At popular request we will hold this thread open for whatever people want to talk about.
The neocon and INC run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) (Bremer) had a peculiar "dream" for the security of the "new Iraq."
They seem to have believed that Iraq in the aftermath of the capture of Baghdad was tabula raza, a clean slate, something like Cambodia in the "Year Zero," or France in the aftermath of the great revolution.
Just about all civil and military institutions of government were abolished and then, as they were recreated, they were repeatedly purged of Sunni and Shia members of the Baath Party. This was done by the decree of a De-Baathification agency effectively headed by Ahmad Chalabi. He was evidently determined to get rid of as many possible future rivals for power as possible and so the D-Baathification agency delved deep and eliminated most of the established expertise in the previous government down to the level of school teachers and postmasters.
As we all know, the Iraqi Army was done away with. This pushed several hundred thousand officers and men out into the street. Many of them have joined the guerrillas with the result that we have learned that they are better fighters than many had thought.
The CPA/Bremer/Chalabi thingy then had to design new security forces. They had the idea of creating an internal security force to be made up largely of former tribal and religious militias. This was to be called the "National Guard." (Haris Watani) Such groups in the Arab World usually are representative of major players in the political game and have the function of maintaining the status quo while keeping some potential dissident group in check. The Saudi National Guard is made up of Beduins from trusted tribes and it plays exactly this role. Not surprisingly, the Iraqi National Guard was largely made up of former Shia and Kurdish militiamen. Since the role of the National Guard was internal security it was not anticipated that it would need armored vehicles or artillery, and they received none. Afer all, how much heavy equipment does "head busting" require?
It was also envisioned that there should be an army (jaysh). This force was to be kept small, kept deployed for frontier defense and not allowed to participate in internal security operations, ever.
The army was also not to be allowed to be big enough or strong enough to have the capability to attack its neighbors. Following this line of reasoning, the army was not to be allowed to have armored vehicles or artillery. There is a problem with this reasoning. Armies which are not strong enough to attack neighbors may not be strong enough to defend against them. Military forces should be "sized" on the basis of the CAPABILITIES of potential enemies. Only a fool "sizes" his armed forces on the basis of an estimate of the INTENTIONS of possible enemies. Intentions are ephemera. Capabilities are real. The country's potential external military threats are Iran and Turkey. I judge that they are the only neighboring external powers with the capability to invade Iraq successfully. Iran and Turkey both have large armed forces heavily endowed withthe very gear which neither the National Guard nor new Iraqi Army were issued. Does that make sense?
As soon as the CPA abomination ended, one of the first things Allawi's government did was to merge the National Guard into the army and then start trying to use this half-trained (created from nothing) force against the growing internal security threat, Nobody seems to have taken seriously the notion that eventually this new Iraqi force would have to be able to take on all those guerrillas and Jihadis as well as defend the borders against Iran and Turkey. So far as I know there is one battalion of tanks in the force (50 odd tanks) and I have seen no artillery.
People who like to think themselves "modern" often opine that all that heavy gear isn't needed in a war against guerrillas. If you think that, go ask the US Army and Marines if they do not want to keep the tanks and Bradleys that they have in Iraq. Armored fire support makes the actual combat that happens unfair to the enemy and brings victory and lower casualties for our side. Unfair is good in war so long as the unfairness favors our side.
We are going to start trying to withdraw from Iraq in the new year. As our numbers fall we will be able to do less and less, and the Iraqis will have to do more and more. We will inevitably have to leave larger and larger parts of the country to them in the hope that they will provide the security upon which the existence of the Baghdad government will depend.
Will they have tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery? How about helicopters and just plain old body armor? How about it?
I sure hope that we are going to do the right thing by these people. If not, then they are really "in for it."
One of the more pathetic spectacles available in today's media is the propensity of the tribe of broadcast journalists to interview each other about events, systems and areas of expertise of which they have only a limited grasp. I suppose that tendency is thought of among them as a sign of confidence in their role as protectors of the public good, but the truth is that the bloviations of a lot of journalists are usually sadly demonstrative of ignorance of anything but their trade. There are many exceptions, and I am proud to know a lot of those dedicated and knowledgeable souls. They struggle against a heavy institutional burden.
