Bush and Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?

http://www.debatingtaboos.org/2011/11/bush-and-obama-war-crimes-or-lawful-wars/

DEBATING TABOOS:
Bush and Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?

For Immediate Release: Nov. 3, 2011

Who: Ralph Nader; Center for Study of Responsive Law
When: Friday, November 18, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
What: Bush/Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?
Where: 1530 P St NW, Washington, DC – Carnegie Institution building
Contact: Katherine Raymond, 202-387-8030, kraymond@csrl.org

(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, November 18, Ralph Nader and the Center for Study of Responsive Law will host a public debate on the subject: Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s actions: war crimes or lawful wars?

Debaters arguing for the proposition that Bush and Obama engaged in war crimes

Bruce Fein is an attorney and constitutional scholar, and has consulted foreign nations on matters ranging from constitutional revision to telecommunications and cable regulation, and human rights. He appears regularly on national and international television, cable, and radio programs as an expert in foreign affairs, terrorism, national security, and has testified over 200 times before Congressional committees. .

Lt. Colonel Tony Shaffer is a highly experienced U.S. Army intelligence officer, and is nationally known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for intelligence collection and policy, terrorism, data mining, situational awareness and adaptive/disruptive technologies. He is also a senior advisor to multiple organizations on terrorism and counterinsurgency issues and a member of the US Nuclear Strategy Forum.

Debaters arguing against the proposition that Bush and Obama engaged in war crimes

David B. Rivkin is a member of Baker & Hostetler Law Firm’s litigation, international and environmental groups and co-chairs the firm’s appellate and major motions team. He served in the White House Counsel’s office and the Department of Justice under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Prior to embarking on a legal career, Mr. Rivkin worked as a defense and foreign policy analyst, focusing on Soviet affairs, arms control, naval strategy and NATO-related issues, and served as a defense consultant to numerous government agencies and Washington think tanks.

Lee Casey a partner at Baker & Hostetler, focuses on federal environmental, constitutional and international law and Alien Tort Statute issues. He served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also advises clients on compliance issues under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), U.S. trade sanctions regimes, and federal ethics requirements. Mr. Casey’s practice includes federal, district and appellate court litigation, as well as matters before federal agencies. From 2004 through 2007 he served as a member of the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

Moderators
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has served as a consultant on homeland security and constitutional issues. He also is a nationally recognized legal commentator.

Stuart S. Taylor is a lawyer, author and freelance journalist focusing on legal and policy issues, a “National Journal” contributing editor, and a Brookings Institution nonresident fellow. He has written many columns on this issue and has co-authored a piece titled “Looking Forward, Not Backward: Refining American Interrogation Law” through the Brookings Institution.

The event is free and open to the public. Please join us and invite your colleagues and friends to attend.The Debating Taboos series brings public attention and analyses to “taboo” topics. This is the third debate in the series.

A complimentary light lunch will follow the event.

Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info?

August 16, 2011
By Ray McGovern
(Thanks to Mr. McGovern for permission to reprint)

Bulletin for those of you who get your information only from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM): Former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has accused ex-CIA Director George Tenet of denying him and others access to intelligence that could have thwarted the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11.

Deliberately withholding critical intelligence from those who need it, and can act on it, is — at the least — gross dereliction of duty.

The more so if keeping the White House promptly and fully informed is at the top of your job jar, as it was for Director of Central Intelligence Tenet. And yet that is precisely the charge Clarke has leveled at the former DCI.

In an interview aired on Aug. 11 on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado, Clarke charges that Tenet and two other senior CIA officials, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, deliberately withheld information about two of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 — al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. The two had entered the United States more than a year before the 9/11 attacks.

Clarke adds that the CIA then covered it all up by keeping relevant information away from Congress and the 9/11 Commission.

Lying by senior officials is bad enough, and there is now plenty of evidence that former CIA Director George Tenet and his closest agency associates are serial offenders. Think for a minute about the falsehoods spread regarding Iraq’s non-existent WMD stockpiles.

But withholding intelligence on two of the 9/11 hijackers would have been particularly unconscionable — the epitome of malfeasance, not just misfeasance.

That’s why Richard Clarke’s conclusion that he should have received information from CIA about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, “unless somebody intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution” amounts, in my view, to a criminal charge, given the eventual role of the two in hijacking on 9/11 of AA-77, the plane that struck the Pentagon.

Tenet has denied that the information on the two hijackers was “intentionally withheld” from Clarke, and he has enlisted the other two former CIA operatives, Cofer Black (more recently a senior official of Blackwater) and Richard Blee (an even more shadowy figure), to concur in saying, Not us; we didn’t withhold.

Whom to believe? To me, it’s a no-brainer. One would have to have been born yesterday to regard the “George is right” testimony from Black and Blee as corroborative.

