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)

 

Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction
Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched topsecret
intelligence, and a briefing by
George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.
By Sidney Blumenthal
Sep. 06, 2007 |

On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on topsecret
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.
Secretary of State Powell, in preparation for his presentation of evidence of Saddam’s WMD to the United
Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, spent days at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and had Tenet sit
directly behind him as a sign of credibility. But Tenet, according to the sources, never told Powell about existing
intelligence that there were no WMD, and Powell’s speech was later revealed to be a series of falsehoods.
Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000
in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that
Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon
within two years if they had fissible material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological
weapons,” one of the former CIA officers told me.
On the eve of Sabri’s appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam’s case, the officer
in charge of this operation met in New York with a “cutout” who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the
officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was “excited” about
the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri’s information was at odds
with “our best source.” That source was codenamed
“Curveball,” later exposed as a fabricator, con man and
former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.
The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. “Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,” said
one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information “the same old
thing.” Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. “The president had no interest in the
intelligence,” said the CIA officer. The other officer said, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had
his mind made up.”
But the CIA officers working on the Sabri case kept collecting information. “We checked on everything he told
us.” French intelligence eavesdropped on his telephone conversations and shared them with the CIA. These taps
“validated” Sabri’s claims, according to one of the CIA officers. The officers brought this material to the attention
of the newly formed Iraqi Operations Group within the CIA. But those in charge of the IOG were on a mission to
prove that Saddam did have WMD and would not give credit to anything that came from the French. “They kept
saying the French were trying to undermine the war,” said one of the CIA officers.
The officers continued to insist on the significance of Sabri’s information, but one of Tenet’s deputies told them,
“You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.”
The CIA officers on the case awaited the report they had submitted on Sabri to be circulated back to them, but
they never received it. They learned later that a new report had been written. “It was written by someone in the
agency, but unclear who or where, it was so tightly controlled. They knew what would please the White House.
They knew what the king wanted,” one of the officers told me.
That report contained a false preamble stating that Saddam was “aggressively and covertly developing” nuclear
weapons and that he already possessed chemical and biological weapons. “Totally out of whack,” said one of the
CIA officers. “The first [para]graph of an intelligence report is the most important and most read and colors the
rest of the report.” He pointed out that the case officer who wrote the initial report had not written the preamble
and the new memo. “That’s not what the original memo said.”
The report with the misleading introduction was given to Dearlove of MI6, who briefed the prime minister.
“They were given a scaleddown
version of the report,” said one of the CIA officers. “It was a summary given for
liaison, with the sourcing taken out. They showed the British the statement Saddam was pursuing an aggressive
program, and rewrote the report to attempt to support that statement. It was insidious. Blair bought it.” “Blair was
duped,” said the other CIA officer. “He was shown the altered report.”
The information provided by Sabri was considered so sensitive that it was never shown to those who assembled
the NIE on Iraqi WMD. Later revealed to be utterly wrong, the NIE read: “We judge that Iraq has continued its
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has
chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it
probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.”
In the congressional debate over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, even those voting against it
gave credence to the notion that Saddam possessed WMD. Even a leading opponent such as Sen. Bob Graham,
then the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had instigated the production of the
NIE, declared in his floor speech on Oct. 12, 2002, “Saddam Hussein’s regime has chemical and biological
weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity.” Not a single senator contested otherwise. None of them had an
inkling of the Sabri intelligence.
The CIA officers assigned to Sabri still argued within the agency that his information must be taken seriously,
but instead the administration preferred to rely on Curveball. Drumheller learned from the German intelligence
service that held Curveball that it considered him and his claims about WMD to be highly unreliable. But the
CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) insisted that Curveball was
credible because what he said was supposedly congruent with available public information.
For two months, Drumheller fought against the use of Curveball, raising the red flag that he was likely a fraud, as
he turned out to be. “Oh, my! I hope that’s not true,” said Deputy Director McLaughlin, according to
Drumheller’s book “On the Brink,” published in 2006. When Curveball’s information was put into Bush’s Jan. 28,
2003, State of the Union address, McLaughlin and Tenet allowed it to pass into the speech. “From three Iraqi
defectors,” Bush declared, “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs …
Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them.” In fact,
there was only one Iraqi source Curveball
and
there were no labs.
When the mobile weapons labs were inserted into the draft of Powell’s United Nations speech, Drumheller
strongly objected again and believed that the error had been removed. He was shocked watching Powell’s speech.
“We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails,” Powell announced.
Without the reference to the mobile weapons labs, there was no image of a threat.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, and Powell himself later lamented that they had not been
warned about Curveball. And McLaughlin told the Washington Post in 2006, “If someone had made these doubts
clear to me, I would not have permitted the reporting to be used in Secretary Powell’s speech.” But, in fact,
Drumheller’s caution was ignored.
As war appeared imminent, the CIA officers on the Sabri case tried to arrange his defection in order to
demonstrate that he stood by his information. But he would not leave without bringing out his entire family. “He
dithered,” said one former CIA officer. And the war came before his escape could be handled.
Tellingly, Sabri’s picture was never put on the deck of playing cards of former Saddam officials to be hunted
down, a tacit acknowledgment of his covert relationship with the CIA. Today, Sabri lives in Qatar.
In 2005, the SilbermanRobb
commission investigating intelligence in the Iraq war failed to interview the case
officer directly involved with Sabri; instead its report blamed the entire WMD fiasco on “groupthink” at the CIA.
“They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House,” said the officer.
On Feb. 5, 2004, Tenet delivered a speech at Georgetown University that alluded to Sabri and defended his
position on the existence of WMD, which, even then, he contended would still be found. “Several sensitive
reports crossed my desk from two sources characterized by our foreign partners as established and reliable,” he
said. “The first from a source who had direct access to Saddam and his inner circle” Naji
Sabri ”
said Iraq
was not in the possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a
weapon.”
Then Tenet claimed with assurance, “The same source said that Iraq was stockpiling chemical weapons.” He
explained that this intelligence had been central to his belief in the reason for war. “As this information and other
sensitive information came across my desk, it solidified and reinforced the judgments that we had reached in my
own view of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and I conveyed this view to our nation’s leaders.” (Tenet
doesn’t mention Sabri in his recently published memoir, “At the Center of the Storm.”)
But where were the WMD? “Now, I’m sure you’re all asking, ‘Why haven’t we found the weapons?’ I’ve told you
the search must continue and it will be difficult.”
On Sept. 8, 2006, three Republican senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Orrin
Hatch,
Saxby Chambliss and Pat Roberts signed
a letter attempting to counter Drumheller’s revelation about Sabri on
“60 Minutes”: “All of the information about this case so far indicates that the information from this source was
that Iraq did have WMD programs.” The Republicans also quoted Tenet, who had testified before the committee
in July 2006 that Drumheller had “mischaracterized” the intelligence. Still, Drumheller stuck to his guns, telling
Reuters, “We have differing interpretations, and I think mine’s right.”
One of the former senior CIA officers told me that despite the certitude of the three Republican senators, the
Senate committee never had the original memo on Sabri. “The committee never got that report,” he said. “The
material was hidden or lost, and because it was a restricted case, a lot of it was done in hard copy. The whole
thing was fogged up, like Curveball.”
While one Iraqi source told the CIA that there were no WMD, information that was true but distorted to prove
the opposite, another Iraqi source was a fabricator whose lies were eagerly embraced. “The real tragedy is that
they had a good source that they misused,” said one of the former CIA officers. “The fact is there was nothing
there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear.”
By
Sidney Blumenthal

Yellowcake Dossier Not The Work of the CIA

Yellowcake Dossier Not The Work of the CIA
October 26, 2005
by Carlo Bonnini e Giuseppe D’Avanzo of La Repubblica
[translated at the request of Antiwar.com by Azzurra Crispino]
Anything found in [ ] are translator’s notes and not originally in the article.

For Nicolò Pollari, director of SISMI [sic Military Intelligence Agency of Italy] the rules of his job are non-negotiable. He tells La Repubblica: “I am the director of intelligence, and the only person I have spoken to in Washington on an institutional level, post September 11th, has been the director of the CIA, George Tenet. Obviously, I speak only to him.” But is it really true that our undercover agents have worked exclusively with the CIA? Or, were they co-opted by the clandestine parallel intelligence efforts headed by Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz over the “White House Iraq Group,” the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, the National Security advisor’s office, who all were set out to find the necessary proof to bring about ‘regime change’ in Bagdad?

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Pollari, the director of SISMI meets in Washington with the staff of Condoleeza Rice, then White House National Security Advisor. This is done under the supervision of Gianni Castellaneta, currently the Italian ambassador to the US and then diplomatic advisor for Palazzo Chigi [Silvio Berlusconi’s official residence as Prime Minister of Italy]. La Repubblica is able to document the simultaneous travel of the Italian government and intelligence. At least one of the “unofficial” meetings Pollari holds is, as secret agents say, the the creation of a love triangle between policy, intelligence, and information.

A quick summary: the Military Intelligence of Italy under Pollari wants to confirm the Iraqi purchase of unprocessed uranium used to make a nuclear bomb. The game plan is clear. Antonio Nucera, assistant chief of the Center for Military Intelligence in Rome, gives the “authentic papers” regarding an attempted acquisition of uranium in Niger (old Italian “intelligence” from the 80s). These are then bundled with other false papers hatched together from official stationery and seals, recovered during a faked burglary of the Niger embassy. These papers are shown by Pollari’s people to CIA agents stationed in Rome. Meanwhile, a “deliveryman” for the Military Intelligence Agency, none other than Rocco Martino, delivers them to MI6 in London, run by Sir Richard Dearlove.