Members of Congress, their staffs and the press are (with exceptions) often are so poorly grounded in the underlying matter of their stories that they are very easily manipulated and deceived by anyone who cares to do so. The White House, the Department of Defense, the State Department, various lobbies, and just about anyone who has an assured manner and credentials can use the broadcast and print press to "project" whatever they want through the media.
When you add to that a use of the real power which the state has over the corporate media through the implicit and sometimes rather explicit threat of denial of access to people and stories and therefore a threat to the "bottom line" then it becomes child's play to use them as ventriloquist's dummies. Unfortunately, the public media are not immune to similar "control" since they are dependent on public funding controlled by political appointees.
This combination of media people's ignorance of "real life" and the ease with which they are manipulated gives a certain zany quality to the spectacle of a panel discussion in which they clearly think that they have some special insight into the march of history.
Tonight, Time Russert moderated a panel made up of Russert, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory and Pete Williams. In the course of this discussion the group gravely asserted that Joe Wilson's trip to Niger was obviously a "nepotistic" fraud because Wilson's wife worked in the staff section at CIA responsible for sending him on the trip, and that, in essence, it was his wife who had sent him on the trip.
This is clearly a White House/RNC talking point.
It was said in the panel, without contest that this trip was a "boondoggle," implying, at least to me, that the Wilson family budget benefited from this trip through payments to Wilson for his services. In fact, Wilson was not paid for the trip. The CIA covered his expenses, but they did not pay him a fee. This was "pro bono." His wife "sent him" on the trip? I do not wish to denigrate Mrs. Wilson's career attainments, but the fact is that she lacked the authority to do that. What seems to have happened is that when the issue of sending someone to Niger to investigate the uranium issue was under discussion she, at some point, pointed out that her husband, a retired career diplomat, had experience in both Iraq and Niger and might serve this purpose. Someone followed up on that hint. What a surprise!!
It was said in the panel that Wilson lied in his book and in his now famous New York Times oped piece. I have read his book, talked to him, read his oped, and It does not seem to me that he lied. I would accept the charge that his language was not always as precise as it might have been, but, in its essence it seems to me that his reporting was correct. He said that the VP was responsible for his mission to Africa. Since Cheney's question to a CIA briefer was ultimately responsible for his trip, it is reasonable that Wilson might have thought that Cheney had asked that someone should go find out if there was anything to the "yellow cake" story. This is lying? Wilson also has written that he learned that there had been no serious attempt by Iraq to obtain in Niger the uranium ore needed to press forward their putative nuclear weapons program. He was correct. An Iraqi trade mission had, in 1999 approached (through intermediaries)the Nigerien government of the day to inquire if they would be interested in expanded "trade." Wilson was told that the Niger government had perceived this as referring to uranium and in light of UN sanctions had said no. The US ambassador in Niger told the SSCI the same story as did the report of a US Marine four star general sent to investigate the same thing. Nevertheless, the panel confidently, and egregiously, asserted as the basis of discussion that Wilson was a liar. This assertion was on the basis of the judgments of the Republican Party dominated Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).
Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program before the first Gulf War. It was within a couple of years of producing a first detonation when the dictator Saddam, caught up in the arrogance of power, so stupidly invaded Kuwait. Nevertheless, the Iraqis had not had a nuclear weapons program since the UN inspection regime had destroyed it in the early '90s by tearing it up "by the roots" all over the country. Those who participated in that process either directly or by providing the inspectors with "directions" as to where to look, know that this is true. When US forces reached central Iraq in '03 they found that several tons of old yellow cake in sealed plastic barrels had been in storage for a decade. The Iraqis had had no use for it because they had not had a nuclear program for that long.
In a process reminiscent of the "schlocky" old German painting of a group of dogs sitting around playing cards, the panel of "NBC's Dream Team" as Russert called them held forth on the iniquity of Ambassador Wilson and the excesses perpetrated on media/government relations by Patrick Fitzgerald, but more on this last "issue" tomorrow.
What do you call a thousand lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean? A good start! That old joke is apropos in light of today's indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice. The indictment makes clear, with no shadow of a doubt, that Valerie Wilson was an undercover officer until exposed by Robert Novak's column. According to the indictment,
Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.
