Dr. J.’s Commentary: What Certain Folks Will Miss About George Bush

by Steven Jonas, MD
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Buzzflash.com

November 4, 2008

On the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times of November 2, 2008, six contributors were asked to respond to the question “What Will I Miss About President Bush“. As The Times said, “The Op-Ed editors asked six writers to reflect on what they have most admired about him.” The comments were thus generally encomiums of one sort or another. Although I hate, just hate, bringing facts into situations such as this, especially when it involves right-wingers, who are so sensitive to the introduction of facts into any discussion, I thought that a few comments on the factual side might be in order.

ROBERT DRAPER, a correspondent for GQ and the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush said that Bush was “Loyal to a Fault.” Draper talked about Dana Perino and other “current and former Bush staffers” who “just loved the guy.” Draper tells us, that “President Bush has paid a price for his human decency.” I guess that would come as something of a surprise to one of his (formerly) most loyal employees, former press secretary Scott McClellan. Apparently by inadvertence rather than any specific action (at least according to Scott), Bush just left poor old Scott out to dry and did nothing to reel him back in when he inadvertently got caught up in the Rove-Cheney-Libby cover-up of their purposeful leak of the identity of Valerie Plame (Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, New York: Public Affairs, 2008, chaps. 1, 14). “Loyal to a fault?” Well I guess it depends how you define “loyal” and “to a fault.”

ARI FLEISCHER, the White House press secretary from 2001 to 2003 who preceded McClellan (and who has not written a tell-all, or at least as much as he apparently knows, book revealing one moral failing after another of George W. Bush and the people with whom he surrounded himself) tells us that “I’ll miss President Bush’s moral clarity. The president’s critics hated his willingness to label things right or wrong, and the press used to bang me around for it, but history will show how right he was.” That’s right, Ari. Bush sees things absolutely in black and white and furthermore he knows that he knows which is which. He is indeed the right-winger’s right winger. Facts are totally irrelevant. As the journalist/author Ron Suskind told in The New York Times Magazine article published in the run-up to the 2004 election, he was told by a White-House staffer that he (Suskind) had better learn about the “alternate realities” they dealt with if he ever wanted to understand them. And so, the warnings of the impending al-Qaida attack on the US in the summer of 2001 were ignored, but as soon as it happened, Bush made the determination to invade — Iraq (McClellan, chap. 8). Because he just knew what was right and what was wrong.

CURTIS SITTENFELD, the author of the novel “American Wife,” apparently couldn’t come up with anything nice to say about “W.” but he did go and on about Laura, who he described as, among other things, a “well-mannered conservative.” As compared with whom, Curt? George, Rove, or “F__k you,” “shoot-you-in-the-face” Cheney?

One wonders how JACOB WEISBERG, the editor in chief of the Slate Group and the author of The Bush Tragedy was let onto the page when The Times was obviously trying to be nice, but he did share with us some of the great Bush manglings of the language: “I know how hard it is to put food on your family; [immediately post-9/11] I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport; [he wouldn’t answer a question] neither in French nor in English. Nor in Mexican; [and then] misunderestimated, Kosovians, Grecians, Hispanically, arbo-treeist, and strategery” (which happens to be a term coined by the comedian Will Ferrell and adopted inside the administration). I don’t know, Jake. If you can’t remember something nice about someone, why remember anything at all?

SCOTT McCLELLAN, evidently trying to get back into Bush’s good graces (goodness gracious, some people just don’t ever learn), said “What I will miss most about George W. Bush as president is his sincere concern for promoting human dignity.” There are two words that sum up the Bush approach to that subject: Katrina and Torture.

Finally, PAUL BURKA, the senior executive editor of Texas Monthly said, “I feel nostalgic about the person I knew as Gov. George W. Bush. I miss that guy. He was the best politician I ever saw. He really was ‘a uniter, not a divider.’ He refused to kowtow to the far right. He worked with Democrats to strengthen public education, while Republicans were pushing vouchers. He had four vacancies on the Texas Supreme Court and he filled them all with centrist judges. The extreme right wing of the Republican Party was his enemy, not his ally. His administration was untainted by scandal. Karl Rove remained an outside consultant rather than a gubernatorial staffer. But when he reached the White House, Governor Bush vanished, to be replaced by President George W. Bush — a person I didn’t recognize. He was never to return.”

One has to give full credit (seriously) for such a statement. What Mr. Burka did not note, however, are two things. A) observers have said that creating the totally false “moderate” image for W. was all part of Rove’s grand plan to capture the Republican nomination and then the Presidency in 2000. B) Regardless of whatever plans Rove and Bush had, the Texas governorship is acknowledged as one of the weakest, if not the weakest, in the country. In order to get anything done that he or she might have on the agenda or to create any sort of record that he/she might someday want to show to outsiders, the Texas governor has to work closely with the State legislature where the real executive power lies (yes, you read that right; in Texas, the real executive power lies with the legislature — but it is Texas). And in those days, pre-Tom DeLay, the Democrats still had some real power in the Texas legislature.

You can understand that there are some people who want to have nice memories of George W. Bush. Hey, it is possible. You just have climb into the Georgite alternate reality, and there they will be.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.

PR Push for Iraq War Preceded Intelligence Findings – “White Paper” Drafted before NIE even Requested

Dandelion Salad

by John Prados
Global Research, August 24, 2008
www.nsarchive.org
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 254 – 2008-08-22

The U.S. intelligence community buckled sooner in 2002 than previously reported to Bush administration pressure for data justifying an invasion of Iraq, according to a documents posting on the Web today by National Security Archive senior fellow John Prados.

The documents suggest that the public relations push for war came before the intelligence analysis, which then conformed to public positions taken by Pentagon and White House officials. For example, a July 2002 draft of the “White Paper” ultimately issued by the CIA in October 2002 actually pre-dated the National Intelligence Estimate that the paper purportedly summarized, but which Congress did not insist on until September 2002.

A similar comparison between a declassified draft and the final version of the British government’s “White Paper” on Iraq weapons of mass destruction adds to evidence that the two nations colluded in the effort to build public support for the invasion of Iraq. Dr. Prados concludes that the new evidence tends to support charges raised by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan and by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its long-delayed June 2008 “Phase II” report on politicization of intelligence.


U.S. Intelligence and Iraq WMD

Compiled and edited by Dr. John Prados

On June 5, 2008 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released a report examining whether the public statements made by U.S. officials, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and others were consonant with U.S. intelligence information. This report forms part of a second phase of the SSCI’s investigation of Iraq intelligence issues, most especially Saddam Hussein’s possible Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program, originally approved by the Intelligence Committee in February 2004 but stalled by its Republican majority for several years, until the majority changed with the current 110th Congress. Committee chairman Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) then ordered work on this inquiry resumed, and the present report is the result.