This is what gets the ball rolling. This will all be useful in understanding the second chapter of the great Italian deception — framing the proof used to justify military intervention in Iraq. Greg Thielmann, former director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research for the State Department, finds “the Italian report on uranium” on his desk. He claims not to recall the exact date, but it is roughly fall of 2001. The exact date may be important. We know three events coincide on the date October 15th, 2001. Nicolò Pollari, nominated on September 27th, becomes the head of SISMI, after having been the number two man at CESIS (the center coordinating intelligence for Palazzo Chigi). Silvio Berlusconi finally meets with George W. Bush at the White House and the first CIA report on the Italian evidence all occur on the same date: October 15th, 2001. One might call this nothing more than coincidence, except that it appears the Italians are desperately trying to get into the action. Berlusconi had difficulty, following an attack of “misunderstanding among civilizations,” getting a meeting with a White House far more preoccupied with meeting with moderate Arab regimes. Pollari is anxious to be on board with the Premier and the new direction. Col. Alberto Manenti, Pollari’s former boss and the newly appointed head of WMD unit at SISMI, also wants to be in tune with the new director. While Bush is showing Berlusconi the Rose Garden, writes Russ Hoyle, the CIA is taking action on the news Italian intelligence has just handed them on a silver platter: “negotiations between Niamey [the capital of Niger] and Bagdad regarding the acquisition of uranium began in the beginning of 1999. culminating in the authorization of the sale by the Nigerien government in 2000.” No additional documentation is cited able to show that the shipment of uranium actually took place. CIA analysts consider this first report “very limited” and “lacking in necessary details.” Analysts in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department rate the information “highly suspect.”

Pollari’s first contact with the American intelligence community is not particularly gratifying, but nevertheless useful. The director of SISMI is not a fool, he is quick to reconstruct where the main players fall in the sordid conflict underway in the Administration between those advocating prudence and a pragmatic outlook (State Department and the CIA) versus those who are merely looking for an opportunity to justify a pre-planned war. Gianni Castellaneta advises Pollari to “look in other directions,” while Minister of Defense Antonio Martino invites him to meet “an old friend of Italy.”

This old American friend is Michael A. Ledeen, an old fox of US parallel intelligence who was declared “undesirable” by Italy in the 1980s. Ledeen is in Rome on behalf of the Office of Special Plans, created by the Pentagon by Paul Wolfowitz to gather intelligence that supports military intervention in Iraq. A source from Forte Braschi [SISMI’s headquarters in Rome] tells La Repubblica: “Jeff Castelli, head of the CIA station in Rome, gives a cold reception to Pollari’s uranium story and lets the matter drop. Pollari understands this is merely a prelude to something else and talks to Michael Ledeen….” Some unknown reason moves Michael Ledeen back to Washington, D.C. But, at the beginning of 2002, Paul Wolfowitz convices Dick Cheney to explore in depth the Italian story on the uranium. The Vice President, states the Senate Selected Committee on Intelligence, asks the CIA one more time to know more about a possible acquisition of uranium from Niger. In that meeting, Dick Cheney explicitly states this shred of intelligence was gathered by “a foreign service.”

The Pentagon parallel intelligence then spreads this “new information,” according to which “there exists an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of 500 tons of uranium a year.” The technical analysts smile at this declaration: 500 tons of uranium is an astronomical quantity, and the news is clearly devoid of any accountability. All independent reports, requested following the “Italian document” warn that the two mines in Niger, Arlit and Akouta, are not capable of extracting more than 300 tons a year. But the climate is what it is. George Tenet, hobbled by the holes in intelligence surrounding 9/11, puts on a good face and turns a deaf ear when the State Department (as told to La Repubblica by Greg Thielmann) states in opposition that “the information gathered in Italy is inconsistent; the Niger-uranium story is fake; and that a bunch of things told to us were lies.”

The source in Forte Braschi continues, “Pollari is extremely shrewd. He understands that in order to push the uranium story he cannot rely on the CIA alone. He has to work, as he was advised by Palazzo Chigi and the Defense Department, with the Pentagon and the National Security Advisor, Rice.” This claim could be nothing more than a malicious rumor (as is often the case in the world of spies) but confirmation of “alternate channels” Pollari creates with Washington are within grasp in an image and a meeting.

The image: Pollari is in Washington. He meets George Tenet, as often happens, in a reserved room of a hotel near Langley. Someone who assisted with the meeting tells La Repubblica: “Pollari must not trust his English very much, because he utilizes an interpreter when speaking to the director of the CIA. George, to get the ball rolling, reveals some information on Al Qaeda and Italy that the Agency has gathered amongst the Guantanamo prisoners. Tenet expects at least a smile, if not a thank you. Instead, he gets a face of stone. At first, this upsets him, but then he lets it go. But what strikes everyone most about Pollari is the way he keeps his central boss in Washington completely marginalized from everything.” This estrangement is interesting. In 2002 the head of the SISMI station in Washington is Admiral Giuseppe Grignolo, who has important experience in the proliferation of WMDs, an excellent relationship with the CIA and is very respected by CIA number two Jim Pravitt. The source from Forte Braschi recalls, “in reality, we wanted to keep the CIA out of our work and Pollari didn’t trust Grignolo because he’s too closely connected to Langley. So, he keeps all his moves quiet, leading [Grignolo] down the wrong path, like say having him focus unnecessarily on the criminal record of the new hires to the service who have perhaps spent a few years in the States… his more important meetings happen elsewhere. With Condi Rice, through Gianni Castellaneta and for the Office of Special Plans of Wolfowitz and Dough Feith, through Leeden. Castellaneta is the one who schedules the meeting in the office of the National Security Advisor.” When? What do they discuss? “What do you think they discussed in the summer of 2002? Weapons of mass destruction.” The date of the meeting? “That I’m keeping to myself… besides, all it takes is checking with the CAI [Commitato Aeronautico Italiano, the Italian version of the FAA] logs on planes scheduled to fly Ciampino-Washington.” [Ciampino is the Italian military airport.]

Getting the flightplans in Rome is difficult, but there’s better luck in Washington. An administration official tells La Repubblica, “I can confirm that on Sept. 9th, 2002, General Nicolò Pollari met with Stephen Hadley, at the time Deputy National Security Advisor under Condoleeza Rice. And just like October 15th 2001, September 9th 2002 is a date of coincidences. The issue of Panorama that will hit the stands with the date September 12/19 is going to press. This seems to be the customary in the “yellowcake affair.” Recall that “the deliveryman” for SISMI, Rocco Martino, contacts in October a journalist from the weekly magazine, at the time edited by Carlo Rossella, to sell them the document of this crooked affair. No one seems to remember that, in that September 12/19 2002 issue, coinciding with the secret meeting between Pollari and Hadley, Panorama finds a colossal scoop. The title of the article, “The War? It’s Already Begun,” tells the story of “a load of half a ton of uranium.” Further in the article, “the men of Mukhabarat, the Iraqi Secret Service, acquired it [the uranium] through a Jordan intermediary company in far-off Nigeria, where some merchants were selling it as contraband after having stolen it from a nuclear deposit in one of the republics of the former USSR. Five hundred kilos of uranium landed in Amman [the capital of Jordan]. From there, after seven hours by land, they reached their destination: a plant 20 km north of Bagdad, called Al Radhidiyah, well-known for its production and treatment of fission materials.” Later in the article, “… the alert pertains to Germany, where in previous years Iraq has tried to buy technology and industrial components from the “Leycochem” organization… including the coveted aluminum tubes for the gas centrifuges.”

It is important to note that all the ingredients for the recipe for war are present in this Panorama article, even if in an inexact context (Nigeria is not Niger, a grave lapse) and in some parts far-out (contraband from the former USSR to Africa in a truck): the five hundred tons of uranium that, from Africa, reach Baghdad; aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges. A reasonable observation can be made that the schema at work here in Italy seems to overlap completely with the ones sustained in the US CIA/New York Times scandal. Government asks for something; intelligence gives it; the media circulates it; and government confirms it. It’s a disinformation technique as old as the Cold War. Exaggerate the danger from the enemy, thereby terrorizing and convincing public opinion. In our own home, an even worse detail: the Prime Minister owns the magazine spreading this poisonous news. The same PM, who heads intelligence and wants to seem and be George W. Bush’s biggest ally, who is in turn anxious to go to war.

The groundwork now laid out, Pollari can now concentrate on a different but essential aspect of his gameplan, the promotion of SISMI and himself. He cashes in on the dividends from the last year’s obfuscated work, blinding parliament with news cautiously manipulated; revelations that would finally require a believable and documented reconstruction are instead met with a wall of secrecy from the state (that would be opposed by Gianni Letta on July 16th, 2003).

After his secret meeting with Hadley, Pollari has two audiences with the parliamentary committee overseeing secret services. In the first, the director of SISMI states, “we do not have documented proof, but we do have news that a central-African nation has sold pure uranium to Baghdad.” Thirty days later, Pollari states, “we have documented proof of an Iraqi acquisition of pure uranium in a central-African nation. We also know of an Iraqi attempt to purchase centrifuges, to be used to enrich uranium, from companies in Germany and possibly in Italy as well.” Leaving Parliament, Pollari still has the problem of how to get the fake document to Washington without his metaphorical finger prints on them. The “deliveryman” for SISMI, Rocco Martino, who has already gone knocking on MI6’s door, contacts Panorama’s Elisabetta Burba attempting to sell her the dossier. Is it the smokeseller’s own idea, was it suggested to him by Antonio Nucera, or from someone else? Burba, justly, goes to double check the information in Niger. There she invents a cover-up of dinosaurs, from the Tyrannosaurus Nigeriensis to the Velociraptor Abakensis.

In the meantime, she also speaks to some credible sources. Elisabette does her duty with tenacity and rigor, and comes to the conclusion that the story just does not jive, and doesn’t publish a single line of it. But in reality, everything has already happened, because the director of the weekly, Carlo Rossella, enthusiastic to have perhaps found “the smoking gun” (as he tells his staff), has already sent the documents to the American embassy, “as the best source of verification.” Does Pollari then warn the Prime Minister’s weekly that in regards to the uranium scoop, the whole thing is a fraud? It would appear not. Thus, Jeff Castelli and the CIA find they once again have to deal with this half-baked story, which they have been trying to avoid for a year. These documents are so obviously fake that they can only be hidden, if they do not want to be mortified when meeting with Dick Cheney. The arrival of the documents in Washington is hushed. On October 16th, 2002, the documents are given out to the various intelligence agencies by members of the State Department during one of their regular meetings, where four CIA members are also present. None of them recall if they have them or ever did. Mysteriously, in Langley the “Italian documents” are “lost” for three months in the counter-proliferation center’s vaults. First strike for the Italian documents. The uranium hoax will redouble with the addition of the tall-tale of the aluminum tubes. But that’s another story.