As the prosecutor said at today's press conference, this ain't over.
Some interesting tidbits that will need to be clarified:
On page 4 we read:
On or about May 29, 2003, in the White House, LIBBY asked an Under Secretary of State (“Under Secretary”) for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided LIBBY with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised LIBBY that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.
If you're looking to guess who this is your likely choices are Marc Grossman and John Bolton. My money is on Bolton.
Also on page 4:
On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name.
Somebody asked for these documents. Who? Probably Libby but not necessarily. Clearly the CIA person who sent the fax is cooperating.
From paragraph 7 on page 4:
On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson’s trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.
Now it gets interesting. Who is the senior CIA officer? There are several possibilities. For example, John Bolton's Chief of Staff, Fred Fleitz is a CIA officer (no longer undercover) who was in a position to get information about Valerie. At the NSC there were several CIA personnel, including David Shedd, who is now on the staff of John Negroponte. It could also be someone from CIA Headquarters. We will probably have to wait for the trial to get some insight on this front.
A careful reading of the indictment shows beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an organized effort in the White House to go after Joe and Valerie Wilson. At a minimum, Vice President Cheney was witting of this effort. Too bad these guys did not work as feverishly in tracking down Osama Bin Laden. They only had time to attack two American citizens who were serving their country.
Finally, Patrick Fitzgerald, what a class act!
BLITZER: Turning now to our security council. Tomorrow the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to make an announcement on whether or not there will be indictments in the CIA leak case. But how much damage was actually done to U.S. intelligence by the outing of the CIA operative Valerie Plame?
Joining us now, retired U.S. Army Colonel Pat Lang, a former chief analyst for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency and head of the Defense HUMINT Service, and our own national security correspondent David Ensor. Two guys who know this subject well.
How much damage do you believe was actually done as a result of her name being released?
COL. WALTER "PAT" LANG, U.S. ARMY (RET): I think quite a lot. She actually was functioning in a covered status in which she remained covered so that when she went overseas to meet people in conjunction, the operation would be secure. And the things that she was running were blown away by this disclosure.
But, I think the larger issue is that the very fact that the U.S. government seems to have in fact disclosed the identity of one of its covert officers would cause people around the world to think that we have no credibility and that we could not be trusted to protect their identities if they cooperated with us.
BLITZER: We're seeing some pictures, by the way, as we speak, of the president down in south Florida. He's touring some of the areas damaged and devastated, if you will, some of the people suffering as a result of Hurricane Wilma. We'll show those pictures from time to time as they are available. Some members of the staff there with the president.
As far as you know, David, there was no postmortem official that was document submitted to the Senate or House Intelligence Committee outlining what they believe was the damage?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, that's right. There will be once all of the judicial matters -- all the trials or plea bargains or whatever we're going have next are over with. There will be a complete damage assessment done.
But there was a quick, first, sort of operations check. And as Pat said, there clearly was damage. Her past career, any sources she may have drawn, the current career, those people who were in real trouble. Any future work she might have been able to do as a 20-year veteran, very experienced, is lost. Plus, and most importantly, all around the world anybody who is thinking of working for U.S. intelligence as a spy now sees that from time to time, at least, the U.S. hurts the home team and that's not good.
BLITZER: Her husband is the former U.S. ambassador Joe Wilson who wrote about his trip on behalf of the CIA to Niger to check out these reports whether or not enriched uranium -- Iraqis under Saddam Hussein are trying to buy enriched uranium. There are his critics -- and you know Pat, there are a lot of critics of Joe Wilson out there who support the president and his stance on the war who say you know what? He's really responsible for outing his wife, because he wrote this article saying he made a trip on behalf of the CIA.
And if you go to his who's who biographical file, it'll say he's married to Valerie Plame. And if he were working for the CIA, that that could have compromised her identity right there.
LANG: That's true, but it's a fairly extended set of circumstances in that case. It's not as specific and destructive, as it would be if, in fact, officials of the United States government used their facilities and the power of the state to disclose the identity of this person.
This is something which would not be understood anywhere as David said. People would look at that and say, well, my God if they did that to one of their own people, why should I entrust my safety to these people? Will they be able to protect my identity?