The appearance of this long-awaited SSCI “Phase II” report coincided with controversy over the revelations of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan who, in a memoir appearing almost simultaneously, argued that “in the fall of 2002, Bush and his White House were engaging in a carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval to our advantage.” (Note 1) A review of new evidence along with previously-available documents sheds important new light on this debate. Among the findings:

  • The Phase II report on Bush administration public statements, in conjunction with the SSCI’s original July 2004 report on Iraq’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction, indicates that political manipulation extended beyond the intelligence itself to affect investigation of the intelligence failures on Iraq as well as the Bush administration’s use of that information.
  • In conjunction with other recently declassified materials, the Phase II report shows that the Bush administration solicited intelligence then used to “substantiate” its public claims.
  • A recently declassified draft of the CIA’s October 2002 white paper on Iraqi WMD programs demonstrates that that paper long pre-dated the compilation of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi capabilities.
  • The timing of the CIA’s draft white paper coincides with a previously available draft of the British Government’s white paper on Iraqi WMD, demonstrating that the Bush administration and the Tony Blair government began acting in concert to build support for an invasion of Iraq two to three months earlier than previously understood.
  • A comparison of the CIA draft white paper with its publicly released edition shows that all the changes made were in the nature of strengthening its charges against Iraq by inserting additional alarming claims, in the manner of an advocacy, or public relations document. The draft and final papers show no evidence of intelligence analysis applied to the information contained. Similar comparison of the British white paper shows the same phenomenon at work.
  • Declassified Pentagon documents demonstrate that the CIA white paper was modified in ways that conformed to the desires of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and his office, in much the same way that British documents indicate that country’s white paper was changed to conform to the desires of the Blair government.

The many official investigations and unofficial investigations carried out, plus the statements and speeches of former CIA officials defending themselves against charges of distortion, have established a few points beyond question. Most important, following Saddam Hussein’s 1998 final expulsion of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq, very little new information fell into the hands of U.S. intelligence. Notable exceptions include data from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, recruited as a CIA source (Note 2), and from Iraqi scientists clandestinely approached by the CIA under a covert program. (Note 3) Both these streams of information denied the existence of Iraqi WMD. On the other side were data from Iraqi exile sources that claimed all sorts of WMD and a set of fabricated documents alleging an Iraqi deal to buy uranium ore in Niger. The only concrete “find” was of a shipment of aluminum tubes being imported into Iraq, but analysts were divided over whether these tubes had anything to do with WMD at all. U.S. intelligence largely discounted the (accurate) details from Sabri and the scientists and—despite the CIA’s expressed misgivings—made use of the exile data. This thin data conditioned the intelligence analysis.

There was also a source of intelligence failure that flowed not from bad information but from analytical procedures. American intelligence knew that Saddam had worked through the 1990s to deceive UN weapons inspectors—they assumed he was hiding his WMDs rather than concealing the lack of them. On specific weapons, for example long-range Iraqi missiles, intelligence took a standard accounting approach, and since they could not account for every Iraqi missile, assumed Saddam was hiding a covert force of ballistic missiles. U.S. intelligence was coming off a record of underestimating Iraqi WMD progress in the 1980s and now overcompensated in the other direction.

The recent SSCI Phase II report concludes that Bush administration statements, while “substantiated” by the CIA reporting, went beyond that data. The Republican minority on the committee attacked that conclusion. The main defense offered—and repeated by media commentators—is that the root cause of the administration’s Iraq hysteria was intelligence failure, not intent to manipulate the American public. A typical formulation is that of columnist Fred Hiatt in the Washington Post, who argued that “the phony ‘Bush Lied’ story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.” (Note 4)

But the question of the role of threat manipulation in the origins of the Iraq war is complex and goes beyond analytical failure. Its center is the degree to which the Iraq intelligence was politicized. Absent the drumbeat for war, even exaggerated estimates of Iraqi WMD prowess would have represented only a standard foreign policy problem. Bush administration intentions made a difference. Both the SSCI Phase I report and that of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States on Weapons of Mass Destruction (the Silberman-Robb Commission) investigation, though arguing that no politicization had occurred, also cited cases suggesting the opposite. Former national intelligence officer Paul Pillar told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that the Silberman-Robb finding did not surprise him for two reasons: because any intelligence analyst would be reluctant to make the damning admission that his paper had been politicized, and because “in my experience, the great majority of cases of actual politicization—successful politicization—are invariably subtle.” (Note 5)

There were several avenues by which the Bush administration made its preferences clear. Vice President Richard Cheney questioned his CIA briefers aggressively, pressing them to the wall when he saw intelligence from other agencies that portrayed a more somber picture than that in CIA’s reporting. He sent briefers back for more information, including in instances when they checked with headquarters and returned with the same word. Cheney was especially acerbic on CIA’s rejection of claims that one of the 9/11 terrorists had met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague. On a number of occasions, Cheney sent his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to CIA headquarters to follow up on his concerns. Mr. Cheney went there himself, not just once but on almost a dozen occasions. The practice encouraged the CIA to censor itself, driven, as Pillar put it, by “the desire to avoid the unpleasantness of putting unwelcome assessments on the desks of policymakers.” (Note 6)

A second avenue to influence U.S. intelligence lay through Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. There, William Luti’s Near East and South Asia unit of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP) was in close touch with the Vice President’s office. Papers circulated back and forth, and both offices utilized claims from Iraqi exiles—claims that Saddam trained terrorists or possessed various WMDs—to press the intelligence agencies for similar information. Under Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith, the Pentagon formed a special group to review reports on Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. This unit, the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) has been represented by Feith as merely charged with assembling a briefing on terrorism, but its real function was to bring additional pressure to bear on the CIA.

Not all the manipulation was visible. Behind the scenes at the State Department, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, also closely allied with the Office of the Vice President, pressured both the State Department and the CIA to fire individuals who refused to clear text in his speeches leveling the most extreme charges against other countries. Although Bolton’s actions did not concern Iraq directly, they came to a high point during the summer of 2002—the exact moment when Iraq intelligence issues were on the front burner—and they aimed at offices which played a central role in producing Iraq intelligence. These included the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at State plus the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and the Weapons Intelligence, Proliferation and Arms Control (WINPAC) center at CIA.  Analysts working on Iraq intelligence could not be blamed for concluding that their own careers might be in jeopardy if they supplied answers other than what the Bush administration wanted to hear.

Under the circumstances, it is difficult to avoid the impression that the CIA and other intelligence agencies defended themselves against the dangers of attack from the Bush administration through a process of self-censorship. That is the very essence of politicization in intelligence. And the degree to which public statements on Iraq by Cheney, Bush, and others were “substantiated” by the existing intelligence must be viewed through that prism.

