Posts tagged CIA

Dick Cheney’s Greatest Hits

So this week we learned that Vice President Dick Cheney created a CIA hit squad taking orders directly from his office — a little factoid which he happened to keep secret throughout the remainder of the Bush Administration. From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from the U.S. Congress about a secret counterterrorism program on orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, a senator said on Sunday as Democrats called for an investigation. … The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

The Wall Street Journal said the secret initiative terminated by Panetta was an effort to carry out a 2001 authorization by then Republican President George W. Bush to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.

— Reuters (2009-07-12): Cheney hid CIA program from Congress: senator

Let’s get some reactions from arch-liberal power-brokers Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein:

Feinstein and Democrat Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, insisted no one should go outside the law.

Asked about Cheney’s alleged involvement, Leahy told the CBS program Face the Nation: I’d like to know if it’s true or not. I mean, nobody in this country is above the law … You can’t have somebody say, well, if you’re vice president, you don’t have to obey the law.

Feinstein said Congress should have been told.

This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock after September 11, she said on Fox. But … I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.

— Reuters (2009-07-12): Cheney hid CIA program from Congress: senator

Oh, well. It was wrong because it wasn’t The Law.

So, just so we’re clear, if Cheney and Bush had gotten Congress to change the federal laws so that it would be perfectly legal for the Vice President of the United States to create unaccountable secret international death squads that take orders from, and report only to the highest levels of, Executive power, would that have somehow made it alright?

Really?

See also:

Wednesday Lazy Linking

Communications:

This breaking news just in: George W. Bush is still a big fat fucking liar

More startling are Suskind’s revelations about the Iraq war and the handling of prewar intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction. In one instance, Suskind says that denials by the foreign minister of Iraq, Naji Sabri, that his country possessed W.M.D. were simply rewritten — almost certainly altered under pressure from Washington, Suskind writes — into a false assertion that Sabri had substantiated suspicions about active Iraqi biological and nuclear programs.

Even more disturbing is the story of a former Iraqi intelligence chief named Tahir Jalil Habbush. Suskind describes in gripping detail secret meetings between Habbush and British intelligence in January and February of 2003. Habbush insisted that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his weapons programs but would not publicly admit it, so as to maintain a facade of deterrence against regional rivals like Iran. Not only did the White House dismiss Habbush’s statements, Suskind writes, but an irritated Bush even asked whether the Iraqi could be asked for something we can use to help us make our case. A subsequent $5 million C.I.A. payment to Habbush, disclosed by Suskind, has the smell of hush money.

Then comes what may be the ultimate bombshell: that the White House in­structed the C.I.A. to forge a letter, backdated to July 2001, stating that the 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had trained in Iraq and, furthermore, that Iraq had received suspicious shipments (presumably of yellowcake) from Niger with Al Qaeda’s help. The letter was to be written and signed by Habbush on Iraqi government station­ery and addressed to Hussein himself. This preposterously convenient summary of what a perfect case for war might look like almost resembled some wry gag from The Onion. But at the end of 2003 the letter did, in fact, turn up in a British newspaper, before seeping into the American media.

Suskind does not establish who dreamed up this pernicious document. But he says one of his sources, a former senior C.I.A. operative named Robert Richer, recalls being ordered directly by George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to have Habbush transcribe it himself from a draft produced by the White House. ­Richer even remembers the creamy White House stationery on which the assignment was written, as Suskind puts it. Since the book’s release, however, Tenet, Richer himself and another key source have adamantly denied that such a thing occurred. (Tenet also denies that Habbush’s prewar claims were muffled.)

Even in the context of the past seven years, the stupid brazenness of a forged letter drafted on White House stationery does test credulity. But any claims made by Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and a Pulitzer Prize winner, should not be casually dismissed. That no credible challenges have been made to numerous other scoops in his book suggests an attempted covering of exposed der­rières. Still, his release of partial transcripts from recorded interviews with Richer has not definitively affirmed his reporting.

Suskind’s point isn’t about proving liabil­ity. Rather, the Habbush episodes, if accurate, illustrate a creeping amorality in the way America has managed its war on terror.

