Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

An extremely serious charge

with 10 comments

This is not (IMHO) a partisan matter. If a president takes the nation to war based on statements that he knows to be false—a war that costs thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of civilian lives, not to mention a half-trillion dollars so far—it calls for impeachment, it seems to me. Lyndon Johnson was guilty of a version of this, in the use of the Tonkin Bay incident, and he has rightly been condemned, though the facts emerged after he left the presidency. But the following story raises the issue for a sitting president. This is a matter much more serious than a married man’s perjury about an extramartial sexual liaison—it’s not just at another level, it is several levels removed: lives were lost, and lives were ruined. Tens of thousands of lives, more probably hundreds of thousands. And it’s not the GOP that’s at fault. It’s the president.

Salon.com has the exclusive on this. Their article begins:

On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam’s inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.

On April 23, 2006, CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, who disclosed that the agency had received documentary intelligence from Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, that Saddam did not have WMD. “We continued to validate him the whole way through,” said Drumheller. “The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.”

Now two former senior CIA officers have confirmed Drumheller’s account to me and provided the background to the story of how the information that might have stopped the invasion of Iraq was twisted in order to justify it. They described what Tenet said to Bush about the lack of WMD, and how Bush responded, and noted that Tenet never shared Sabri’s intelligence with then Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to the former officers, the intelligence was also never shared with the senior military planning the invasion, which required U.S. soldiers to receive medical shots against the ill effects of WMD and to wear protective uniforms in the desert.

Instead, said the former officials, the information was distorted in a report written to fit the preconception that Saddam did have WMD programs. That false and restructured report was passed to Richard Dearlove, chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on it as validation of the cause for war.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 September 2007 at 8:09 am

10 Responses

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  1. I have two main issues with the veracity of this story. 1. the author has a history of not only lying but getting others to lie for him. Read Christopher Hitchens accounts of Sidney Blumenthal, his ex-friend. Not to mention that Blumenthal has to be one of the first litigants to sue someone and then PAY to get out of the lawsuit he instigated (Sidney Blumenthal v Drudge). He has no real credibility with most people that follow politics on the right – and there are plenty of left people we trust. and 2. If true, Tenet would have added that to his book placing the blame on GWB. It boggles the mind, but this story does not even seem remotely credible. He uses one named source and backs it up with two “un-named” C.I.A. operatives. Furthermore, the C.I.A. seems to be thoroughly inept and corrupt. Their intelligence capabilities are now not to be trusted. They expend a lot of energy leaking to the media and very little actually finding terrorists.

    jweaver

    6 September 2007 at 9:37 am

  2. I can see that the credibility of the story might be suspect. I hoping that the charges will get some real investigation to determine the truth, given the weight if the story is true. I.e., getting Tenet on the witness stand under oath, getting the other two unnamed sources on the witness stand under oath, and in general determining the truth, rather than playing it out in the media.

    LeisureGuy

    6 September 2007 at 9:49 am

  3. In response to Jweaver:

    Neither of your arguments is very compelling. Your first point is an ad hominem attack on Blumenthal that says nothing about his evidence or his argument.

    Your second point about Tenet blaming President Bush in his book is problematic. Tenet asserted as forcefully as anyone that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war. If this story is true, he is just as culpable as Bush in ignoring this informant’s story. Highlighting an informant that asserted, correctly, that there were no nuclear or chemical weapons in Iraq and was subsequently ignored by Bush and himself would be the worst thing he could do if he wanted to deflect blame from himself.

    Your final point doesn’t help your argument, either. If the CIA is indeed “inept and corrupt”, wouldn’t that make a story like this more likely? And if as you say “Their intelligence capabilities are now not to be trusted”, why should we have trusted them when they told us that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? When did they become untrustworthy? After the beginning of the Iraq war, but before now?

    Blumenthal does indeed use unnamed sources, but he uses them to confirm a story told, in public, by Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe. As we now know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction, something like this is, at the very least, worth looking into.

    Chris D Coccio

    6 September 2007 at 10:17 am

  4. Let us see, Chris. After invading Iraq after OBVIOUSLY FALSE INFORMATION about WMDs, it is easy to see that the C.I.A. blundered, is it not? Can you say that they are trust worthy? How do you come to your conclusions? The C.I.A. also loses all credibility when it cannot find a trained intelligence officer to send to Nigeria and has to recruit the husband of a desk jockey in the Agency. Really, no agents that can go to Nigeria? None? Then it damages its credibility with constant leaking to the media of policy matters. Sorry, the agency needs some overhaul, but hey, since they are anti-Bush you seem to trust them.
    As for ad hominem attacks against Blumenthal – he uses un named sources in a major hit piece so all you have to go on is his reputation, which us not very good. That is the problem with most liberals, conservatives do not trust these people with a history of perjury and lying. Blumethal is one on the most partisan writers in the business and he does not warrent the benefit of the doubt. If he has sources they should be named! Something aweful has happened to the media during the GWB years, they no longer have ethical standards. Un-named sources are now the norm and we are expected to trust them, well I do not trust the media. From The New Republic, NY Times, CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC have all been caught in the most unethical activities so they must PROVE their stories before they are to be believed.

    jweaver

    6 September 2007 at 11:09 am

  5. “After invading Iraq after OBVIOUSLY FALSE INFORMATION about WMDs, it is easy to see that the C.I.A. blundered, is it not?”

    When was it “obviously false”? Before or after the Bush Administration it to justify a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq? Does the Bush Administration bear any responsibility for getting the intelligence wrong, or is it all the CIA’s fault? If the Bush Administration did bear some responsibility, would that not be important? Or is it simply impossible because people you find to be unsavory are making that assertion?

