October 05, 2003

CIA Enraged by Cynical White House End-Run Around Its Sources

It is the height of irony that the CIA unfortunately
involved in the toppling of *legitimate* regimes in
Chile, Greece and elsewhere, is in an extraordinary
act of patriotism and principle, contributing to the
toppling of an *illegitimate* regime here in the US...

Ed Margolis: "The CIA's professionals were enraged by this end-run, and appalled that defectors' wild tales and self-serving material were being used to formulate U.S. national security policy. "

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1004-04.htm

Published on Saturday, October 4, 2003 by the Boulder
Daily Camera


Dubious Intelligence
CIA Enraged by Cynical White House End-Run Around Its Sources

by Eric Margolis

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the Bush administration, which
has wrapped itself in faux patriotism, accusations
that it revealed the identity of a serving CIA agent
are a huge political embarrassment and another blow to
its sinking credibility.

Last July, former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV
contradicted President George Bush's assertions that
Iraq had imported uranium ore from Niger.

Wilson said his investigations in Niger found the
whole story was a fake, based on forged documents.

Bush nevertheless suggested Iraq was importing uranium
in his keynote state of the union address.

Wilson's patriotic act ruined his career and made him
the target of a vicious smear campaign.

At least six journalists were told by administration
sources that Wilson's wife was an active CIA officer.
Journalist Robert Novak cited her name in his column.

Revealing names of CIA agents is a federal crime.
There is speculation that the source of the story came
from within the office of Lewis Libby, Vice President
Dick Cheney's powerful chief of staff.

(Bush's press secretary has said "absolutely nothing
brought to our attention suggests any White House
involvement and that includes the vice-president's
office." Scott McClellan added that if it turns out
any administration officials were involved in the
leak, they'll be fired.)

In any event, Libby and Pentagon civilian allies,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith
and Richard Perle, all played key roles in the buildup
to the war with Iraq. They brought intensive pressure
on the CIA to produce proof of hidden weapons and
links between Iraq and al-Qaida.

Behind the scandal over identifying Wilson's wife as a
CIA agent, a far more important battle is raging.

The Bush administration plans to spend $1 billion in
the fruitless search for unconventional weapons in
Iraq.

The non-existence of these weapons, which were the
main excuse for the invasion, has badly damaged the
White House; eroded the power of Cheney's men
Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle -- who jestingly called
themselves "the cabal" -- and humiliated the hapless
Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Now "the cabal" and some politicians blame the CIA for
the failure to find Iraq's non-existent weapons and
alleged links to al-Qaida.

But the CIA is fighting back through leaks, accusing
the administration of distorting, corrupting and
politicizing the conduct of national security.

The CIA does deserve sharp criticism over Iraq. It had
a shocking lack of reliable human intelligence there,
forcing the agency to rely heavily on dubious
defectors and foreign intelligence, rather than its
own resources.

Ironically, France had excellent intelligence in Iraq
and rightly warned Bush his war would lead to
disaster. Bush was too busy listening to the
neo-conservatives' hyped intelligence to heed France's
excellent and reliable advice.

So far, CIA chief George Tenet has refused public
comment over the attacks, but agency sources report
him furious with the White House and its
neo-conservative Pentagon allies. CIA staffers are
waiting for Tenet to go public and take on the
neo-cons who are trying to blame the agency for the
fiasco they created.

When White House hawks such as Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and the Pentagon cabal found
the CIA was not providing damning evidence on Iraq
they needed to promote war, they created a special
intelligence unit.

It cherry-picked bits and pieces of negative data
about Iraq, trumpeted lurid claims by Iraqi defectors,
then passed them on to the White House.

Iraqi exiles were used as a primary conduit for the
disinformation, and were provided with funding and
political support. The New York Times repeatedly
parroted the Iraqi defectors' distortions.

This special intelligence office reportedly sought to
link with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency in the
anti-Iraq campaign. But the Mossad was too
professional to have anything to do with this ad hoc
operation. However, members of Israeli PM Ariel
Sharon's government reportedly provided the neo-cons'
special intel unit with a stream of negative stories
about Iraq.

The CIA's professionals were enraged by this end-run,
and appalled that defectors' wild tales and
self-serving material were being used to formulate
U.S. national security policy.

Before the war on Iraq, CIA director Tenet took the
unprecedented step of publicly warning many of the
claims about Iraq were not justified by facts.

But he was ignored in Bush's rush to war and did not
repeat his caution. Warnings by ranking CIA officers
that their country was being stampeded into war by
neo-cons with a hidden agenda were also ignored.

The Wilson affair has exploded at a time when the
extent that America's professional intelligence cadre
was circumvented, or bullied and intimidated into
silence by the Bush administration has become a major
public issue.

Such politically motivated pressure on the nation's
intelligence establishment by men with little American
flags on their lapels is totally unacceptable and
gravely endangers U.S. national security.

Real patriots do not start wars to win elections while
diverting attention from financial scandals.

CIA chief Tenet ought to come out and denounce those
who led the U.S. into an unnecessary war that has
become a bloody and unimaginably expensive mess.

But CIA officers are trained to remain silent and obey
the chain of command.

So it's up to Congress to demand a full investigation
of the corruption of national security, and of the
extremist ideologists who misled America into a war
that should never have been waged.

Copyright 2003, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc

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Posted by richard at October 5, 2003 02:13 PM