Tenet’s Dubious Credibility

Tenet is the same fellow who provided the “slam dunk” on the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, as well as the “artist renderings” of equally non-existent mobile laboratories for developing biological warfare agents, based on unconfirmed information from the impostor code-named  (appropriately) “Curveball.”

It was Tenet who, under orders from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, ordered up and disseminated a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq, the purpose of which was to deceive our elected representatives out of their constitutional prerogative to authorize war. No small lies.

After a five-year investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence adduced under Tenet to “justify” attacking Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, and non-existent.”

Good enough to win Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though. The corruption of intelligence worked just fine for the purposes of Bush and Cheney, thank you very much.

It is a actually a matter of record that Tenet lies a lot — on occasion, demonstrating what I would call chutzpah on steroids. Recall, for example, Tenet in April 2007 snarling at Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” — five times, in five consecutive sentences — “We do not torture people.”

Under Oath

Tenet has lied about 9/11, too. The joint statement from Tenet, Black and Blee – orchestrated by former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow – concludes: “We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.”

Almost made me laugh … almost.

In his sworn testimony to the 9/11 Commission on April 14, 2004, Tenet said he had not spoken to Bush — even on the telephone — during the entire month of August 2001.

But Tenet did fly down to see the President in Crawford — not once, but twice during August 2001, and briefed Bush again in Washington on the 31st.

After the TV cameras at the 9/11 Commission hearing were shut off, Bill Harlow phoned the commission staff to say, Oops, sorry, Tenet misspoke. Even then, Harlow admitted only to Tenet’s Aug. 17 visit to Crawford (and to the briefing on the 31st).

How do we know Tenet was again in Crawford, on Aug. 24? From a White House press release quoting President Bush to that effect — information somehow completely missed by our vigilant Fawning Corporate Media.

Funny, too, how Tenet could have forgotten his first visit to Crawford on Aug. 17. In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet waxes eloquent about the “president graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and me trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna.” But the visit was not limited to small talk.

In his book Tenet writes: “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events.” The Aug. 6, 2001, President’s Daily Brief contained the article “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.”

According to Ron Suskind’s The One-Percent Doctrine, the president reacted by telling the CIA briefer, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”

If, as Tenet says in his memoir, it was the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB that prompted his visit on Aug. 17, what might have brought him back on Aug. 24? I believe the answer can be found in court documents released at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the fledgling pilot in Minnesota interested in learning to steer a plane but indifferent as to how to land it.

Those documents show that on Aug. 23, 2001, Tenet was given an alarming briefing focusing on Moussaoui, titled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” Tenet was told that Moussaoui was training to fly a 747 and, among other suspicion-arousing data, had paid for the training in cash.

It is an open question — if a key one — whether Tenet told Bush about the two hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, while keeping that key information from the person who most needed it — White House counter-terrorist czar Richard Clarke. Clarke finds the only plausible explanation in his surmise that Tenet was personally responsible.

Clarke says: “For me to this day, it is inexplicable, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months.”

Enter Harlow

But Tenet’s aide-de-camp Bill Harlow has branded Clarke’s statements “absurd and patently false.” The statement Harlow shepherded for Tenet, Black and Blee adds “reckless and profoundly wrong … baseless … belied by the record … unworthy of serious consideration.”

And Harlow never lies? Right.

I’m reminded of Harlow’s reaction to Newsweek’s publication on Feb. 24, 2003, of the intelligence information provided by Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel when he defected to Jordan in 1995. Kamel brought with him a treasure trove of documents and unique knowledge of Iraq’s putative “weapons of mass destruction.”

Most significantly, he told his U.S. debriefers there were no WMD in Iraq. He knew, since he was in charge of the chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs for almost a decade, and he ordered what weapons existed destroyed before the U.N. inspectors could discover them after the war in 1991.

In his words: “I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

He told the U.S. much more, and the information that could be checked out was confirmed. But Kamel’s information didn’t fit with the Bush administration’s propaganda regarding its certainty that Iraq did have WMD stockpiles and was defying United Nations demands that the WMD be destroyed.

Those pushing the Iraq War juggernaut in early 2003 almost had a conniption when Newsweek acquired a transcript of Kamel’s debriefing and published this potentially explosive story barely three weeks before the invasion.

Newsweek noted gingerly that this information “raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist.” It was the kind of impeccably sourced documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts and lawyers lust.

But this was not at all what Bush, Cheney, and — by sycophantic extension — Tenet wanted Newsweekreaders, or the rest of us, to learn less than a month before the U.S./U.K. attack on Iraq ostensibly to find and destroy those non-existent weapons.

Bill Harlow to the rescue:  he told the FCM in no uncertain terms that the Newsweek story was, “incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.” And the media cheerleaders for war breathed a sigh of relief, saying, Gosh, thanks for telling us, and then dropped the story like a hot potato.

By all indications, Harlow is still able to work his fraudulent magic on the FCM, which has virtually ignored this major Clarke v. Tenet story since it broke several days ago.

