Top 4 Ways Bush even more Outrageously Dissed the Intelligence Community

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency counter-terrorist center and FBI National Security Branch, has been on CNN maintaining that there was a big difference between how the intelligence agencies were treated by the Bush administration and how the PEOTUS is treating them. He said that he was grilled on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction by the Republican congress, but that he was treated with respect. He complains that Donald J. Trump is being disrespectful to intelligence professionals.

With all due respect to Mr. Mudd (and I sincerely mean that), what he is saying makes no sense. Everyone knows that the Bush cabinet hated the CIA for not going along with its phony allegations of Iraqi biological and nuclear weapons. (The one lapse was a hastily assembled NIE produced under pressure from then vice president and unindicted felon Richard Bruce Cheney). Iraq didn’t have such weapons and in 2002 when the press for war was made, did not even have programs.

The main point is that while Bush and his cohort had a rule that they did not trash talk people in public, they displayed the utmost disrespect for intelligence professionals who would not turn weasel and tell them (and the public) what they wanted to hear. How could you disrespect intelligence professionals more than to set aside their analysis in favor of the talking points of Neoconservative hacks or to out them, putting their lives and those of their contacts in danger? And what more dangerous course than to go to war against the grain of the analysis of the trained professionals? The difference between Trump and Bush is only a matter of rhetorical style, and Trump hasn’t had the opportunity yet to endanger America the way Bush and the Neoconservatives did.

Here are four egregious examples of the Bush-Cheney (and especially Cheney) attack on CIA professionals:

1.

A fraudulent document was circulated by former Italian and French intelligence officer with a businessman cover, Rocco Martino, purporting to be a purchase statement by the Niger government regarding an alleged buy of uranium by Saddam Hussein of Iraq. It was apparently taken seriously by British intelligence, but it was an obvious fraud, since the officials who allegedly signed it were not any longer in office on the date of the document. The whole thing may have been a project of Italian military intelligence, which has strong connections to surviving fascist circles in Italy, and is also connected to Michael Ledeen, Washington poobah who is now close to the Trumpies. (H/t to Josh Marshall who researched all this). My guess is that US Neoconservatives used Ledeen as a conduit to the Italian intelligence Neofascists, and put in an order for such a hoax.

American CIA analysts looked at the document and quickly concluded that it was a fraud. Despite enormous pressure from Bush-Cheney officials, the Neoconservatives, the State Department and the CIA refused to go along with Bush’s desire to include a reference to the forgery in his 2003 State of the Union Address. Bush (or David Frum?) therefore put it this way: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

This way of lying while seeming to tell the truth. What Bush really did was to disregard the State Department’s Intelligence and Research department and the CIA analysts and to find any alternative to this homegrown Washington expertise. In other words, Bush appealed to MI6 in just the way that Trump is appealing to Julian Assange. Both over-ruled their own intelligence professions.

2. In late 2005, Bush closed the Alec Station, the unit within the CIA that was tasked with finding Bin Laden. Bush directed intelligence resources instead toward Iraq, which he had illegally invaded and occupied under false pretenses. The CIA was not happy. The former head of the unit reacted, “This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda . . . These days at the agency, bin Laden and Al Qaeda appear to be treated merely as first among equals.” And of course al-Qaeda did experience a resurgence. Indeed, the Iraq al-Qaeda affiliate morphed into Daesh (ISIS, ISIL).

3. In late 2005, someone on the Bush National Security Agency attempted to enlist the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA in violating the Agency’s charter by having them investigate and smear a US citizen on American soil (me). A group of analysts who objected to the whole episode later blew the whistle on it, including Glenn L. Carle, the bravest man in Washington. They went public because they knew that what had been done, having the agency tasked to operate on US soil with regard to an innocent American, could have deeply damaged it. The irony is that in those days I was trying to help destroy al-Qaeda and frequently gave briefings and presentations to inter-agency audiences that included CIA analysts (and no, I was never an agent), attempting to help get them up to speed on the particulars of the challenge. And the Bushies stabbed us all in the back the same way they did Valerie Plame (see #4).

