“It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons. We were simply wrong.”
-- Lt. Gen. James
Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (5/30/2003)
“But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.”
-- George Bush
“This war was not waged under any false pretext.”
-- Donald Rumsfeld
“Everything I presented on the 5th of February, I can tell you, there was good sourcing for, was not politicized, it was solid information,”
-- Colin Powell (5/30/2003)
“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”
-- Paul Wolfowitz (5/28/2003)
If you take another look at the above listed quotes, you might notice that all five were uttered in a three day span -- two years ago. A year later, David Kay, who led the post-war mission to locate the phantom weapons of mass destruction, came up empty handed and declared that the administration’s intelligence on Iraq was “ALMOST ALL WRONG.”
The “preemptive” war against Iraq was originally marketed as a mission to prevent Saddam Hussein from gift wrapping WMDs and passing them to Al Qaida. We were led to believe that Saddam not only possessed a massive WMD arsenal but that he was about to “Fed Express” them to the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 atrocities.
A year before David Kay ended his search for the fictional WMDs, General Conway had already figured out that “we were simply wrong.” He probably reasoned that if Saddam had WMDs -- why didn’t he deploy them when American Marines where at the gates of Baghdad?
It wasn’t long before Bush came up with an answer for Conway. On the very same day, he claimed that the United States was already in possession of Saddam’s WMDs. In anticipation of Conway’s question, Rummy had earlier denied that the invasion of Iraq was launched on “false pretexts.” As for Colin Powell, he was denying that the WMD hoax was “politicized”. That denial was given before anybody bothered to press the question.
The most honest response to Conway came from an unlikely source -- Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the war. “For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction.”
After that momentary lapse of honesty, Wolfowitz was back to his old deceptive ways. “You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later.” What he meant to say was “You go to war on the intelligence you fix -- not on the intelligence you can verify.” In any case, the media swallowed Wolfie’s lame excuse and the consensus remains that the decision to go to war was based on “bum intelligence”.
The “intelligence failure” cover-up was always part of the neo-con plan -- and was scheduled to kick in as soon as the WMD hoax was exposed as fiction. Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s troubles can be traced to his initial refusal to play along with the WMD hoax and his early attempts to debunk the “intelligence failure” alibi. Instead of participating in the WMD scare campaign -- he returned from Niger with a sober assessment that revealed that Iraq was not importing yellow cake uranium. That was a major blow to administration hawks like Dick Cheney who insisted that Saddam was ‘reconstituting’ a nuclear weapons program. After the invasion of Iraq, Wilson went public with his charges that the administration deliberately fixed intelligence to make a case for the war -- thus sabotaging the ‘intelligence failure’ phase of the WMD scam. Two years later, we know that Wilson was right on the Yellow Cake Uranium and the Downing Street memos corroborate his assertion that intelligence was manipulated to make a case for war.
So, in effect, Wilson burned the neo-conservatives twice. The Ambassador wasn’t a team player and had to be contained. In a state of panic, the architects of the war and the WMD hoax launched a counter-assault assailing his character and ‘outing’ his CIA wife -- Valerie Plame.
The neo-con smear campaign against the Wilsons was standard operating procedures. Still smug from what then appeared to be a cakewalk in Iraq -- the neo-con brigades and their media collaborators had already unceremoniously taken out Hans Blix, Eric Shensenki and a host of others who had cast doubt on the wisdom of their follies. Wilson was only an ex-ambassador and should have been an easy mark. His five minutes of fame were up.
Unfortunately for the neo-cons, Wilson again refused to play by their rules. Instead, he again went public and pointed the finger at Karl Rove -- accusing him and the administration of mounting a smear campaign and violating national security laws in the process.
This Joseph Wilson character is a piece of work -- a one-man demolition squad tearing down the neo-con temples of power with one blow after another. Maybe if they hadn’t messed with his vulnerable AK-47 wielding wife, he might have gone a little easier on the bastards. Two years on, he is still standing tall and doesn’t appear to give a damn about the incessant smear campaign against his character and his credibility.
Still, to their credit, the administration has done a magnificent job of delaying progress in the search for the identity of the neo-con operatives who committed a national security crime in “outing” Valerie Plame. And their bloodhounds in the media are still actively smearing the ambassador. Both Karl Rove “Scooter” Libby deny any wrong doing -- which means that other White House or Pentagon officials involved in this scandal are still getting generous government checks and access to sensitive intelligence.