    The CIA, the media, and the Bush Administration all have credibility problems, and everybody uses unnamed sources. In this case, the unnamed sources are confirming something said in public, by Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe.

    It’s all very well to say everyone’s lying, and nobody is trustworthy, but it doesn’t really get you anywhere. And it stretches plausibility to the breaking point to assert that everyone is an incompetent, untrustworthy, liar EXCEPT for the Bush Administration and its supporters. I hope that’s not what you’re implying.

    I certainly don’t think we should trust Sidney Blumenthal just because he wrote the article, and should definitely know who these sources are. Trust, but verify. If I’m a liberal for suggesting that is how we should also treat the Bush Administration, then so be it.

    Chris D Coccio

    6 September 2007 at 11:34 am

  6. It was Obviously false when the damned weapons were not there! Look, fella. GWB Does not gather intelligence, that is the duty of the C.I.A. – so yes if they do not properly gather the intel, it is their fault. How is GWB supposed to know that he has fools on the pay roll at Langely? Your response is rather silly. GWB’s trust issue with the left is that he LIED about WMDs – yet he had the same info as Clinton, The U.N. and many others. I cannot get past the insanity of your question. How does ANY PRESIDENT know that the intel given to them is false? I am not a GWB supporter or fan, but you guys are always wrong about this issue and less than fair. Plus – It is the C.I.A.s job to be correct and and truthful to the President… I cannot go on because again your response just blows my mind, please explain just how GWB or the admin KNEW that the C.I.A. was providing bogus reports or how any President gets intel if not through the intel agencies.

    jweaver

    6 September 2007 at 12:18 pm

  7. “I am not a GWB supporter or fan, but you guys are always wrong about this issue and less than fair.”

    It’s OK, I suppose, to be condescending, but there’s no need to insult my intelligence. If you’re not a supporter of President Bush, you’re very sympathetic to him and the administration.

    How is President Bush supposed to know that he has “fools on the payroll at Langley?” Maybe it’s not his fault per se, but it’s his responsibility, because he’s the president. And if he’s going to decide to go to war on the information he’s getting from the CIA, he’d better make sure that they aren’t a bunch of fools.

    The assertion that Saddam Hussein was getting ready to build a nuclear weapon was different and new. The UN disagreed, and Iraq was completely contained during the Clinton years. The Air Force flew regular sorties over Iraq enforcing the no-fly zone. The suggestion that we had to invade Iraq to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons was the judgment of the Bush Administration. I don’t know if you had the TV on in late 2002, but they weren’t “The CIA says Iraq might get the bomb, so we have to go in.” They were like “We know they will get the bomb and use it on us, so we have to go in.” When they got the intel from the CIA, they promoted it aggressively across the administration.

    I don’t know whether they knew the reports were bogus or not. But they sent men and women to kill and die because of those reports. So they should have made sure. If they didn’t do everything they could within their power to be sure, we need to know.

    Chris D Coccio

    6 September 2007 at 4:10 pm

  8. You make NO SENSE. Again how does ANY POTUS know that he is has been given bad intel by the INTEL DEPARTMENTS? HOW DOES ANYONE KNOW? Is your answer to NEVER act? And the UN’s own teams believed he was act to acquire Nukes, they disagreed with enforcing their own resolutions. That is a huge distinction. It should also be noted that NO MAJOR MEDIA SOURCE IS Following up on this “story”. Not one, so that should tell you that even CBS of the fake documents holds this further down than salon.com.

    jweaver

    7 September 2007 at 5:34 am

  9. So I don’t make any sense?

    Here’s what you wrote earlier:

    “I do not trust the media. From The New Republic, NY Times, CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC have all been caught in the most unethical activities so they must PROVE their stories before they are to be believed.”

    But now:

    “It should also be noted that NO MAJOR MEDIA SOURCE IS Following up on this “story”.”

    In essence, you’re saying that this story can’t be true because the major media, even CBS, all of which you find completely untrustworthy, hasn’t picked it up (yet).

    As for your assertion that “UN’s own teams believed he was acting to acquire Nukes”, it’s irrelevant. The Bush Administration was saying there were nuclear weapons, and the UN was saying something entirely different – that there may be the desire or plans to start these programs, but there were no nuclear or chemical weapons of any significance.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-03-02-un-wmd_x.htm

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/03/21/iraq.weapons/

    Here’s Cheney quoted from the CNN article:

    “We believe [Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong,”

    Mr. ElBaradei was director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. If, as you say, he agreed with the administration that there were nuclear and chemical weapons in Iraq, why would Cheney say he was wrong?

    You want to know how the President can know if the intel he’s getting bad? If he’s taking us to war on that intel, he should find a way. Cross verify it, check it against other intelligence agencies’ conclusions in other countries, and check it against what the CIA and other US agencies found in Iraq previously. There’s got to be other ways that I, as a layperson, can’t think of. Just do it. It’s his job. Why doesn’t that make sense?

    Chris D Coccio

    7 September 2007 at 7:17 am

  10. I am sorry, but this is my last post. You clearly do not have an answer you just FEEL that the POTUS should do something or other, but you just do not know what. Fine, I cannot argue with your feelings. We have intel groups, many of them. Their facts checked with other countries and the UN. It had also checked out with the previous administration. Yet you want the POTUS to not rely on this info, but to keep looking to find what? There was a consensus as to the facts, maybe not to the strategy. You have to act on what you have, and we now know that the C.I.A. cannot be trusted to provide intel, there needs to be an overhaul. You want to paint this as sinister, when it is just the usual failure of a governmental agency that has morphed from what it was designed to do into a beast of its own making.

    jweaver

    7 September 2007 at 8:55 am


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