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4. Bush-Cheney even went so far as to deliberately out a serving CIA field officer with a non-official cover (a NOC, who would be disavowed if captured by the enemy; unfortunately she was captured by Bush-Cheney). Younger readers may not know the Valerie Plame story, so here is a reprint edition from February 10, 2006, of it. [Valerie’s later thrillers are well worth reading.]

.

Cheney Authorized Libby to Disclose Classified Documents

Once upon a time, a former agent of Italian military intelligence named
Rocco Martino
, who had had some experience in the African country of Niger, came into possession of some forged, fraudulent documents.
rocco_martin
These alleged Iraqi purchases of yellowcake uranium in 1999. In fact, the signatures were of Nigerien officials who had been in power a decade earlier, in the late 1980s.

So they were clumsy forgeries. Martino passed them on to the Italian magazine Panorama, which passed them to the US embassy.

Tantalizingly, President George W. Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, has an indirect connection to Italian intelligence.

Rove’s chief adviser on Iran policy is Neoconservative wildman and notorious warmonger Michael Ledeen,

who has a longstanding connection to the darker corners of Italian intelligence.

Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney heard of the alleged uranium purchase.

Cheney asked George Tenet to look into the allegation.

The issue went to the Directorate of Operations secret unit on counter-proliferation. Among the field officers there was Valerie Plame Wilson, who had spent her life fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction under cover of a dummy corporation.

plame2

Valerie Plame Wilson was married to former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, who had served bravely as acting ambassador in Iraq in 1990, and when threatened by Saddam he showed up to a press conference wearing a hanging noose instead of a necktie. President George H. W. Bush highly praised him.

Joe Wilson had not only served in Iraq, he also had been ambassador to the West African countries of Gabon and Sao Tome, and spoke fluent French. When Plame Wilson’s superiors brought up the possibility of sending him as a private citizen to look into the plausibility of the report that Saddam had bought Nigerien uranium, she was consulted and agreed (she was not part of the decision loop).

He went, and soon saw that the uranium industry in Niger was actually under the control of French companies and was strictly monitored.


There was no possibility of corrupt Nigerien officials selling it off under the table.

A separate military mission led by Marine General Carlton Fulford, Jr, deputy commander of the United States European Command (EUCOM), went to Niger the same month, February 2002.


Fulford quickly came to the same conclusion as Wilson, that it was implausible that al-Qaeda or anyone else could secretly buy uranium from Niger.

Wilson came back and was orally debriefed by people who wrote a report for Tenet, expecting that Tenet would pass it on to the high officials of the Bush administration.

Wilson was amazed when the Niger uranium story was put into Bush’s State of the Union address.

Then Libby


wanted Secretary of State Colin Powell to make allegations about Saddam and al-Qaeda before the United Nations Security Council. Powell was also pressed by someone to bring up the Niger uranium story.

Powell is said to have exclaimed, “I’m not reading this bullshit!”

Libby appears to have been a big influence on the speech Powell gave, almost every detail of which was inaccurate, and at which United Nations officials who heard it openly laughed.

After the war, Wilson wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he revealed his mission and again called into question the Bush administration assertion that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program.

Cheney was extremely upset by Wilson’s op-ed. He saw it as an allegation that he had personally sent Wilson and then ignored Wilson’s report. Or at least that was the spin. But Wilson had said no such thing in the article. He simply said that Cheney had asked Tenet to look into the story, which Cheney probably did.

Cheney was afraid that if the American public became convinced that there had been no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the war effort would collapse, along with all those billions of no-bid uncompetitive contracts for Halliburton.

Cheney, it has now come out, then authorized Libby to leak the classified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate to the press.


The NIE, which may have been produced under pressure from Cheney himself, had incorrectly suggested that Iraq was only a few years from having a nuclear weapon. In fact, Iraq did not have an active weapons program at all after the early 1990s when it was dismantled by the UN inspectors. The pre-war NIE in any case was just old bad intelligence, which was contradicted by David Kay’s team on the ground in post-war Iraq, which just wasn’t finding much.