If Harlow says it’s not true … and hurls still more pejorative adjectives in a crude attempt to discredit the very serious charge Clarke has made … well, I guess we’ll have to leave it there, as the FCM is so fond of saying.

No matter Clarke’s well-deserved reputation for honesty and professionalism — and Tenet’s for the opposite. And so it goes.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. As a CIA analyst, he served under seven presidents and nine CIA directors; he is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

 

Second Court allows another Rumsfeld torture case to go forward.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has rendered a ruling in Rumsfeld’s attempt to dismiss the case based on immunity. The court has rejected the argument and nobody should be surprised that torture apologist David Rivkin is firing back by insulting the judges themselves. “Having judges second-guess the decisions made by the armed forces halfway around the world is no way to wage a war. It saps the effectiveness of the military, puts American soldiers at risk, and shackles federal officials who have a constitutional duty to protect America.”

U.S. Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote the opinion.

Second, we agree with the district court that Secretary Rumsfeld is not entitled to qualified immunity on the pleadings. The law was clearly established in 2006 that the treatment plaintiffs have alleged was unconstitutional. No reasonable public official could have believed otherwise.

The plaintiff in this case is filed as John Doe. John Doe was sent to Iraq in as an Arabic-English interpreter with a marine corp’s intel unit in December 2004. In less than a year he was arrested without charge and thrown in solitary confinement blindfolded and handcuffed. He was in solitary for 72 hours then transported to Camp Cropper before being tortured some more. He was released 9 months later. He filed suit in 2008.

The court decision comes on the heels of a ruling by Federal Court in the case of Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel. Vance and Ertel are suing for torture committed upon them when they worked for Shield Group Security, U.S. hired contractor.

A report from RussiaToday

Another report worth watching

Rumsfeld is accused of approving torture methods that included sleep deprivation, walling, extended standing, and other violations of Army Field Manual, domestic law, and foreign treaties regarding the treatment of prisoners. The expressed outrage by officials days into the Iraq war about the treatment of captured chopper pilots shows they had a low bar for tolerance in abuse of American prisoners of war but no compunction for the abuses we know happened. Repeatedly, they’ve used the ‘bad apples’ spin.

These suits work to destroy the bad apples narrative. Attorney Mike Kanovitz said, the court had to choose between “protecting the most fundamental rights of American citizens in the difficult context of a war or leaving those rights solely in the hands of politicians and the military. It was not an easy choice for the Court to make, but it was the brave and right choice.”

The state department hasn’t responded but torture apologist and broken message maker David Rivkin resumed his same old attacks and claimed the decision would be overturned.

We’ll keep you posted on Donald Rumsfeld and his torture apologist attorney, David Rivkin.

Former Counterterrorism Czar Accuses Tenet, Other CIA Officials of Cover-Up

Thursday 11 August 2011
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout |
(Note from CheneyWatch.org: Support Truthout today with a financial contribution. Great journalism deserves your support)

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, speaks to filmmakers John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski about crucial intelligence involving two 9/11 hijackers he believes ex-CIA Director George Tenet and others concealed.

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 just a month away, the intelligence failures leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have started to attract fresh scrutiny from former counterterrorism officials, who have called into question the veracity of the official government narrative that concluded who knew what and when.

Indeed, recently Truthout published an exclusive report based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and an interview with a former high-ranking counterterrorism official that showed how a little-known military intelligence unit, unbeknownst to the various investigative bodies probing the terrorist attacks, was ordered by senior government officials to stop tracking Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s movements prior to 9/11.

And now, in a stunning new interview made available to Truthout that is scheduled to air on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado tonight, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, for the first time, levels explosive allegations against three former top CIA officials – George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee – accusing them of knowingly withholding intelligence from the Bush and Clinton White House, the FBI, Immigration and the State and Defense Departments about two of the 9/11 hijackers who had entered the United States more than a year before the attacks. Moreover, Clarke says the former CIA officials likely engaged in a cover-up by withholding key details about two of the hijackers from the 9/11 Commission.

“They’ve been able to get through a joint House investigation committee and get through the 9/11 Commission and this has never come out,” Clarke said about Blee, Tenet and Black. “They got away with it.”

Clarke, who now runs the security firm Good Harbor Consulting, was the chief counterterrorism adviser for the Clinton and Bush administrations, who famously testified before the 9/11 Commission probing the terrorist attacks that “your government failed you.”

In October 2009, he spoke to John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, who have been working on a documentary about Blee and the secrecy surrounding his role in the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, which is set to air on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Duffy and  Nowosielski, whose previous film, “Press For Truth,” followed four 9/11 widows as they lobbied the Bush White House to convene an independent commission to probe the attacks, have also launched a new transparency web site,SecrecyKills.com, set to go live this evening with a campaign aimed at further unmasking Blee.