Former aide: Powell WMD speech ‘lowest point in my life’

Colin Powell Presents WMD Case to UN

Colin Powell Presents WMD Case to UN

Former aide: Powell WMD speech ‘lowest point in my life’

Programming Note: “Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

(CNN) — A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state’s presentation to the United Nations on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was “the lowest point” in his life.

“I wish I had not been involved in it,” says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. “I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life.”

Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN Presents documentary “Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown.” The program, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be “dead wrong.”

Powell’s speech, delivered on February 14, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell’s presentation initially came from a document he described as “sort of a Chinese menu” that was provided by the White House.

“(Powell) came through the door … and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, ‘This is what I’ve got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'” Wilkerson says in the program. “It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose.”

Wilkerson and Powell spent four days and nights in a CIA conference room with then-Director George Tenet and other top officials trying to ensure the accuracy of the presentation, Wilkerson says.

“There was no way the Secretary of State was going to read off a script about serious matters of intelligence that could lead to war when the script was basically un-sourced,” Wilkerson says.

In one dramatic accusation in his speech, Powell showed slides alleging that Saddam had bioweapons labs mounted on trucks that would be almost impossible to find.

“In fact, Secretary Powell was not told that one of the sources he was given as a source of this information had indeed been flagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a liar, a fabricator,” says David Kay, who served as the CIA’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. That source, an Iraqi defector had never been debriefed by the CIA, was known within the intelligence community as “Curveball.”

After searching Iraq for several months across the summer of 2003, Kay began e-mailing Tenet to tell him the WMD evidence was falling apart. At one point, Wilkerson says, Tenet called Powell to tell him the claims about mobile bioweapons labs were apparently not true.

“George actually did call the Secretary, and said, ‘I’m really sorry to have to tell you. We don’t believe there were any mobile labs for making biological weapons,'” Wilkerson says in the documentary. “This was the third or fourth telephone call. And I think it’s fair to say the Secretary and Mr. Tenet, at that point, ceased being close. I mean, you can be sincere and you can be honest and you can believe what you’re telling the Secretary. But three or four times on substantive issues like that? It’s difficult to maintain any warm feelings.”

Journalist says she gave uranium papers to U.S.

July 19, 2003, 10:12AM
Associated Press

ROME — A journalist for an Italian news magazine has come forward, saying it was she who turned over to U.S. diplomats some documents purportedly showing that Iraq wanted to buy uranium from Niger. The documents turned out to be forgeries.

In an interview published today, Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian daily, quoted Elisabetta Burba as saying her source “in the past proved to be reliable.” The journalist, who writes for the weekly Panorama, refused to reveal her source.

“I realized that this could be a worldwide scoop, but that’s exactly why I was very worried,” Burba was quoted as saying. “If it turned out to be a hoax, and I published it, I would have ended my career.”

The documents, later declared by experts to be forgeries, served as part of the basis for President Bush’s assertion in his State of Union address in January that Saddam Hussein was trying to get hold of material that could be used for nuclear weapons.

Bush attributed the information to the British government. Both the Bush administration and that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been under growing fire for using flawed intelligence to justify going to war against Iraq.

It has been previously reported that the U.S. Embassy in Rome received the documents from a journalist. The documents were shown to CIA personnel in Rome and sent to State Department headquarters in Washington.

Corriere della Sera quoted the journalist as saying she went to Niger to try to check out the authenticity of the documents. Burba told the paper she was suspicious because the documents spoke of such a large amount of uranium — 500 tons — and were short on details on how the uranium would be transported and arrangements for final delivery.

After her return from Africa, she said she told Panorama’s top editor “the story seemed fake to me.” After discussions at the magazine, one of the publications in Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire, Burba took the documents to the U.S. Embassy.

“I went by myself and give them the dossier. No one said anything more to me and in any case the decision not to publish it was already taken — with no further way to check out the reliability of those papers, we chose not to risk. I informed my source that I wasn’t going to write anything and for me that affair was forgotten,” Burba was quoted as saying.

There was no answer at Burba’s home today. Offices of Panorama were closed for the weekend.

 

White House admits uranium claim was wrong

July 8, 2003, 1:00PM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Amid questions about prewar intelligence, the White House is acknowledging that President Bush was incorrect when he said in his State of the Union address that Iraq recently had sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.

The White House acknowledgment comes as a British parliamentary commission questions the reliability of British intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Democrats in Congress also have questioned how the Bush administration used U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programs.

Bush said in his address to Congress in January that the British government had learned that Saddam recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.

The president’s statement in the State of the Union was incorrect because it was based on forged documents from the African nation of Niger, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday.

“The president’s statement was based on the predicate of the yellow cake” uranium “from Niger,” Fleischer told reporters. “So given the fact that the report on the yellow cake did not turn out to be accurate, that is reflective of the president’s broader statement.”

A British parliamentary committee concluded that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government mishandled intelligence material on Iraqi weapons.

John Stanley, a Conservative member of the committee, said so far no evidence has been found in Iraq to substantiate four key claims, including that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa as part of an effort to restart a nuclear weapons program.

Claims about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction were a primary justification for the war, but U.S. forces have yet to find any such weapons. The House and Senate intelligence panels are looking into prewar intelligence on Iraq and how it was used by the Bush administration.

Fleischer’s remarks follow assertions by an envoy sent by the CIA to Africa to investigate allegations about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. The envoy, Joseph Wilson, said Sunday the Bush administration manipulated his findings, possibly to strengthen the rationale for war.

Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to the West African nation of Gabon, was dispatched in February 2002 to explore whether Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

Writing in a New York Times op-ed piece, Wilson said it did not take him long “to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.”

In an interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press,” Wilson insisted his doubts about the purported Iraq-Niger connection reached the highest levels of government, including Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

In fact, he said, Cheney’s office inquired about the purported Niger-Iraq link.

“The question was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president. The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked, and that response was based upon my trip out there,” Wilson said.

Yet nearly a year after he had returned and briefed CIA officials, the assertion that Saddam was trying to obtain uranium from Africa was included in Bush’s State of the Union address.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United Nations in March that the information about uranium was based on forged documents.

After Bush repeated the British claim in his State of the Union address, the purported letters between Iraq and Niger were turned over to the United Nations, which found them to be forged.

 

Envoy: Iraq uranium findings ignored

July 6, 2003, 11:51AM
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Joseph C. Wilson, the retired United States ambassador whose CIA-directed mission to Niger in early 2002 helped debunk claims that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium there for nuclear weapons, has said for the first time publicly that U.S. and British officials ignored his findings and exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq.

Wilson said the false allegations that Iraq was trying to buy uranium oxide from Niger about three years ago were used by President Bush as a central piece of evidence to support their assertions that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.

The Niger story — one piece of the administration’s larger argument that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction posed an imminent threat — was not debunked until shortly before the war began, when the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector told the Security Council the documents were forgeries.

The White House has acknowledged that some documents were bogus, but a spokesman has said there was “a larger body of evidence suggesting Iraq attempted to purchase uranium in Africa,” indicating it might have involved a country other than Niger.

For the past year, Wilson has spoken out against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but until he was interviewed by the Washington Post and wrote an op-ed article published in Sunday’s New York Times, he had never disclosed his key role in the Niger controversy.

He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was not an immediate threat before the war.

 

General admits ‘we’re still at war’

July 3, 2003, 10:59PM
General admits ‘we’re still at war’
As violence rises, U.S. increases bounty on Saddam to $25 million

By AMY WALDMAN
New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Two months after President Bush declared the end of major combat, the commander of allied forces in Iraq acknowledged on Thursday that “we’re still at war” and the United States announced a reward of up to $25 million for the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death.

The statement from the Army commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, came on a day in which 10 American soldiers were wounded in three separate attacks.

With the violence seemingly escalating daily, the offer of a bounty for Saddam seemed to reflect the renewed urgency allied officials and military commanders attach to finding the deposed leader and his two sons, whose specter they believe is fueling the growing resistance to the American occupation.

“Until we know for sure, their names will continue to cast a shadow of fear over this country,” L. Paul Bremer, the American civilian administrator of Iraq, said in his weekly address to the Iraqi people.

In Washington on Thursday, a group of senators just back from a three-day visit to Iraq were even more emphatic about the need to capture or kill Saddam.

“There’s a pervasive climate of fear that is impeding the recovery, particularly in central and southern Iraq,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “There is a fear that he will return, that he will come back.”

The $25-million reward for Saddam is the same amount offered for Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida. Bremer said up to $15 million apiece would be offered for similar information on Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay.

Bremer said in an interview on Sunday that the “general assessment” of people he talked to was that Saddam was still in Iraq. Referring to the recent capture of Saddam’s presidential secretary, Bremer said, “The noose is going to get tighter and tighter.”

While Bremer maintained that the threats and violence against American soldiers and civilians, as well as the Iraqis working with them, would not deter reconstruction, Sanchez made clear at a news conference on Thursday that rebuilding the country and fighting the enemy would have to take place side by side.

While saying the daily attacks on American forces did not appear to be centrally or even regionally coordinated, the commander acknowledged that there had been an “increase in sophistication of the explosive devices.” He said 25 soldiers had been killed in action and 177 wounded since May 1, when Bush declared the official cessation of major hostilities.

The multiple attacks on Thursday came a day after Bush essentially dared militants to attack American soldiers, saying, “Bring `em on.” The American-led alliance, he said, has adequate force to deal with the security situation.

Thursday’s attacks seemed to defy that assertion. They also suggested that sapping the resistance might not be as simple as capturing or killing Saddam. The attacks occurred in diverse locations: a Sunni area west of Baghdad that staunchly supported the former government, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad that did not, and the center of the city.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Kadhimiya on Thursday, a gunman opened fire on a group of soldiers from the 1st Armored Division on foot patrol at 2:30 a.m., wounding one of them. The soldiers returned fire, killing the gunman and wounding a 6-year-old boy with him, according to an American military spokesman.