We shall offer only a few examples here. First is the case of the CIA white paper, “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs.” That document is dated October 2002 [Document 1] and was issued on October 4. It has been represented as a distillation of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq published two days earlier, with the most sensitive, secret information stripped out. Posted here today is the major portion of the text of the same paper in draft [Document 2], as it existed in July 2002. This document demonstrates that the white paper existed long before the NIE was even requested by Congress. In fact the illustrations in the July version are the same as those in the final report. A close comparison of the text shows, further, that much of the argumentation is identical, and that the differences between the two are strictly in the nature of separating text to insert more charges or to sharpen them. The entire product has the character of rhetoric. Little of the text shows the kind of approach characteristic of intelligence analysis. The fact that this document was in preparation at the CIA in July indicates that the Bush administration was actively engaged in a process of building support for war months ahead of the time it has previously been understood to have done so. In fact evidence exists that the CIA white paper was commissioned as early as May 2002. (Note 7)

This point is made even sharper by recently declassified Department of Defense documents, including a memorandum from the OUSDP that details the kinds of information seen as desirable to obtain from intelligence in order to strengthen the case for war against Iraq [Document 3]. The timing of this document suggests that this  text was a response to the draft CIA white paper, created at a point when Pentagon critics of CIA reporting were actively pressing their case against the agency’s refusal to accept arguments that Saddam Hussein was allied with Al Qaeda. Changes in the CIA white paper between its July draft and the final document track closely with the OUSDP comments. The net impression is that the CIA white paper was rewritten to conform to administration preferences. If so, U.S. intelligence a priori made itself a tool of a political effort, vitiating the intelligence function and confirming the presence of a politicized process. The specific analytic failures on Iraq intelligence become much less significant in such a climate, especially in that they all yielded intelligence predictions of exactly the kind the Bush administration wanted to hear.

This impression is strengthened, and suspicions of collusion broadened, when the record of the British government’s white paper on Iraqi WMD is laid side by side with that of the CIA.  In the course of British official investigations of the antecedents to the war, and the death of physicist David Kelly, a draft of the British white paper was released that is dated June 20 [Document 4]. As in the American case, the Joint Intelligence Committee, which originated this document and plays a role similar to that of the National Intelligence Council in the U.S., modified its draft to issue a final version on September 24, 2002, that was even more somber [Document 5]. There is a considerable record on the Blair government’s efforts to shape the content of the British white paper in directions not supported by the intelligence.

The second example concerns the U.S. government’s use of information drawn from Iraqi exile sources, principally those of the organization known as the Iraqi National Congress (INC) [Document 6]. This anti-Saddam group has had a long and stormy history with the CIA, which actually severed relations with it, an action the Clinton administration’s NSC Deputies Committee approved in December 1996. The agency was later forced to resume ties, and even to fund the group, as a result of the Iraq Liberation Act, which Congress passed in 1998. Proponents of that legislation included many individuals who became senior officials of the Bush administration. The State Department took up funding of the INC. Both State and CIA questioned the value of the intelligence it provided, and State in turn sought to end the relationship. In 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) took over responsibility for the Iraqi exiles. During this period the INC opened channels to the Office of the Vice President as well as Pentagon units responsible to Douglas Feith. In his own account of this period, Feith takes pains to defend the exile group and its leaders. (Note 8)

In the summer of 2002, the intelligence community compiled a detailed assessment of the material provided by the INC on several subjects and found it to have little current intelligence value, with sourcing and attribution impossible to verify. (Note 9) Despite this, and in spite of the fact that the INC went beyond providing intelligence to using the defectors it brought to the attention of the U.S. government as part of an anti-Saddam publicity campaign, the SSCI report on the group concludes that “false information from the Iraqi National Congress (INC)-affiliated sources was used to support key Intelligence Community Assessments on Iraq and was widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war” (pp. 113-122). Intelligence agencies also avoided identifying these sources as INC-related in their reporting. Among the defectors was the notorious source “Curveball,” whose false allegations concerning Iraqi mobile biological weapons factories underlay some of the most alarming Bush administration charges against Baghdad.

This begs the question why, given distrust of the INC’s information at both the CIA and State Department, and an awareness of these doubts even within the DIA, the data was used at all, much less relied upon. Part of the answer no doubt has to do with the desperation of U.S. intelligence to obtain any information from inside Iraq—in itself a reflection of an intelligence failure. But the other part of the answer most likely flows directly from the prodding of the intelligence community by high levels at the Pentagon and White House for reactions to the defector information. This point stands out in stark relief when contrasted with the fact that the alternate stream of Iraqi insider information—from high-level agent sources and Iraqi scientists—seems to have had no discernable role in U.S. intelligence reporting. That is very arguably politicization.

Our third example has to do with the charges that Saddam sought to buy uranium ore from the African country of Niger. As widely reported, this affair involved fabricated documents, a Bush administration effort to discredit the U.S. envoy sent to check on the report by outing his wife, a CIA undercover officer; and ultimately, the criminal trial of Vice President Cheney’s top national security aide; but those matters are not of concern now. What is disturbing here, in the context of politicization of the intelligence, is the specific treatment the CIA gave to the information it developed. The record is established by the SSCI Phase I report, the Silberman-Robb report, and the proceedings of the trial of “Scooter” Libby, Mr. Cheney’s national security assistant. (Note 10)

On February 13, 2002 Vice President Cheney asked his CIA briefer about reports that Iraq was procuring uranium in Niger [Document 7]. Cheney represented the information as having come from the DIA, which indeed had issued an “executive highlight” on February 12. If this was in actuality what Cheney saw, the DIA was basing its account on information provided by Italian military intelligence, already aware of the fabricated Nigerien documents that later became the heart of this affair. The CIA had reported the same information a week earlier. The briefer promised to check, and the CIA’s WINPAC center prepared a note which observed that the foreign information on which the claim was based was only single-source and lacked crucial detail [Document 8]. The agency subsequently set up a trip to Niger by retired Ambassador Joseph V. Wilson IV, who returned with the conclusion that there was no substance to these claims. Wilson arrived in Niger on February 26 and returned on March 4. Just as Wilson came home, Vice President Cheney renewed his inquiry into the Niger allegation, and WINPAC responded by noting that the foreign intelligence service had no new information, that the Nigerien government insisted it was making all efforts to ensure that its uranium was used only for peaceful purposes, and that CIA was about to debrief “a source who may have information related to the alleged sale.”