Clarke did not respond to questions about whether he still stood behind the comments he made about Tenet, Black, Blee nearly two years ago, which he admits he doesn’t have evidence to back up. But Nowosielski told Truthout he spoke to Clarke last week to inform him that Tenet, Black and Blee had issued a joint statement that was highly critical of his charges, and Clarke told  Nowosielski he has not changed his position.

Clarke asserts in the 13-minute interview that Tenet, the former CIA director; Black, who headed the agency’s Counterterrorist Center; and Blee, a top aide to Tenet who led the CIA’s Bin Laden Issues Station, also known as Alec Station, whose true identity was revealed for the first time two years ago, are to blame for the government’s failure to capture Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 with three other terrorists and flew the jetliner directly into the Pentagon killing 189 people.

 

“George Tenet followed all of the information about al-Qaeda in microscopic detail,” Clarke told Duffy and  Nowosielski. “He read raw intelligence reports before analysts in the counterterrorism center did and he would pick up the phone and call me at 7:30 in the morning and talk about them.”

But Tenet, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2004, did not share what Clarke says he knew about the al-Hazmi and the al-Mihdhar case.

 

In early January 2000, CIA analysts were informed by the National Security Agency that al-Hamzi and al-Mihdhar were heading to a meeting of other al-Qaeda associates in Malaysia, their travel arranged by Osama bin Laden’s Yemen operations center. The CIA surveilled the meeting and took photographs of the men.

From Malaysia, al-Hazmi, al-Mihdhar and Walid bin Attash, the alleged mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing, traveled to Thailand, which the CIA reported to Alec Station in a cable. Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar then boarded a flight bound for Los Angeles, arriving in the city on January 15, 2000.

The CIA had claimed, according to the 9/11 Commission report, that they lost track of all three men in Thailand. Despite being aware that the terrorists had already obtained tourist visas, the agency still failed to notify the FBI and State Department for inclusion on the latter’s terrorist watch list. Remarkably, Mihdhar left Southern California for Yemen in June 2000 and, using a new passport, returned to the US undetected on July 4, 2001.

Clarke suggests that if the CIA had shared intelligence about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with him, the FBI, and others, then perhaps the attack on the Pentagon could have been thwarted. As he noted in his book, “Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters,” the 9/11 Commission never fleshed out the rationale behind the CIA’s failure to share crucial intelligence information about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with other officials and government agencies.

“As jaded and cynical as I am about government failures, I still find this one mind-boggling and inexplicable,” Clarke wrote. “The 9/11 Commission report does not tell us very much about how or why it happened and their explanations, while they could be correct, strain credulity and leave many questions unanswered.”

“Failure to Communicate”

One of the CIA officials who had been monitoring the Malaysia meeting was a young al-Qaeda analyst named Jennifer Matthews, who had been working with the Bin Laden Issues Station since its inception in 1996. Another analyst, who worked closely with Matthews, was a red-headed woman who, in recent years, has been at the center of a scandal involving the torture and wrongful rendition of at least one detainee. She has since been promoted and continues to work for the CIA on al-Qaeda-related issues. An agency spokesman requested that Truthout not print her name because her identity is classified.

In his recently published book, “Triple Agent,” Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick wrote that former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson probed “CIA missteps that had allowed” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar “to enter the United States undetected.”

“Helgerson concluded that the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center had failed to respond to a series of cabled warnings in 2000 about” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar “who later became part of the September 11 plot …,” Warrick wrote. “The cables were seen by as many as sixty CIA employees, yet the two operatives’ names were never passed along to the FBI, which might have assigned agents to track them down or shared with the State Department, which could have flagged their named on its watch list. In theory, the arrest of the either man could have led investigators to the other hijackers and the eventual unraveling of the 9/11 plot.

“Helgerson’s report named individual managers who it said bore the greatest responsibility for failing to ensure that vital information was passed to the FBI. The report, never released in full, also recommended that some of the managers be reviewed for possible disciplinary action … Jennifer Matthews was on that list.”

Matthews, who Warrick also says led the agency’s search for the first high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and who was also present at the CIA black site prison in Thailand when Zubaydah was waterboarded after he was captured in March 2002, was among seven CIA officers killed in Khost, Afghanistan, in a December 2009 suicide bombing  at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan, which Matthews was chief of.

“A High-Level Decision”

Although Helgerson’s report recommended Matthews be disciplined, Clarke does not believe she or the dozens of other CIA analysts bear the ultimate responsibility for failing to inform the US government for 18 months that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the US.

“It’s not as I originally thought, which was that one lonely CIA analyst got this information and didn’t somehow recognize the significance of it,” Clarke said during the interview. “No, fifty, 5-0, CIA personnel knew about this. Among the fifty people in CIA who knew these guys were in the country was the CIA director.”

Still, Clarke said his position as National Coordinator for Security and Information meant he should have received a briefing from CIA about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, explaining “unless somebody intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution I would automatically get it.”