Libby now began telling reporters that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative, itself classified information, since she was an undercover operative.

Karl Rove engaged in the same routine. Apparently Cheney, Rove and Libby (and Bush?) believed that Wilson’s credibility would be undermined if the Washington press corps could have it intimated to them that his story was a CIA plant.

Robert Novak used the information given him by the White House staff to out Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover operative. Her career was ruined. All her contacts in the global South were burned, and their lives put in danger. The CIA’s careful project combating weapons of mass destruction collapsed.

The same administration that alleges it should be able to listen to our phone calls at will for national security purposes deliberately undermined US security for petty political purposes, making us all much less safe.

The likelihood is that the crimes of Bush, Cheney, Libby and Rove so far revealed are only the tip of the iceberg.

——
*The iceberg artwork, signed “Monk,” is mirrored on several sites on the internet; I can’t find any that seems the original but am glad to give credit if it is sought. It easily comes up on a google.images search. See Inflatable Dartboard.

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12 Responses

  1. Spinning off on news reports, and trying to understand Trump’s own behavior, while I am consumed with my own life, I’m tantalized by the hypothesis — for which I have no proof, except for typical stories of how Russian intelligence agencies might try to compromise visiting foreigners — that T was easily “turned” by Russian intelligence, perhaps in a manner that was less than fully conscious to His Trumpness — dd you notice Putin addressing him as “Your Excellecy” in P.’s message directly to him — and that the US is therefore about to inaugurate a foreign agent into the office of Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief.

    At least for those of us who in our youth dreamed of the fall of the American empire — now it looks very messy and very likely destructive of livelihoods and choices here at home, and around the globe as well — Trump may be just the man for the job, in one way or another, whether as a Julius Caesar Wannabe or as Harold Lloyd hanging off the high clock hands.

    • Again, no proof. Have you not bothered to read the article or look into any of the debunking by people who have some idea of what goes on?

  2. A republic has necessarily to have a quasi-autonomous security (call it what you will) service. Only an absolute monarchy, dictatorship, or faux democracy can have such a thing dedicated solely to the interests of the leader. It doesn’t really matter how little the autonomy because if the one is not welded to the other they are bound on occasion to diverge. Bush (and Blair) knew perfectly well Saddam had no WMDs. That wasn’t the point. They purposed to invade Iraq and that was that, they were not to be stopped by inconvenient facts. WMDs were after all only an excuse and therefore it couldn’t matter less whether they existed or not. In something other than a republic they would have fudged up something, as you suggest the Italians did. In doing so, however, the Italians may well have been serving their masters’ interests since their masters were probably anxious to assist Bush. Transparent moral integrity and foreign policy are oil and water; a leader determines what he wants to achieve and it’s one of the jobs of the security guys to make it look as good as possible. In a dialectical debate you could argue the CIA failed Bush.

  3. John Fullerton

    The difference is that Bush actually believed them. Didn’t want to hear it, while Trump does not give a shit, wants control.

    • I believe they did not wish to inform GWBush of the actual plan, just like they did not copy the president in on the hijackings, he was considered too stupid.

  4. Bush/Cheney “cherry-picked” useful intelligence and rolled their own story to sell to Congress and corporate-owned and controlled media. You are correct – a murderous bunch of fossil-fuel tools ignored, even suppressed, accurate information (as you well know) to further their inept attempts to do what Trump wants to do, “take the oil as spoils of war.”

  5. Meanwhile over at the senate armed services committee charade the heads of intelligence agencies understood the questions asked by the committee members and the answers that were expected in return. It looks like the warmongers on the Republican side of the committee can count on some Democratic support. Sydney Blumenthal introduced the idea of the people’s distrust of the intelligence agencies and James Clapper, who lied to the senate intelligence committee about the torture report, noted that gaining the trust of the people was important. There appeared to be a general acceptance of and indignation regarding the evidence-free accusations about Russia influencing the election. At the same time a sense of Russia, China, and North Korea were the bad guys doing the hacking prevailed while our spooks were paragons of virtue.

