive to war which the British would find it politically impossible to join. He told the cabinet that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.” The cabinet agreed that a strategy to “wrongfoot” Saddam through the UN was crucial. Jack Straw “would send the prime minister the background on the UN inspectors and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.” Early in August Straw made a secret visit to argue Blair’s case for the UN gambit with Secretary of State Colin Powell in the latter’s house; Powell then pressed the point about the UN hard with Bush at a private White House dinner and Bush at last agreed. Tenet attended a final meeting on the issue at Camp David on Saturday morning, September 7:

“Colin Powell was firmly on the side of going the extra mile with the UN, while the vice president argued just as forcefully that doing so would only get us mired in a bureaucratic tangle with nothing to show for it other than the time lost off a ticking clock. The president let Powell and Cheney pretty much duke it out.”

******

But the decision had already been made. Blair was also present at Camp David that day. He had been urging a UN resolution for months and had not crossed the ocean to be told no. According to Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, Bush told Blair that the United States would bring the question of Saddam’s WMD to the UN one more time before going to war, but war would probably still follow in the end. Thus the stage was set for a UN melodrama starring a defiant Saddam before armies crossed borders, but nothing worked as the British had imagined. Saddam accepted unconditionally the Security Council’s demand on November 8 for intrusive new inspections. While the report he submitted on Iraq’s destruction of its WMD was rejected as obfuscating, the UN was able to resume inspections at the end of November. Hans Blix’s inspectors scoured the country inspecting hundreds of sites but found nothing, and Blix infuriated the White House by refusing to declare Iraq in material breach of Resolution 1441 demanding that he disarm.

As a ploy for war, “wrongfooting” Saddam was a bust. With each passing week he seemed less of a threat. Cheney’s clock was ticking; American military plans, hoping to avoid the brutal Iraqi summer, called for fighting to begin in March at the latest. Bush was determined and Blair was willing to go forward with war, but since the UN gambit had generated no just cause for war, the Americans were compelled to make the case before the UN themselves. The date was set for February 5, and Colin Powell was chosen to present the evidence — the fruits of many months of work by the collectors and analysts of George Tenet’s CIA. Everything seemed to rest on the strength of Powell’s argument — the onset of war, the Bush policy to remake the Middle East, the American reputation in the world. This was the moment when the intelligence and the war fell completely into lockstep; no intelligence, no war. If Tenet is to be vindicated as an honest man this is where he must convince us the intelligence was genuinely believed and honestly presented.

“My colleagues,” Powell said in the speech, “every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Visible behind Powell as he placed his public reputation on the line was George Tenet, arms folded and filling his seat with bearlike bulk. Tenet had personally guaranteed Powell that every claim he made was on firm ground.

“It was a great presentation,” Tenet writes of Powell’s speech, “but unfortunately the substance didn’t hold up.”

The substance, in fact, was wrong in every particular, as is now well known. Tenet does not linger on that. He argues instead that it didn’t matter: Bush didn’t go to war because the CIA told him Saddam Hussein had WMD — the dead-certain “slam dunk” he used to describe the evidence in a White House meeting in December 2002. And maybe the WMD claims in the agency’s National Intelligence Estimate “were flawed,” he writes, but didn’t Congress have an obligation at the very least to read the whole of the ninety-page paper before voting to authorize war? Should their negligence be blamed on him? “The intelligence process was not disingenuous,” he insists, “nor was it influenced by politics.” This is the whole of his defense: we were wrong, but it was an honest error.

******

This is not the place for an exhaustive reexamination of the agency’s long-exploded claims, but no plea of honest error can survive even a quick look at the facts in three disputes — what Iraq intended to do with aluminum tubes, how the agency knew about Iraq’s mobile biological warfare labs, and why a report that Iraq was trying to buy uranium “yellowcake” in Niger made its way into one official speech after another until it finally appeared — the infamous “sixteen words” — in Bush’s state of the union speech in January 2003. None of these claims was robust when first encountered by the CIA. All were “processed” by CIA analysts in a manner intended to disguise shaky sources, minimize doubts, exclude alternative explanations, exaggerate their significance, and inflate the confidence level with which they were believed. None passes the “honest error” test.