“For me to this day, it is inexplicable why when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months … We therefore conclude that there was a high-level decision inside CIA ordering people not to share that information,” Clarke said.

How high level?

“I would think it would have to be made by the director,” Clarke said. “You gotta understand my relationship with [Tenet], we were close friends, he called me several times a day, we shared the most trivial of information with each other, there was not a lack of information sharing, [CIA] told us everything except this.”

So, what happened? Why did the CIA fail to share its intelligence about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with Clarke and other government officials? Clarke believes the CIA may have attempted to “flip” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, but ultimately failed.

That’s an allegation that surfaced in Lawrence Wright’s groundbreaking book, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9/11.” Wright, who interviewed Clarke for his book, said a team of FBI investigators and federal prosecutors known asSquad I-49 came to believe that the CIA “was shielding Mihdhar and Hazmi because it hoped to recruit them”

“The CIA was desperate for a source inside al-Qaeda; it had completely failed to penetrate the inner circle or even to place a willing partner in the training camps, which were largely open to anyone who showed up,” Wright wrote. “Mihdhar and Hazmi must have seemed like attractive opportunities however, once they entered the United States they were the province of the FBI. The CIA had no legal authority to operate inside the country … It is also possible, as some FBI investigators suspect, the CIA was running a joint venture with Saudi intelligence in order to get around that restriction … These are only theories about the CIA’s failures to communicate vital information to the bureau … Perhaps the agency decided that Saudi intelligence would have a better chance of recruiting these men than the Americans. That would leave no CIA fingerprints on the operation as well.

“This is the view of some very bitter FBI investigators, who wonder why they were never informed of the existence of al-Qaeda operatives inside America. Mihdhar and Hazmi arrived nineteen months before 9/11. The FBI had all the authority it needed to investigate these men and learn what they were up to, but because the CIA had failed to divulge the presence of two active members of al-Qaeda, the hijackers were free to develop their plot until it was too late to stop them.”

The 9/11 Commission was unable to substantiate claims that the CIA tried to recruit al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar and Clarke never disclosed this theory to the panel during his testimony as it was a conclusion he said he reached years later.

“Reckless and Profoundly Wrong”

In response to Clarke’s charges, Tenet, Black and Blee issued a joint statement to Duffy and Nowosielski last week upon learning their interview with Clarke would soon air publicly. The former CIA officials admonished their former colleague, stating his comments were “reckless and profoundly wrong.” Blee’s inclusion in the joint statement marks the first time he has spoken publicly about the events leading up to 9/11.

“Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000,” the former CIA officials said. “It was not. He wildly speculates that it must have been the CIA Director who could have ordered the information withheld. There was no such order. In fact, the record shows that the Director and other senior CIA officials were unaware of the information until after 9/11.”

“In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time … Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate – which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination – that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents. This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation. We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.”

“We Would Have Found Those Assholes”

But Clarke says even as early as July 2001 – two months before the terrorist attacks – when Tenet and Blee called an urgent meeting with President Bush at the White House, they had an opportunity to disclose the fact that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were somewhere in the US, but failed to disclose what they knew.

The CIA waited until late August to inform lower-level FBI agents that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the US and were likely planning an attack inside the US. Yet, the CIA continued to conceal the intelligence from senior FBI and Bush administration officials a week prior to the attacks.

Clarke said there’s a “very obvious answer” as to why the CIA continued, as early as September 4, 2001, in a meeting attended by Clarke and other senior Bush administration officials, to withhold intelligence about the two hijackers: to protect the agency from scrutiny.

“I know how all this stuff works I’ve been working it for 30 years,” Clarke said. “You can’t snowball me on this stuff. If they announce on September 4 in the Principals meeting that these guys are in the United States and they told the FBI a few weeks ago I’m going to say ‘wait, time out. How long have you known this? Why haven’t you reported it at the daily threat meetings? Why isn’t it in the daily threat matrix?’ We would have begun an investigation that day into CIA malfeasance and misfeasance that’s why we’re not informed.”

Clarke added that even if the CIA had disclosed what it knew about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar as late as September 4, 2001, he believes the FBI could have captured the men and dismantled their plans to attack the Pentagon.

“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” Clarke said. “We would have conducted publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind. Even with only a week left.”

Truthout contributor Jeffrey Kaye contributed to this report.

 

Richard Clarke: CIA tried to recruit 9/11 hijackers

The Daily Beast is a bit more mainstream than your average news blog sites. Today they are reporting that former Counterterrorism official, Richard Clarke, is accusing the CIA and George Tenet of a cover-up in recruiting the 9/11 hijackers. George Tenet of course has denied these accusations.

“former CIA Director George Tenet and two former top aides are fighting back hard against allegations that they engaged in a massive cover-up in 2000 and 2001 to hide intelligence from the White House and the FBI that might have prevented the attacks.”