Ambassador Wilson was in fact debriefed by two CIA officers on March 5. The way this was handled is what raises questions. Wilson’s data was recorded by the officers and written up by a reports officer who, according to the SSCI, “added additional relevant information from his notes.”  The declassified text of this March 8, 2002, report [Document 9] shows that CIA Headquarters added the comment that the officials who provided information to Wilson “may have intended to influence as well as inform.” The ambassador himself was described as “a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record.” However, Wilson had in fact carried out a mission on behalf of CIA previously, and he had been the senior U.S. envoy in Baghdad (the deputy chief of mission) before the first Gulf War. Therefore, Wilson did have an established reporting record. The comment regarding the Nigerien officials was gratuitous. The combination of these remarks cast doubt within the U.S. government on the information.

The report on Wilson’s information was then circulated in routine channels but never given to the Vice President. Director George Tenet’s comment: “This unremarkable report was disseminated, but because it produced no solid answers, there wasn’t any urgency to brief its results to senior officials such as the vice president.” (Note 11) But a look at the trip report we post here shows Wilson’s information was in fact quite solid. It simply does not say the uranium charge was real. Tenet has a secondary defense that the report was completed just after Vice President Cheney left on a trip to drum up support for war with Iraq, and that when he returned other matters seemed more pressing. Yet Cheney had renewed his inquiry into the Niger claim and surely its refutation had an impact on the arguments he had just made to encourage support for an American military option.These points drive the conclusion that the CIA was loathe to confront Mr. Cheney with a direct refutation of the Niger uranium claim. This too smacks of politicization.

Wilson’s was only one of a number of streams of reporting that undermined the Niger story, including an investigation by French intelligence and inquiries from the current U.S. ambassador and a senior U.S. military officer. Likely based on these materials and on the embassy cables reporting on Wilson from Niger, State Department intelligence filed a report doubting the claims of a Nigerien sale to Iraq [Document 10], and filed a dissent when the claim was included in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. But the developments of early 2002 became only the beginning of a highly ambivalent treatment of the uranium claim. On the one hand, the CIA intervened to keep this material out of the major speech President Bush gave in Cincinnati in October 2002, and also objected when British intelligence included it in their own white paper about the Iraqi threat. On the other hand, senior CIA officials mentioned the uranium claim in congressional testimony at the same time, permitted it to be included in a December 2002 “fact sheet” on Iraq, and mounted only tepid opposition to inclusion of the charge in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, where it would become notorious as the “16 Words.”

The SSCI later investigated the Iraq intelligence in detail, reporting on it in 2004.  This was followed by the Silberman-Robb commission account.  The SSCI Phase II report on the use of that intelligence [Document 11] examines Bush administration public statements regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction plus certain other topics related to war in Iraq against the inventory of intelligence reports circulated within the U.S. government. The idea was to determine whether administration claims were supported by the available intelligence. The “public statements” were winnowed down to a few, essentially the speech by Vice President Cheney in Nashville on August 26, 2002, those by President Bush to the United Nations General Assembly, in Cincinnati, and before the U.S. Congress at the 2003 State of the Union address (September 12 and October 7, 2002, and January 29, 2003), and the presentation to the United Nations Security Council by Secretary of State Powell (February 5, 2003). The subjects covered include nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction generally, delivery systems, the Saddam Hussein regime’s alleged links to terrorists, Iraqi regime intent, and predictions for post-war Iraq.

In most of these cases the SSCI study found administration claims “substantiated” by the available intelligence but portraying the data as more certain than it was, thus going beyond the intelligence, while failing to convey disagreements among intelligence experts. The Committee found claims regarding Saddam’s intentions were contradicted by the intelligence (p. 82) and those about a rosy post-Saddam future as not reflecting intelligence concerns (p. 88). In the case of Bush administration claims about links between Saddam and terrorists the report reached several conclusions, judging that the intelligence substantiated general claims of Iraqi knowledge of and support for terrorist activities, but that claims of an Iraqi-terrorist alliance or of Iraqi training of terrorists were not backed up by the intelligence reporting (p. 71-2). In general Bush administration claims asserted greater certainty than existed in CIA reports.

This analysis was assailed by Republican members even before the SSCI report appeared. In minority statements attached to the eventual primary document (pp. 100-170) they detailed their objections. The minority charges that the investigation improperly confined itself to comparisons with finished intelligence products rather than the wider range of material actually available to top officials, and that it did not make similar assessments of the statements made by Democratic Party politicians, including Senator Rockefeller himself. Republican members and staff were not permitted to be involved in the drafting work on the report and the numerous amendments they offered were rejected.

The question of whether the “Iraqi threat” resulted from manipulation, as Scott McClellan and the SSCI majority suggest, or simple intelligence failure, as in the view of the Committee minority, is a key issue for all concerned. A real intelligence failure did occur. This is plain from the Intelligence Committee’s 2004 “Phase I” report as well as that of the Silberman-Robb Commission. (Note 12) The present author argued as much even before those studies appeared. (Note 13) The CIA director of that time, George Tenet, concedes, “In many ways, we were prisoners of our own history.” (Note 14) Retired CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman, observing this analytical effort from the outside, concludes, “The U.S. rush to war against Iraq marked the worst intelligence scandal in the history of the United States.” (Note 15) But intelligence failure was abetted and magnified by the Bush administration’s drive to use charges about alleged Iraqi WMDs as justification for war.

Ascertaining the truth in this matter does not seem to have been as important as seeming to do so, at least for the Senate Intelligence Committee. A review of the minority statements contained in the new SSCI report in comparison to similar ones in the Phase I report—by the then-Democratic minority [Document 12]—reveals identical complaints regarding the conduct of the investigation. The present Republican minority’s charge that the report errs on politicization because both the Phase I SSCI and Silberman-Robb Commission concluded there was no evidence of this flies in the face of the strong assertions by the Democratic minority during Phase I that allegations of this type had not been taken seriously. Current Republican charges that the report erred by failing to check the public statements of Democrats against the intelligence are a red herring: they effectively rely upon the Bush administration’s success at hoodwinking political opponents and then take those opponents’ statements as authoritative evidence, an example of reverse logic. The SSCI staff rules which the Republican minority now says were used to shut it out of the investigation are the same ones a Republican majority previously relied upon to limit Democrats’ influence on the scope and content of the inquiry.

The preparation of white papers on both the United States and British sides also needs to be taken into account. That Bush and Blair each turned to their intelligence agencies for the papers is significant—they were evoking the imprimatur of secret intelligence to justify policy preferences. Both papers had the function of justification, not analysis, and neither government waited until it had compiled all the evidence before demanding these products. Neither government asked for intelligence estimates, fashioned in secret, in order to inform policy on Iraq. Instead, both Bush and Blair did want their intelligence agencies to carry out avowed political agendas. And the timing of the white paper drafts—now established as being in the summer of 2002, before there ever was a UN debate or a Security Council resolution—clearly indicates their true function. The accumulating weight of evidence currently supports the interpretation Scott McClellan gives, not that supplied by apologists for the Iraq war.