After the seizure of a shipment of aluminum tubes bound for Iraq in the summer of 2001, a CIA analyst argued that they were intended for use in the building of centrifuges for separation of fissionable material, a claim rejected by experts for the Department of Energy when they learned of it. Analysts for the State Department also found the argument implausible. The CIA’s view was leaked to a New York Times reporter in September 2002 and then cited the same day on a Sunday-morning talk show by Condoleezza Rice as proof sufficient of Saddam’s nuclear plans unless we waited for “the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

The National Intelligence Estimate given to Congress at that time ignored Department of Energy objections and printed the State Department’s footnote of protest sixty pages away from the bald claim that “all intelligence experts agree… that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program.” Only an elastic interpretation of the word “could” rescues this statement from being a bald lie. After a year of exhaustive postwar investigation, the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the tubes were intended for use as battlefield rockets, as other experts and the Iraqi government had claimed all along.

In describing the Iraqi threat at the UN, Colin Powell laid it on thickest in his description of Iraq’s mobile labs for the production of biological weapons, first reported by an Iraqi engineering student who defected to Germany in 1998 and was given the codename Curveball. German intelligence officials routinely passed on his claims to the Defense Intelligence Agency, which then circulated them to other American intelligence organizations in 2000 and 2001. Immediately after September 11 these reports became a major building block in the case for Iraqi WMD, but the Germans refused access to Curveball, and later told the European Division chief, Tyler Drumheller, that Curveball was mentally unstable, that his reports had never been corroborated by anyone else, and that some German intelligence officials thought he was a fabricator.

In December 2002, while compiling evidence for Powell’s speech to the UN, the CIA formally asked the Germans for permission to use Curveball’s information. The German intelligence chief, August Hanning, wrote back on December 20 granting permission, but repeating what had been said to Drumheller two months earlier — Curveball’s claims had never been corroborated. Tenet in his memoir denies that he saw Hanning’s letter or was ever informed about the analysts’ knockdown arguments over Curveball’s claims. In one session, according to Drumheller, a Curveball believer insulted a Curveball doubter who responded, “You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window.” Drumheller comments, “It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.”

But Tenet insists that word of the ruckus never reached him. Only a week before Powell’s speech to the UN, the CIA’s chief of station in Berlin cabled headquarters to say yet again that the Germans could not verify Curveball’s claims, and adding:

“Defer to headquarters but to use information from another liaison service’s source whose information cannot be verified on such an important, key topic should take the most serious consideration.”

Tenet has insisted that he never saw that cable either. Nor does he remember a last-minute warning from Drumheller the night before Powell’s speech. Tenet had called Drumheller seeking a phone number. “As long as I’ve got you,” said Drumheller on the phone, “there are some problems with the German reporting.” Drumheller writes that he tried to tell Tenet that Curveball was worthless. Tenet remembers the phone call, but not the warning. What Curveball said was found by the Iraq Survey Group to be wrong in every detail.

******

The claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger was not only weak but was based, if that is the word, on evidence, if that is the word, that was fabricated in so obvious a manner that the CIA claims not to have seen the documents till very late in the day. First notice of the Iraqi-Niger connection reached the CIA shortly before September 11, probably from Italian intelligence officials passing on a two-year-old Telex which reported plans of the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican to visit Niger. Two Italian journalists who have investigated the case, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D’Avanzo, note that the only significant Niger export is uranium ore. So this was an item of interest.

The uranium mines in Niger are under the control of a French company and the export of uranium ore is closely monitored by French intelligence, which answered a routine CIA query in the summer of 2001 by saying that nothing was amiss. The following spring the CIA was again “knocking on our door,” according to Alain Chouet, the director of the French intelligence branch which monitors WMD matters. Chouet told Bonini and D’Avanzo, as they report in their book Collusion: International Espionage and the War on Terror, that there was now “an undeniable urgency” to American questions, which were no longer vague, but full of detail. Again the French investigated; again the answer to the CIA was that nothing was amiss. But the Americans pressed the matter and now, for the first time, sent Chouet some documents. “All it took was a quick glance,” said Chouet. “They were junk. Crude fakes.”

At about the same time — June 2002 — a sometime Italian intelligence operative named Rocco Martino tried to sell the French a sheaf of documents reporting a secret Iraqi purchase of five hundred tons of uranium yellowcake. Chouet had them checked against the material sent him by the Americans. “The documents were identical.” A great deal more might be said about these documents, which had already been passed to the British in late 2001, according to Bonini and D’Avanzo. The Germans, too, were given a crack at them. “The Germans asked our advice,” Chouet said, “and we told them they were trash.”

