August 23, 2003

Intelligence Veterans Challenge Colleagues to Speak Out

It is a strange time. The Bush cabal's Secretary of
Stone Calm 'Em Powell swaggers into the UN, and with
arrogance and deceit, calls on the UN to offer
credibility and blood, but under US command, to bail
tthe _resident and Rumsfeld out of their foolish
military adventure. How preposterous. Luckily, the
French reminded the UN Security Council and the world community itself that
we would not be at this juncture at all without the
neo-con wet dreamers violation of the UN Charter. What
could be scarier than contemplating whether or not
that "terrorist strike" on the UN HQ in Baghdad was another sort of Trifecta
ticket? Well, that scene down in Alabama, with
fundamentalists getting whopped up for holy war over
the Ten Commandments in a land that is being prodded
to forget the separation between right-wing
fundamentalist church and state is even creepier.
Meanwhile, on the street corner, if you had some time
to spare and the discipline to read three-quarters of
the way into a very long NYTwits article on the energy
company responsible for the most massive black out in
US history, you would find buried there the fact that
First Energy's corporate executives were among the
_resident's top fund-raisers, you would also find
buried there the quid pro qou for that loot. But, as I
said, you would have to exercise the discipline and
have the time to read through to it. Of course, had it
been Clinton or Gray Davis or Al Gore or John Kerry
(D-Mekong Delta), Howard Dean (D-Jeffords) or Bob
Graham (D-Fraudida), it would have been the lead of
the article as well as the headline: Energy company
that triggered black out got favors from ___ Well,
here is something real and righteous from patriots
whose brave deeds will be given their due when the
history of this dark time is written by those safe
enough to write...

Published on Friday, August 22, 2003 by
Now It’s Your Turn
Intelligence Veterans Challenge Colleagues to Speak Out

MEMORANDUM FOR: Colleagues in Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Now It’s Your Turn

Sixty-four summers ago, when Hitler fabricated Polish
provocations in his attempt to justify Germany’s
invasion of Poland, there was not a peep out of senior
German officials. Happily, in today’s Germany the
imperative of truth telling no longer takes a back
seat to ingrained docility and knee-jerk deference to
the perceived dictates of “homeland security.” The
most telling recent sign of this comes in today’s
edition of Die Zeit, Germany’s highly respected
weekly. The story, by Jochen Bittner holds lessons for
us all.

Die Zeit’s report leaves in tatters the “evidence”
cited by Secretary of State Colin Powell and other
administration spokesmen as the strongest proof that
Iraq was using mobile trailers as laboratories to
produce material for biological weapons.

German Intelligence on Powell’s “Solid” Sources

Bittner notes that, like their American counterparts,
German intelligence officials had to hold their noses
as Powell on February 5 at the UN played fast and
loose with intelligence he insisted came from “solid
sources.” Powell’s specific claims concerning the
mobile laboratories, it turns out, depended
heavily—perhaps entirely—on a source of the
Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s equivalent to
the CIA. But the BND, it turns out, considered the
source in no way “solid.” A “senior German security
official” told Die Zeit that, in passing the report to
US officials, the Germans made a point of noting
“various problems with the source.” In more diplomatic
language, Die Zeit’s informant indicated that the
BND’s “evaluation of the source was not altogether

German officials remain in some confusion regarding
the “four different sources” cited by Powell in
presenting his case regarding the “biological
laboratories.” Berlin has not been told who the other
three sources are. In this context, a German
intelligence officer mentioned that there is always
the danger of false confirmation, suggesting it is
possible that the various reports can be traced back
to the same original source, theirs—that is, the one
with which the Germans had “various problems.”

Even if there are in fact multiple sources, the
Germans wonder what reason there is to believe that
the others are more “solid” than their own. Powell
indicated that some of the sources he cited were Iraqi
émigrés. While the BND would not give Die Zeit an
official comment, Bittner notes pointedly that German
intelligence “proceeds on the assumption that émigrés
do not always tell the truth and that the picture they
draw can be colored by political motives.”


Despite all that, in an apparent bid to avoid taking
the heat for appearing the constant naysayer on an
issue of such neuralgic import in Washington, German
intelligence officials say that, the dubious sourcing
notwithstanding, they considered the information on
the mobile biological laboratories “plausible.”