The source of the explosive, unproved allegations is a man who once considered Tenet a close friend: former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who makes the charges against Tenet and the CIA in an interview for a radio documentary timed to the 10th anniversary next month. “

Clarke would be the highest ranking official to ever level such an accusation. He has already accused, successfully I’d say, that the former Administration didn’t take threats seriously. But this accusation ups the stakes.

“In the interview for the documentary, Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil – terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.

Clarke speculates – and readily admits he cannot prove — that the CIA withheld the information because the agency had been trying to recruit the terrorists, while they were living in southern California under their own names, to work as CIA agents inside Al Qaeda. After the recruitment effort went sour, senior CIA officers continued to withhold the information from the White House for fear they would be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” Clarke suggests.”

Without any clue as to the actuality of these charges, I’ll still postulate the following: If you were going to work to legitimately bust a terror network…what better way to do so than to infiltrate and co-opt them. This is how we’ve been told that officials have busted other plots. We’ve been told that agents infiltrated the groups or cozies up to individuals who espoused a violent plan and then set them up with dud bombs or other operational support until we busted them. So Clarke’s story doesn’t seem far fetched.

Clarke says it is fair to conclude “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information.” Asked who would have made the order, Clarke replies, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet.

Clarke said that if his theory is correct, Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.”

Who knows how big such a decision circle would need to be? If Tenet made the call, he should be investigated and put under oath. Best to try than do nothing. Then use the pecking order to find out who would have reported to him.

Clarke’s theory addresses a central, enduring mystery about the 9/11 attacks – why the CIA failed for so long to tell the White House and senior officials at the FBI that the agency was aware that two Al Qaeda terrorists had arrived in the United States in January 2000, just days after attending a terrorist summit meeting in Malaysia that the CIA had secretly monitored.

Now, we always know that people like George Tenet will simply fire back with the same denials as we always get…Lets see if this will be any different:

In a written response prepared last week in advance of the broadcast, Tenet says that Clarke, who famously went public in 2004 to blow the whistle on the Bush White House over intelligence failures before 9/11, has “suddenly invented baseless allegations which are belied by the record and unworthy of serious consideration.”

“suddenly invented basless allegations which are belied by the”: record which was created by the 9/11 commission with many dubious claims also not substantiated by facts. Clarke is not someone who had no basis of talking..he was in these offices at the time. He was in the program responsible. This “baseless” charge doesn’t come from someone who doesn’t know who is who in the NCTC.

The CIA insisted to the 9/11 Commission and other government investigations that the agency never knew the exact whereabouts of the two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, inside the U.S.—let alone try to recruit them as spies.

Again an ‘appeal to authority’ fallacy on the part of the CIA. The 9/11 Commission’s investigation is compromised in its reliability. It found several important areas where the Administration was informed and did nothing. Clarke’s testimony before the commission doesn’t differ or contradict this new charge. If anything, it provides more context.

Agency officials said the CIA’s delay in sharing information about the two terrorists was a grave failure, but maintained there was no suggestion of deception by CIA brass. Tenet has said he was not informed before 9/11 about Hazmi and Mihdhar’s travel to the U.S., although the intelligence was widely shared at lower levels of the CIA.

“If anything, it provides more context.”…So the CIA claims that Clarke’s comments are baseless and yet…admits to the delay in sharing information. How can something be both baseless and based on something. We have admission to a delay in information. We have admission of the failure and excuse being, what? That higher ups didn’t listen to lower level analysts? Coleen Rowley testified to information the FBI received and didn’t act upon. She also called out Mueller on his testimony.

The 9/11 Commission investigated widespread rumors in the intelligence community that the CIA tried to recruit the two terrorists—Clarke was not the first to suggest it—but the investigation revealed no evidence to support the rumors. The commission said in its final report that “it appears that no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA” about the two terrorists.

They did? I have all the hearings on tape, attended 2 of them…when did they “investigate widespread rumors”? Where are the results of these supposed investigations? And how can the author at Daily Beast say that the “investigation revealed no evidence to support”. This seems unexplained. The conclusion might still be correct that no one informed higher levels, but it doesn’t not establish why. This has still been left to some vague bureaucracy glitch. It makes no sense that lower level analysts would be tasked to find terror threats then be ignored. Again, the foundation of Clarke’s claim hasn’t been debunked.

But in his interview, Clarke said his seemingly unlikely, even wild scenario – a bungled CIA terrorist-recruitment effort and a subsequent cover-up – was “the only conceivable reason that I’ve been able to come up with” to explain why he and others at the White House were told nothing about the two terrorists until the day of the attacks.

Why is it seemingly unlikely? I’m not one who wants to throw out false flag very often. I think its been abused to the point of blaming everything on false flag. But it isn’t at all a wild scenario. We can see clear history of these types of operations in the past for very similar reasons: the people don’t want wars. While I may never find a smoking gun in the 9/11 drama…We have clear evidence of motive. We have clear stated goals from Dick Cheney and his energy friendly buddies, his ideologue buddies, and his colleagues…that indicate a desire to redraw the power map in the areas we are now bogged down in, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan (aka ….Baku pipeline territory.)