Notes

1. Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. New York: Public Affairs Press, 2008, p. 125.

2. Joseph Weisberg, “With Spies Like These,” Washington Post, December 15, 2007, p. A21.

3. James Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. New York: Free Press, 2006, pp.  85-107.

4. For example, Fred Hiatt, “Bush Lied? If Only It Were That Simple,” Washington Post, June 9, 2008, p. A17.

5. Paul Pillar Talk, “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 7, 2006.

6. Ibid.

7. Paul Pillar at the Council on Foreign Relations. In an interview with the Public Broadcasting Corporation program Frontline, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin stated that the white paper had been requested in the summer of 2002 (Frontline: “The Dark Side, Interview: John McLaughlin, January 11, 2006, p. 16. http://www.pbs.org/wghb/pages/frontline/darkside/interviews/mclaughlin.html).

8. United States Congress (109th Congress, 2nd Session), Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, Report: The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress. Washington, September 8, 2006, pp. 5-34. Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terroris. New York: Harper, 2008,pp. 243-244, 277, and passim.

9. SSCI, Iraqi National Congress Report, p. 35-36.

10. For the Libby Trial proceedings see Murray Waas, ed. The United States v. I. Lewis Libby. New York: Union Square Press, 2007.

11. George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, p. 454.

12. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Silberman-Robb Commission), Report to the President of the United States. March 31, 2005.

13. John Prados, Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War. New York: The New Press, 2004.

14. George J. Tenet with Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. New York: HarperCollins, 2007, p. 330.

15. Melvin A. Goodman, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA. Lanham (MD): Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, p. 253.

© Copyright John Prados, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 254, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9930

[“These materials are reproduced from www.nsarchive.org with the permission of the National Security Archive.” ]

see

McClellan-Scott

Charge Bush With Murder by Francis A. Boyle (audio)

Dandelion Salad

ICH

Posted 06/24/08

Source

George W. Bush could be indicted at the state level for murder with malice aforethought, that according to internationally recognized legal expert Francis A. Boyle of the School of Law at the University of Illinois.

According to Boyle, President Bush deceived US soldiers about the reason for sending them to Iraq. Thus, he argues, the 4100 US soldiers who have died in Iraq thus far were murdered. Professor Boyle sees a variety of cases that could be brought and he believes it would take just one indictment and the whole house of cards would fall.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

Before Scott McClellan, there was Paul O’Neill (videos)

A Totally Lawless Regime By Paul Craig Roberts

Maj. Gen. Taguba Accuses Bush Admin of War Crimes (video)

Bugliosi Seeks “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

A Totally Lawless Regime By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
06/22/08 “ICH”

Think about this question: In the 21st century what regime is more lawless than the Bush Regime?

Everyone is entitled to his own answer. The only answer I can come up with is the Zimbabwe regime of Robert Mugabe. Voted out of power in the last election, the great man hasn’t left. Zimbabweans are going to have to vote again, and the great man has said that any vote that is not for him will be cancelled by a bullet.

Does anyone remember how determined the British and the Americans and everyone else was to turn Rhodesia over to Mugabe in order to save Rhodesia from the evil Ian Smith? What a fool everyone was.

But before we laugh at those fools, we had best laugh at ourselves, or cry.

It is now an incontrovertible fact, known all over the world, that George W. Bush and his regime’s operatives lied through their teeth in order to launch wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq, and that the Bush regime is doing the same thing again in hopes of launching an attack on Iran.

There have been a number of memoirs from high ranking Bush appointees who cannot stand all the lies. Bush’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill, told us that an invasion of Iraq was on the agenda prior to 9/11. There is the leaked Downing Street Memo in which the head of British Intelligence told the British Prime Minister and his cabinet that the Americans have decided to attack Iraq and are creating the “intelligence” to justify the attack.

And now we have the White House’s own spokesman from 2003-2006, Scot McClellen, ratifying what we already knew, that President Bush deceived us and led us into war based entirely on lies and fabrications, and that he, Scott McClellen, was deceived into issuing a false public denial that top Cheney aide Scooter Libby and White House operative Karl Rove were involved in committing a felony under US law by revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame.

As a consequence of Bush’s lies, there are a million dead Iraqis, mostly women and children, and four million displaced Iraqis, 4,100 dead American soldiers and tens of thousands of seriously wounded. No one knows how many dead in Afghanistan. And there is the ongoing Israeli slaughter of Palestinians and Lebanese that has fallen under the rubric of the “war on terror.”

The only ones pleased with these wars are the American neoconservatives, the Israeli right-wing, the US corporate military-security complex, and Osama bin Laden.

The Bush regime has created enormous hatred and disrespect for the United States. A recent world wide poll found that George W. Bush ranks at the bottom of world leaders as one of the least trusted along with US Pakistani puppet Musharraf and the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, who has the disadvantage of being the victim of demonization by the US and European corporate-controlled media, which serve as ministries of propaganda for the governments that control their broadcast licenses. The American and European media lie for their living.

The two leaders with the highest approval rating are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

So, the old adversary, Russia, now has a more respected leader than the “leader” of the Great Free Nation, a Great Free Nation that has sat on its hands while its “leader” destroyed America’s civil liberties, America’s reputation, the jobs of Americans, and committed the US to a course of war crimes punishable by the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

A number of readers took issue with my recent column, “Elect Obama or Fall Into Tyranny.” Echoing former Alabama Governor George Wallace, readers said Obama would make no difference. But that is what I wrote.

My point was not that Obama would make any difference, as he has put himself and his administration into the hands of Wall Street and the Israel Lobby. I said that the American people could make a difference by rejecting the Republicans, as it was the only accountability that the Republicans were likely to suffer.

If Americans return a Republican regime, Americans will validate the right of the president to violate with impunity US and international law. Americans will validate the use by the president of the United States of deception and lies in order to initiate wars of aggression, aggression that is a war crime under the Nuremburg standard established by the US. Americans will validate the infringement of US civil liberties in the name of “safety” and “national security.” Americans will disembowel the US Constitution and leave themselves at the total mercy of the government.

Reelecting Republicans means the end of the United States as a land of liberty.

I am sympathetic to the argument that we, as a country of liberty, are near our end regardless. Look at the Democrats. Today, June 20, the House of Representatives, which the voters gave to the Democrats in the 2006 congressional elections in order to end the pointless barbarity that the US has brought to Iraq, voted the largest war-spending bill ever. The “antiwar” Democrats completely collapsed, giving the warmonger Brownshirt Republican regime everything it wanted.