In recent weeks, any “plausibility” has all but
evaporated. Many biological warfare specialists in the
US and elsewhere were skeptical from the start. Now
Defense Intelligence Agency specialists have joined
their counterparts at the State Department and
elsewhere in concluding that the two
trailer/laboratories discovered in Iraq in early May
are hydrogen-producing facilities for weather balloons
to calibrate Iraqi artillery, as the Iraqis have said.

Perhaps it was this DIA report that emboldened the BND
official to go public about the misgivings the BND had
about the source.

Insult to Intelligence

What do intelligence analysts do when their
professional ethic—to tell the truth without fear or
favor—is prostituted for political expedience?
Usually, they hold their peace, as we’ve already noted
was the case in Germany in 1939 before the invasion of
Poland. The good news is that some intelligence
officials are now able to recognize a higher
duty—particularly when the issue involves war and
peace. Clearly, some BND officials are fed up with the
abuse of intelligence they have witnessed—and
especially the trifling with the intelligence that
they have shared with the US from their own sources.
At least one such official appears to have seen it as
a patriotic duty to expose what appears to be a
deliberate distortion.

This is a hopeful sign. There are indications that
British intelligence officials, too, are beginning to
see more distinctly their obligation to speak truth to
power, especially in light of the treatment their
government accorded Ministry of Defense biologist Dr.
David Kelly, who became despondent to the point of

Even more commendable was the courageous move by
senior Australian intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie
when it became clear to him that the government he was
serving had decided to take part in launching an
unprovoked war based on “intelligence” information he
knew to be specious. Wilkie resigned and promptly
spoke his piece—not only to his fellow citizens but,
after the war, at Parliament in London and Congress in
Washington. Andrew Wilkie was not naïve enough to
believe he could stop the war when he resigned in
early March. What was clear to him, however, was that
he had a moral duty to expose the deliberate deception
in which his government, in cooperation with the US
and UK, had become engaged. And he knew instinctively
that, in so doing, he could with much clearer
conscience look at himself in the mirror each morning.

What About Us?

Do you not find it ironic that State Department
foreign service officers, whom we intelligence
professionals have (quite unfairly) tended to write
off as highly articulate but unthinking apologists for
whatever administration happens to be in power, are
the only ones so far to resign on principle over the
war on Iraq? Three of them have—all three with very
moving explanations that their consciences would no
longer allow them to promote “intelligence” and
policies tinged with deceit.

What about you? It is clear that you have been
battered, buffeted, besmirched. And you are painfully
aware that you can expect no help at this point from
Director George Tenet. Recall the painful morning when
you watched him at the UN sitting squarely behind
Powell, as if to say the Intelligence Community
endorses the deceitful tapestry he wove. No need to
remind you that his speech boasted not only the bogus
biological trailers but also assertions of a “sinister
nexus” between Iraq and al-Qaeda, despite the fact
that your intense, year-and-a-half analytical effort
had turned up no credible evidence to support that
claim. To make matters worse, Tenet is himself under
fire for acquiescing in a key National Intelligence
Estimate on “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq that
included several paragraphs based on a known forgery.
That is the same estimate from which the infamous 16
words were drawn for the president’s
state-of-the-union address on January 28.

And not only that. In a dramatic departure from
customary practice, Tenet has let the moneychangers
into the temple—welcoming the most senior policymakers
into the inner sanctum where all-source analysis is
performed at CIA headquarters, wining and dining Vice
President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin
Powell, National Security Assistant Condoleezza Rice,
and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (now
representing the Pentagon) on their various visits to
make sure you didn’t miss anything! You have every
right to expect to be protected from that kind of
indignity. Small wonder that Gingrich, in a recent
unguarded moment on TV, conceded that Tenet “is so
grateful to President Bush that he will do anything
for him.” CIA directors have no business being so
integral a “part of the team.”

Powell, who points proudly to his four day-and-night
cram course at the CIA in the days immediately prior
to his February 5 UN speech, seems oblivious to the
fact that personal visitations of that frequency and
duration—and for that purpose—are unprecedented in the
history of the CIA. Equally unprecedented are Cheney’s
“multiple visits.” When George H. W. Bush was vice
president, not once did he go out to CIA headquarters
for a working visit. We brought our analysis to him.
As you are well aware, once the subjects uppermost in
policymakers’ minds are clear to analysts, the
analysis itself must be conducted in an unfettered,
sequestered way—and certainly without the direct
involvement of officials with policy axes to grind.
Until now, that is the way it has been done; the
analysis and estimates were brought downtown to the
policymakers—not the other way around.