BLITZER: We might know tomorrow whether any of the individuals who talked about her to reporters, whether Bob Novak, or anyone else, actually knew she was under cover, that she was what they call a NOC, a non-official cover and clandestine operative.
LANG: Actually, it wouldn't make any difference if she were a NOC or if she were simply undercover in a fairly shallow cover. In either case, she would be a covered person in the meaning of the law. You don't have to be a NOC to be that. In fact, any undercover person's has to be protected.
ENSOR: I would like to say, in defense of those who are saying this is not such a bad thing -- it is fair to argue, I think, that by marrying Joe Wilson, a fairly public figure, a former ambassador, she probably made herself a bit less useful to the CIA.
She put herself, at least married to a very public figure and probably could not have gone, for example, undercover with a false name and so forth.
So, her usefulness was still very much there and a law appears to have been broken. But it isn't quite the same loss to U.S. intelligence as it if would have been if she had no connection with anybody as public as Joe Wilson.
BLITZER: Her usefulness as an analyst in the CIA, of course remains. She still works at the CIA. But, her usefulness as an uncover officer was completely destroyed when she decided to pose publicly for a picture for Vanity Fair. Then all of the sudden, not just the name Valerie Plame is known around the world, but the face is known as well.
LANG: The chain of circumstances that led to that is an unfortunate thing. It in fact ruined the possibility of ever using her as a field operative again, that's absolutely true.
I think the particulars of this have to be established by the special prosecutor in this case. We're going to find out tomorrow.
BLITZER: One of the things that's very worrisome that we heard from Larry Johnson, who is a former CIA officer, a state department counterterrorism official as well -- he said that he had heard that there had been death threats to her as result of all of this from al- Qaida. Have you ever heard that.
ENSOR: I have not.
BLITZER: Pat, have you heard that?
LANG: No, I have not heard that.
BLITZER: Because if there were death threats, I assume she'd want protection from the government. She still is employed by the CIA at this point. Pat, button this up. What do you suspect will happen tomorrow?
LANG: I think Mr. Fitzgerald is a kind of person who does not see things in relative terms in any way. He sees things as being either correct or not correct.
And all his past seems to indicate that he will press the cases very hard. In fact, his use of some laws may seem to be quite creative to many people.
BLITZER: The president now back on the ground touring South Florida. Just got off Marine One over there. We're going to continue to watch what he's up to.
Pat Lang, as usual, thanks very much for joining us. David Ensor, thanks to you as well."
Pat's readers seem very upset by my reporting that Fitzgerald was to obtain more office space.
Let me try and help.
Seeking a moment of relief from the intensity of the storm system surrounding the Washington Beltway, I offer this short story by Alan Farrell which reaches levels of Kafkaesque "insight" unseen for some time.
An hour ago I was contacted by a U.S. government official close to the Fitzgerald case. This person told me that there WILL be indictments announced later this afternoon, and the Special Prosecutor will hold a press conference tomorrow.
THE NIGER FORGERIES
How Did Allegations from Discredited Documents End Up in a State of the Union Speech?
By Richard Sale, Intelligence Correspondent
DOUG FEITH'S BACKCHANNEL
In December 2001, there was a secret meeting in Rome attended by Michael Ledeen, a paid consultant to Panorama, the Italian magazine that first broke the story of the Niger documents and Defense Department official, Larry Franklyn, since indicted for passing classified information to Israel, the classified documents outlining US policy towards Iran and US activities in Iraq.
Harold Rhode, another DOD official was there, and, like Franklin, was from the office of Doug Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
Also attending was Iran-Contra figure Manducher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian fabricator of intelligence about whom the CIA had issued a "burn notice" that the man and his information were not reliable and to avoid employing him.
According to former and serving US intelligence sources the secret meetings between Pentagon officials and associates of Ghorbanifar in Europe had been going on for almost two years, a full year longer than the Bush administration acknowledged.
Ghorbanifar told Laura Rozen of the Washington Monthly of three meetings, but US intelligence officials have confirmed to this reporter that while the Pentagon originally told the Washington Post that Rhode had simply run into Ghorbanifar in Paris in June 2003, Ghorbanifar told Rozen that the two men spent weeks planning the meeting.
Further, US intelligence officials said that the Italian military intelligence organization, SISMI, provided logistics and security for the December 2001 Rome meeting.