  6. In the few months prior to the war there was glaring public information that strongly indicated that there were no WMD. I’m talking about the what the the UN inspectors found when they visited sites in Iraq that the CIA had identified to most likely to have WMD. They found nothing, site after site. Yet somehow the media, the administration and the congress seemed little moved by these first hand observations.

    There must have been analysts in the bowels of the CIA that took the UN inspection results seriously. They must have concluded that their WMD intelligence was wrong, or at least highly suspect. But not a peep was heard.

    A rational response to the UN findings would be to rethink the whole WMD premise, and grant the inspectors more time and resources for their searches. But rationality would poison the enthusiasm for the easy war to come. The inspectors were told to pack their bags and go home. Let the shock and awe begin.

  7. Intelligence is over rated. In Bush’s white house, if you had intelligence you would stay out of the way. They had their own cooking sessions with exotic ingredients piped in. in Obama’s you would party from Kiev to Tripoli, then vomit all over Syria and Trump will clear their desk and issue them a fly swatter. His lack of respect for unproductive departments and institutions is set to grow.

  8. Are democrats and leftists siding with hawks like McCain with wanting a new cold war with Russia? I’m beginning to understand that many people don’t care about the issues, war and peace, they are political animals that can switch or change “values” based upon political manuevering. Ok, now we’re the war party, got it.

  9. Let’s be clear that during the 8 years George W. Bush was the official POTUS, Dick Cheney served as a second POTUS, essentially creating his own National Security State within a state. It was well known after the first Gulf War that Sadam Hussein had abandoned any nuclear mabitions.

    When 9/11 occurredd Cheney and his cabal (Donald Rumsfeld at the Department of Defense and Paul Bremer as Proconsul after his stint at Kissinger & Associates) was all about destroying the independence of the Department of State and the military. (It is important to remember how Gen. Eric Shinseki was relieved of his command for honestly answering a question that at least 200,000 troops were needed for a ground invasion).

    I think Cheney’s plan all along was that an easy win in Iraq would allow for pipelines in the control of the U.S. would lead from the Republic or Georgia through Central Asia and end in the Mesopotamia region. It is interesting to know that Tony Blair, British PM, was angry that the UK was not receiving any petrol concessions despite serving as our junior ally. And Libby was not pardoned for his transgressions by the ethical George W. Bush who wanted to be viewed as better than President Clinton in pardoning people. So, Libby Scooter is no longer allowed to practice law.

    James Clapper lied under oath and should have been sanctioned (it’s a felony). And outing an active CIA agent (Valerie Plame) is treasonous.

    The simple fact is that the intelligence agencies lost their independence during the Indochinese wars beginning with JFK up to the present.

    The problem is that analysts and translators, specialists who know what is occurring, where and how, write reports that are passed on to their superiors. But one cannot expect to have a career when the political appointees (which Cheney ensured would be loyal to him), want reports that make claims they want to use as a justification of employing policy based on “actionable intelligence.”

    Gen. Colin Powell for all of his faults (he was an Army Major responsible for removing Lt. Calley and his men to a hilltop far from reporters after the My Lai massacres), was firmly against invading Iraq and was the most popular of their senior inner circle. Cheney is alleged to have said, “well, Powell’s popularity is so high he can afford to take some of the heat” after delivering one of the most morally grotesque presentations to the United Nations filled with lies. Unabashed lies known by people such as Dr. Hans Blix who in 2002 as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was unable to find WMD in Iraq.