What Happens When You Remain Silent?

There is no more telling example than Vietnam. CIA
analysts were prohibited from reporting accurately on
the non-incident in the Tonkin Gulf on August 4, 1964
until the White House had time to use the “furious
fire-fight” to win the Tonkin Gulf resolution from
Congress—and eleven more years of war for the rest of

And we kept quiet.

In November 1967 as the war gathered steam, CIA
management gave President Lyndon Johnson a very
important National Intelligence Estimate known to be
fraudulent. Painstaking research by a CIA analyst, the
late Sam Adams, had revealed that the Vietnamese
Communists under arms numbered 500,000. But Gen.
William Westmoreland in Saigon, eager to project an
image of progress in the US “war of attrition,” had
imposed a very low artificial ceiling on estimates of
enemy strength.

Analysts were aghast when management caved in and
signed an NIE enshrining Westmoreland’s count of
between 188,000 and 208,000. The Tet offensive just
two months later exploded that myth—at great human
cost. And the war dragged on for seven more years.

Then, as now, morale among analysts plummeted. A
senior CIA official made the mistake of jocularly
asking Adams if he thought the Agency had “gone beyond
the bounds of reasonable dishonesty.” Sam, who had not
only a keen sense of integrity but first-hand
experience of what our troops were experiencing in the
jungles of Vietnam, had to be restrained. He would be
equally outraged at the casualties being taken now by
US forces fighting another unnecessary war, this time
in the desert. Kipling’s verse applies equally well to
jungle or desert:

If they question why we died, tell them because our
fathers lied.

Adams himself became, in a very real sense, a casualty
of Vietnam. He died of a heart attack at 55, with
remorse he was unable to shake. You see, he decided to
“go through channels,” pursuing redress by seeking
help from imbedded CIA and the Defense Department
Inspectors General. Thus, he allowed himself to be
diddled for so many years that by the time he went
public the war was mostly over—and the damage done.

Sam had lived painfully with the thought that, had he
gone public when the CIA’s leaders caved in to the
military in 1967, the entire left half of the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial would not have had to be built.
There would have been 25-30,000 fewer names for the
granite to accommodate.

So too with Daniel Ellsberg, who made the courageous
decision to give the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam to the
New York Times and Washington Post for publication in
1971. Dan has been asked whether he has any regrets.
Yes, one big one, he says. If he had made the papers
available in 1964 or 65, this tragically unnecessary
war might have been stopped in its tracks. Why did he
not? Dan’s response is quite telling; he says the
thought never occurred to him at the time.

Let the thought occur to you, now.

But Isn’t It Too Late?

No. While it is too late to prevent the misadventure
in Iraq, the war is hardly over, and analogous
“evidence” is being assembled against Iran, Syria, and
North Korea. Yes, US forces will have their hands full
for a long time in Iraq, but this hardly rules out
further adventures based on “intelligence” as spurious
as that used to argue the case for attacking Iraq.

The best deterrent is the truth. Telling the truth
about the abuse of intelligence on Iraq could
conceivably give pause to those about to do a reprise.
It is, in any case, essential that the American people
acquire a more accurate understanding of the use and
abuse of intelligence. Only then can there be any hope
that they can experience enough healing from the
trauma of 9/11 to be able to make informed judgments
regarding the policies pursued by this
administration—thus far with the timid acquiescence of
their elected representatives.

History is littered with the guilty consciences of
those who chose to remain silent. It is time to speak


Gene Betit, Arlington, VA
Pat Lang, Alexandria, VA
David MacMichael, Linden, VA
Ray McGovern, Arlington, VA

Steering Group
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Ray McGovern (, a CIA analyst
from 1964 to 1990, regularly reported to the vice
president and senior policy-makers on the President's
Daily Brief from 1981 to 1985. He now is co-director
of the Servant Leadership School, an inner-city
outreach ministry in Washington.


Posted by richard at August 23, 2003 06:29 PM