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Clarke says in the interview, which was conducted in October 2009. He said it was fair to conclude “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information.” Asked who would have made the order, Clarke replies, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet.

I have read Mr. Clarke’s books. If there is one area that causes me to trust his read is that he easily excepts what I find abhorrent. It is sort of called the “science of embarrassments”…meaning, you can likely believe the part of the story the person wouldn’t easily admit to if they understood embarrassments. I learned it in hermeneutic studies. He frequently explains positions in the role of the bought in. It doesn’t mean he is right, but it helps me, the reader, determine what is true and what is his view, spin, or blindness.

In finishing the radio documentary, they recently supplied a copy of Clarke’s comments to Tenet, who joined with two of former top CIA deputies — Cofer Black, who was head of the agency’s counterterrorism center, and Richard Blee, former head of the agency’s Osama Bin Laden unit — in a statement denouncing Clarke.

“Richard Clarke was an able public servant who served his country well for many years,” the statement says. “But his recently released comments about the run-up to 9/11 are reckless and profoundly wrong.”

“Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000. It was not.”

The statement continued. “Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate – which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination – that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents. This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation.”

It doesn’t surprise me that the club would come out and defend themselves. This means little to me. If I were to go to the police union after a cop beat a citizen..I’d expect, “law officers do their job every day without thanks and this isolated incident..blah blah blah…” Same sort of comments come from Panetta, Gates, Hayden, Goss, etc. why would we expect a different response from these highly unaccountable chiefs?

But in examining the words, they are boilerplate in scope. The last phrase still doesn’t work…utterly without foundation. Nonsense. What is utterly without foundation is why didn’t agents with information get heard? Clarke is being treated as some bystander who didn’t have first hand experience here. Clearly he was in the middle of decision making. It is illogical for the CIA directors to forget that Clarke had a very key role in the decision chain. Perhaps they want us to ignore this fact.

Clarke concludes that had the names come up, we’d have sent a team out to “sweep” up the bad guys….wild leap? Clarke sounds like a detective who didn’t get the bad guy in time and is angry that those who could have done something didn’t. It doesn’t take much of a leap to get to, “didn’t want to tell” when already know that they were informed and didn’t.

“To this day, it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me,” Clarke said in the interview for the documentary, referring to Tenet and Cofer Black. “They told us everything – except this.”

“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” he said. “We would have conducted it publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind, even with only a week left. They were using credit cards in their own names. They were staying in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, for heaven’s sake.” He said that “those guys would have been arrested within 24 hours.”

Canadian Activists Vow to Arrest George W. Bush in October

Apparently Canadians haven’t forgotten George W Bush’s crimes.

Surrey BC Mayor Diane Watts forewarned of torture issues with George W Bush Invite in October by Peace Activists

Surrey BC Canada May 2 2011: WeAreChangeVancouver has just released new video of Surrey BC Mayor Diane Watts’s Office being notified by Peace Activists of her impending complicity in harboring/inviting a credibly accused and self admitted torturer and war criminal to Surrey BC this October.

http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2011/05/canadian-activists-vow-arrest-george-w-bush-october

U.S. seeks to contain ‘top secret’ evidence in Mehanna trial

Laurel Sweet of the Boston Herald has just published a report on the DOJ’s use of state secrets arguments in prosecuting Tarek Mehanna.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is beseeching a federal judge in Boston not to release to an accused Sudbury terrorist’s lawyers the evidence prosecutors that have amassed against him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, warning the disclosure of “top secret” materials could “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

Such lawyers are able to examine evidence without divulging contents to the accused. This argument has become typical of the DOJ for the past several years.

Holder asserted in a sworn claim of executive privilege filed with U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. in the case of Tarek Mehanna, “The FISA materials contain sensitive and classified information concerning United States intelligence sources and methods and other information related to efforts of the United States to conduct counterterrorism investigations.”

This argument has been used back since the civil war as spies for the North couldn’t get recognized for compensation while the government simply turned a blind eye to them. It is a specious argument.

“We don’t even know what the (FISA) evidence is,” Mehanna’s attorney Janice Bassil said yesterday, adding Holder’s attempt to withhold the government’s evidence from electronic surveillance and physical searches was not unexpected.