In the city of Ramadi, about 65 miles west of Baghdad, six soldiers were wounded when their two-vehicle convoy drove over an improvised explosive device at 6:30 a.m. The city’s Sunni Muslim residents were among the core of Saddam’s base of support, serving as army officers and officials in his government.

In Baghdad, just before 10 a.m. Thursday, a man on foot fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a three-vehicle military convoy moving down Haifa Street, a busy thoroughfare. One Humvee was struck, wounding three soldiers, witnesses and a military spokesman said.

Pentagon reveals weapons tests

June 30, 2003, 10:07PM
Pentagon reveals weapons tests

Chemical, biological arms secretly tried on service members

By ROBERT GEHRKE
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon used potentially dangerous chemical and biological agents in 50 secret tests involving military personnel in a decadelong project to measure the weapons’ combat capabilities, according to Pentagon findings released Monday.

The tests were done between 1962 and 1973 and involved 5,842 service members. Many were not told of the tests, some of which involved releases of deadly nerve agents in Alaska and Hawaii.

The information released Monday disclosed eight new tests that primarily used nonlethal bacteria and in some cases caustic chemicals. And it revealed for the first time experiments to find ways to use submarines to distribute biological weapons.

“Project 112” and “Project SHAD,” as they were called, were developed in 1961 to study the combat uses of biological and chemical weapons and methods to protect U.S. troops from such attacks. Initially it was believed that only simulated agents were used, but last year the Defense Department admitted that some of the tests used real chemical or biological weapons.

Most of the tests made public Monday used the benign bacteria bacillus globigii to simulate how biological weapons agents would spread through a hold of a ship.

“It bespeaks the time, the early ’60s, when we were in the Cold War, and we were concerned that Russia and perhaps China had chemical and biological capabilities that could be used against American troops and against us in the homeland,” said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Deployment Health Support Directorate.

The United States scrapped its biological weapons program in the late 1960s and agreed in a 1997 treaty to destroy all its chemical weapons.

Ship logs reported no outbreaks of illness at the time, Kilpatrick said, but to date 260 service members have reported illnesses to the Veterans Administration that they believe are related to their presence at the test sites.

GOP: No need for further probe of Iraqi arms claims

June 12, 2003, 12:35AM
By MICHAEL HEDGES
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders dismissed calls by Democrats for a full-blown congressional investigation into whether the Bush administration exaggerated prewar evidence of Iraqi weapons programs, while promising Wednesday to explore the matter thoroughly in routine hearings.

Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, called persistent Democratic appeals to probe the administration’s handling of the weapons of mass destruction question, “simply politics for political gain” and said Congress was already examining the matter.

“It isn’t like we haven’t had hearings on weapons of mass destruction; we have them every week and in some cases even twice a week,” he said.

But Democrats like Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, have called those hearings, often held in secret sessions, insufficient. Levin said Wednesday he was disappointed with the GOP position that a special congressional inquiry was deemed unnecessary.

Sen. John Warner, the Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, said he has presided over three hearings on the issue of weapons of mass destruction since Baghdad fell and “the evidence that I have examined does not rise to give the presumption that anyone in this administration has hyped or cooked or embellished such evidence to a particular purpose.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell fended off a published claim by United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that the Bush administration pressuring his team to overstate its findings before the United States launched war on Iraq in March.

Blix was quoted in the London-based Guardian newspaper Wednesday saying that while, overall, he had good relations with the Bush administration, “toward the end, the administration leaned on us,” hoping for stronger condemnations of Saddam Hussein in inspectors’ reports.

Blix also said he felt he was the victim of a smear campaign, but did not say who was maligning him inside or outside the Bush administration.

Powell praised Blix but brushed aside questions that Blix was smeared or pressured by U.S. officials.

Powell said he stood behind his February presentation at the United Nations outlining U.S. evidence of Iraqi weapons programs.

“More experts are going in,” he said. “And I think one should be careful about making judgments as to what was hyped or not hyped” until the process is complete.

So far U.S. troops and inspectors in Iraq have found little to confirm Powell’s prewar presentation that outlined a robust Iraqi program to make and potentially use chemical and biological weapons.

The strongest evidence found to date that Iraq had that capability is two tractor-trailers seized in northern Iraq that the CIA said may have been used as mobile weapons laboratories.

The issue of whether Iraq was capable of deadly chemical or biological strikes or of channeling such weapons to terrorists has become a political battlefield.

Some contend the public was misled by an administration bent on justifying war, while others call such arguments a transparent attempt to tarnish the president’s foreign policy triumph.

But a couple of recent polls show that, at least to this point, the public doesn’t care too much if the weapons are found:

· A CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll released last week found that 56 percent of Americans said that deposing Saddam was justified even if proof of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are never found.

· A Fox News Poll released Monday said 69 percent of people would still believe the war was the right decision even if such weapons are never uncovered.

Democratic leaders, some of whom saw intelligence on the Iraqi weapons programs before the war and supported efforts to depose Saddam, have remained split on the issue.

Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who is a ranking member on the intelligence committee, said prewar classified briefings she received from intelligence services were “convincing” on the issue of Saddam’s weapons programs.

“That so far the United States has found only trace signs of a weapons program … is cause for grave concern,” she said. “We do not need a frenzy, but we do need coolheaded analysis and a plan of action to get answers now.”

Of the major declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Florida Sen. Bob Graham have been the most aggressive in accusing the administration of what Graham called recently “a pattern of deception and deceit” on Saddam’s weapons capabilities.

But four leading Democratic contenders supported the resolution authorizing war — Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Those four have either counseled patience in the search for proof or have stayed away from the debate.

A Pentagon team of 1,400 analysts is scheduled to begin the most exhaustive search so far for Iraqi chemical and biological weapons late this week.

Roberts expressed annoyance at unnamed intelligence agency officials whom he charged with leaking accounts to the members of the media that they felt pressured before the war to spin findings to support an invasion.

He also urged anyone with that opinion to meet in private with the committee, but said despite many briefings he had “yet to hear from any intelligence official expressing such concerns.”

Pentagon report found no evidence of Iraq chemical weapons

June 6, 2003, 12:17PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s intelligence service reported last September that it had no reliable evidence that Iraq had chemical agents in weaponized form, officials said today.

The time frame is notable because it coincided with Bush administration efforts to mount a public case for the urgency of disarming Iraq, by force if necessary. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and was hiding them.

Two months after major fighting in Iraq ended, U.S. officials have yet to find any chemical or other mass-killing weapons, although they still express confidence that some will turn up.

Rumsfeld recently raised the possibility that Iraq destroyed the weapons before the war started March 20. He also has said he believes some remain and will be discovered when U.S. search teams find knowledgeable Iraqis who are willing to disclose the locations.

In making its case for invading Iraq, the administration also argued that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that it might provide some of its mass-killing weapons to terrorists.

Today, a small team of United Nations nuclear experts arrived in Baghdad to begin a damage assessment at Iraq’s largest nuclear facility, known as Tuwaitha. It was left unguarded by American and allied troops during the early days of the war and then pillaged by villagers.

The arrival of the team — whose members are not weapons inspectors — marked the first time since the Iraq war began that representatives from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency returned to the country. The atomic energy agency had long monitored Iraq’s nuclear program.

In its report last September, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield. But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical warfare agents.

The existence of the DIA report was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report, and a classified summary was reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed today that it said DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.

A White House spokesman said a portion of the still-classified report is being taken out of context of the entire document’s conclusions, which match what the Bush administration argued all along.

“The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe,” said Michael Anton, a spokesman with the White House’s National Security Council. “The entire report is consistent with with the president was saying at the time.”

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a National Intelligence Estimate published at nearly the same time as the DIA report — and with DIA’s concurrence — that concluded Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

The DIA’s analysis is just one piece of an intelligence mosaic that Rumsfeld and other senior administrations could consider in making their own assessment of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capability. Congress is reviewing the prewar intelligence to determine whether the administration overplayed the weapons threat in order to justify toppling the Iraqi regime.

Today, the Senate Armed Services convened a closed-door hearing focusing on the mission of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which made the initial effort to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the conclusion of the war, and the follow-on search team, called the Iraq Survey Group.

The committee was hearing from Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the DIA; and an unidentified CIA representative.

 

Nuclear ‘discovery’ may be old news

April 10, 2003, 4:56PM
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria — American troops who suggested they uncovered evidence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iraq unwittingly may have stumbled across known stocks of low-grade uranium, officials said today. They said the U.S. troops may have broken U.N. seals meant to keep control of the radioactive material.

Leaders of a U.S. Marine Corps combat engineering unit claimed earlier this week to have found an underground network of laboratories, warehouses and bombproof offices beneath the closely monitored Tuwaitha nuclear research center just south of Baghdad.

The Marines said they discovered 14 buildings at the site which emitted unusually high levels of radiation, and that a search of one building revealed “many, many drums” containing highly radioactive material. If documented, such a discovery could bolster Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weaponry.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Owens, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said officials there have not heard anything through military channels about a Marine inspection at Tuwaitha.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which has inspected the Tuwaitha nuclear complex at least two dozen times and maintains a thick dossier on the site, had no immediate comment.

But an expert familiar with U.N. nuclear inspections told The Associated Press that it was implausible to believe that U.S. forces had uncovered anything new at the site. Instead, the official said, the Marines apparently broke U.N. seals designed to ensure the materials aren’t diverted for weapons use — or end up in the wrong hands.

“What happened apparently was that they broke IAEA seals, which is very unfortunate because those seals are integral to ensuring that nuclear material doesn’t get diverted,” the expert said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several tons of low-grade uranium has been stored at Tuwaitha, Iraq’s principle nuclear research center and a site that has been under IAEA safeguards for years, the official said. The Iraqis were allowed to keep the material because it was unfit for weapons use without costly and time-consuming enrichment.

Tuwaitha contains 1.8 tons of low-grade enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium.

