July 15, 2003

Intelligence Unglued

It was a disturbing scene...The _resident, unelected,
illegitimate, incompetent, small-minded, belligerent
sitting across from Kofi Annan, carefully mouthing the
few feeble words that had been formulated for him by
Rove: "The intelligence (he stumbled on this word) I
receive is darn good intelligence." Well, actually it
is not the intelligence you receive that is being
questioned, Mr. _resident. It is what your cabal, i.e.
the VICE _resident, the White House au pair, etc.,
cooked up with it in your rush to unilateral
war...Here's the truth from some brave, outspoken
intelligence professionals...

Published on Monday, July 14, 2003 by CommonDreams.org

Intelligence Unglued
by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Intelligence Unglued

The glue that holds the Intelligence Community
together is melting under the hot lights of an
awakened press. If you do not act quickly, your
intelligence capability will fall apart—with grave
consequences for the nation.

The Forgery Flap

By now you are all too familiar with the play-by-play.
The Iraq-seeking-uranium-in-Niger forgery is a
microcosm of a mischievous nexus of overarching
problems. Instead of addressing these problems, your
senior staff are alternately covering up for one
another and gently stabbing one another in the back.
CIA Director George Tenet’s extracted, unapologetic
apology on July 11 was classic—I confess; she did it.

It is now dawning on our until-now somnolent press
that your national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice,
shepherds the foreign affairs sections of your
state-of-the-union address and that she, not Tenet, is
responsible for the forged information getting into
the speech. But the disingenuousness persists. Surely
Dr. Rice cannot persist in her insistence that she
learned only on June 8, 2003 about former ambassador
Joseph Wilson’s mission to Niger in February 2002,
when he determined that the Iraq-Niger report was a
con-job. Wilson’s findings were duly reported to all
concerned in early March 2002. And, if she somehow
missed that report, the New York Times’ Nicholas
Kristoff on May 6 recounted chapter and verse on
Wilson’s mission, and the story remained the talk of
the town in the weeks that followed.

Rice’s denials are reminiscent of her claim in spring
2002 that there was no reporting suggesting that
terrorists were planning to hijack planes and slam
them into buildings. In September, the joint
congressional committee on 9/11 came up with a dozen
such reports.

Secretary of State Colin Powell’s credibility, too,
has taken serious hits as continued non-discoveries of
weapons in Iraq heap doubt on his confident assertions
to the UN. Although he was undoubtedly trying to be
helpful in trying to contain the Iraq-Niger forgery
affair, his recent description of your
state-of-the-union words as “not totally outrageous”
was faint praise indeed. And his explanations as to
why he made a point to avoid using the forgery in the
way you did was equally unhelpful.

Whatever Rice’s or Powell’s credibility, it is yours
that matters. And, in our view, the credibility of the
intelligence community is an inseparably close second.
Attempts to dismiss or cover up the cynical use to
which the known forgery was put have been—well,
incredible. The British have a word for it: “dodgy.”
You need to put a quick end to the dodginess, if the
country is to have a functioning intelligence

The Vice President’s Role

Attempts at cover up could easily be seen as comical,
were the issue not so serious. Highly revealing were
Ari Fleisher’s remarks early last week, which set the
tone for what followed. When asked about the forgery,
he noted tellingly—as if drawing on well memorized
talking points—that the Vice President was not guilty
of anything. The disingenuousness was capped on
Friday, when George Tenet did his awkward best to
absolve the Vice President from responsibility.

To those of us who experienced Watergate these
comments had an eerie ring. That affair and others
since have proven that cover-up can assume proportions
overshadowing the crime itself. All the more reason to
take early action to get the truth up and out.

There is just too much evidence that Ambassador Wilson
was sent to Niger at the behest of Vice President
Cheney’s office, and that Wilson’s findings were duly
reported not only to that office but to others as

Equally important, it was Cheney who launched (in a
major speech on August 26, 2002) the concerted
campaign to persuade Congress and the American people
that Saddam Hussein was about to get his hands on
nuclear weapons—a campaign that mushroomed, literally,
in early October with you and your senior advisers
raising the specter of a “mushroom cloud” being the
first “smoking gun” we might observe.

That this campaign was based largely on information
known to be forged and that the campaign was used
successfully to frighten our elected representatives
in Congress into voting for war is clear from the
bitter protestations of Rep. Henry Waxman and others.
The politically aware recognize that the same
information was used, also successfully, in the
campaign leading up to the mid-term elections—a
reality that breeds a cynicism highly corrosive to our
political process.

The fact that the forgery also crept into your
state-of-the-union address pales in significance in
comparison with how it was used to deceive Congress
into voting on October 11 to authorize you to make war
on Iraq.

It was a deep insult to the integrity of the
intelligence process that, after the Vice President
declared on August 26, 2002 that “we know that Saddam
has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,”
the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) produced
during the critical month of September featured a
fraudulent conclusion that “most analysts” agreed with
Cheney’s assertion. This may help explain the anomaly
of Cheney’s unprecedented “multiple visits” to CIA
headquarters at the time, as well as the many reports
that CIA and other intelligence analysts were feeling
extraordinarily great pressure, accompanied by all
manner of intimidation tactics, to concur in that
conclusion. As a coda to his nuclear argument, Cheney
told NBC’s Meet the Press three days before US/UK
forces invaded Iraq: “we believe he (Saddam Hussein)
has reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Russert: …the International Atomic Energy Agency
said he dose not have a nuclear program; we disagree?

Vice President Cheney: I disagree, yes. And you’ll
find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of the
intelligence community disagree…we know he has been
absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear
weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted
nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei (Director of
the IAEA) frankly is wrong.