When the Plame scandal was in its early stages, George Bush expressed little urgency in finding the culprits. As he puts it “we may never catch the person who leaked this information.” The president’s wishful thinking didn’t take into account one Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor. The question of the hour is what did the President not know and when did he block it out. Of course, it is no secret that Cheney and his neo-con cabal wrote the book on the WMD hoax and the “intelligence failure” alibi. If you had a copy of the neo-con operational manual -- it might help you make sense of the Plame games and why Joseph Wilson actions posed such a threat to their grand enterprise.
Intelligence Failures for Dummies
Why engineer an intelligence failure? When the mainstream “intelligence community” is not giving you the kind of results you desire, a war mongering administration needs to find a way to manufacture its own intelligence products and make it look like they were prepared by the CIA.
How do you get around the CIA? First, you let Douglas Feith and Wolfie set up their own intelligence unit in the Pentagon and give it a big name like the Office of Special Plans. Next, make sure the office is staffed with those who share your neo-con agenda.
What next? You need to develop and groom your own independent sources. You get a guy like Chalabi and his imaginery friends to provide you with the exact answers that fit your game plan. Just to make it appear legitimate, you use a few trusted journalists like Judith “WMD” Miller of the New York Times to circulate stories confirming your ‘findings’. You now have “double sourcing.”
And then what? You challenge the CIA to match the quality of your work. Accuse them of timidity. You get Cheney and Libby to breathe down their necks and berate them for missing the Chalabi lead. You point out that Judith Miller is a second source who confirms the Chalabi story. Who can argue with the New York Times’ WMD expert -- America’s very own Doctor Germ.
Isn’t this risky business? Not if the war is a cakewalk. Every body loves a winner. If the invasion goes according to plan, those who made a fuss about the risks will be made to eat crow. A few marginal journalists might make a little noise about the fictional Iraqi WMD arsenals but who will hear them over the din of a victory parade?
What if the war ends up being a long hard slog? Well, in that case, we can dispatch David Kay to “search” for the phantom WMDs. Let him take his own sweet time. The public will be asked to show a little patience until their short-term memory kicks in.
What happens when Kay doesn’t find a trace of WMDs? Well, dummy, you just stall and send another guy to resume the search. If that doesn’t work, we’ll just throw a tantrum and blame it on “intelligence failures” -- let the CIA take the fall. The President might have to stitch together a bipartisan inquiry staffed by the usual dependable suspects. By the time they set up shop, argue over rules and scope and agree on a list of witnesses, the WMD story will be ancient history.
What if the public demands an investigation of the OSP, instead of the CIA? By that time, the OSP will have folded, shredded their files and ceased to exist as a Pentagon intelligence unit.
Isn’t it possible that the media boys will smell a rat? If they smell a rat, it will be the stench of their own skin. Can you see the New York Times investigating Judith Miller’s role in our little scam? The beauty of this whole venture is that we can get our media operatives to turn up the heat on the CIA and put Langley on the defensive. What can the CIA do? Act like a crybaby and say that a few analysts in an obscure Pentagon office managed to bully them. Tenet might be forced to resign -- no great loss.
Can anything go wrong? Not a chance. Intelligence failures happen. We should know. We make them happen. We’ll blame the whole thing on Chalabi and his imaginary friends. Chalabi is more than willing to “fall on his sword in error.” He has been accused of worse things. Depend on Chalabi to be a good sport who doesn’t worry much about his reputation.
What about Joseph Wilson -- the guy who sabotaged our yellow cake uranium scam? Isn’t he unpredictable? Well, we do have one big hole in this “intelligence failure” cover-up. Our pal Chalabi can take the fall for most of the WMD fiction -- but he can’t credibly take a fall for the Niger uranium scam -- which we choreographed to originate in Italy. Wilson knows there was no Iraqi plan to purchase yellow cake uranium and he knows that the forged documents came from Italian intelligence -- not from Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. His wife is a WMD expert -- which means he might have a few other things figured out.
So, what do we do if he blows the whistle on our “intelligence failure” alibi? No sweat -- we’ll just have to Plame him and his old lady down at the CIA. That should teach both of them a lesson and set an example to others that might be tempted to blow the whistle.
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