What is clear is that the documents, which were fabricated with materials stolen from the embassy of Niger in Rome, were given or at least offered to the British, the Americans, the French, and the Germans — all by the summer of 2002, when the US had decided on war to remove Saddam Hussein and was building a case that he threatened the world with WMD. It should be noted here that intelligence services trying to bolster a weak case will sometimes pass a report under the nose of a foreign intelligence service to create an echo effect. Were the yellowcake documents the basis of British claims in an intelligence report released on September 24, 2002, that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa? As “the dodgy dossier,” that report — allegedly “sexed up” by aides to Blair — later became the subject of a major inquiry by Parliament. The British insist that they have other credible information on the yellowcake story but refuse to say what it is.

The Italian intelligence service concedes that its man — Rocco Martino, the sometime operative — was the one who circulated the yellowcake documents, but insists that he did it simply for the money. Bonini and D’Avanzo don’t believe it, and point out that Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, wanted a central role in Bush’s coalition to fight the war on terror. A report in Rome’s La Repubblica on October 25, 2005, says that Berlusconi pressured his new intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari, to provide the Americans with intelligence that would inflate Italy’s role.

******

Who dreamed up the yellowcake stratagem? So far Americans — public and Congress alike — don’t seem to care, choosing to lump the Niger documents with all the other phony, exaggerated reports under the category of “intelligence failures.” The yellowcake story didn’t stand up for long, but it didn’t need to stand up for long. An echo effect put it into play after Bush, in his 2003 state of the union speech, included it in the list of scary signs that Saddam was preparing trouble for the world: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Tenet makes much of the fact that he twice blocked use of the yellowcake claim by Bush — once in September 2002 and again a few weeks later — but his argument was a narrow one: the President should not be a “fact witness” on the yellowcake story because the facts were too iffy. But not too iffy, in Tenet’s view, to include the yellowcake story in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002 that persuaded Congress to vote for war. Nor did Tenet protest when the State Department accused Iraq in December of leaving the yellowcake story out of its WMD declaration, when Bush repeated the charge in a report to Congress, when Condoleezza Rice cited it as an example of Iraqi duplicity in an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times in January 2003, when Powell cited it a few days later in a speech in Switzerland, and when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cited it at the end of January.

The yellowcake story would have appeared in Powell’s UN speech as well if Powell had not drawn the line and tossed it out. That left the secretary of state with a lot of atmospheric intelligence rigmarole and two factual claims — the aluminum tubes proved that Saddam was going for nuclear weapons and the mobile biological weapons labs proved that he was a threat to the region and possibly the world. Powell’s speech was all smoke and mirrors, but it was enough. Bush turned his back on the UN and prepared to go to war.

*******

Hans Blix, meanwhile, had been undergoing a kind of slow awakening. Blix never answered reporters’ questions about his “gut feelings” on WMD, but he had them, and in the beginning they were roughly what everybody else believed — despite Saddam Hussein’s cease-fire pledge to give up WMD at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Blix believed that he retained some and was trying to build more. But gradually the failure to find anything eroded Blix’s confidence that his gut was correct. When the inspections resumed in November 2002, American experts suggested to Blix that the inspectors begin with Iraqi government ministries, seize computers, and look for names and addresses on the hard drives. Blix thought this a lame idea; the inspectors had tried it before, but the Iraqis were too sophisticated to leave incriminating clues in such an obvious place. “I drew the conclusion,” Blix writes in Disarming Iraq, “that the US did not itself know where things were.”

Between late November and mid-March 2003, Blix reports, the UN inspectors made seven hundred separate visits to five hundred sites. About three dozen of those sites had been suggested by intelligence services, many by Tenet’s CIA, which insisted that these were “the best” in the agency’s database. Blix was shocked. “If this was the best, what was the rest?” he asked himself. “Could there be 100-percent certainty about the existence of weapons of mass destruction but zero-percent knowledge about their location?”

By this time Blix was firmly opposed to the evident American preference for disarmament by war. “It was, in my view, too early to give up now,” he writes. Tony Blair in late February tried to convince Blix that Saddam had WMD even if Blix couldn’t find them — the French, German, and Egyptian intelligence services were all sure of it, Blair said. Blix told Blair that to him they seemed not so sure, and adds as an aside, “My faith in intelligence had been shaken.” On March 5, Blix on the phone with Rice asked her point-blank if the United States knew where Iraq’s WMD were hidden. “No, she said, but interviews after liberation would reveal it.”