“In these cases, where there are accusations of terrorism, civil liberties and constitutional rights kind of go out the window,” she said. “They are not clearly recognized and are often ignored.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1353939

HRW: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & Cheney

Human Rights Watch has stated its position on the Obama Administration’s lack of justice in the cases of Richard Bruce Cheney and George Walker Bush for war crimes and authorizing war crimes

The Truth About Richard Bruce Cheney

(Thanks to our friends’ site: NoQuarterUSA.net for heads up on this.  Thank you to Steve Clemons for allowing us reprint the full text with Col. Wilkerson’s and Steve Clemons’ express permission from The Washington Note.)This is a guest post exclusive to The Washington Note by Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who is former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Lawrence Wilkerson is also Pamela Harriman Visiting Professor at the College of William & Mary.Last night I was on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC at the top of the hour. But before I came on, through the earpiece I listened to the five minutes that Rachel sketched as a lead-in. Most of it was videotape from the last few days of former Vice President Dick Cheney extolling the virtues of harsh interrogation, torture, and his leadership. I had heard some of it earlier of course but not all of it and not in such a tightly-packed package.

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Italian Court Dismisses Evidence in CIA Rendition Trial citing”State Secrets”

The Italian Constitutional Court has ruled that prosecutors violated “state secrecy laws” in building their case against Italian and U.S. agents who are accused of extraordinary rendition of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, aka Abu Omar.Though the case has not been thrown out it has set back the case which resumes hearing on March 18, 2009. The case claims that the CIA led team kidnapped Abu Omar in Milan and took him to US bases in Italy and Germany before they flew him to Egypt in 2003. Abu Omar says he was tortured there and held without being charged.The court ruled that the prosecutors improperly used classified secrets to prepare their case. Much of the indictment rests on the “secrets”, and no word has come as to how the lawyers will be able to make their case without being able to rely upon these materials.From Berlisconi till now, Italy maintains it had no role in the Nasr rendition.The case involves twenty six American agents and several Italian agents.We will keep you posted.

Follow Up With Your Local D.A. Now That They Have The Bugliosi Book On Prosecuting Dick&W

From http://www.peaceteam.net

From We want you to know that we are gearing up for actions on many critical and substantive issues, health care, mass media issues, real food safety and more, and we will have much more on all these soon.However, this week there is a special priority. We told you that another activist group was sending copies of the Vince Bugliosi Book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” to each and every local county district attorney in the country, nearly 3,000 books in the mail which were due to arrive at their destinations on or about Feb. 21, so they should be there by now.

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Truth and Consequences hearing

On Wednesday, March 4, 2009, Patrick Leahy convened a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the creation of a “Truth and Consequences Commission” to hear the abuses and remedies of the George Bush and Dick Cheney administration. Joining this panel were Thomas Pickering, Ret. Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, John Farmer, F.A.O. Schwarz, David Rivkin and Jeremy Rabkin.

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Karl Rove’s never ending hubris

Even with a pending subpoena and the chance that he could face prosecution for his involvement in the politicization of the Department of Justice, Karl Rove never stops. His arrogance and contempt for others is truly jaw dropping sometimes. On the O’Really show Friday, Feb 13, 2009, Rove gloats about the “witch hunt”. What Rove is trying to do here, and to a loyal audience, is down play and suggest this is “just politics”. Just see past it, stay focused on the crimes themselves not the Pavlovian rants of this traitor. Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame’s name to journalists, two of which didn’t stoop to the Novak level. But he was a confirming source to Novak and leaked to Matt Cooper. He’s scum.

The Legalities and Immunity

During the Cheney/Bush Administration we saw many examples of judicial manipulation. From the Department of Justice attorney firings to the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence, the Bush Administration repeatedly flaunted its power to protect its own backside. The questions of legality of torture were obfuscated by ideologues who favored any actions the CheneyBush Admin wished to enact. But the question remains, how binding are those decisions?

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Majority of Americans believe Cheney and Bush must face investigation

While the Obama administration keeps talking about ‘looking forward’ and not ‘looking back’, a vast majority of Americans support investigation, including criminal investigation, for Dick Cheney and George Bush.A new Gallop Poll shows a majority of Americans want to have an investigation into the wrong doings of the Bush administration, with more showing interest based on the politicization of the Justice Department followed by wiretaps without warrant, then torture. And while the Gallop poll interprets this as no mandate, of those who want an investigation into the politicization of the justice department (71%), 57% of them want a criminal investigation, For torture and wiretaps 63%, of those who support any investigation 60% want criminal investigation.

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The Case for Prosecution of Dick Cheney, George Bush and Co.

There is rarely joy to be found in prosecution. This process of holding someone accountable is loaded with frustration from the get go. But without holding people accountable for their actions, we might as well scrap any pretense of justice or rule of law.In the past 8 years we have seen violations of the fundamental standards of American values, whether they were ever real or simply imagined. In the name of national defense the administration and their enablers in the Congress eroded the fundamental constitutional standards that define this democratic experiment. The Bush Administration lobbied to go to war on a country that had never attacked the U.S., authorized torture of detainees, allowed extraordinary rendition of suspects, wasted billions of dollars to hide its crimes and mistakes, wiretapped citizens, journalists, soldiers calling their families, non-profits, politicized the Department of Justice, outed a CIA officer and her colleagues operations, threatened countries who didn’t run lock-step, and continuously lied about these actions when directly asked to own up to them.

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