The uranium was inspected by the U.N. nuclear agency twice a year and was kept under IAEA seal — at least until early this week, when the Marines seized control of the site.

The U.N. nuclear agency’s inspectors have visited Tuwaitha about two dozen times, including a dozen checks carried out since December, most recently on Feb. 6. It was among the first sites that IAEA inspectors sought out after the resumption of inspections on Nov. 27 after a nearly four-year break.

On at least one occasion, inspectors with special mountaineering training went underground there to have a look around, according to IAEA documents.

David Kay, a former IAEA chief nuclear inspector, said today that the teams he oversaw after the 1991 Gulf War never found an underground site at Tuwaitha despite persistent rumors.

“But underground facilities by definition are very hard to detect,” he said. “When you inspect a place so often, you get overconfident about what you know. It would have been very easy for the inspectors to explain away any excessive radiation at Tuwaitha. The Iraqis could have hidden something clandestine in plain sight.”

American intelligence analysts said before the U.S.-led campaign began that new structures photographed at Tuwaitha might indicate a revival of weapons work. IAEA inspectors checked but found nothing.

The Tuwaitha complex, run by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission on a bend in the Tigris River about 18 miles south of Baghdad, was the heart of Saddam’s former nuclear program and was involved in the final design of a nuclear bomb before Iraq’s nuclear program was destroyed by U.N. teams after the 1991 Gulf War.

The IAEA, charged with the hunt for evidence of a nuclear program in Iraq, told the Security Council just before the war that it had uncovered no firm evidence that Saddam was renewing efforts to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, clearly wary of any coalition claims, said this week that any alleged discoveries of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would have to be verified by U.N. inspectors “to generate the required credibility.”

ElBaradei said the inspectors should return as soon as possible, subject to Security Council guidance, to resume their search for banned arms.

 

U.S. tests for possible chemical weapons

April 7, 2003, 5:33PM
Reuters News Service KARBALA, Iraq –

U.S. military officers said Monday initial tests on substances found in a central Iraqi town suggested the presence of banned chemical agents, but said they could turn out to be simple pesticides.

Maj. Michael Hamlet of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division said that initial investigations of 14 barrels found at a military training camp on Sunday revealed levels of nerve agents sarin and tabun and the blister agent lewisite.

He said the find could be the “smoking gun” which proved U.S. and British charges that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had been hiding banned weapons of mass destruction — the central plank of their case for military action to overthrow him.

But Gen. Benjamin Freakly, also of the 101st Airborne, said later that tests on substances at the camp and a separate agricultural site, both in the town of Albu Mahawish, could show they had a less sinister purpose.

“This could be either some kind of pesticide,” Freakly told CNN. “On the other hand it could be a chemical agent — not weaponized, a liquid agent that is in drums.”

A team of experts would carry out further tests as early as Tuesday on the substances, discovered in Albu Mahawish, on the Euphrates River between the central Iraqi cities of Kerbala and Hilla, site of ancient Babylon.

“If tests from our experts confirm this, this could be the smoking gun. It would prove (Saddam) has the weapons we have said he has all along,” Hamlet said. “But right now we just don’t know.”

The substances under investigation were found in three 55-gallon barrels and 11 25-gallon barrels, he said.

“They look like cocktails. They look like they’ve all got a bit of each in them,” said another officer.

Iraq is believed to have used sarin against Kurdish Iraqis in the 1980s.

The United States invaded Iraq on March 20 to overthrow Saddam and prevent him using banned chemical weapons. Many other members of the United Nations opposed the attack, saying U.N. inspectors should be given more time to disarm Iraq.

No chemical or biological weapons have yet been fired at U.S. troops in 19 days of fighting, even after advance forces entered Baghdad in recent days. Some American soldiers have even been ordered to discard their chemical protection suits.

National Public Radio, reporting what appeared to be a separate discovery from the one in Albu Mahawish, said U.S. forces found a weapons cache of around 20 medium-range missiles equipped with potent chemical weapons.

NPR said the rockets, BM-21 missiles, were equipped with sarin and mustard gas and were “ready to fire.”

It said the cache was discovered by Marines with the 101st Airborne Division, which was following up behind the Army after it seized Baghdad’s airport.

Officers from the 101st Division and the 3rd Infantry Division at the airport were unable to confirm the report. U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar had no immediate comment.

On Saturday, a U.S. officer said first tests of a suspicious white powder and liquid found on Friday in thousands of boxes south of Baghdad indicated it was not a chemical weapon.

Over the weekend, U.S. Marines in the central Iraqi town of Aziziya began digging up a suspected chemical weapons hiding place at a girl’s school.

“We have always expected that this regime has chemical weapons and also possesses the will and means to use it,” Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks told a news conference at Central Command in Qatar.

He said the U.S.-led forces’ advance inside the country had removed some of the means and its blizzard of leaflets and messages warning Iraqi commanders not to use weapons of mass destruction had removed much of the will.

There had also been strikes early on in the campaign, he added, against Iraqi missiles — such as al-Samouds — which could have delivered chemical or even biological weapons into neighboring countries.

“That work continues but there’s also still capability,” Brooks said.

Troops show symptoms as tests confirm sarin

April 6, 2003, 11:50PM
By TOM LASSETER
Knight-Ridder Tribune News

ALBU MUHAWISH, Iraq — U.S. soldiers evacuated an Iraqi military compound early today after tests by a mobile laboratory detected the presence of sarin, a powerful nerve agent.

The testing came after more than a dozen soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division who guarded the military compound on Saturday night came down with symptoms consistent with exposure to very low levels of nerve agent, including vomiting, dizziness and skin blotches.

The soldiers, along with a Knight Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman and two Iraqi prisoners of war, were sent for decontamination and hosed down with water and bleach.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Qatar said the military was investigating.

If subsequent tests uphold the findings, it would be the first evidence of weapons of mass destruction, a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s rationale for the invasion of Iraq and something that eluded United Nations inspectors for months.

Early tests for chemical agents at the compound were inconsistent. Some showed the presence of so-called G-Series nerve agents, which include tabun and sarin, both of which Iraq has been known to possess. A hand-held scanning device also indicated the soldiers had been exposed to a nerve agent. Other tests, however, came back negative.

A senior defense official in the United States said Sunday night that the military was aware of “false positive” readings, and there were “no deleterious effects” on military personnel due to nerve-agent exposure.

More precise tests by an Army Fox mobile nuclear, biological and chemical detection laboratory indicated the existence of sarin and triggered the evacuation of the captured military compound by dozens of soldiers.

Sgt. Todd Ruggles, a biochemical expert attached to the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne said: “I was right” that the nerve agent was present.

Even as the tests were being done, high-ranking commanders hastened to the scene on Sunday to examine the sites, including Col. Joseph Anderson, 2nd Brigade commander; Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, assistant commander of the 101st Airborne for operations; and Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, division commander.

They made no comment afterward on what was contained in the sites near the village of Albu Muhawish, on the Euphrates River about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

U.S. soldiers found suspect chemicals at two sites: an agricultural warehouse containing 55-gallon chemical drums, which was later sealed off, and the military compound, which soldiers had begun searching on Saturday. The soldiers also found hundreds of gas masks and chemical suits at the military complex, along with large numbers of mortar and artillery rounds.

“We do think there’s stuff in this compound and the other compound, but we think it’s buried,” said Army 1st Lt. Elena Aravjo of the 63rd Chemical Company. “I’m really suspicious of both of those compounds.”

Sarin, an odorless, colorless and tasteless substance, can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and is considered one of the most volatile of the nerve agents, chemical weapons experts have said. A cloud of sarin can dissipate after several minutes or hours depending on wind.

The soldiers, journalists and prisoners of war who tested positive were isolated as everyone else evacuated the area. After about 45 minutes, the group was walked single-file down a road for about a city block to where two water trucks awaited them. The men stepped between the two trucks and were hosed down as they lathered themselves with a detergent containing bleach.

Intelligence on Iraq was wrong, top Marine says

May 31, 2003, 12:30AM
By GREG MILLER
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. Marine commander in Iraq said Friday that U.S. intelligence was “simply wrong” in its assessment that Saddam Hussein intended to unleash chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces during the war, but he stopped short of saying there was an overall intelligence failure.

“It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons,” Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said from Baghdad in a teleconference with reporters in Washington.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” he continued. “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there.”

Conway said he still believes it is possible that weapons of mass destruction will be found. But his comments are likely to feed concern in Washington that the prewar intelligence on Iraq was flawed.

Amid the mounting criticism, CIA Director George Tenet took the unusual step of issuing a statement Friday denying that the agency’s assessments on Iraq were politicized.

“Our role is to call it like we see it — to tell policy-makers what we know, what we don’t know, what we think, and what we base it on,” Tenet said. “That is exactly what was done and continues to be done on intelligence issues related to Iraq.”

Conway, the Marine commander, acknowledged that “intelligence failure” is “too strong a word to use at this point.” But he said, “What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood — or we certainly had our best guess, our most dangerous, our most likely courses of action that the intelligence folks were giving us. We were simply wrong. But whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think, still very much remains to be seen.”

Conway’s remarks came as the Pentagon disclosed details of its plans to send a new team of more than 1,000 experts to search for evidence of proscribed weapons. Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence service, will lead the effort.

In a separate press briefing Friday, Dayton appeared to acknowledge that it is possible that Iraq deliberately misled U.S. intelligence agencies, making them think that weapons were being produced and deployed even as they were secretly being destroyed.

“We may find out three months from now that there was an elaborate deception program and the stuff was destroyed,” Dayton said. “Do I think we’re going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do,” he said, adding that he still believes the United States’ sources of intelligence on Iraq before the war were credible.

The subject of the search for banned weapons is becoming an increasingly uncomfortable one for the Bush administration, with several influential lawmakers this week saying they believe the White House hyped the Iraq threat or was misled by the intelligence community.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was largely responsible for arguing the administration’s case for the war on Iraq to a skeptical international community, told reporters Friday that all of the evidence he presented at a prewar Security Council meeting was solid.

And Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in an interview with Vanity Fair, sought to minimize the importance of weapons of mass destruction in the administration’s calculus for war.