The House Democrats, led by “impeachment-is-off-the-table” Nancy Pelosi, added to the Democratic Party’s shame by passing today, June 20, a bill that shields from punishment the criminal Bush regime and the telecommunications corporations that the Bush regime coerced into committing felonies under US law by cooperating in Bush’s illegal spying on American citizens.

The great hope of the Founding Fathers, the people’s house, the House of Representatives, has passed an unconstitutional retroactive law making acts legal which were illegal when they were committed.

If a Democratic House of Representatives will pass a retroactive law in order to legalize the criminal violations of a Republican regime, the same House will pass a retroactive law making illegal what you did legally yesterday. No one is any longer safe in America. By abandoning the US Constitution, Republicans and Democrats have made America as potentially unsafe as Zimbabwe for anyone who takes exception to the government.

The total collapse of the Democratic Party and the House of Representatives signals the end of liberty and democracy in America. Henceforth, led by the Republican Federalist Society, we will gravitate toward the beautiful regime of “energy in the executive” that has been achieved in Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury during the Reagan Administration, is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Impeach

Israel Lobby

Does McClellan’s testimony matter? Part 3 with Bruce Fein

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda says former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee should lead to impeachment hearings, the only way to force Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney to testify.

Continue reading

Countdown: Unity on Immunity + McClellan Testimony + John Cusack

Dandelion Salad

June 20, 2008

videocafeblog

Unity on Immunity

Keith reports on the Democrats caving on the FISA bill today. John Dean weighs in.

The McClellan Testimony

Keith reports on Scott McClellan’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today. Dana Milbank weighs in.

John Cusack Interview

Keith talks to John Cusack about his McCain ads for MoveOn and his movie War Inc.

Worst Person

And the winner is….Paula Froelich. Runners up John Bolton and Chris Wallace.

see

Wexler Questions McClellan in House Judiciary Ctte; Calls for Impeachment of VP

Scott McClellan Before House Judiciary + Conyers’ & Nadler’s Questions

Kucinich & Sheila Jackson Lee Arguing Against Changes to FISA + Pelosi’s Support!

Wexler Questions McClellan in House Judiciary Ctte; Calls for Impeachment of VP

Dandelion Salad

CongressmanWexler

Wexler Questions former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan in House Judiciary Committee on June 20, 2008.

Shorter clip:”The Raw Story | Dem Rep. calls for im…“, posted with vodpod

and story: Raw Story: Dem Rep. calls for impeachment at McClellan testimony: video

see

Scott McClellan Before House Judiciary + Conyers’ & Nadler’s Questions

Gore Vidal’s Article of Impeachment (+ audio)

Support Rep. Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment + video (take action)

Dennis Kucinich Documents Grounds for Impeachment of Bush & Cheney (4 hours)

Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution + videos + transcript

Impeach

Scott McClellan Before House Judiciary + Conyers’ & Nadler’s Questions

Dandelion Salad

HouseJudiciary

June 20, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rep. Conyers (D-MI) opening statement at the testimony of Scott McClellan

Rep. Nadler’s Questions for Scott McClellan

Rep. Conyers’ Questions to Scott McClellan

see

Bruce Fein: McClellan, Impeachment and Congress

Kucinich: Articles of Impeachment 11-17 + 19

McClellan

CIA Leak Case

CIA Leak/Plame Case

Countdown: Out Of Gas + Fox Slime + McCain Caught Lying + McClellan To Testify + Moyers

Dandelion Salad

cmdrgmh

6-9-08

Out Of Gas/Economy Stupid

With gas over 4.00 a gal., McCain and his oil buddy’s Bush and Darth Dick started out at 1.47 a Gal. and now over 4.00 a gal.

Fox Slime’s Obama Again

The Phony Fox News Tramp E.D. Hill continues to slime Obama and She looks real Stupid doing It.

McCain Caught Lying On Tape

McCbush gets caught lying to the media on tape. McSenial is really senial.

Scott McClellan To Testify To Congress

Scott will testify to congress on June 20th 2008 about the Bush Admin.

[Moyers goes after Fox Reporter/Ambusher]

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

The Video Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Want You To See!

see

McClellan to testify before House in CIA leak case

Bill Moyers Takes on Fox News Producer

McClellan to testify before House in CIA leak case

Dandelion Salad

AP
asia.news.yahoo.com
Tuesday June 10, 4:58 AM

…continued

h/t: CLG

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Bill Moyers Journal: The Media, Mcclellan And The War

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal
PBS
June 6, 2008

The Media, Mcclellan And The War

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Scott McClellan, formerly White House press secretary and one of President George W. Bush’s closest advisors, has published a tell-all book with little new information about the propaganda campaign and the role of the press in selling the war. On this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers talks to three prominent journalists to find out why the book is such big news and whether anything has changed.

Bill Moyers speaks with Greg Mitchell, editor of the influential magazine about the newspaper industry, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, and two members from McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, one of the few news outlets to aggressively question the administration’s case for invading Iraq: John Walcott, the bureau chief and John Landay, senior national security and intelligence correspondent. …

transcript and video

Dr. Ronald Walters and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

What happens now? That’s the question campaign watchers, Democratic Party operatives and voters are asking. The Annenberg School’s Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Dr. Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program at the University of Maryland, contemplate what’s next for Obama, Clinton and the rest of the election cycle.

When he appeared on the JOURNAL on December 14, 2007, Dr. Ronald Walters said this about Senator Obama’s chances of becoming president of the United States:

“Mathematically and analytically there’s the chance, yes, that he could win. When you look at the history of this country and the history of racism and race in particular there is a huge, huge doubt that he will eventually become president of the United States.”

transcript and video

On the Democratic Party and its new nominee

transcript and video

***

Essay on the Democratic Nominee

PBS

see

The Empire – A Status Report by William Blum

MIR: McClellan – Our Minister of Misinformation

Bill Moyers addresses NCMR 2008 (must see)

The Empire – A Status Report by William Blum

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
June 6, 2008

The Anti-Empire Report

Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life

The Empire — A Status Report

There are a number of expressions and slogans associated with the Nazi regime in Germany which have become commonly known in English.

“Sieg Heil!” — Victory Hail!
“Arbeit macht frei” — Work will make you free.
“Denn heute gehört uns Deutschland und morgen die ganze Welt” — Today Germany, tomorrow the world
But none perhaps is better known than “Deutschland über alles” — Germany above all.

