Water Man Spouts

Friday, August 12, 2005

Faith-based intelligence: A Neocon Scandal

{1} "Nobody needs to tell me what to believe. But I do need someone to tell me where Kosovo is."-- George W. Bush, candidate, 2000
When George W. Bush ran for president, he had virtually no experience with foreign affairs. Thus, it is fair to say that John Dean was correct in saying Bush "was, for all practical purposes, a blank slate to be written on." (Worse Than Watergate; page 105) The job of schooling the candidate fell to a group of "tutors" headed, Dean tells us, by Condi Rice.
At the time, Rice was not a true "neoconservative." Her previous government experience would seem to have placed her more in the school of the elder Bush: a conservative republican, for sure, but not one with the rigid belief system of those who were to be brought in by Vice President Dick Cheney. Still, it is evident that Rice intended to direct Bush in a foreign policy direction selected by Cheney; indeed, she named her team "the Vulcans."
Although Bush lost the election to Al Gore, he would assume the office of president in 2001. He would be the eleventh president that Senator Robert Byrd would serve with. In his book "Losing America," Byrd notes that Bush "entered the White House with fewer tools than most. He had virtually no experience in foreign policy, and little more in domestic policy. .... In short, George W. Bush, a child of wealth and privilege and heir to an American political dynasty, did not pay his dues. He did not have to. His name was Bush and he ran for president because he could and because he was tapped by Republican Party poobahs. .... He was, and is, carefully 'handled' by political operatives who work hard to shield him from complicated or probing questions, and to keep him to 'bullet points' of repetition. His major talent seems always to have been in raising money." (pages 18-19)
There was a brief period when the public hoped that Bush was serious when he claimed he would be "a uniter, not a divider." The only position that he filled that indicated this might be a possibility was his appointing Colin Powell as Secretary of State. This was the first time Powell, a retired military hero, had held a political office.
Within a short period of time, however, it became obvious that Dick Cheney was running the administration. Bush was a ceremonial figurehead who was used primarily in commercials to sell Cheney's agenda. Thus, many in the Cheney administration were surprised to read on September 9, 2001, in a New York Times article, that President Bush had decided he would reverse the policy of refusing to meet with Yasir Arafat. The article quoted an administration official as saying that George was considering meeting Yasir at the United Nations General Assembly, to try to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.
{2} "On the morning of Wednesday, September 12, Cheney had a moment alone with Bush. Should someone chair a kind of war cabinet for you of the principals? We'll develop options and report to you. It might streamline decision making.
"No, Bush said, I'm going to do that, run the meetings. This was a commander in chief function -- it could not be delegated. He also wanted to send the signal that it was he who was calling the shots, that he had the team in harness. He would chair the full National Security Council meetings, and Rice would continue to chair the separate meetings of the principals when he was not attending. Cheney would be the most senior of the advisers. Experienced, a voracious reader of intelligence briefing papers, he would, as in the past, be able to ask the really important questions and keep them on track.
"Without a department or agency such as State, Defense or the CIA, Cheney was minister without portfolio. It was a lesser role than he had perhaps expected. But he, as much as any of the others, knew the terms of presidential service -- salute and follow orders."-- "Bush At War"; Bob Woodward; pages 37-38
On January 26, 1998, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) wrote to President Bill Clinton, demanding that he begin "implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power." Of the 18 PNACers who signed the letter, 11 held positions of power in the Bush administration when the decision to go to war with Iraq -- a country that had no connection to 9-11. Several will be of interest in the examination of the Plame and the neocon spy scandals: Eliot Abrams, John Bolton, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.
VP Cheney, being a "voracious reader of intelligence briefing papers," knew that Iraq was not involved in 9-11. Yet in the meetings that President Bush "led," Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense continued to state the evidence indicated Saddam played a role.
As Cheney and Wolfowitz would consolidate power within the meetings Bush ran. Evidence shows that Colin Powell and his top assistant, Richard Armitage, did not agree with the effort to target Saddam and Iraq for the attack on the United States on 9-11. As those who have read my previous essay "The Unknown Soldier" know, the neocons in the administration were convinced that: (a) they needed to keep Powell from influencing President Bush; and (b) that they needed to counter "leaks" by Richard Armitage.
Condi Rice had been appointed to deal with the September 9, 2001 article in the New York Times, which had told of a now-forgotten plan to have Bush meet Arafat at the UN. Condi called the FBI, and demanded that they deal with leaks by administration officials, who were leaking information to journalists. That phone call by Condi Rice would have some unintended consequences that were never anticipated by those who wanted to silence Dick Armitage.
{3} "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reson."-- Paul Wolfowitz in Vanity Fair; January 2004;
When it became apparent that the CIA and State Department could not only prove that Saddam had no ties to 9-11, and that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, Paul Wolfowitz needed to rely heavily upon Feith-based evidence. Almost immediately after 9-11, there was a shift in staffing, including "loans" of analysts from one department to another. Hence, as we examine some of the players -- who readers may recognize as being involved in the Plame scandal as well as this, the neocon spy scandal -- it can become mildly confusing. Hence, this will be a general review, to be followed by more in-depth studies of some of the criminals in the administration.
Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the undersecretary for policy in the Pentagon, recruited David Wurmser to work for them immediately after 9-11. Wurmser set up an un-named intelligence "unit" at the Pentagon, which was responsible for much of the disinformation campaign that resulted in Americans initially supporting the Bush aggression in Iraq. Wurmser's goal was to support Wolfowitz's stance that Saddam was linked to 9-11, and that Iraq posed a threat to the United States.
Wurmser's wife is a neocon employed at the far-right Hudson Institute. She is also one of the top people at MEMRI, a "charity" that is widely recognized as an intelligence front. It was founded by Colonel Yigal Carmon, a 22-year veteran of Israeli intelligence. Mrs. Wurmser has long advocated for a stronger U.S. policy against both Iraq and Iran.
David Wurmser had previously worker for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. WINEP was founded in 1985 by Martin Indyk, formerly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
On page 445 of Joseph Wilson's "The Politics of Truth," David Wurmser is identified as one of the administration officials who reportedly talked to journalists about Valerie Plame's status with the CIA.
Another person connected to Feith was Lawrence Franklin. Although Franklin is refered to as Feith's deputy, his immediate supervisor was William Luti. Luti is a student of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Readers may recall that Newt Gingrich is reported on page 452 of Joseph Wilson's book to be listed as among those who attended the original March 2003 meeting in VP Cheney's office, where it was decided to do a "work up" on Wilson.
Franklin and others began acting beyond their authority, although there is no question that they were encouraged to. For example, Franklin, his colleague Harold Rhode, and Pentagon consultant Michael Ledeen were involved in a "rogue" operation that included meeting in Rome and Paris with Manucher Ghorbanifar. This is the Iranian arms dealer who the American public financed through Oliver North during the Iran-Contra scandals.
Feith's staff was also involved in trading information with Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi, of course, is the favorite Iraqi of the neocons, AIPAC, and MEMRI.
{4} "You set the agenda." -- Lawrence Franklin to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC.
As a result of Condi Rice's phone call, the FBI was watching a lot of different people in washington, DC. Among them was Larry Franklin. Because David Wurmser was too obviously connected to AIPAC, Larry had been assigned to meet with the top people in what may be the most powerful "lobbying" group in the United States.
Over a three year period, the FBI would monitor numerous meetings between Franklin and the AIPAC representatives Rosen and Weissman. At times, the three were clearly playing a "cloak-and-dagger" game: one morning, for example, them met in one restaurant, moved to a second, and then to an isolated corner of a third restaurant, to be sure they were not being followed.
They were less careful, however, on the telephone. They were overconfident, because Franklin was convinced that the Department of Justice would not be tapping his phone without warning him. But the FBI was.
Franklin's May '05 indictment also shows that he met 14 times with Naur Gilon, an official from a foreign country. After one such meeting, Franklin wrote an "Action Memo" to his supervisor, advocating that US policy be changed to reflect what Gilon suggested.
More, Franklin traded classified documents and other information with the two AIPAC officials, who were indicted late last week. AIPAC used the information to try to influence US policy; they passed it on to at least one official from another country; and to "feed" the news media to influence public opinion.
To show what a small world it is, one of the journalists in question is the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler. Those interested in the Plame scandal will likely recall that Glenn was one of the reporters that Fitzgerald targeted. Glenn gave a taped statement after getting a release from Scooter Libby, allowing him to discuss their July 12 and 18 conversations. Kessler, on the tape played for the grand jury, told Fitzgerald that Libby and he did not discuss Plame, Wilson, or Wilson's trip to Niger.
However, in October of 2003, the Post reported, "On July 12, two days before Novak's column, a Post reporter was told by an administration official that the White House had not paid attention to the former ambassador's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction."
{5} "Washington is a town in which the flow of information is virtually nonstop. ... (There is a clear distinction in the law that) separates classified information from everything else. Today's charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be."-- U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty on indictments of Franklin, Rosen, & Weissman
Steven Rosen is facing up to 20 years in prison. Weissman faces up to 10 years. Franklin faces up to 45 years of incarceration.
While the prosecutor has told the media that there are no more indictmenta in the immediate future, the investigation is not over. And FBI investigators have told at least one person interviewed that they consider Franklin to be a minor player in this case of espionage.


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