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” Wolfowitz said in comments released Wednesday.

 

Polls say U.S. public backs president, invasion of Iraq

March 21, 2003, 10:53PM
By ANDY NETZEL
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Most Americans approve of the decision to begin military action against Iraq, according to polls released Friday.

The polls also show public support for President Bush surging with the invasion of Iraq, but not to the level of support for his father 12 years ago in the early days of the Persian Gulf War.

A Gallup poll conducted Thursday night — one day after coalition forces launched an aerial attack on Baghdad — found 76 percent of Americans supporting the decision to go to war.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted the same evening showed 74 percent supporting the start of war against Iraq.

Strikingly strong support in the early days of a war is not surprising, said Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist.

“Whatever the debate about going into the war was, it’s over,” he said. “We are in combat. The American public rallies around the flag and the president of the United States during times of crisis.”

Media coverage of the events can also alter opinions. “You see tons of publicity about troops’ skill and bravery,” Murray said. “Those kinds of reports can make people feel good about what’s going on.”

The findings of the Gallup poll are nearly identical to the level of public support in the early days of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The decision to begin military action then won the approval of 79 percent of the adults surveyed by Gallup.

This week’s The New York Times/CBS Poll also found that 62 percent of those surveyed agreed that the timing of the attack was appropriate. Thirty-five percent said United Nations weapons inspectors should have been given more time before military action was begun.

The polls found the public rallying around the president, boosting his job approval ratings by 15 percentage points. Murray said that if the war is short-lived, the higher rating likely will not carry over to Bush’s re-election effort in 2004.

“More important will be the ongoing war on terrorism and what happens on that regard,” Murray said. “That’s not going to go away. This (war with Iraq) should be over soon.”

Two weeks ago, 54 percent approved of the way Bush was leading the country, according to the New York Times/CBS Poll. Thursday’s poll found 67 percent approving of how the president does his job.

Those numbers will rise quickly, but fall slowly, Murray said, adding that once hostilities are over, Bush’s approval ratings likely will go back to pre-war levels.

In 1991, then-President Bush’s job approval rating jumped to 82 percent in the early days of the Persian Gulf War, eventually peaking at 88 percent. Eighteen months later, voters turned him out of office and elected Democrat Bill Clinton.

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran
by J. Griffiths 5:59pm Fri Mar 21 ’03
john_596@hotmail.com

The ultimate purpose for the invasion of Iraq is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence, from sources available to the public, to indicate Iraq is not the final goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran.

I would like to resubmit this article in order to correct several inaccuracies that appeared in the original.

A fully footnoted version should be completed soon.

The ultimate purpose of the unprecedented actions and postures being taken by the current United States administration is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence from sources available to the public, to indicate that Iraq is not the real goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran. As surprising as it may sound, control of a certain pipeline route from Baku to the Persian Gulf, through Iran is the final goal.

The East Asia oil market has been clearly identified by the United States Department of Energy and other industry research groups as being the fastest growing and the most profitable oil market in the coming decades. The key to control of the East Asian oil trade, as I’ve explained below, is control of the shortest and most economical route for transporting oil from the Caspian Basin to the open sea. That route leads from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf. Control of this route is also essential in maintaining some degree of control over the emerging giant economy of China. Control of this pipeline route is the ultimate trump card in the intensely competitive game being played out among contending world oil companies in the Caspian Basin. Finally, it is felt that control of this route and the resulting control of the East Asian market, will allow American oil companies to maintain their supremacy over an increasingly successful and confident European Union.

Please take a moment and read through the following paragraphs and let me know if it strikes you as particularly probable. Much of it can be sourced to the Dept. of Energy’s web site “Country Analysis Briefs” and “Caspian Oil Export Options”. Blair’s comments are quoted in the February 3rd issue of TIME. The remainder can be found on a variety of web sites relating to the Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and projections of future oil demand in Asia. It is a fairly simple task to confirm the basic tenets of this article because they are discussed throughout all current oil industry publications and literature. A fully footnoted article will be completed soon. Until then, anyone looking for sources can find them easily enough on “dogpile” or “ask jeeves”. Simply type in “pipeline from Caspian Sea through Iran to Persian Gulf” or any of the other related topics.

The rise of a confident and successful European Union has presented an increasingly serious challenge to the dominance of American corporate interests.
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Major American corporations have responded by influencing Washington to attempt to counter this challenge in a wide variety of ways, NAFTA being one of the earlier responses and perhaps the example best known to the public. Almost certainly, the most central aspect of this global economic struggle is the competition to become the 21st century’s dominant player in the oil trade.

The Caspian Sea Basin has emerged as the key arena in the struggle among western powers for dominance in the post-Soviet Union era. Although moderately well reported in the Western European media, the American public has remained completely oblivious to the competition among the world’s major oil companies for advantageous position in the phenomenally rich oil fields of the Caspian Sea basin.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region as, by far, the most important reserves for the next several decades. The DOE has reported the oil reserves (known and projected) of the Caspian Sea region to be comparable to those of the Arabian peninsula (for example) and to exceed those of the United States and Western Europe by two fold. “Caspian energy development is likely to be in high gear by 2015.”4 If suitable export routes can be secured by American or European Union oil interests, oil reserves in the Caspian Basin will mean comparative independence from the Gulf States.

These vast reserves were formerly unavailable to the west because the entire shoreline of the Caspian Sea was controlled by the Soviet Union and Iran. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast area around the Caspian Sea was broken up into a number of newly independent states. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan hold much of the land bordering the Caspian Sea. These newly formed states are represented by small oligarchies that have proved relatively eager to make deals with American and EU oil companies. Financially satisfying a very few key nationals in these new states has been sufficient to secure immensely profitable drilling and pipeline deals. From the perspective of western corporations, it’s almost like doing business in the Gulf region a half century ago.

Russia and Iran hold the remaining shoreline. Russia has its own corporate oil interests and, although as eager for profits as any other player, does not lend itself to one-sided oil development arrangements.
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On the southernmost shore of the Caspian, Iran, as explained below, controls the ideal pipeline route for shipping oil to the Persian Gulf and then on to India, Indonesia and China. This East Asian oil market is expected to be, by far, the most profitable in coming decades.

The incredibly oil rich area of the Caspian Basin, being fought over by every nation possessing a sizable oil industry, holds the promise for the West of comparative independence from oil now being supplied by the increasingly uncooperative Islamic states in the Persian Gulf region.

Unreported in the mainstream American media the intense struggle between American and EU oil interests for favorable positions in the oil fields of the Caspian Sea region is much more widely discussed in Europe. Contending players (in what the European media calls the reincarnation of the “great game” of Victorian times) include nearly every industrialized country on the planet.

Even China, whose oil consumption is expected increase 10 times faster than Europe’s in the next decade (A), has made attempts to tap into the Caspian oil fields. China, anticipating its vast energy needs in the coming decades, had plans for an 1,800 mile pipeline from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, through Kazakhstan, to western China. The cost of this pipeline would have stretched China’s financial resources to the limit. To justify its construction, China needed assurances that a certain minimum number of barrels be available for pipeline transport each and every year. Initially, the government of Kazakhstan was willing to guarantee the requisite oil flow and China prepared to go forward with the plan. However, what some sources describe as “outside influences bent on derailing China’s pipeline plans” convinced or paid Kazakhstan to revise their oil export estimate downward. China was then forced to scrap any immediate plans for direct access to Caspian oil.

Preventing China from gaining direct access to the Caspian oil fields is absolutely essential to creating and maintaining the profit stream envisioned by corporate interests well connected with the current American Administration. In the opinion of the current United States administration, American corporations and their partners must control the export routes from the Caspian Basin that will supply China, India and Indonesia’s vast need for oil during the coming decades.
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The DOE has identified China as becoming the world largest oil consumer during the early part of this century. As the century progresses, the oil consumption of China together with Japan, the Korean peninsula. Indonesia and India is expected to increase at a rate ten times greater than American or European consumption. The DOE has further reported that East Asian oil sales will command substantially higher prices than oil sold in Europe or North America. These factors combine to make this particular market the most sought after prize of the “great game”. The control of the oil flowing to East Asia is one of the most important, if not the most important keys to global economic domination in the 21st century.

At present, all of the existing and proposed pipelines for oil export from the Caspian Sea run more or less westward to the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. A pipeline from the northern Caspian through Russia to Western Europe would be far too costly, and would put Russia in an intolerably strong position with regard to the European Union’s energy needs. Oil presently being piped to the Black Sea eventually must be transported by tanker through the Dardanelle’s to the Mediterranean, a route that is becoming increasingly troublesome due to congested traffic in the straits and Turkey’s “environmental concerns” read: financial demands.

Even under the best of circumstances, transporting oil through Turkey to the Mediterranean and then through the Suez Canal for
shipment to the Far East would be costly and politically unpredictable requiring the continuing consent of the numerous intervening Islamic nations.

DOE and EIA studies, available to the public, report the most economical export route for oil from the Caspian Basin to the East Asian markets as being a direct route through Iran to the Persian
Gulf.

The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act has prevented American companies from doing business with Iran. The underlying reason for the sanctions against Iran has been to discourage European oil interests from risking capital on a trans-Iran pipeline and buy time for American efforts to “create a more favorable political climate” in Iran. During the Clinton Administration, Dick Cheney was a very strong proponent for lifting this ban.

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Because of the enormous profits a trans-Iran pipeline would bring, Cheney, along with many other American oil industry
leaders, could see that the Sanctions Act would not be able to discourage EU oil interests for very long.

Even if these sanctions were lifted, the fundamentalist government of Iran would prove to be a difficult partner. This would leave American oil in a position not much better than its present problematic reliance on oil from the other Islamic States. It was decided that a regime change in Iran would be the only long-term way to protect the major investment that will be required to build an American owned Caspian to Persian Gulf pipeline. The purpose of the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act has been to reduce the possibility of non-American interests making a pipeline deal with Iran before that regime change can be affected.

Regardless of these circumstances, in the thinking of both the American oil industry and the EU oil industry, this pipeline route from the southern Caspian, directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf, is the key to dominance in the 21st century oil trade.