–from Michael Crowley’s New York Times review of Ron Suskind’s The Way of the World

In Their Own Words, “Can We Start Calling Him ‘Officially a Big Fat Fucking Liar’ Now?” edition

(Thanks, Tom Tomorrow. I got a million of ’em.)

George W. Bush, speech in Cincinatti, Ohio, 7 October 2002:

After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.

George W. Bush, remarks to reporters, 3 May 2003:

We’ll find them. It’ll be a matter of time to do so

George W. Bush, interview with TVP Poland, 30 May 2003:

But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.

Washington Post, 12 January 2005:

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

Duelfer is back in Washington, finishing some addenda to his September report before it is reprinted.

There’s no particular news in them, just some odds and ends, the intelligence official said. The Government Printing Office will publish it in book form, the official said.

The CIA declined to authorize any official involved in the weapons > search to speak on the record for this story. The intelligence official offered an authoritative account of the status of the hunt on the condition of anonymity. The agency did confirm that Duelfer is wrapping up his work and will not be replaced in Baghdad.

Scott McClellan, White House press briefing, 12 January 2005:

… But the President is going to continue working closely with our friends and allies to confront the threats that we face —

How can he do it again —

— and we continue to take steps to improve our intelligence. That’s what the President is going to do. We have very good relationships with countries across the world because of the President’s efforts over the last few years. He’s worked to build strong relationships with our friends and allies, and worked to make sure that we’re confronting the threats that we face. It’s important that we act together to confront the threats that we face. And it’s important that when we say something, that we follow through on what we say. That’s why the President is also —

Even if the information is wrong?

— that’s why the President is also working to strengthen the United Nations and make it more effective. That’s something that we’re working on, as well, because it was very clear what the international community expected of Saddam Hussein, and he continued to defy the international community. It was a very unique threat that we faced in terms of Iraq. And in a post-September 11th world, it was a threat you could not ignore.

George W. Bush, 12-14 January 2005:

Further Reading

It’s Official

Just in case you were wondering, it’s official. George W. Bush looked us in the eye and he told us a bunch of damned lies. Colin Powell stood up in front of the United Nations and told a bunch of damned lies. Dick Cheney has told lie after lie in front of everyone.

Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons investigator in Iraq, told Congress today that Saddam Hussein destroyed his stocks of chemical and biological weapons and agents in 1991 and 1992 and that his nuclear weapons program had decayed to almost nothing by 2003.

Duelfer, a former U.N. inspector and the personal representative of the CIA director, said the former Iraqi dictator had intentions to restart his program, but after weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, Hussein instead focused his attention on ending the sanctions imposed by Western governments following his incursion into Kuwait and the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

— Washington Post 2004/10/06: Iraqi Arms Threat Was Waning, Inspector Says

Thanks to the lie, more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been murdered, and more than 1,000 American soldiers have been sent to their deaths in order to conquer a foreign country that posed no threat whatsoever to people in the United States. Messrs. Bush and Cheney have responded by saying, Well, it’s the thought that counts:

The White House has responded that the Iraqi leader had an intent to restart his programs, some of which he could do quickly, and that he was working on developing prohibited missiles that, if armed with chemical or biological agents, would threaten the region.

— Washington Post 2004/10/06: Iraqi Arms Threat Was Waning, Inspector Says

So Saddam Hussein didn’t pose a threat, but hey, he thought that maybe some day he might want to start working towards pose a threat… to somebody or another in the region.

Mr. Bush also likes to point out that the intelligence he had before the war looked like a good reason for invading at the time. Now, that’s a damned lie, but set that aside for the moment. Suppose you did make such a monstrous mistake and killed so many people over something that turned out not to be true, after all? Would you have a good laugh about it at press events? Would you keep on stumping for re-election on your choice to invade a country over claims that turned out to be completely false?

What kind of man can look at the more than 11,000 deaths, with more casualties coming in every goddamned day, find out that the reasons he gave to justify the war were completely specious, and then just say Oops, my bad?