    We should also remember that President Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo had nothing to do with “humanitarian intervention” in support of Kosovar Albanians but instead, was undertaken with a singular objective: the expansion of NATO further inside Russia’s buffer zone. Strobe Talbott, now President of the Brookings Institute, served as President Clinton’s Senior member of the Pentagon/State Department intelligence Joint Committee on diplomacy for Russia and the Balkans and wrote the forward to a 2005 book written by John Norris, his Director of Communications, entitled, “Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo.” You can read a review here:
    link to foreignaffairs.com

    One of the ways that Henry Kissinger was able to dominate the Nixon White House first as National Security Chief and later as Secretary of State, was to create dozens of committees responsible for investigating the spectrum of factors that the U.S. had to negotiate in promulgating its ruthless campaign of terror in Indochina and among client states in Southeast Asia (the Philippines) and by Indonesia first against its own people during 1965 when upwards of 1,000,000 souls were brutally killed because they dared to want to be independent of American dominance; as well as Indonesia’s ruthless war crimes in East Timor in Dec. 1975 after East Timor gained its independence from Portugal.

    Kissinger consolidated his power by ensuring that he was made chair of each committee and so became the sole conduit of information that was relayed to President Nixon. Cheney, however, even surpassed Kissinger by serving as a dual President running his own foreign policy and subjugating dissenting voices such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. Eric Shinseki when their views contradicted the catastrophic disasters that emerged from the planning of the triumvirate of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bremer
    that created the disasters that have only worsened since Obama (with HRC) exacerbated during the last 8 years.

    There is also evidence that George W. Bush was not especially keen or diligent in reading security briefings and did not like to be deserved after 10:00 pm. In this regard, Tony Blair was only a more articulate and intelligent version of George W. Bush and against all common sense, allowed the UK to invade and partake of the killing of an excess of people well beyond 600,000 from 2002-2006 in two studies undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in 2002 and 2006, the latest of which can be read here: link to web.mit.edu

    Naturally, the Bush team tried to discredit the meticulous Johns Hopkins research (which it should be noted, was overly cautious and conservative, and therefore underestimated the extent of the increase in deaths as consequence of the invasion of Iraq in 2003). It is Interesting and ironic, however, that the studies by Johns Hopkins have supported independent studies undertaken by the State Department and numerous health workers and NGOs which were all ignored and dismissed by the Bush-Cheney White House.

    I think the danger is that Trump may further attempt to reorganize the 16/17 different intelligence agencies plus Homeland Security in a way that makes it virtually impossible for lower level analysts to have their reports read by senior officials whose job it is to provide daily updates and weekly briefings for the Donald Trump when he assumes the office of POTUS on Jan. 20th.

    Already we know that the FBI (which favored Trump overwhelmingly during the 2016 election) has repeatedly clashed with the CIA during the Obama years. The election of Trump has created a mass exodus of high-ranking members of the U.S. intelligence community who are resigning en masse because of Trump’s disdain for the work of the American intelligence community. link to theguardian.com

    So, G.W. Bush lied as has our still immensely popular President Obama in regards to continued U.S. support for jihadist rebels in Syria (“white helmets”) in addition to military actions undertaken in Yemen, Somalia and Libya. And we know that Obama has continued covert actions in Colombia, South America (our last way of trying to manipulate politics under the cover of the “war on drugs”).

    Thus, lying to the American public has become entrenched in a manner one could suggest is now unequivocally de rigueur for those aspiring to have some influence with our vast national security state.

    This means there is a long established tradition going back to JFK but accelerated since LBJ who followed the lead of his senior advisors like Robert Strange MacNamara who served as Secretary of Defense from 1961-1968 years and is chiefly responsible for the escalation of war in Indochina (along with former MIT professor Walt Rostow who served as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to US President LBJ from 1966–69).

    It remains to be seen whether disregarding intelligence altogether is more reckless than manipulating intelligence for reckless pursuit of political objectives that will probably be geared chiefly for the economic benefit of the sycophants and economic supporters of the incoming President.

    Perhaps we can even think of this new era as the inception of Cheney 2.0 since Energy companies (especially Halliburton) and private contractors (mercenaries) essentially created a parallel but private military and intelligence umbrella whose very presence created conflict with most senior military officials and weakened our official intelligence gathering systems in a way that they regained their status under Obama.

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