August 06, 2003

Insider fires a broadside at Rumsfeld's office

Here is the testimony of another brave patriot
insider, BUT will the "US mainstream media" highlight
these dramatic and unprecedented revelations? Very
unlikely. Remember how much you heard from Linda
Tripp? Well, the propapunditgandists won't take up the
story of Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski on Sunday
morning, nor will you see her interviewed in depth in
Larry Clueless Live...But her name will be scrawled on
the John O'Neil wall of heroes....

Insider fires a broadside at Rumsfeld's office
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - On most days, the Pentagon's "Early
Bird", a daily compilation of news articles on
defense-related issues mostly from the US and British
press, does not shy from reprinting hard-hitting
stories and columns critical of the United States
Defense Department's top leadership.

But few could help notice last week that the "Bird"
omitted an opinion piece distributed by the
Knight-Ridder news agency by a senior Pentagon Middle
East specialist, Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski,
who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defense
for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement in

"What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to
good order and discipline," Kwiatkowski wrote. "If one
is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of
'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential
speech, or why the post-Saddam [Hussein] occupation
[of Iraq] has been distinguished by confusion and
false steps, one need look no further than the process
inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD]."

Kwiatkowski went on to charge that the operations she
witnessed during her tenure in Feith's office, and
particularly those of an ad hoc group known as the
Office of Special Plans (OSP), constituted "a
subversion of constitutional limits on executive power
and a co-option through deceit of a large segment of
the Congress".

Kwiatkowski's charges, which tend to confirm reports
and impressions offered to the press by retired
officers from other intelligence agencies and their
still-active but anonymous former colleagues, are
likely to make her a prime witness when Congress
reconvenes in September for hearings on the
manipulation of intelligence to justify war against

According to Kwiatkowski, the same operation that
allegedly cooked the intelligence also was responsible
for the administration's failure to anticipate the
problems that now dog the US occupation in Iraq, or,
in her more colorful words, that have placed 150,000
US troops in "the world's nastiest rat's nest, without
a nation-building plan, without significant
international support and without an exit plan".

Kwiatkowski's comments echo the worst fears of some
lawmakers, who have begun looking into the OSP's role
in the administration's mistaken assumptions in Iraq.
Some are even comparing it to the off-the-books
operation run from the National Security Council (NSC)
during the Ronald Reagan administration that later
resulted in the Iran-Contra scandal.

"That office [OSP] was charged with collecting,
vetting, disseminating intelligence completely outside
the normal intelligence apparatus," David Obey, a
senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, said
last month. "In fact, it appears that the information
collected by this office was in some instances not
even shared with the established intelligence agencies
and in numerous instances was passed on to the
National Security Council and the president without
having been vetted with anyone other than [Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld]."

Little is known about OSP, which was originally
created by Rumsfeld and his top deputy, Paul
Wolfowitz, to investigate possible links between
Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist group.
While only a dozen people officially worked in the
office at its largest, scores of "consultants" were
brought in on contract, many of them closely
identified with the neo-conservative and pro-Likud
views held by the Pentagon leadership.

Headed by a gung-ho former navy officer, William Luti,
and a scholarly national-security analyst, Abram
Shulsky, OSP was given complete access to reams of raw
intelligence produced by the US intelligence community
and became the preferred stop, when in town, for
defectors handled by the Iraqi National Congress
(INC), led by Ahmed Chalabi.

It also maintained close relations with the Defense
Policy Board (DPB), which was then chaired by Richard
Perle of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI),
Feith's mentor in the Reagan administration. Perle and
Feith, whose published views on Israeli policy echo
the right-wing Likud party, co-authored a 1996 memo
for then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu that argued
that Saddam's ouster in Iraq would enable Israel to
transform the balance of power in the Middle East in
its favor.

The DPB included some of Perle's closest associates,
including former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
director James Woolsey and the former Republican
speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt
Gingrich, who played prominent roles in pushing the
public case that Iraq represented an imminent threat
to the United States and that it was closely tied to
al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

In her article, Kwiatkowski wrote that OSP's work was
marked by three major characteristics:

First, career Pentagon analysts assigned to Rumsfeld's
office were generally excluded from what were "key
areas of interest" to Feith, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld,
notably Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. "In terms of
Israel and Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted
by political appointees; in the case of Israel, a desk
officer appointee from the Washington Institute for
Near Policy [a think tank closely tied to the main
pro-Israel lobby in Washington, the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee]."

Second, the same group of appointees tended to work
with like-minded political appointees in other
agencies, especially the State Department, the NSC,
and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, rather than
with those agencies' career analysts or the CIA. "I
personally witnessed several cases of staff officers
being told not to contact their counterparts at State
or the National Security Council because that
particular decision would be processed through a
different channel," Kwiatkowski wrote.

The CIA's exclusion from this network could help
explain why Cheney and his National Security Advisor,
I Lewis Libby, a long-time associate of Wolfowitz,
frequently visited the agency, in what analysts widely
regarded as pressure to conform to OSP assessments.

Third, this exclusion of professional and independent
opinions, both within the Pentagon and across
government agencies - according to Kwiatkowski -
resulted in "groupthink", a technical term defined as
"reasoning or decision-making by a group, often
characterized by uncritical acceptance of conformity
to prevailing points of view". In this case, the
prevailing points of view were presumably shaped by
neo-conservatives like Feith, Wolfowitz and Perle.

Kwiatkowski's broadside coincides with the appearance
in neo-conservative media outlets, notably the Wall
Street Journal, of defenses of Feith, who is widely
seen as the Pentagon's most likely fall guy if it is
forced to shoulder blame for bad intelligence and
planning. The government of British Prime Minister
Tony Blair has pressed President George W Bush to fire
Feith for several months, according to diplomatic

In a lengthy defense published on Tuesday, the
associate editor of the Journal's editorial page
described Feith's policy workshop as "the world's most
effective think tank".

(Inter Press Service)

Posted by richard at August 6, 2003 05:52 PM