Thus I was taken aback when I happened to come across the website of the United States Air Force — http://www.airforce.com/ — and saw on its first page a heading “Above all”. Lest you think that this refers simply and innocently to planes high up in the air, this page links to another — http://www.airforce.com/achangingworld/ — where “Above all” is repeated even more prominently, with links to sites for “Air Dominance”, “Space Dominance”, and “Cyber Dominance”, each of which in turn repeats “Above all”. These guys don’t kid around. They’re not your father’s imperialist war mongers. If they’re planning on a new “thousand-year Reich”, let’s hope that their fate is no better than the original, which lasted 12 years.

The events of recent years indicate that the world is wizening up to and becoming less intimidated by Washington’s overarching ambition for world dominance. Latin America is increasingly attempting to escape the empire’s clutches. Leaders keenly aware of how US imperialism works and determined to keep it out of their own country are in power in Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, and perhaps the latest addition, Paraguay.

And now Africa has turned down Washington’s offer to be part of the imperial family. African governments have refused to host Africom, the US Africa Command. The Washington Post reported that “worry swept the continent that the United States planned major new military installations in Africa”, and despite the promise of new development and security partnerships, many Africans concluded that Africom was primarily an extension of US counterterrorism policy, intended to keep an eye on Africa’s large Muslim population. The United States “equates terrorism with Islam,” said a senior Kenyan diplomat, and few African governments wanted to be seen as inviting US surveillance on their own people. [note from your editor: It would be more instructive to equate anti-American terrorism with American foreign policy, including building military bases in other people’s countries.]

When Bush visited Africa in February, he was told by the Ghanian president: “You’re not going to build any bases in Ghana.” US-funded aid groups protested plans to expand the American military’s role in economic development in Africa, sharply objecting to working alongside US troops. Said an Africom officer: “[Africom] was seen as a massive infusion of military might onto a continent that was quite proud of having removed foreign powers from its soil.”[1]

There’s also the oil factor. The US imports more oil from African nations than from Saudi Arabia, and the continent has huge unexplored areas. This undoubtedly is a major motivation behind Washington’s desire for an expanded military presence in the region. The United States is not about to take Africa’s rejection of Africom as the last word; indeed, some of the tough rhetoric by African officials may be for public consumption, for the US already has somewhat of a military presence on the continent. It will be interesting to observe the ongoing tug of war between Washington and African nationalists/anti-imperialists over expansion of the American presence.

Democracy American Style. You gotta problem wit dat?

Here’s White House spokeswoman Dana Perino at a recent press briefing:

Reporter: The American people are being asked to die and pay for this, and you’re saying that they have no say in this war?
Perino: I didn’t say that … this President was elected —
Reporter: Well, what it amounts to is you saying we have no input at all.
Perino: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.[2]

In 1941, Edward Dowling, editor and priest, commented: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”

Can we look forward to Perino’s memoir after she leaves the White House in which, like her predecessor Scott McClellan recently, she confesses that she was part of a “permanent campaign” mode to deceive the American public? I’m prepared to welcome her into the fold as I have McClellan. I have a soft spot in my heart for political late bloomers. I used to work for the State Department when I was a good, loyal anti-communist.

Washington’s grand and noble new ally in the Free World

Scott McClellan has been criticized for not expressing his reservations about Bush administration policies while still at the White House. This would have indeed taken a measure of courage few people have, and likely meant his job and career committing suicide. I’m reminded of Carla Del Ponte, the Swiss diplomat who in 1999 became Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, Netherlands. In accordance with her official duties, she looked into possible war crimes of all the participants in the conflicts of the 1990s surrounding the breakup of Yugoslavia and the NATO (read the United States) 78-day bombing of Serbia and its province of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians were trying to secede. In late December 1999, in an interview with The Observer of London, Del Ponte was asked if she was prepared to press criminal charges against NATO personnel (and not just against the former Yugoslav republics). She replied: “If I am not willing to do that, I am not in the right place. I must give up my mission.”

The Tribunal then announced that it had completed a study of possible NATO crimes, declaring: “It is very important for this tribunal to assert its authority over any and all authorities to the armed conflict within the former Yugoslavia.”

Was this a sign from heaven that the new millennium (2000 was but a week away) was going to be one of more equal international justice? Could this really be?

No, it couldn’t. From official quarters, military and civilian, of the United States and Canada, came disbelief, shock, anger, denials … “appalling” … “unjustified”. Del Ponte got the message. Her office quickly issued a statement: “NATO is not under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo.”[3]

Del Ponte remained in her position until the end of 2007, leaving to become the Swiss ambassador to Argentina; at the same time writing a book about her time with the Tribunal — “The Hunt: Me and War Criminals”, published two months ago but available at the moment only in Italian. It hasn’t been much reported yet what del Ponte has said about NATO, but the book has already created a scandal in Europe, for in it she reveals how the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) abducted hundreds of Serbs in 1999, and took them to Kosovo’s fellow Muslims in Albania where they were killed, their kidneys and other body parts then removed and sold for transplant in other countries.

The KLA for years has been engaging in other equally charming activities, such as heavy trafficking in drugs, trafficking in women, various acts of terrorism, and carrying out ethnic cleansing of Serbs who have had the bad fortune to be in Kosovo because it’s long been their home. Between 1998 and 2002, the KLA appeared at times on the State Department terrorism list; at first because of its tactic of targeting innocent Serb civilians in order to provoke retaliation from Serbian troops; later because Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries, including some tied to al Qaeda, were fighting alongside the KLA, as they were in Bosnia with the Bosnian Muslims during the 1990s Yugoslav civil wars.[4] The KLA remained on the terrorist list until the US decided to make them an ally, in some measure due to the existence of a major American military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel. (It’s remarkable, is it not, how these bases pop up all around the world?) In November 2005, following a visit there, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described the camp as a “smaller version of Guantanamo”, referring to the detainees there at the time from Washington’s various wars, including the so-called War on Terror.[5]

On February 17 of this year, in a move of highly questionable international legality, the KLA declared the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. The next day the United States recognized this new “nation”, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory. The new country has as its prime minister a gentleman named Hashim Thaci, described in Del Ponte’s book as the brain behind the abductions of Serbs and the sale of their organs. The new gangster state of Kosovo is supported by Washington and other Western powers who can’t forgive Serbia-Yugoslavia-Milosevic — “the last communists of Europe” — for not wanting to wholeheartedly embrace the NATO/US/European Union triumvirate, which recognizes no higher power, United Nations or other. The independent state of Kosovo is regarded as reliably pro-west, a state that will serve as a militarized outpost for the triumvirate, which is intent on further encircling Russia and pushing it out of Europe.

In her book, Del Ponte asserts that there was sufficient evidence for prosecution of Kosovo Albanians involved in war crimes, but the investigation “was nipped in the bud” focusing instead on “the crimes committed by Serbia.” She claims that she could do nothing because it was next to impossible to collect evidence in Kosovo, which was swarming with criminals, in and out of the government. Witnesses were intimidated, and even judges in The Hague were afraid of the Kosovo Albanians.

