Thursday, February 26, 2004

This article reminds us that deception about the Iraqi threat to the U.S. originated with the Clinton White House. Useful ammo for responding to the "anyone but Bush" crowd. The problem is not so much this or that presidential administration as it is the entire history of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. As we fight to unseat King George the Illegitimate and his cabal of neo-con artists it is important to bear this in mind.

A Legacy of Lies:
President Bush misled the nation about the threat
Iraq posed. But he wasn't the first to do so.

Seth Ackerman
Mother Jones. January/February 2004 Issue

It was a devastating blow to the White House.
David Kay, the man hand-picked by the Bush
administration to lead the search for weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq, confirmed to a Senate
committee in late January that the intelligence
supporting Washington's case for war against
Saddam Hussein was baseless.

"It turns out we were all wrong and that is most disturbing," Kay declared.

But who exactly got it wrong? Intelligence
agencies obviously exaggerated Iraq's WMD
potential, and it's well known that they were
egged on by their political masters in the Bush
administration. But that's not the whole story.
In fact, Bush's manipulation of Iraq intelligence
was built on a foundation established during the
late 1990's, when Bill Clinton was in the White

Faced with the need to justify an economically
devastating and internationally unpopular embargo
of Iraq, the Clinton administration engaged in a
pattern of stretching and distorting weapons data
to bolster their claim that Saddam Hussein was
still hiding an illicit arsenal. The Clinton
White House never used that "intelligence" to
push for an invasion of Iraq, as Bush so
effectively did. But in its desperate quest to
salvage a crumbling Iraq policy, the Clinton
White House laid the groundwork for the
deceptions of their successors.

In a November 1997 Sunday morning appearance on
ABC, Defense Secretary William Cohen held up a
five-pound bag of sugar for the cameras to
dramatize the threat of Iraqi anthrax: "This
amount of anthrax could be spread over a city --
let's say the size of Washington. It would
destroy at least half the population of that
city. One breath and you are likely to face death
within five days."

"It could wipe out populations of whole
countries!" Cokie Roberts gasped as Cohen
described the Iraqi arsenal. "Millions,
millions," Cohen responded, "if it were properly

A year later, at a nationally televised town hall
meeting on Iraq at Ohio State University,
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought
home the dangers: "Iraq is a long way from Ohio,
but what happens there matters a great deal here.
For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state
will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons
against us or our allies is the greatest security
threat we face. The evidence is strong that Iraq
continues to hide prohibited weapons and

These claims from the Clinton team, we now know,
were every bit as wrong as the exaggerated
assertions of the Bush administration.

In recent weeks, at least one former Clinton
official - former White House advisor Kenneth
Pollack -- has dutifully acknowledged that fact.
An influential supporter of Bush's invasion
plans, Pollack's best-selling 2002 book 'The
Threatening Storm,' published just as the debate
over war was heating up, convinced many waverers
of the dangers posed by Saddam's supposed WMD

Now, Pollack has revisited his prewar arguments.
In a sort of analytical mea culpa published in
The Atlantic, he tries to explain how he and his
Clinton colleagues so badly misread the WMD
evidence. Everyone outside Iraq, he admits,
missed important signs that Saddam had abandoned
serious efforts at WMD capability. Pollack chalks
up this intelligence blunder to a straightforward
case of assuming the worst. The Clinton
administration and others simply "assumed that
Iraq's earlier behavior was continuing more or
less in a straight line. This misperception took
on considerable weight" as the years passed.

In fact, there is compelling evidence to suggest
that the Clinton administration's false alarms on
Iraqi weapons, like Bush's, were much more than
just honest mistakes. One astonishing series of
events in particular illustrates the ways in
which the Clinton White House cleared the path
for Bush's war.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

The shameless hypocrisy of the Fox news gang-- always lambasting CNN for its supposed liberal biases, always indignant about "spin" on other networks-- is exposed here yet again. Not a surprising story but one that should be well publicized nonetheless.

FOX News isn't Conservative; They Just Give Money to Bush
By Scott Spicciati Editor | Scott's Archive
January 19, 2004

The pundits at FOX News still haven't gotten over Dan Rather's appearance at a Democratic fundraiser a few years ago -- he says he didn't know it was a fundraiser -- that's a different debate. But the folks at FOX don't mind doing it themselves, while at it giving lots of money directly to the Bush reelection campaign.

More than 100 journalists and executives at major media companies, from NBC's top executive to a Fox News anchor to reporters or editors for the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, CBS and ABC, have made political contributions in recent years.

A Washington Post examination of Federal Election Commission records for the past five years showed that many of the contributors were violating their own company rules. But the rules vary widely, reporter Howard Kurtz added, noting that some media firms "allow political donations, others bar them for newsroom employees but not business staffers, and still others restrict only those covering politics."

Fox managing editor for business Neil Cavuto gave $1,000 to a fund-raising dinner for President Bush in 2002, a move that didn’t elate Fox executives.

It should be no surprise Cavuto was caught given money to President Bush, the guy has supported nearly every one of the President's policies over the last three years. Former FOX News Sunday host Tony Snow didn't appear in the report, but we can assume where his alliances camp as before joining Fox he worked directly for the current president's father's administration.

Cavuto isn't just a political conservative, on his business program he's very conservative fiscally, and when he anchors "Your World" he also plays the 'moral crusader', recently lambasting Billy Bob Thorton's Christmas hit, "Bad Santa," a crude and vulgar comedy I rated a "B-". Is anybody really surprised Cavuto dished out four-figures to Team Bush?

"I wish he hadn't," Fox News Vice President John Moody, who responded by circulating a policy Friday that discourages such contributions. "I hope our people will follow the advice I've given to them voluntarily. The potential perception is that they favor one candidate over the other." But he told Kurtz he wouldn't ban the practice.

You wonder if the producers at FOX get overtime pay for working the election season. They always seem to busy "circulating policies" and forwarding "e-mails" telling their staff including editors to be on their best non-partisan behavior. Last year the staff at FOX was told to no longer refer to then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Governator or anything else that had to do with his movie career in fear that it might jeopardize the legitimacy of his campaign. Yet there seems to be no problem at Fox with the headline "Wacko Jacko" masking the television screen during the Michael Jackson trial coverage.

Griffin Jenkins, a Fox producer for Oliver North, gave $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney re-election committee. As with Cavuto, it shouldn't shock you that anybody at War Stories with Oliver North would donate to Bush. North is just one of many journalists at FOX News who've written books over the last few years slamming either former President Bill Clinton or the Democratic Party.

As I pointed out, the report shows that journalists gave money to both parties. However no one individual from a mainstream news source donated as much as Melanie Kirkpatrick, associate editor of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. She gave a personal donation of $20,000 to the Republican National Committee along with another $1,000 to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

So the next time you tune into The O'Reilly Factor and hear Bill complain that the Democrats have George Soros and as weapons, let him know that Bush has allies to, and the burrow inside the Fox News studio.

Friday, February 13, 2004

The Costs of Empire
Part 1 - Starting with a solid base
By David Isenberg*
Asia Times, February 13 2004

*David Isenberg, a senior analyst with the Washington-based British American
Security Information Council (BASIC), has a wide background in arms control
and national security issues.

Somewhere on the Yale University campus, Paul Michael Kennedy must be
smiling. Remember Paul Kennedy? Back in 1987 the then relatively unknown
history professor published the book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,
and almost instantaneously introduced the expression "imperial overstretch"
into popular discourse. Although it did not take long for right-wing
commentators to attack him, saying that it was the Soviet, not the US empire
that had overstretched, his basic point remains the same.

As he wrote 10 years later in Atlantic Magazine: "The United States now runs
the risk, so familiar to historians of the rise and fall of Great Powers, of
what might be called 'imperial overstretch': that is to say, decision-makers
in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the total of the
United States's global interests and obligations is nowadays far too large
for the country to be able to defend them all simultaneously."

Well, now talk of empire is back in vogue since the war in Iraq has focused
the attention of the American public, normally caught up in the soma of
reality television, to an unusual degree on the burdens and costs of empire.

But while empire in all its imperial, multicolored, geopolitical hues may be
an alluring sight, there is one thing to keep in mind. The process of
creating and maintaining an empire, like making sausage or passing
congressional legislation, is not a pretty process. In fact, it is costly,
very costly, in terms of lives, money and liberty. It requires a large
military establishment, which can consume a substantial, if not
disproportionate amount of the national treasury. And it requires stationing
and deploying forces around the world.

A base for every need

It is not easy being a global military power. It takes a lot of behind the
scenes work to allow the F-15s and F-16s to fly over Iraq airspace, for the
soldiers and Marines to deploy to Japan and South Korea, and to get the M-1
tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles and a myriad of other military equipment
to the far-flung corners of the empire. Despite the rush to outsource
federal programs, this is not yet a job that the Pentagon is willing to
entrust to Federal Express or DHL.

Even in the 21st century, with jet and space travel, the world is a large
place. The division of the world into military fiefdoms, or what US military
planners euphemistically call the Unified Command Plan, requires something
very old-fashioned: a network of overseas military bases.

True, the contours of the network change, waxing and waning over time. Many
overseas US military bases overseas have closed since the end of the Cold
War, and the number of US troops permanently stationed overseas has dropped
by more than 250,000 since the Berlin Wall fell. But preparations to deploy
American legions remain a primary Pentagon concern.

In fact, a number of individuals who now are part of the Bush administration
(including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld)
produced in the fall of 2000 a 90-page blueprint for transforming the US
military and the nation's global role. The report, "Rebuilding America's
Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century" released by the
Project for the New American Century, argued that the US should not only
attain and maintain military dominance, but should also project it with a
worldwide network of forward operating bases over and above the country's
already extensive overseas deployments.

That is why the Pentagon plans to dramatically change the shape of US
military basing abroad. Unlike the Cold War era with its large permanent
garrisons - like the over 200,000 troops that were kept in Germany - the
fashion nowadays is for more temporary forward deployments to Spartan bases.
While such plans were in the works before President George W Bush took
office, September 11, 2001, did much to accelerate them. The goal is to
create a web of far-flung, lean, forward-operating bases, maintained in
peacetime only by small permanent support units, with fighting forces
deployed from the US when necessary. To that end, a large reduction of the
traditional US military presence in Europe is necessary.

The Pentagon is quite open and candid about it. In a speech last December 3,
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said: "President Bush
and Secretary Rumsfeld likewise are thinking about the relatively distant
future. In developing plans to realign our forces abroad they're not focused
on the diplomatic issues of the moment but on the strategic requirements and
opportunities of the coming decades. Let's be clear about what we are and
what we're not aiming to achieve through transforming our global defense

"We are not aiming at retrenching it, curtailing US commitments,
isolationism or unilateralism. On the contrary, our realignment plans are
motivated by appreciation of the strategic value of defense alliances and
partnerships with other states. We are aiming to increase our ability to
fulfill our international commitments more effectively. We're aiming to
ensure that our alliances are capable, affordable, sustainable and relevant
in the future. We're not focused narrowly on force levels that are
addressing force capabilities. We are not talking about fighting in place
but moving to the fight. We are not talking only about basing, we're talking
about the ability to move forces when and where needed.

"In transforming the US global defense posture we want to make our forces
more responsive, given the world's many strategic uncertainties. We want to
benefit as much as possible from the strategic pre-positioning of equipment
and support. We want to make better use of our capabilities by thinking of
our forces globally rather than as simply regional assets. We want to be
able to bring more combat capabilities to bear in less time; that is, we
to have the ability to surge our forces to crisis spots from wherever those
forces might be."

Feith reiterated the point during a speech a week later in Romania. He said:
"What we are interested in doing as we realign our global posture is taking
advantage of the opportunity, with a much lighter footprint, to have the
kinds of capabilities around the world that will allow us to react quickly
with easily deployed forces, with lighter forces, to provide security and
shore up our commitments around the world."

Last year saw the removal of some US troops from Germany and the
establishment of new bases in, as Rumsfeld phrased it, "New Europe", the new
North Atlantic Treaty Organization members Romania and Bulgaria.

Also it was reported that the 1st Armored Division, half the US Army's
Europe combat force, traditionally based in Europe, would not return to its
German bases. During the invasion of Iraq, air bases opened up for US use in
Bulgaria's Sarajevo airfield, where refueling aircraft were based; the
Bulgarian port of Burgas, the Romanian port Constanta and the Romanian
military airfield of Mihail Kogalniceanu.

US military plans also include huge ex-Warsaw Pact training ranges and other
bases in Poland and Hungary. Thousands of American and British troops have
been conducting exercises on the Drawsko Pomorskiy and Wedrzyn training
areas since 1996, taking advantage of the lack of restrictions compared to
Germany. Use of the Krzesiny airbase outside Poznan, Poland, is also
anticipated. In January Poland's Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski
announced that Poland had launched negotiations with Washington on hosting
US military bases on its territory.

The Taszar airbase in Hungary is also a possible candidate for an increased
US presence, as it has supported US operations in the region since the US
entry into Bosnia in 1995.

During his recent Asian tour, General Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said that the US is likely to use the joint military
training facility it is seeking to establish in northern Australia to
pre-position equipment and material.

The Air Force wants to return to the Cold War-era practice of basing fighter
jets and other strike and support planes on Guam, the Pacific island that is
in ready striking distance of the Korean peninsula, according to General
William J Begert, commander of Pacific Air Forces.

An empire that spans the world

Despite this restructuring, the US military empire is still staggeringly
large. The global "footprint" as it is called, conjuring up interesting
images of just who and what the US treads on, spans the world.

Currently Pentagon officials are in the final throes of crafting an updated
National Military Strategy that is expected to acknowledge a need to
redistribute US forces and revamp their chains of command throughout the
globe. "Global sourcing", a term used to describe the distribution of US
forces across the Earth, is also an issue to be addressed in the new
national military strategy. The new posture is expected to carry with it a
new lingo for bases, including "power projection hubs", main operating bases
and more flexible and agile "forward operating sites".

Under the plan, US troops, rather than inhabiting a small number of large
garrisons, would rotate through dozens of small bases throughout the world
on exercises, staying for only a few weeks or months at a time. Those bases
could serve as launching points for military strikes to protect US interests
or quickly strike out at terrorists.

Part of this redistribution is what author Chalmers Johnson calls
"Baseworld". Johnson writes: "It's not easy to assess the size or exact
value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are
misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's
annual 'Base Structure Report' for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign
and domestic US military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents
702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the
US and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require
at least [US]$113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases - surely far
too low a figure, but still larger than the gross domestic product of most
countries - and an estimated $592 billion to replace all of them. The
military high command deploys to its overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed
personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense
civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired
foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks,
hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases
4,844 more.

"These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the
actual bases that we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to
mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo - even though it is the site
of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by
Kellogg, Brown & Root. The report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar and Uzbekistan, although the US
military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called
arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since September 11."

Nor does it include new facilities being built. In Iraq engineers from the
1st Armored Division are midway through a $800 million project to build half
a dozen camps for the incoming 1st Cavalry Division. The new outposts,
dubbed enduring camps, will improve living quarters for soldiers and allow
the military to return key infrastructure sites within the Iraqi capital to
the emerging government. According to these include such
places as Camps Anaconda, Dogwood and Falcon, just to name a few.

The largest of the new camps, Camp Victory North, will be twice the size of
Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo - currently one of the largest overseas posts built
since the Vietnam War.

Also bear in mind that the deployment of military forces abroad means
negotiating complicated legal arrangements, euphemistically called Status of
Forces agreements, so that US forces remain largely immune from host country
laws. The United States has yet to begin serious negotiations with Iraqis on
an agreement to guarantee that American troops in Iraq will remain immune
from arrest and prosecution by local authorities once a new Baghdad
government takes over in June.

This was a way of life for 19th century imperialists, who, for example,
carved out little extraterritorial enclaves all along the coast of China.
This was certainly the case of the collapsed empire of the Soviet Union,
whose military men led privileged lives elsewhere in the communist bloc.
This is the peacetime way of life of the US military, whose forces abroad
are largely shielded from local judgments. Increasingly, if the Bush
administration has its way (thanks to bilateral agreements forced on other
nations), American soldiers in wartime will be responsible to no other body,
certainly not to the new International Criminal Court, for crimes of war or
crimes against humanity.

David Isenberg, a senior analyst with the Washington-based British American
Security Information Council (BASIC), has a wide background in arms control
and national security issues.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Quick update. According to today's Chicago Tribune, the
justice department has backed off on its demand that Drake University turn over records relating to a campus anti-war forum. The paper cited public outcry as instrumental in causing the DOJ to "reaccess" its request. In your face John Ashcroft!

Monday, February 09, 2004

A terrifying development. This is, no doubt, only the beginning. Of course, the only way to stop such harassment is to organize even more, and bigger, shows of dissent. Ashcroft and his jackbooted thugs can jail and intimidate isolated groups of a dozen people. But they can't jail a movement of millions (and they can't jail the spirit either).

University Ordered to Turn Over Records on Anti-War Activists

by Ryan J. Foley

DES MOINES, Iowa - In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in
decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over
records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were
served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15
forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury
Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena
orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local
chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal
activist organization that sponsored the forum.

The group, once targeted for alleged ties to communism in the 1950s,
announced Friday it will ask a federal court to quash the subpoena on

"The law is clear that the use of the grand jury to investigate
protected political activities or to intimidate protesters exceeds
its authority," guild President Michael Ayers said in a statement.

Representatives of the Lawyer's Guild and the American Civil
Liberties Union said they had not heard of such a subpoena being
served on any U.S. university in decades.

Those served subpoenas include the leader of the Catholic Peace
Ministry, the former coordinator of the Iowa Peace Network, a member
of the Catholic Worker House, and an anti-war activist who visited
Iraq in 2002.

They say the subpoenas are intended to stifle dissent.

"This is exactly what people feared would happen," said Brian Terrell
of the peace ministry, one of those subpoenaed. "The civil liberties
of everyone in this country are in danger. How we handle that here in
Iowa is very important on how things are going to happen in this
country from now on."

The forum, titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!"
came the day before 12 protesters were arrested at an anti-war rally
at Iowa National Guard headquarters in Johnston. Organizers say the
forum included nonviolence training for people planning to

The targets of the subpoenas believe investigators are trying to link
them to an incident that occurred during the rally. A Grinnell
College librarian was charged with misdemeanor assault on a peace
officer; she has pleaded innocent, saying she simply went limp and
resisted arrest.

"The best approach is not to speculate and see what we learn on
Tuesday" when the four testify, said Ben Stone, executive director of
the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, which is representing one of the

Mark Smith, a lobbyist for the Washington-based American Association
of University Professors, said he had not heard of any similar case
of a U.S. university being subpoenaed for such records.

He said the case brings back fears of the "red squads" of the 1950s
and campus clampdowns on Vietnam War protesters.

According to a copy obtained by The Associated Press, the Drake
subpoena asks for records of the request for a meeting room, "all
documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the
meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons
that actually attended the meeting."

It also asks for campus security records "reflecting any observations
made of the Nov. 15, 2003, meeting, including any records of persons
in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of
the meeting."

Several officials of Drake, a private university with about 5,000
students, refused to comment Friday, including school spokeswoman
Andrea McDonough. She referred questions to a lawyer representing the
school, Steve Serck, who also would not comment.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued
a gag order forbidding school officials from discussing the subpoena.


Drake University:
National Lawyers Guild:

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Mother Jones
January 1, 2004

The lie factory: only weeks after 9/11, the Bush
administration set up a secret Pentagon unit to
create the case for invading Iraq. Here is the inside
story of how they pushed disinformation and bogus
intelligence and led the nation to war.

By Robert Dryfuss & Jason Vest

It's a crisp fall day in western Virginia, a hundred
miles from Washington, D.C., and a breeze is rustling
the red and gold leaves of the Shenandoah hills. On
the weather-beaten wood porch of a ramshackle 90-year
-old farmhouse, at the end of a winding dirt-and-gravel
road, Lt. Colonel Katen Kwiatkowski is perched on a
plastic chair, wearing shorts, a purple sweatshirt,
and muddy sneakers. Two scrawny dogs and a lone cat
are on the prowl, and the air is filled with swarms
of ladybugs.

So far, she says, no investigators have come knocking.
Not from the Central Intelligence Agency, which
conducted an internal inquiry into intelligence on Iraq,
not from the congressional intelligence committees, not
from the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory
Board. All of those bodies are ostensibly looking into
the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence, amid
charges that the White House and the Pentagon
exaggerated, distorted, or just plain lied about Iraq's
links to Al Qaeda terrorists and its possession of
nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In her hands,
Kwiatkowski holds several pieces of the puzzle. Yet she,
along with a score of other career officers recently
retired or shuffled off to other jobs, has not been
approached by anyone.

Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who
served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA)
unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed
how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured
scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to
terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence--it was propaganda,"
she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence,
cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting,
usually by taking it out of context, often by
juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't
belong together." It was by turning such bogus
intelligence into talking points for U.S. officials--
including ominous lines in speeches by President Bush
and Vice President Cheney, along with Secretary of State
Colin Powell's testimony at the U.N. Security Council
last February--that the administration pushed American
public opinion into supporting an unnecessary war.

Until now, the story of how the Bush administration
produced its wildly exaggerated estimates of the threat
posed by Iraq has never been revealed in full. But, for
the first time, a detailed investigation by Mother
Jones, based on dozens of interviews--some on the
record, some with officials who insisted on anonymity--
exposes the workings of a secret Pentagon intelligence
unit and of the Defense Department's war-planning task
force, the Office of Special Plans. It's the story of a
close-knit team of ideologues who spent a decade or more
hammering out plans for an attack on Iraq and who used
the events of September 11, 2001 to set it into motion.

SIX MONTHS AFTER THE END of major combat in Iraq, the
United States had spent $ 300 million trying to find
banned weapons in Iraq, and President Bush was seeking $
600 million more to extend the search. Not found were
Iraq's Scuds and other long-range missiles, thousands of
barrels and tons of anthrax and botulism stock, sarin
and VX nerve agents, mustard gas, biological and
chemical munitions, mobile labs for producing biological
weapons, and any and all evidence of a reconstituted
nuclear-arms program, all of which had been repeatedly
cited as justification for the war. Also missing was
evidence of Iraqi collaboration with Al Qaeda.

The reports, virtually all false, of Iraqi weapons and
terrorism ties emanated from an apparatus that began to
gestate almost as soon as the Bush administration took
power. In the very first meeting of the Bush national-
security team, one day after President Bush took the
oath of office in January 2001, the issue of invading
Iraq was raised, according to one of the participants in
the meeting--and officials all the way down the line
started to get the message, long before 9/11. Indeed,
the Bush team at the Pentagon hadn't even been formally
installed before Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of
Defense, and Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of Defense
for policy, began putting together what would become the
vanguard for regime change in Iraq.

Both Wolfowitz and Feith have deep roots in the
neoconservative movement. One of the most influential
Washington neoconservatives in the foreign-policy
establishment during the Republicans' wilderness years
of the 1990s, Wolfowitz has long held that not taking
Baghdad in 1991 was a grievous mistake. He and others
now prominent in the administration said so repeatedly
over the past decade in a slew of letters and policy
papers from neoconservative groups like the Project for
the New American Century and the Committee for the
Liberation of Iraq. Feith, a former aide to Richard
Perle at the Pentagon in the 1980s and an activist in
far-right Zionist circles, held the view that there was
no difference between U.S. and Israeli security policy
and that the best way to secure both countries' future
was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem not by
serving as a broker, but with the United States as a
force for "regime change" in the region.

Called in to help organize the Iraq war-planning team
was a longtime Pentagon official, Harold Rhode, a
specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish,
and Farsi. Though Feith would not be officially
confirmed until July 2001, career military and civilian
officials in NESA began to watch his office with concern
after Rhode set up shop in Feith's office in early
January. Rhode, seen by many veteran staffers as an
ideological gadfly, was officially assigned to the
Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, an in-house
Pentagon think tank headed by fellow neocon Andrew
Marshall. Rhode helped Feith lay down the law about the
department's new anti-Iraq, and broadly anti-Arab,
orientation. In one telling incident, Rhode accosted and
harangued a visiting senior Arab diplomat, telling him
that there would be no "bartering in the bazaar
anymore... You're going to have to sit up and pay
attention when we say so."

Rhode refused to be interviewed for this story, saying
cryptically, "Those who speak, pay."

According to insiders, Rhode worked with Feith to purge
career Defense officials who weren't sufficiently
enthusiastic about the muscular anti-Iraq crusade that
Wolfowitz and Feith wanted. Rhode appeated to be
"pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense
Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us
with," says a former analyst. "They wanted nothing to do
with the professional staff. And they wanted us the fuck
out of there."

The unofficial, off-site recruitment office for Feith
and Rhode was the American Enterprise Institute, a
right-wing think tank whose 12th-floor conference room
in Washington is named for the dean of neoconservative
defense strategists, the late Albert Wohlstetter, an
influential RAND analyst and University of Chicago
mathematician. Headquartered at AEI is Richard Perle,
Wohlstetter's prize protege, the godfather of the AEI-
Defense Department nexus of neoconservatives who was
chairman of the Pentagon's influential Defense Policy
Board. Rhode, along with Michael Rubin, a former AEI
staffer who is also now at the Pentagon, was a
ubiquitous presence at AEI conferences on Iraq over the
past two years, and the two Pentagon officials seemed
almost to be serving as stage managers for the AEI
events, often sitting in the front row and speaking in
stage whispers to panelists and AEI officials. Just
after September 11, 2001, Feith and Rhode recruited
David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for
AEI, to serve as a Pentagon consultant.

Wurmser would be the founding participant of the
unnamed, secret intelligence unit at the Pentagon, set
up in Feith's office, which would be the nucleus of the
Defense Department's Iraq disinformation campaign that
was established within weeks of the attacks in New York
and Washington. While the CIA and other intelligence
agencies concentrated on Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda as
the culprit in the 9/11 attacks, Wolfowitz and Feith
obsessively focused on Iraq. It was a theory that was
discredited, even ridiculed, among intelligence
professionals. Daniel Benjamin, co-author of The Age of
Sacred Terror, was director of counterterrorism at the
National Security Council in the late 1990s. "In 1998,
we went through every piece of intelligence we could
find to see if there was a link between Al Qaeda and
Iraq," he says. "We came to the conclusion that our
intelligence agencies had it right: There was no
noteworthy relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. I
know that for a fact." Indeed, that was the consensus
among virtually all anti-terrorism specialists.

In short, Wurmser, backed by Feith and Rhode, set out to
prove what didn't exist.

IN AN ADMINISTRATION devoted to the notion of "Feith-
based intelligence," Wurmser was ideal. For years, he'd
been a shrill ideologue, part of the minority crusade
during the 1990s that was beating the drums for war
against Iraq. Along with Perle and Feith, in 1996
Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav, wrote a provocative
strategy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for
Securing the Realm." It called on Israel to work with
Jordan and Turkey to "contain, destabilize and roll
back" various states in the region, overthrow Saddam
Hussein in Iraq, press Jordan to restore a scion of the
Hashemite dynasty to the Iraqi throne, and, above all,
launch military assaults against Lebanon and Syria as a
"prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East
which would threaten Syria's territorial integrity."

In 1997, Wurmser wrote a column in the Wall Street
Journal called "Iraq Needs a Revolution" and the next
year co-signed a letter with Perle calling for all-out
U.S. support of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an
exile group led by Ahmad Chalabi, in promoting an
insurgency in Iraq. At AEI, Wurmser wrote Tyranny's
Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein,
essentially a book-length version of"A Clean Break" that
proposed an alliance between Jordan and the INC to
redraw the map of the Middle East. Among the mentors
cited by Wurmser in the book: Chalabi, Perle, and Feith.

The purpose of the unnamed intelligence unit, often
described as a Pentagon "cell," was to scour reports
from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the
National Security Agency, and other agencies to find
nuggets of information linking Iraq, Al Qaeda,
terrorism, and the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction (WMD). In a controversial press briefing in
October 2002, a year after Wurmser's unit was
established, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
acknowledged that a primary purpose of the unit was to
cull factoids, which were then used to disparage,
undermine, and contradict the CIA's reporting, which was
far more cautious and nuanced than Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz,
and Feith wanted. Rumsfeld particularly enjoyed
harassing the CIA staffer who briefed him every morning,
using the type of data produced by the intelligence
unit. "What I could do is say, 'Gee, what about this?'"
Rumsfeld noted. "'Or what about that? Has somebody
thought of this?'" Last June, when Feith was questioned
on the same topic at a briefing, he acknowledged that
the secret unit in fact looked at the connection between
Iraq and terrorism, saying, "You can't rely on
deterrence to deal with the problem of weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of state sponsors of terrorism
because [of] the possibility that those state sponsors
might employ chemical weapons or biological weapons by
means of a terrorist organization proxy...."

Though Feith, in that briefing, described Wurmser's unit
as an innocent project, "a global exercise" that was not
meant to put pressure on other intelligence agencies or
create skewed intelligence to fit preconceived policy
notions, many other sources assert that it did exactly
that. That the White House and the Pentagon put enormous
pressure on the CIA to go along with its version of
events has been widely reported, highlighted by visits
to CIA headquarters by Vice President Cheney and Lewis
Libby, his chief of staff. Led by Perle, the neocons
seethed with contempt for the CIA. The CIA's analysis,
said Perle, "isn't worth the paper it's printed on."
Standing in a crowded hallway during an AEI event, Perle
added, "The CIA is status quo oriented. They don't want
to take risks."

That became the mantra of the shadow agency within an

Putting Wurmser in charge of the unit meant that it was
being run by a pro-Iraq-war ideologue who'd spent years
calling for a pre-emptive invasion of Baghdad and who
was clearly predisposed to find what he wanted to see.
Adding another layer of dubious quality to the endeavor
was the man partnered with Wurmser, F. Michael Maloof.
Maloof, a former aide to Perle in the 1980s Pentagon,
was twice stripped of his high-level security
clearances--once in late 2001 and again last spring, for
various infractions. Maloof was also reportedly involved
in a bizarre scheme to broker contacts between Iraqi
officials and the Pentagon, channeled through Perle, in
what one report called a "rogue [intelligence]
operation" outside official CIA and Defense Intelligence
Agency channels.

As the momentum for war began to build in early 2002,
Wolfowitz and Feith beefed up the intelligence unit and
created an Iraq war-planning unit in the Pentagon's Near
East and South Asia Affairs section, run by Deputy
Undersecretary of Defense William Luti, under the rubric
"Office of Special Plans," or OSP; the new unit's
director was Abram N. Shulsky. By then, Wurmser had
moved on to a post as senior adviser to Undersecretary
of State John Bolton, yet another neocon, who was in
charge of the State Department's disarmament,
proliferation, and WMD office and was promoting the Iraq
war strategy there. Shulsky's OSP, which incorporated
the secret intelligence unit, took control, banishing
veteran experts--including Joseph McMillan, James
Russell, Larry Hanauer, and Marybeth McDevitt--who,
despite years of service to NESA, either were shuffled
off to other positions or retired. For the next year,
Luti and Shulsky not only would oversee war plans but
would act aggressively to shape the intelligence product
received by the White House.

Both Luti and Shulsky were neoconservatives who were
ideological soulmates of Wolfowitz and Feith. But Luti
was more than that. He'd come to the Pentagon directly
from the office of Vice President Cheney. That gave
Luti, a recently retired, decorated Navy captain whose
career ran from combat aviation to command of a
helicopter assault ship, extra clout. Along with his
colleague Colonel William Bruner, Luti had done a stint
as an aide to Newt Gingrich in 1996 and, like Perle and
Wolfowitz, was an acolyte of Wohlstetter's. "He makes
Ollie North look like a moderate," says a NESA veteran.

Shulsky had been on the Washington scene since the
mid-1970s. As a Senate intelligence committee staffer
for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, he began to work
with early neoconservatives like Perle, who was then an
aide to Senator Henry Jackson. Later, in the Reagan
years, Shulsky followed Perle to the Pentagon as Perle's
arms-control adviser. In the '90s, Shulsky co-authored a
book on intelligence called Silent Warfare, with Gary
Schmitt. Shulsky had served with Schmitt on Moynihan's
staff and they had remained friends. Asked about the
Pentagon's Iraq intelligence "cell," Schmitt--who is
currently the executive director of the Project for the
New American Century--says that he can't say much about
it "because one of my best friends is running it."

According to Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski, Luti and Shulsky
ran NESA and the Office of Special Plans with brutal
efficiency, purging people they disagreed with and
enforcing the party line. "It was organized like a
machine," she says. "The people working on the neocon
agenda had a narrow, well-defined political agenda. They
had a sense of mission." At NESA, Shulsky, she says,
began "hot-desking," or taking an office wherever he
could find one, working with Feith and Luti, before
formally taking the reins of the newly created OSP.
Together, she says, Luti and Shulsky turned cherry-
picked pieces of uncorroborated, anti-Iraq intelligence
into talking points, on issues like Iraq's WMD and its
links to Al Qaeda. Shulsky constantly updated these
papers, drawing on the intelligence unit, and circulated
them to Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld, and to
Vice President Cheney. "Of course, we never thought
they'd go directly to the White House," she adds.

Kwiatkowski recalls one meeting in which Luti, pressed
to finish a report, told the staff, "I've got to get
this over to 'Scooter' right away." She later found out
that "Scooter" was none other than Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. According
to Kwiatkowski, Cheney had direct ties through Luti into
NESA/OSP, a connection that was highly unorthodox.

"Never, ever, ever would a deputy undersecretary of
Defense work directly on a project for the vice
president," she says. "It was a little clue that we had
an informal network into Vice President Cheney's

Although Feith insists that the OSP did not seek to
gather its own intelligence, Kwiatkowski and others
sharply disagree. Staff working for Luti and Shulsky in
NESA/OSP churned out propaganda-style intelligence, she
says. As an example, she cited the work of a U.S.
intelligence officer and Arabic specialist, Navy Lt.
Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, who was a special
assistant to Luti. "His job was to peruse the Arabic-
language media to find articles that would incriminate
Saddam Hussein about terrorism, and he translated
these." Such raw intelligence is usually subject to a
thorough vetting process, tracked, verified, and checked
by intelligence professionals. But not at OSP--the
material that it produced found its way directly into
speeches by Bush, Cheney, and other officials.

According to Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official and
an intelligence specialist at the National War College,
the OSP officials routinely pushed lower-ranking staff
around on intelligence matters. "People were being
pulled aside [and being told], 'We saw your last piece
and it's not what we're looking for,'" he says. "It was
pretty blatant." Two State Department intelligence
officials, Greg Thielmann and Christian Westermann, have
both charged that pressure was being put on them to
shape intelligence to fit policy, in particular from
Bolton's office. "The Al Qaeda connection and nuclear
weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link
Iraq to an imminent security threat to the U.S.,"
Thielmann told the New York Times. "And the
administration was grossly distorting the intelligence
on both things."

BESIDES CHENEY, key members of the Pentagon's Defense
Policy Board, including Perle and ex-House Speaker Newt
Gingrich, all Iraq hawks, had direct input into
NESA/OSP. The offices Of NESA were located on the
Pentagon's fourth floor, seventh corridor of D Ring, and
the Policy Board's offices were directly below, on the
third floor. During the run-up to the Iraq war, Gingrich
often came up for closed-door meetings with Luti, who in
1996 had served as a congressional fellow in Speaker of
the House Gingrich's office.

As OSP got rolling, Luti brought in Colonel Bruner, a
former military aide to Gingrich, and, together, Luti
and Bruner opened the door to a vast flow of bogus
intelligence red to the Pentagon by Iraqi defectors
associated with Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress group
of exiles. Chalabi founded the Iraqi National Congress
in 1992, with the help of a shadowy CIA-connected
public-relations firm called the Rendon Group, one of
whose former employees, Francis Brooke, has been a top
aide to Chalabi ever since. A scion of an aristocratic
Iraqi family, Chalabi fled Baghdad at the age of 13, in
1958, when the corrupt Iraqi Hashemite monarchy was
overthrown by a coalition of communists and the Iraqi
military. In the late 1960s, Chalabi studied mathematics
at the University of Chicago with Wohlstetter, who
introduced him to Richard Perle more than a decade
later. Long associated with the heart of the
neoconservative movement, Chalabi founded Petra Bank in
Jordan, which grew to be Jordan's third-largest bank by
the 1980s. But Chalabi was accused of bank fraud,
embezzlement, and currency manipulation, and he barely
escaped before Jordanian authorities could arrest him;
in 1992, he was convicted and sentenced in absentia to
more than 20 years of hard labor. After founding the
INC, Chalabi's bungling, unreliability, and penchant for
mismanaging funds caused the CIA to sour on him, but he
never lost the support of Perle, Feith, Gingrich, and
their allies; once, soon after 9/11, Perle invited
Chalabi to address the Defense Policy Board.

According to multiple sources, Chalabi's Iraqi National
Congress sent a steady stream of misleading and often
faked intelligence reports into U.S. intelligence
channels. That information would flow sometimes into
NESA/OSP directly, sometimes through Defense
Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via
the Defense Human intelligence Service, and sometimes
through the INC's own U.S.-funded Intelligence
Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.
The INC's intelligence "isn't reliable at all,"
according to Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA chief of
counterterrorism. "Much of it is propaganda. Much of it
is telling the Defense Department what they want to
hear, using alleged informants and defectors who say
what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked
information that goes right into presidential and vice
presidential speeches."

Bruner, the aide to Luti and Gingrich's former staffer,
"was Chalabi's handler," says Kwiatkowski. "He would
arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks," she
says, adding that the INC leader often brought people
into the NESA/OSP offices for debriefings. Chalabi
claims to have introduced only three actual defectors to
the Pentagon, a figure Thielmann considers "awfully
low." However, according to an investigation by the Los
Angeles Times, the three defectors provided by Chalabi
turned up exactly zero useful intelligence. The first,
an Iraqi engineer, claimed to have specific information
about biological weapons, but his information didn't pan
out; the second claimed to know about mobile labs, but
that information, too, was worthless; and the third, who
claimed to have data about Iraq's nuclear program,
proved to be a fraud. Chalabi also claimed to have given
the Pentagon information about Iraqi support for Al
Qaeda. "We gave the names of people who were doing the
links," he told an interviewer from PBS's Frontline.
Those links, of course, have not been discovered.
Thielmann told the same Frontline interviewer that the
Office of Special Plans didn't apply strict
intelligence-verification standards to "some of the
information coming out of Chalabi and the INC that OSP
and the Pentagon ran with."

In the war's aftermath, the Defense Intelligence
Agency--which is not beholden to the neoconservative
civilians at the Pentagon--leaked a report it prepared,
concluding that few, if any, of the INC's informants
provided worthwhile intelligence.

SO FAR, DESPITE ALL of the investigations under way,
there is little sign that any of them are going to delve
into the operations of the Luti-Shulsky Office of
Special Plans and its secret intelligence unit. Because
it operates in the Pentagon's policy shop, it is not
officially part of the intelligence community, and so it
is seemingly immune to congressional oversight.

With each passing day, it is becoming excruciatingly
clearer just how wrong U.S. intelligence was in regard
to Iraqi weapons and support for terrorism. The American
teams of inspectors in the Iraq Survey Group, which has
employed up to 1,400 people to scour the country and
analyze the findings, have not been able to find a shred
of evidence of anything other than dusty old plans and
records of weapons apparently destroyed more than a
decade ago. Countless examples of fruitless searches
have been reported in the media. To cite one example:
U.S. soldiers followed an intelligence report claiming
that a complex built for Uday Hussein, Saddam's son, hid
a weapons warehouse with poison-gas storage tanks.
"Well," U.S. Army Major Ronald Hann Jr. told the Los
Angeles Times, "the warehouse was a carport. It still
had two cars inside. And the tanks had propane for the

Countless other errors and exaggerations have become
evident. The thousands of aluminum tubes supposedly
imported by Iraq for uranium enrichment were fairly
conclusively found to be designed to build
noncontroversial rockets. The long-range unmanned aerial
vehicles, allegedly built to deliver bioweapons, were
small, rickety, experimental planes with wood frames.
The mobile bioweapon labs turned out to have had other,
civilian purposes. And the granddaddy of all falsehoods,
the charge that Iraq sought uranium in the West African
country of Niger, was based on forged documents--
documents that the CIA, the State Department, and other
agencies knew were fake nearly a year before President
Bush highlighted the issue in his State of the Union
address in January 2003.

"Either the system broke down," former Ambassador Joseph
Wilson, who was sent by the cIA to visit Niger and whose
findings helped show that the documents were forged,
told Mother Jones, "or there was selective use of bits
of information to justify a decision to go to war that
had already been taken."

Edward Luttwak, a neoconservative scholar and author,
says flatly that the Bush administration lied about the
Intelligence it had because it was afraid to go to the
American people and say that the war was simply about
getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Instead, says Luttwak,
the White House was groping for a rationale to satisfy
the United Nations' criteria for war. "Cheney was forced
into this fake posture of worrying about weapons of mass
destruction," he says. "The ties to Al Qaeda? That's
complete nonsense."

In the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is
pressing for the Intelligence Committee to extend its
investigation to look into the specific role of the
Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, but there is strong
Republican resistance to the idea.

In the House, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has
introduced legislation calling for a commission to
investigate the intelligence mess and has collected more
than a hundred Democrats--but no Republicans--in support
of it. "I think they need to be looked at pretty
carefully," Waxman told Mother Jones when asked about
the Office of Special Plans. "I'd like to know whether
the political people pushed the intelligence people to
slant their conclusions." Congressman Waxman, meet Lt.
Colonel Kwiatkowski.

Robert Dreyfuss ("The Lie Factory," page 34) is a
longtime Washington journalist and a contributing writer
for Mother Jones. His last cover story for the magazine
focused on the neoconservative plan to topple Saddam
Hussein and reshape the Middle East ("The Thirty-Year
Itch," March/April 2003).

Jason Vest ("The Lie Factory," page 34) is a Washington
reporter whose work has appeared in the Washington Post,
U.S. News & World Report, the American Prospect, and the
Village Voice.

Copyright 2004 Gale Group, Inc.