Subject: CIA enraged by cynical White House end-run around its sources(Eric Margolis

Date: Sun Oct 5, 2003  4:16 pm

 Is there real factionalism in play in the Bush administration?  You be the judge.  But be sure to rely on high-grade political analysts and conspiracy researchers to come to your conclusions, not conspiracy theorists. Eric Margolis is one of the best. http://www.canoe.ca/Columnists/margolis_oct4.html 

Toronto Sun

October 4, 2003 

Dubious intelligence
CIA enraged by cynical White House end-run around its sources

By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor

 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the Bush administration, which has wrapped itself in faux patriotism, accusations that it revealed the identity of a serving CIA agent are a huge political embarrassment and another blow to its sinking credibility.

Last July, former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV contradicted President George Bush's assertions that Iraq had imported uranium ore from Niger.

Wilson said his investigations in Niger found the whole story was a fake, based on forged documents.

Bush nevertheless suggested Iraq was importing uranium in his keynote state of the union address.

Wilson's patriotic act ruined his career and made him the target of a vicious smear campaign.

At least six journalists were told by administration sources that Wilson's wife was an active CIA officer. Journalist Robert Novak cited her name in his column.

Revealing names of CIA agents is a federal crime. There is speculation that the source of the story came from within the office of Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's powerful chief of staff.

(Bush's press secretary has said "absolutely nothing brought to our attention suggests any White House involvement and that includes the vice-president's office." Scott McClellan added that if it turns out any administration officials were involved in the leak, they'll be fired.)

In any event, Libby and Pentagon civilian allies, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, all played key roles in the buildup to the war with Iraq. They brought intensive pressure on the CIA to produce proof of hidden weapons and links between Iraq and al-Qaida.

Behind the scandal over identifying Wilson's wife as a CIA agent, a far more important battle is raging.

The Bush administration plans to spend $1 billion in the fruitless search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

The non-existence of these weapons, which were the main excuse for the invasion, has badly damaged the White House; eroded the power of Cheney's men Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle -- who jestingly called themselves "the cabal" -- and humiliated the hapless Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Now "the cabal" and some politicians blame the CIA for the failure to find Iraq's non-existent weapons and alleged links to al-Qaida.

But the CIA is fighting back through leaks, accusing the administration of distorting, corrupting and politicizing the conduct of national security.

The CIA does deserve sharp criticism over Iraq. It had a shocking lack of reliable human intelligence there, forcing the agency to rely heavily on dubious defectors and foreign intelligence, rather than its own resources.

Ironically, France had excellent intelligence in Iraq and rightly warned Bush his war would lead to disaster. Bush was too busy listening to the neo-conservatives' hyped intelligence to heed France's excellent and reliable advice.

So far, CIA chief George Tenet has refused public comment over the attacks, but agency sources report him furious with the White House and its neo-conservative Pentagon allies. CIA staffers are waiting for Tenet to go public and take on the neo-cons who are trying to blame the agency for the fiasco they created.

When White House hawks such as Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and the Pentagon cabal found the CIA was not providing damning evidence on Iraq they needed to promote war, they created a special intelligence unit.

It cherry-picked bits and pieces of negative data about Iraq, trumpeted lurid claims by Iraqi defectors, then passed them on to the White House.

Iraqi exiles were used as a primary conduit for the disinformation, and were provided with funding and political support. The New York Times repeatedly parroted the Iraqi defectors' distortions.

This special intelligence office reportedly sought to link with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency in the anti-Iraq campaign. But the Mossad was too professional to have anything to do with this ad hoc operation. However, members of Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's government reportedly provided the neo-cons' special intel unit with a stream of negative stories about Iraq.

The CIA's professionals were enraged by this end-run, and appalled that defectors' wild tales and self-serving material were being used to formulate U.S. national security policy.

Before the war on Iraq, CIA director Tenet took the unprecedented step of publicly warning many of the claims about Iraq were not justified by facts.

But he was ignored in Bush's rush to war and did not repeat his caution. Warnings by ranking CIA officers that their country was being stampeded into war by neo-cons with a hidden agenda were also ignored.

The Wilson affair has exploded at a time when the extent that America's professional intelligence cadre was circumvented, or bullied and intimidated into silence by the Bush administration has become a major public issue.

Such politically motivated pressure on the nation's intelligence establishment by men with little American flags on their lapels is totally unacceptable and gravely endangers U.S. national security.

Real patriots do not start wars to win elections while diverting attention from financial scandals.

CIA chief Tenet ought to come out and denounce those who led the U.S. into an unnecessary war that has become a bloody and unimaginably expensive mess.

But CIA officers are trained to remain silent and obey the chain of command.

So it's up to Congress to demand a full investigation of the corruption of national security, and of the extremist ideologists who misled America into a war that should never have been waged.


Eric can be reached by e-mail at margolis@foreigncorrespondent.com.
Letters to the editor should be sent to editor@sunpub.com or visit his home page.
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