In April, the Swiss Foreign Department issued a statement that Del Ponte’s book “contains statements which are impermissible for a representative of the government of Switzerland”, ordered her to return to her ambassadorial post in Argentina, and prohibited any further appearances promoting her book. The Swiss have officially recognized the independence of Kosovo and established an embassy in the country. Kosovo appears likely to remain a highly controversial issue in Europe and Washington for some time to come.[6]

Reason number 3,468 to yearn for the lifting of the capitalist weight from our souls

My phone company, Verizon, recently raised the monthly charge for my international call plan by 30 percent. I phoned them to find out the reason for this and was told that their competitors had raised their charge for the international plan and so Verizon was doing the same. “To stay competitive”, the earnest young man told me. I thought I must be misunderstanding him. We’ve all been raised to believe that one of the beauties of capitalism is that it provides a competitive environment which induces businesses to lower their rates so as to lure away customers from their competitors. In the end, the consumer benefits from lower prices. And this makes sense, at least within the capitalist framework. (Although there have of course been numerous cases of large companies lowering prices to force a small company — which initiated the price cuts — out of business, after which the large companies raise their prices back up.) But now? Now we’re told that competition leads to price increases. What, pray tell, is there left of the system for us to believe in?

Supply and demand? Like in Burma, following the recent devastating cyclone? Prices for food and other essentials have risen significantly since the disaster. As they should, according to the revered and beloved law of supply and demand, inasmuch as things are obviously in short supply in Burma and people’s needs are plainly much greater than usual. What could make more sense under circumstances of human desperation than to raise prices?

Yet, though questioning the law of supply and demand is normally regarded in the same light as being skeptical of the law of gravity, I have to do so, and refer to things I’ve expressed before: The price of gasoline in the United States has been increasing on a regular basis for a rather long time now, but there’s no shortage of supply. There are no lines of cars waiting hours at gas stations trying to fill up before the pumps run dry. And there’s been a considerable fall in demand as less-than-rich drivers cut back on car use. It does not require total cynicism to wonder whether the law of supply and demand has been repealed. Or can it be that what is known as “supply and demand” is not really any kind of immutable “law”, but rather (choke, gasp) “corporate policies”?

The oil companies are currently spending big bucks to convince the American public that the super-high gasoline prices are not the companies’ fault. “The industry,” reported the Washington Post, “is trying to convince voters — who, in turn, will make the case to their members of Congress — that rising energy prices are not the producers’ fault and that government efforts to punish the industry, especially with higher taxes, would only make pricing problems worse.”[7]

Do the oil companies think they’re being misunderstood? The next time you run into a friendly oil company executive ask him this: “If you lowered prices to what they were two years ago, would consumers stage protests outside your headquarters? Would the FBI raid your offices? Would your breathtakingly obscenely high profits drop into the red? Could you still maintain your decadent millionaire lifestyle? The oil companies are perfectly free to very significantly lower prices without anything that you or I would call financial suffering. But they don’t do it. So what’s being misunderstood by the public which obliges the companies to spend millions on advertisements? Money which could go toward price reductions.

Oil company executives at least produce a useful product compared to people in the hedge funds business. What are hedge funds, you ask? They’re private, largely unregulated pools of capital whose managers can buy or sell any kind of assets. The income of the fund’s executives — often in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes even a billion — is taxed as capital gains, a much lower tax rate than if it were taxed as regular earnings. One can say that hedge funds are simply pure speculation carried to absurdity; typical of the new American Dream: getting rich through speculation and inheritance instead of through skill, enterprise, and filling a human social need.

Here is Daniel Strachman, a former hedge fund consultant and author of “The Fundamentals of Hedge Fund Management.” He’s skeptical of raising taxes on hedge fund managers, saying they should be rewarded for taking huge risks. [So do firefighters, police officers, and bank robbers of course.] Most managers have their own money in their funds, he declares, and suffer massive losses when their investments go bad. “It’s clear somebody has to win and somebody has to lose”, says Strachman. “It’s not pretty at all because people say, ‘Oh my God. Look how much money these guys are making while people are losing their homes and are complaining about the cost of eggs and sugar.’ But so what? We don’t live in a society that is pretty all the time. That’s why it’s capitalism.”[8]

NOTES
[1] Washington Post, June 1, 2008, p.18

[2] White House press briefing, March 20, 2008

[3] The Observer (London), December 26, 1999; Washington Times, December 30 and 31, 1999; New York Times, December 30, 1999

[4] There are numerous articles in the world press of the past 20 years about the KLA’s inordinate thuggery; Google “KLA” and one or more of the key words, such as drugs, prostitution, ethnic cleansing, transplants, etc.

[5] http://wikipedia.org/, under “Camp Bondsteel”

[6] Del Ponte’s book and the turmoil it’s produced have been largely ignored in the US media, but if one does a Google on her name and the book, one will find many reports from Europe.

[7] Washington Post, May 9, 2008, p.D1

[8] Washington Post, April 17, 2008, p.D1

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned. www.killinghope.org

***

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

by William Blum

William Blum book

see

Blum-William

Halliburton Wins $9 Billion No-Bid Contract To Fix Space Station Toilet (satire)

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 4, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Halliburton is no Johnny-come-lately to solving difficult and unique problems and their latest project is no exception – supplying a new pump to repair the malfunctioning john on the International Space Station. “When we heard that the Russian built toilet quit working, we were flush with excitement because we knew just how to fix the problem with our good old American ingenuity,” said Halliburton CEO Ted Lasar from their Dubai office.

“We had to forgo the usual bid procedure,” said Vice President Dick Cheney, “as it was imperative we fix the unit immediately, if you will, because the sanitary condition on the space station was in its final throes.” “Nine billion is a bargain,” said a NASA spokesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, as they parked their brand new Lexus, “because you don’t want to be caught SOL up there. They might not hear you scream in space, but they can still smell you.”

Halliburton’s next project will also involve a clean-up of sorts. “We hear there is a real mess over at Scottie McClellan’s house,” said Sid Bartolo a company spokesman, “and we need to take care of it before there are any more unfortunate leaks.”

see

Bush’s new book: It’s all McClellan’s fault (satire)

MIR: McClellan – Our Minister of Misinformation

Countdown: McClellan Interview

McClellan Book: Nothing New

Scott McClellan’s first interview! (vids)

White House Puzzled Over McClellan Book: We Taught Him To Lie, Now He’s Forgotten How

Countdown: Excerpts from McClellan’s Book + Candy-Gramm for McCain

Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq