August 02, 2003

Cheney Chicanery

SeeNotNews (CNN) "political analyst" Bill Schnooker
did a ridiculous piece yesterday claiming that the
"White House press corp" "forced news out" of the
_resident. No, I am not joking. Schnooker actually
portayed this milk toast Kabuki as a real press
conference in which the _resident was peppered with
tough questions. Yesterday, in the LNS, I provided
several real questions that the _resident should have
been asked. Here are some more indicators of the
return of integrity, courage, conscience in the "White
House press corp" -- The "White House press corp" will
have gotten in touch with reality when you hear the
name of John O'Neil in a _residential press
conference. The The "White House press corp" will
have gotten in touch with reality when you hear the
name of Ray McGovern in a _residential press
conference. The "White House press corp" will have
gotten in touch with reality when you hear the phrase
"President's Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001" in a
_residential press conference. The "White House press
corp" will have gotten in touch with reality when you
hear questions like, "Mr. _resident, it is widely
reported that the 28 pages of the Congressional 9/11
report, which have been kept from the public, relate
to the involvement of Al-Qaeda with the Saudi regime,
in the light of which, do you have anything you want
to say to the American people to reassure them about
your own family's involvement with the Saudi regime
and with the Bin Laden family in particular?" Here is
some more background on that August 6th, 2001 PDB
(i.e., insight into what didn't happen before 9/11)
and on the VICE _resident's role in cover up and
intimidation in regard to the debacles of both 9/11
and Iraq...

Cheney Chicanery
By Ray McGovern
Common Dreams

Tuesday 29 July 2003

When Vice President Dick Cheney comes out of
seclusion to brand critics “irresponsible,” you know
the administration is in trouble.

Cheney was enlisted to do so in the spring of 2002
amid reports that warning given to President Bush
before 9/11 should have prompted preventive action.
Cheney branded such commentary “irresponsible,” and
critics in the press and elsewhere were duly
intimidated. It will be interesting to see what
happens this time.

Sifting through the congressional report on 9/11, I
was reminded of the President’s Daily Brief item of
August 6, 2001 titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike
in US.” Dana Priest of the Washington Post has learned
that this PDB article stated “bin Laden had wanted to
conduct attacks in the United States for years and
that (his) group apparently maintained a support base
here.” According to Priest, the PDB went on to cite
“FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent
with preparations for hijackings or other types of
attacks.” The president has cited executive privilege
in refusing to declassify the PDB item.

With the administration under fire once again, the
vice president came off the bench with a major
statement on July 24 in which he tried to hit two
birds with one speech: (1) distract attention from the
highly embarrassing 9/11 report released that same
day, and (2) arrest the plunge in administration
credibility caused by the absence of “weapons of mass
destruction” in Iraq and the use of spurious reporting
alleging that Iraq had been seeking uranium in Africa.
In the words of one Cheney aide, “We had to get out of
the hole we were in.”

But, alas, they have dug themselves in deeper by
pushing disingenuousness to new heights—or depths.
Cheney made the centerpiece of his speech a series of
quotes from the key National Intelligence Estimate,
“Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass
Destruction” published on October 1. 2002. The NIE
judgments he selected were adduced to prove that Iraq
posed such an urgent threat to the US that it would
have been “irresponsible” to shy away from making war.

Inconveniently, experience on the ground in Iraq for
more than four months now has cast great doubt on the
validity of those judgments. Worse still, as Cheney
knows better than anyone, it was largely the
unrelenting pressure he put on intelligence
analysts—for example, by his unprecedented “multiple
visits” to CIA headquarters — that rendered those
judgments so dubious.

Giving new meaning to chutzpah, Cheney quoted four
statements from the NIE:

1. “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons…if
left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon
during this decade.” Where are the chemical and
biological weapons?

2. “All key aspects—the R&D, production, and
weaponization—of Iraq’s offensive (biological weapons)
program are active and most elements are larger and
more advanced than they were before the Gulf War.”
Where are they?

3. “Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has
maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its
missile program, and invested more heavily in
biological weapons; in the view of most agencies,
Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons
program.” Where is the evidence of this in Iraq?

4. The Intelligence Community has “high confidence”
in the conclusion that “Iraq is continuing, and in
some areas expanding, its chemical, biological,
nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN

The last four months have shown that such
judgments—though stated to be marked by “high
confidence”—were far off the mark. I know from my own
experience that this is frequently the case when
analysts are put under pressure from policymakers who
have already publicly asserted, a priori, the
“correct” answers to key questions.

Cheney did so in the administration’s rollout of its
marketing strategy for war, when he charged in a major
address on August 26, 2002 “Saddam has resumed his
efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.” The intelligence
community spent the subsequent weeks in a desperate
search evidence to prove Cheney right. If he is
looking for something to label “irresponsible in the
extreme,” the extreme pressure he put on intelligence
analysts last September certainly qualifies.

Cheney did not mention in his speech that analysts
in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and
Research (INR) insisted on recording in the NIE their
strong dissent on the key nuclear issue. All signs
point to their having chosen the wiser approach. Their
diplomatically stated—but nonetheless biting—dissent
is worth a careful read:

“The activities we have detected do not, however,
add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently
pursuing…an integrated and comprehensive approach to
acquire nuclear weapons…INR considers available
evidence inadequate to support such a judgment.
Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched
a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons
program, INR is unwilling… to project a time line for
completion of activities it does not now see

It was also INR analysts who branded the infamous
Iraq-seeking-uranium-from-Niger story (widely
recognized as bogus but included in the estimate
anyway) “highly dubious.” One of the ironies here is
that the intelligence analysts at State, a department
steeped in politics, felt more secure in speaking
truth to power than their counterparts in the CIA. In
my day, CIA analysts were generally given the
necessary insulation from pressure from
policymakers—and career protection when it was
necessary to face them down.

Here the buck stops with CIA Director George Tenet.
And fresh light was thrown on his remarkable
malleability when Newt Gingrich (also a frequent
visitor to CIA over recent months) made this
gratuitous comment to ABC on July 27: “Tenet is so
grateful and loyal that he will do anything he can to
help President Bush.”


Ray McGovern chaired NIEs and prepared/briefed the
President’s Daily Brief during his 27-year career at
CIA. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity and co-director of the
Servant Leadership School, an inner-city outreach
ministry in Washington, DC.

Posted by richard at August 2, 2003 10:12 AM