Two days later, Mohammed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a report to the Security Council, decisively undermined the two principal American arguments that Saddam was illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons: the aluminum tubes which the CIA insisted were for use in a centrifuge to manufacture fissionable material were actually for conventional rockets, ElBaradei said, and the documents used to “prove” that Saddam was trying to buy uranium yellowcake in Niger were, in ElBaradei’s diplomatic words, “not authentic.” Only people paying close attention to the details understood at once that he meant the documents were fakes, fabrications, forgeries. ElBaradei’s experts had reached this conclusion in one day.

In that meeting of the Security Council both ElBaradei and Blix reported their continuing plans for further inspections, and both said that outstanding issues might be resolved within a few months. This was not what the United States wanted to hear. In mid-February, President Bush had derided efforts to give Iraq “another, ‘nother, ‘nother last chance.” Blix had pleaded in a phone call about the same time to Secretary of State Colin Powell for a free hand at least until April 15. “He said it was too late.”

But three weeks later Blix soberly argued in his report to the Security Council for more time. “It would not take years, nor weeks, but months,” he said. France, Russia, China, and other council members favored the idea and proposed a new resolution which the Americans agreed to discuss but loaded with difficulties. “Nevertheless, I thought, here on March 7 there was something new,” Blix wrote in his memoir, “a theoretical possibility to avoid war. Saddam could make a speech; Iraq could hand over prohibited items.”

The resolution went nowhere but Blix did not give up hope even when President Bush flew to the Azores on March 16 to talk war with his allies, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar López. “Most observers felt the war was now a certainty,” Blix wrote, “and, indeed, it came. Although I thought the probability was very high, I was also, even at this very late date, aware that unexpected things can happen.”

Three years later, in a speech to the Arms Control Association, Blix reflected on that moment in his office at the UN — the afternoon of March 16 — when the State Department’s John Wolf called to say that the time had come to pull the inspectors out of Iraq. “My belief is that if we had been allowed to continue with inspections for a couple of months more, we would then have been able to go to all of the sites which were given by intelligence,” he said. “And since there were not any weapons of massive destruction, we would have reported there were not any.” An invasion might have taken place anyway, Blix concedes; the Americans and British had sent several hundred thousand troops to Kuwait and could not leave them sitting in the desert indefinitely. “But it would have been certainly more difficult,” Blix said. Even so, in Blix’s view, something important had been achieved. “The UN and the world had succeeded in disarming Iraq without knowing it.” Blix guessed that Saddam hid his compliance so Iran wouldn’t think him weak, but it was the Americans who were deceived.

******

That in outline is how we got into Iraq. When Tony Blair’s UN gambit failed to provide an excuse for war, Colin Powell made the American case, putting in the scary stuff — the “product” of Tenet’s CIA — which Hans Blix’s inspectors had failed to find. No one paying serious attention was convinced. The French, German, and Canadian intelligence services were appalled by the weakness of Powell’s case — what could the Americans be thinking? Periodically over the following year Powell would tell his assistant, Larry Wilkerson, that George Tenet had telephoned to say that the agency was formally withdrawing another pillar from his UN speech. “He took it like a soldier,” said Wilkerson, “but it was a blow.”

Tenet in his memoirs says almost nothing about UN inspections. The names of Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei do not appear in his book. Tenet nowhere betrays genuine surprise that the CIA got everything wrong; maybe, he concedes, “reports and analysis…were flawed, but the intelligence process was not disingenuous.” What shocked Tenet was the brutal manner in which the White House blamed him for the infamous “sixteen words,” and even for the war itself, which never would have happened, the President’s men implied, if Tenet had not assured them that the case for Saddam’s WMD was a “slam dunk.” When Tenet read the phrase in The Washington Post he seethed for a day and then called Andrew Card at the White House to say that leaking the “slam dunk” phrase to reporter Bob Woodward was “about the most despicable thing I have ever seen in my life.” Card said nothing.

Thus George Tenet broods about his hurt feelings. In the flood of his many parting thoughts he never returns to his original question about the moment when war became inevitable, which was in any case rhetorical. More to the point would have been answerable questions, the kind any fair historian would put to him: When did Tenet first hear the President talk about “regime change”? When did he realize that Iraq was next on the President’s agenda? When did he understand that WMD were to be the heart of the argument for war? And when did he know that without Curveball and without the aluminum tubes, Colin Powell would have been left standing in front of the UN with nothing?

[The footnotes that accompany this piece can be found in the July 19th issue of the New York Review of Books.]

Thomas Powers is the author most recently of Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda. He would like to thank the American Academy in Berlin, where this essay, in the latest New York Review of Books, was written.

This article appears in the July 19th issue of the New York Review of Books.

Copyright 2007 Thomas Powers