Contrary to what Cheney and the NIE said, the most
knowledgeable analysts—those who know Iraq and nuclear
weapons—judged that the evidence did not support that
conclusion. They now have been proven right.

Adding insult to injury, those chairing the NIE
succumbed to the pressure to adduce the known forgery
as evidence to support the Cheney line, and relegated
the strong dissent of the State Department’s Bureau of
Intelligence and Research (and the nuclear engineers
in the Department of Energy) to an inconspicuous

It is a curious turn of events. The drafters of the
offending sentence on the forgery in president’s
state-of-the-union speech say they were working from
the NIE. In ordinary circumstances an NIE would be the
preeminently authoritative source to rely upon; but in
this case the NIE itself had already been cooked to
the recipe of high policy.

Joseph Wilson, the former US ambassador who visited
Niger at Cheney’s request, enjoys wide respect
(including, like several VIPS members, warm encomia
from your father). He is the consummate diplomat. So
highly disturbed is he, however, at the chicanery he
has witnessed that he allowed himself a very
undiplomatic comment to a reporter last week,
wondering aloud “what else they are lying about.”
Clearly, Wilson has concluded that the time for
diplomatic language has passed. It is clear that lies
were told. Sad to say, it is equally clear that your
vice president led this campaign of deceit.

This was no case of petty corruption of the kind that
forced Vice President Spiro Agnew’s resignation. This
was a matter of war and peace. Thousands have died.
There is no end in sight.

Recommendation #1

We recommend that you call an abrupt halt to attempts
to prove Vice President Cheney “not guilty.” His role
has been so transparent that such attempts will only
erode further your own credibility. Equally
pernicious, from our perspective, is the likelihood
that intelligence analysts will conclude that the way
to success is to acquiesce in the cooking of their
judgments, since those above them will not be held
accountable. We strongly recommend that you ask for
Cheney’s immediate resignation.

The Games Congress Plays

The unedifying dance by the various oversight
committees of the Congress over recent weeks offers
proof, if further proof were needed, that reliance on
Congress to investigate in a non-partisan way is pie
in the sky. One need only to recall that Sen. Pat
Roberts, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
has refused to agree to ask the FBI to investigate the
known forgery. Despite repeated attempts by others on
his committee to get him to bring in the FBI, Roberts
has branded such a move “inappropriate,” without
spelling out why.

Rep. Porter Goss, head of the House Intelligence
Committee, is a CIA alumnus and a passionate
Republican and agency partisan. Goss was largely
responsible for the failure of the joint congressional
committee on 9/11, which he co-chaired last year. An
unusually clear indication of where Goss’ loyalties
lie can be seen in his admission that after a leak to
the press last spring he bowed to Cheney’s insistence
that the FBI be sent to the Hill to investigate
members and staff of the joint committee—an
unprecedented move reflecting blithe disregard for the
separation of powers and a blatant attempt at
intimidation. (Congress has its own capability to
investigate such leaks.)

Henry Waxman’s recent proposal to create yet another
congressional investigatory committee, patterned on
the latest commission looking into 9/11, likewise
holds little promise. To state the obvious about
Congress, politics is the nature of the beast. We have
seen enough congressional inquiries into the
performance of intelligence to conclude that they are
usually as feckless as they are prolonged. And time
cannot wait.

As you are aware, Gen. Brent Scowcroft performed
yeoman’s service as National Security Adviser to your
father and enjoys very wide respect. There are few, if
any, with his breadth of experience with the issues
and the institutions involved. In addition, he has
avoided blind parroting of the positions of your
administration and thus would be seen as relatively
nonpartisan, even though serving at your pleasure. It
seems a stroke of good luck that he now chairs your
President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

Recommendation #2

We repeat, with an additional sense of urgency, the
recommendation in our last memorandum to you (May 1)
that you appoint Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Chair of the
President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board to
head up an independent investigation into the
use/abuse of intelligence on Iraq.

UN Inspectors

Your refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq has
left the international community befuddled. Worse, it
has fed suspicions that the US does not want UN
inspectors in country lest they impede efforts to
“plant” some “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq,
should efforts to find them continue to fall short.
The conventional wisdom is less conspiratorial but
equally unsatisfying. The cognoscenti in Washington
think tanks, for example, attribute your attitude to

We find neither the conspiracy nor the “pique”
rationale persuasive. As we have admitted before, we
are at a loss to explain the barring of UN inspectors.
Barring the very people with the international
mandate, the unique experience, and the credibility to
undertake a serious search for such weapons defies
logic. UN inspectors know Iraq, know the weaponry in
question, know the Iraqi scientists/engineers who have
been involved, know how the necessary materials are
procured and processed; in short, have precisely the
expertise required. The challenge is as daunting as it
is immediate; and, clearly, the US needs all the help
it can get.

The lead Wall Street Journal article of April 8 had it
right: “If the US doesn’t make any undisputed
discoveries of forbidden weapons, the failure will
feed already-widespread skepticism abroad about the
motives for going to war.” As the events of last week
show, that skepticism has now mushroomed here at home
as well.

Recommendation #3

We recommend that you immediately invite the UN
inspectors back into Iraq. This would go a long way
toward refurbishing your credibility. Equally
important, it would help sort out the lessons learned
for the intelligence community and be an invaluable
help to an investigation of the kind we have suggested
you direct Gen. Scowcroft to lead.

If Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity can
be of any further help to you in the days ahead, you
need only ask.

Ray Close, Princeton, NJ
David MacMichael, Linden, VA
Raymond McGovern, Arlington, VA

Steering Committee
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Raymond McGovern is a member of the Steering
Committee, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for
Sanity. He can be contacted at: rmcgovern@slschool.org


Posted by richard at July 15, 2003 08:41 AM