Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

John Hannah // Unpopular Essay #78

John Hannah / Unpopular Essay # 78
Who is John Hannah? And how important of a role has he played in the Bush2 administration? These are questions that will become important to people interested in the Plame scandal even before Scooter Libby goes to trial -- if in fact he does -- next January. If Jason Leopold's reports on TruthOut are correct, Patrick Fitzgerald may be preparing to ask the new grand jury to return more indictments this spring. As Leopold has been accurate in his reporting on onside information on this case, I think it is worth taking a closer look at Mr. Hanhah.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Hannah has had the ability to keep a low profile. A look through the index of many of the books on the Bush administration shows that he is not found in, for example, Bob Woodward's "Bush at War" or "Plan of Attack"; in James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans"; Seymour Hersch's "Chain of Command"; Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies"; Pat Buchanan's "Where the Right Went Wrong"; or David Corn's "The Lies of George W. Bush."
He is found on one page in James Bamford's "A Pretext for War"; one paragraph in Joseph Wilson's "The Politics of Truth"; and one sentence in John Dean's "Worse Than Watergate."
On October 31, 2005, VP Dick Cheney promoted Hannah from the position of principal deputy assistant for national security affairs, to the assistant for national security position vacated by Scooter Libby.( New York Times; 11-1-05) Hannah, who started his career as an expert in Soviet affairs, had come to play an important role in the Office of the Vice President for Middle East affairs, where he worked for Libby. (Bamford; page 369) It was in this context that he became involved in the administration's plans to attack Iraq, and in the Plame scandal.
Mr. Hannah had served in the first President Bush's State Department. (Dean; page 102) He then was employed as the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. While at this position, Mr. Hannah would have linkages with AIPAC. He would first come to the Bush2 administration to work for John Bolton. He was soon transfered to work "on loan" for the Office of the Vice President.
At this time, Vice President Cheney was known to rely primarily upon his own network of associates for intelligence. This network was identified by John Dean as being comprised of "fifteen experienced national security experts." (page 102) The four most important among the VP's sources have further been identified as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and Doug Feith. ("Prelude to a Leak"; Newsweek; 10-31-05)
Feith would set up the Office of Special Plans within the Pentagon. This intelligence unit was set up at the same time that Andrew Card organized the White House Iraq Group (WHIG). John Hannah served as VP Cheney's liason to the OSP.
Newsweek has also reported (12-15-05) on a June 2002 memo authored by Iraqi National Congress (INC) lobbyist Enti Fadh Qunbar. This memo lists Mr. Hannah as their "principal point of contact" in the administration. The INC was heavily involved in feeding "intelligence reports" on Saddam's efforts to acquire WMD components, and Iraqi ties to al Qaeda. The memo also mentions William Luti, the former military advisor to Newt Gingrich, who was connected to Bolton before going to work for OSP. The Newsweek report also noted that INC lobbyist Francis Brooke met with Hannah, Luti, and Scooter Libby to pass on intelligence reports.
The fact that the OVP was getting "raw" intelligence, which frequently was not supported by analysts from the normal channels such as the CIA, should have been cause for concern. This seems especially so, in light of reports that Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was working for the State Department, believed that the OSP's Feith was placing Lukid's interests over this nation's. (TomPaine.com; 2-14-06) Hannah, who was working under Libby, received and passed on information from the INC, the OSP, and other sources outside of the normal channels.
In early 2002, reports concerning an Iraqi attempt to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger were discussed in the Office of the Vice President. At some point, a CIA briefer was asked to get further information on the situation. This is when Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger, where he confirmed two previous reports that concluded there was no truth to the Niger rumors.
In the following months, more intelligence that was brought to the OSP by the INC, and which did not meet the standards set by the analysts at the CIA, would be included in National Intelligence Estimates. (Libby would testify to the grand jury that his superiors had authorized his sharing information from the classified NIEs with journalists in 2003. This was among the information he shared with reporters such as Judith Miller.)
It seems possible that Mr. Hannah and Mr. Libby were the administration officials who labored to have the infamous "16 words" included in the president's State of the Union address. This would appear likely, considering the role they played in preparing Colin Powell's February '03 address to the United Nations. Bamford reports that Libby had Hannah write the first draft of that address. (page 369) This included the charge that Muhammad Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague in 2001. When Powell and Wilkerson attempted to get Hannah to confirm sources of this information, Hannah provided articles from the New York Times and Washington Post. (TomPaine; 2-14-06) Then, when Powell took disputed and unsupported information out of his speech, Scooter Libby said, "Don't worry about any of this. We'll get back in what you take out." (Newsweek; 10-31-05)
In his book "The Politics of Truth," and in a Salon interview with Joe Conason, Joseph Wilson told of how members of the WHIG met in VP Cheney's office in March 2003, and decided to do a "work-up" on the former ambassador. They knew his Niger investigation posed a threat to the lies that were used to bring this country to war in Iraq. They began to investigate Wilson, his previous employment history, his life, and his family. This information was passed on to the White House Communications Office, and others. Wilson lists Hannah and David Wurmser as people suspected in leaking Plame's identity to the media, although he notes that they would not have made the decision to do so on their own.
Hannah's attorney, Thomas Green, has told reporters that his client "knew nothing" about the leak, and was not a target of Fitzgerald's probe. He called reports that Hannah was involved "craziness." Yet other sources have said that Fitzgerald likely has a "Mr. X," who may have gone from being a principal target to a cooperating witness in the investigation. (Newsweek; 10-31-05)
UPI had quoted a Justice Department official involved in the case as saying Libby and Hannah were major players in the probe. The official said that FBI investigators had attempted to get Hannah to cooperate by telling him "that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time." (UPI; 2-4-04) The New York Times identified Hannah as being one of the people from the Office of the Vice President who was being questioned. (NYT; 10-19-05) And Hannah was reported to have told friends that he was worried about being "implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials." (Washington Post; 10-20-05)
(In August, 2004, it was reported on the "Plame Threads" on the Democratic Underground that Hannah had been "turned" by Patrick Fitzgerald. In October, 2005, RawStory's Larisa Alexandrovna broke more on the extent that Hannah was cooperating with the investigation. Since then, Jason Leopold has done a fantastic job expanding on Alexandrovna's work.)


Post a Comment

<< Home