American oil has been forced to stand by idly while the EU (particularly France) has been gaining an progressively more strong position in Iran. Asking Congress to repeal the Iran Sanctions Act is considered a non-started by the Bush administration. Also, as explained above, this would still leave the fundamentalist government in power. For these reasons, a plan for affecting a regime change in Iran came to be of utmost importance.

To bring this about required a comprehensive and interlocking strategy that would have been nearly impossible to carry out under a Democratic administration. The chances for success in carrying out such an ambitious plan would have nearly as remote under a Republican administration less intimately connected to the oil industry. The accidental election of George Bush, with his intimate ties to the industry, provided American oil with an opportunity that was very unlikely to ever be repeated.

The invasion of Iran is no small undertaking. Iran is far more populous than either Afghanistan or Iraq. Also, Iran is better armed. The most prudent way to secure Iran is to first flank it on both sides (Afghanistan and Iraq).
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This provides both the best possible staging areas for the invasion of Iran and prevents retaliation from those two nearby countries. Also the future occupation of Iran would prove to be much more thorny without first pacifying the neighboring areas. Finally, any new government established in Iran that cooperates with western interests would be subject to constant destabilizing actions from Islamic fundamentalists in near-by states unless those states were first secured.

Presented in a completely candid manner, this plan would be sure to be seen as a blatant use of America’s military to enable the designs of private corporate interests. Some attempt needed to be made at manufacturing plausible justification for invasion of these three countries to create a degree of acceptance with the American public and the world community.

Sorting through recent domestic and world events that have seemed to justify armed intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq to determine which occurrences were “managed” is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is clear to most of the world, (outside the United States) that the current administration has intended all along to invade Iraq regardless what Saddam Hussein does or doesn’t do.

If Iraq doesn’t show the U.N. some weapons of mass destruction “they are hiding them and must be invaded”. If Iraq does show the U.N. some weapons, then “they have been lying to us and must be invaded”. Either way, it has been set up so there is absolutely no way Iraq can avoid invasion.

After Saddam Hussein’s regime has been toppled, do not expect the current administration to make any serious attempt at establishing a democratic government. Democratic governments are far too difficult to control by foreign interests. The uncertainties of the democratic process are very often not compatible with corporate timetables. As has been done in Afghanistan, in Iraq (and later in Iran) the Bush administration will encourage a state of controllable semi-chaos in each country. Rival factions and even some factions overtly hostile to the occupation will be allowed to remain at large. This serves the dual purpose of preventing the establishment of a popular democratic government and provides on-going justification for an American military presence. Minor firefights and skirmishes in the countryside will also divert media attention from corporate activities.

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A “likely” group of nationals will be selected by the occupying forces to speak for each country. To be selected, any group of nationals must meet the most important pre-requisite. They must be expected to demonstrate a cooperative attitude toward American corporate interests.

As a clear illustration of why the current Administration will not want to establish truly democratic governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, look to Germany and Japan. Both of these countries were invaded and occupied by the United States. In both countries, the U.S. government went to great lengths over an extended period of time to establish truly popular democratic governments. As a result, both of these nations are stable sovereign entities that make their own independent decisions based on what they believe to be most favorable to their national corporate interests and/or people.

When dealing with legitimate, sovereign and democratic governments, particularly those who take the opinions of their ordinary citizens into consideration, global corporations, understandably find it far more difficult to carry out their plans in a swift, consistent and predictable manner.

The Tony Blair Factor:

Most of the world doesn’t believe the Bush administration has yet made a plausible case for war with Iraq. Many feel the current administration is squandering the respectability of the United States all around the world. In Europe, Korea and Japan, the talk among the average citizens is of “America-the-arrogant” and “America-the bully”. The vast majority of people in Western Europe (estimates range from 80-90%) not only do not believe the American Administration’s stated reasons for war but also believe the real reasons are being concealed.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, has assured Bush his unstinting support. In spite of the opposition of many in his own party, and widespread criticism from the British public, Blair has promised that Britain’s troops will fight alongside American forces in Iraq. What’s the story here?

Well reported is Blair’s aspiration to make Britain a central figure in the attempt to assure that the European Union is a dependable, strategic global partner for the United States. Corporate Britain is very troubled by the signs of a growing Franco-German alliance.
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Blair and corporate Britain are offended by the notion that France and Germany (not Britain) will determine the future of the European Union.

Less well reported, are corporate Britain’s troubles in the Caspian Sea oil fields. British oil is facing very stiff competition from the seemingly endless number of international oil companies fighting for dominance in the region. While France has been developing an ever more coy relationship with Iran, British oil is being rebuffed at every turn.

As much as 50% of the known oil reserves in the Caspian Basin lie under water. Although the boarders of the new Caspian States are fairly well defined, ownership of the sea itself is highly unsettled. Because they are in dispute and, so-to-speak, “up for grabs”, it is these offshore deposits that are being fought over most vigorously. Which nation’s corporate giants will reap the biggest profits hinges to a large extent on the claims and counter-claims to different regions of the Sea and the vast oil deposits beneath its waters.

To offer just one example among many: British Petroleum and Britain’s Aramco have been working closely with the government of Azerbaijan exploring an oil rich area known as the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum research vessel exploring this area. The Iranian gunboat ordered the B.P. vessel out of the waters, claiming they belonged to Iran. To add insult to injury, Iran announced its decision to award a license for the area to Royal Dutch Shell.

Britain owns approx. 20% of the Azerbaijani Caspian Oil Project. US Oil interests own approx 47%. Azerbaijan is providing their cooperation for a 20% share.

Little progress has been made among the littoral states as to how to divide control of the Caspian Sea. Understandably, very influential elements in corporate Britain see the present Iranian regime and increasing French investment in Iran as a major hindrance to a “successful outcome” in the new oil fields of the Caspian Basin. Both Britain and America see the current regime in Iran as a serious obstacle to securing their share of the profits from the vast Caspian oil reserves and the East Asian oil market during the next several decades.

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The Azerbaijani Project, however, is only one example of many current Anglo-American projects. Once the trans-Iran pipeline is in place, highly profitable deals will be made with all the Caspian States for transport of their oil to, what will be, the most profitable market of all: East-Asia. As the Chinese economy emerges in the next two decades, it will be, far and away, the most important consumer of world oil.

A fairly compact summary of Tony Blair’s motives for committing British troops in Iraq (and presumably later in Iran) was contained in remarks he made to British diplomats in early January 2003: “It is simply wrong”, he said, “for rich nations to expect the United States to do all the dirty work in the world.” By “rich nations” Blair meant nations with a significant corporate presence in the Caspian Basin. Then Blair got right to the point: “Such a policy is not just indulgent;” he said, “it risks sacrificing any chance of influencing post-conflict arrangements”.

What Tony Blair meant by “post-conflict arrangements” was perhaps unclear to the British public and completely opaque to the American public, but it was crystal clear to British corporations with interests in the Caspian Sea. It was equally clear to the American oil interests who have guaranteed British oil a percentage share of the future trans-Iran pipeline exports to the biggest market in the coming decades: East Asia.

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Jefferson’s foresight

The founding fathers were well aware that they had formed a completely new form of government. They were very conscious of the fragility of their experiment. This forced them to think deeply and broadly about the most serious threats to their new government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. They had to meditate on both the threats that existed in their time and also clearly envision threats that might emerge in the future. The institution of “corporate aristocracy” (as Jefferson referred to it) fit into both of those categories. Here are Jefferson’s comments, uttered almost 190 years ago.

“I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816.

We have already reached the point where the “moneyed corporations” no longer feel any need to “challenge” the government. They have already fully integrated themselves into it. The executive branch is already peopled by corporate men, the law makers find it nearly impossible to be elected without corporate financing and the administrators of the regulatory agencies (such as the SEC) are selected by an executive branch whose main concern is to avoid any threat to the corporate world’s ability to act unilaterally and without serious regulation of any kind.

Under these circumstances, there can be no real struggle between the government and the corporations. The only struggle is between corporations and a powerless and largely voiceless public. Since, when it comes to challenging or regulating the large corporations, the public no longer has any real representation in government, corporations have already reached the point where they can treat the public with the same contempt the aristocrats of centuries past treated the dirty and hungry peasants (not publicly, of course).

Although corporations have absolutely no democratic legitimacy, they exert a degree of control over domestic and foreign policy decisions that approaches autocracy. A point has now been reached where even some of the most uninformed

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Americans realize that, when it comes to global politics and in many cases, domestic politics as well, the United States government represents not the American people but the interests of large American corporations in general and a selected number of large corporations in particular.

One of the more blatant examples of this was the government’s transparently insincere attempt at corporate regulation following the stock market scandals of 2002. Despite the desperate appeals of the victimized public, nothing of substance was done.

Certainly, terrorists and heads of state that pose a real danger to the world must be identified and eliminated from all countries in which they operate. However, it is not some foreign born terrorist menace that poses the greatest danger to the American values of representation, equality, transparency and freedom. It is the “corporate aristocracy” of which Jefferson warned us, operating beyond the public’s gaze and now intertwined within the structures of the government agencies that were created to regulate it, that poses the most real and present threat to our endangered democratic ideals.

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Footnotes:

(1) “U.S. Presidential Executive Orders signed in 1995 prohibit U.S. companies from conducting business with Iran. Furthermore, the U.S. Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 imposes sanctions on non-U.S. companies that make large investments in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(2) “…routes through Iran to the Persian Gulf are the shortest and most economical for exporting oil from the Caspian Sea. In addition, the Persian Gulf routes would transport oil to Asia, where the demand for oil is projected to grow faster and command a higher price than the Mediterranean markets that most of the competing pipelines would serve.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(3) “. . .several conflicts have arisen over mutual claims to different regions of the Sea, especially in its southern waters. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum (BP) Azeri research vessel exploring the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure, ordering the ship out of waters Iran claims to own. Azerbaijan, for its part, has objected to Iran’s decision to award Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo a license to conduct seismic surveys in a region that Azerbaijan considers to fall in its territory.”
eia.doe.gov EIA Country Analysis Briefs, Caspian Sea
Region, Caspian Legal Status Unresolved,

(4) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: World Energy Consumption 1970-2015, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

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(5) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: China: How to Think About Its Growing Wealth and Power, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

(6)

(7)

(1) Time February 3, 2003: page 41
(3) Pipeline through Iran cheaper and more direct route to Asia
Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, News & Trends Central Asia
Volume 3, issue #16 – 09-06-1998
A

“Those that control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production, said energy expert James Dorian recently in Oil & Gas Journal on September 10.

Key documents on Iraq forged, experts say

March 7, 2003, 11:35PM
By JOBY WARRICK
Washington Post

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector said Friday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq’s secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed “not authentic” after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim — made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday — that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

“There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities,” ElBaradei said.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents were given to U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence.

The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away — including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said.

“We fell for it,” said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the United States for the forgery. The documents “were shared with us in good faith.”

The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince reluctant U.N. Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Powell, in his statement to the Security Council on Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei’s findings but also cited “new information” suggesting that Iraq continues to try to get nuclear weapons components.

Last September, the U.S. and British governments issued reports accusing Iraq of renewing its quest for nuclear weapons.

President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 12, said Iraq had made “several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq last November. In early December, the IAEA began an intensive investigation of the aluminum tubes, which Iraq had tried for two years to purchase by the tens of thousands.

A number of independent experts on uranium enrichment have sided with IAEA’s conclusion that the tubes were at best ill-suited for centrifuges. Several have said that the “anodized” features mentioned by Powell are actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization that specializes in nuclear issues, reported Friday that Powell’s staff had been briefed about the implications of the anodized coatings before Powell’s address to the Security Council last month. “Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes,” the institute’s president, David Albright, wrote in the report.

 

Bush unmoved by global protests

Feb. 18, 2003, 11:24PM
By BENNETT ROTH
Vows to maintain pressure on Saddam
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau WASHINGTON –

Insisting he wouldn’t be swayed by the weekend’s global antiwar protests, President Bush said Tuesday he would continue to press Saddam Hussein to disarm or face military invasion.

The president said to heed the protesters would be akin to taking policy advice from focus groups.

“Evidently some of the world don’t view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace,” Bush said of demonstrations that drew millions to antiwar marches held in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. “I respectfully disagree. … War is my last choice. But the risk of doing nothing is even a worst option as far as I’m concerned.”

The president hailed as courageous those foreign leaders, particularly British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who have backed the White House on Iraq in the face of mounting criticism at home.

More than 1 million people turned out in London over the weekend to oppose Blair’s support of Bush on Iraq. And a new opinion poll shows Blair at his lowest public approval rating in more than two years.

But Bush said the magnitude of the worldwide demonstrations was irrelevant.

“First of all, you know, size of protest, it’s like deciding, well I’m going to decide foreign policy based upon a focus group,” said Bush. “The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon security, in this case the security of the people.”

Bush also noted he will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar this weekend at his Crawford ranch. Aznar backs Bush’s Iraq policy, though he, too, is contending with public discord over that support. Several million protesters took to the streets in Spain as part of the global demonstration.

A protest coordinator said Bush missed the point of the events.

Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said those opposed to Bush’s Iraq policy also believe Saddam is a threat to peace and should be disarmed. But they do not believe military action is the answer, he said.

“He’s wrong to rush to war without giving viable alternatives a chance,” said Andrews.

Bush’s defiant stand against the protesters’ message comes as he lobbies a divided U.N. Security Council to back a new resolution authorizing force against Saddam. The U.N. group late last year passed a resolution requiring Iraq to dispose of its weapons of mass destruction.

Officials said the United States, along with the British, will be drafting language for the measure that would give Iraqi leaders one final chance to disarm before facing military action. The administration hopes to have the resolution considered within the next two weeks.

Although Bush reiterated his contention that another resolution was not necessary, he added, “We’re working with our friends. As I said, a second resolution would be useful.”

But a number of countries, led by France and Germany, have opposed an attack on Baghdad and instead are pushing for more weapons inspections.

Bush received some support from other European countries Tuesday when 13 incoming members of the European Union backed a declaration warning Saddam he had one last chance to disarm. Also, 10 former communist countries in Europe repeated their support for the White House’s stand on Iraq.

However, the White House suffered a setback when the Turkish government postponed a vote in its parliament on whether to allow U.S. troops to be based there. Turkish leaders, who are negotiating an economic aid package with Washington in return for providing access to U.S. soldiers, want more concessions.

While the president dismissed the weekend antiwar protests, the size and scope of the demonstrations clearly caught the attention of the administration.

At his morning media briefing White House spokesman Ari Fleischer suggested that past peace protests have been misguided.

Fleischer said he had gathered newspaper stories from 1983 describing large protests in Europe against NATO’s deployment there of medium-range cruise missiles aimed at the former Soviet Union.

He said that despite the demonstrations, President Reagan refused to back down. “As a result, the Berlin Wall came down, and the message of the protesters — better neutral than dead — turned out to be a false message,” he said.

Basing the cruise missiles in Europe may have increased pressure on the Soviet Union to come to the bargaining table, but the action was not directly linked to the fall of communism. In 1987 — two years before the Berlin Wall came down — Reagan and Soviet leaders negotiated an agreement that called for the elimination of all medium-range missiles in NATO countries and the Soviet Union.

Experts say peace movements aren’t necessarily ineffective. Mark Lawrence, a history professor at the University of Texas, said large demonstrations against the Vietnam War were a factor in President Lyndon Johnson’s decision against a run for re-election and kept the pressure on President Nixon to withdraw U.S. troops from Southeast Asia.

Lawrence said the political danger in current antiwar protests is that, much like the Vietnam-era demonstrations, the movement is drawing mainstream Americans who Bush may need in his 2004 re-election bid.

“This is starting to galvanize people well beyond the kind of lefty fringes that are accustomed to events like this,” said Lawrence.

Lawyers: Bush won’t need Congress’ OK

Aug. 25, 2002, 11:54PM
’91 resolution to attack Iraq is sufficient
By MIKE ALLEN and JULIET EILPERIN
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for President Bush have concluded he can launch an attack on Iraq without new approval from Congress, in part because they say that permission remains in force from the 1991 resolution giving Bush’s father authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf, according to administration officials.

At the same time, some administration officials are arguing internally that the president should seek lawmakers’ backing anyway to build public support and to avoid souring congressional relations. If Bush took that course, he still would be likely to assert that congressional consent was not legally necessary, the officials said.

Whatever the White House decides about its obligations under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, some House and Senate leaders appear determined to push resolutions of support for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when Congress returns after Labor Day because they consider the issue too grave for Congress to be sidestepped. Administration officials say privately that military strikes against Saddam’s regime are virtually inevitable, although all the specifics have not been decided and action is not imminent.

Bush has said repeatedly he will consult lawmakers before deciding how to proceed but has pointedly stopped short of saying he will request their approval. The difference between getting legislators’ opinions, as opposed to their permission, could lead to a showdown this fall between Congress and the White House.

“We don’t want to be in the legal position of asking Congress to authorize the use of force when the president already has that full authority,” said a senior administration official involved in setting the strategy. “We don’t want, in getting a resolution, to have conceded that one was constitutionally necessary.”

War-powers disputes have occurred frequently since 1800, when the Supreme Court upheld President John Adams’ undeclared war with France. The Constitution grants the president the duties and powers of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But because of the framers’ concern that an unchecked executive might make war in pursuit of glory or personal revenge, they gave Congress the power to declare war. The result is a murky separation of powers.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution was intended to bridge the roles by allowing the president to act unilaterally with military force for 60 to 90 days, with congressional approval required for troops to remain engaged in hostilities after that.

Whether to secure formal congressional support is among many questions confronting Bush as he decides on a course of action toward Iraq.

 

Legislators file suit against Bush over ending ABM treaty

June 12, 2002, 1:17AM
By JIM ABRAMS
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Thirty-one House members filed suit against President Bush on Tuesday in an effort to block the president from withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The United States officially leaves the treaty Thursday, six months after Bush announced his intention to do so. The Pentagon plans an earth-breaking ceremony Saturday at Fort Greely, Alaska, to begin construction on the first portion of a new missile interceptor system.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the lead plaintiff, said Bush does not have authority to unilaterally withdraw from a treaty and should first seek the consent of Congress. “The Constitution of the United States is being demolished and we need to challenge that in court,” he said.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, also names Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell as defendants. The plaintiffs are all Democrats, except for one independent who usually votes with Democrats.

It states that while the Constitution is silent on the role of Congress in treaty terminations, treaties have the status of “supreme law of the land” equivalent to federal laws and that laws can be repealed only by an act of Congress.

“I am troubled that many in Congress appear willing to cede our constitutional responsibility on this matter to the executive branch,” said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. He tried unsuccessfully Monday to bring a resolution to the Senate floor stating the president cannot withdraw from the treaty without Senate approval.

Kucinich last week tried to get the House to vote on a similar resolution, but House Republicans unanimously rejected a motion to bring the issue to a vote. Republicans generally support withdrawal from the treaty, which prohibited the United States and Soviet Union from building missile defenses and has been an impediment to Bush’s plans for a missile defense system.

“This is so far out of touch,” said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., a proponent of a missile defense system. “The end of the ABM treaty marks a significant milestone” enabling the Pentagon to adjust to post-Cold War changes and emerging threats, he said.

The lead lawyer for House lawmakers, Peter Weiss, said they are asking the court for expedited treatment of the suit. But he said that even if the court does not act by the withdrawal date, a later decision agreeing that Bush must first get congressional consent could be retroactive.

In House debate last week, Republicans argued that past presidents have terminated dozens of treaties without consulting Congress. Kucinich pointed to an 1835 House vote blocking President Jackson from pulling out of a treaty with France.

In 1979 the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., sued President Carter over his decision to terminate a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan when he established diplomatic relations with the Beijing government. The Supreme Court, without ruling on the constitutional issue, vacated or threw out an appeals court ruling in favor of Carter and ordered it sent back for reconsideration.