In fact, the head of SISMI, Nicolo Pollari, as well as the Italian Defense Minister, Antonia Martino, attended the meeting. Martino, it should be noted, is a member of JINSA, the hard line, right-wing pro-Israeli organization. Since Ledeen is a also member of JINSA and has often been a keynote speaker, the link is not unimportant.
According to Rozen, who confirmed details with this reporter, Ghorbanifar told her he had had fifty meetings with Michael Ledeen since September 11th, 2001 and that he had given Ledeen "4,000 to 5,000 pages of sensitive documents" concerning Iran, Iraq and the Middle East, "material no one else has received."
Ghorbanifar, speaking to Rozen by telephone from France, says those meetings took place abroad because he has been refused a US visa the last two times he has applied. Ghorbanifar also told Rozen that he had meetings with an assortment of US officials whose identities have not yet been determined. Former senior US intelligence officials told this reporter that the secret meeting took place at a SISMI safe house in Rome's Piazza di Spagna. While Pollari told Rozen that Ghorbanifar was not present, US intelligence officials told this reporter that he was. Later officials from Feith's office would claim that the Pentagon officials who attended the meeting did not know in advance that Ghorbanifar was going to be there and were surprised by his presence).
Here are some excerpts of Rozen's interview with Pollari:
Pollari: "It's true, we organized the meeting in Rome with the Iranians, but Ghorbanifar wasn't there. We didn't know these Iranians. One of them even asked us how to write his name. Anyway, the meeting. This is how it went. A minister calls me up. Who? No names. He tells me that the Pentagon wants to organize a meeting with some Iranians. They've got some information about matters concerning our national security. So I get to work. I keep an eye on things through two of my men. But all they talk about is tripe. But above all, oil contracts. ENI [Italian State Petroleum]. Concessions for new exploitation. Lines of credit for tens of millions of dollars... As if the Sismi is some sort of hawkers' mart where you buy and sell. I decide to alert the government. I spell out my misgivings about our institutional role... I want to avoid any future misunderstandings.
THE WILSON MISSION
The Plame controversy began when Vice President Dick Cheney learned from a CIA briefer about the Niger documents and demanded to know more about the Niger Embassy break-in of Jan. 2 2001 during which the documents had been seized.
The briefer went back to the agency and there was a meeting at the CIA of the Counter proliferation division with Valerie Plame, the wife of former diplomat JOE WILSON, in attendance. Plame was approached by a senior agency official and asked if her husband would be willing to investigate allegations made in the Niger documents that Saddam Huseein was attempting to purchase 500 tones of yellow cake uranium.
The CIA official thought Wilson a good choice to send to Niger since he was a former Ambassador to Gabon and a US Embassy official in Iraq during Gulf War.
In any case, it was Plame's boss and other senior agency Counter proliferation officials who okayed the trip, putting Wilson on a per diem. In a June 10, memo written by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a five-page long classified memo was sent to Marc Grossman. In it was a line (one line) referring in passing to the Wilson mission, mentioning *a CIA meeting apparently convened by Valerie Wilson.
* This was in error.
But no one asked for a correction because no one at the time ever thought that Plame's name would be leaked and also because the document was classified. Wilson met in Niger in Niamy with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick and a 3-star Army Gen. Fulfer from a senior commander of Eurcom. Fulfer came to believe the Niger story to be horseshit just as Wilson did. Wilson returned to Washington in early March and met with various people in the agency and intelligence community including the State Department's African Affairs Bureau to report on is findings.
On March 9, CIA cabled Wilson's doubts to the Intel community and passed a memo with his comments to White House, according to former senior CIA officials. But the chief point is that Plame did not have the authority to initiate any mission regarding the Niger charges. She was, after all, under cover, and her identity was classified. On July 7, the INR memo was readdressed to Colin Powell. But the first version, five pages and classified, was sent to White House communications and forwarded to Air Force One where it was received by Ari Fleisher. The special prosecutor has subpoenaed the Air Force One phone records.
THE BREAK IN
The Niger Embassy in Rome had, for decades, been a target for SISMI (Italian Military intelligence) eavesdroppers.
The Niger Embassy was broken into on Jan. 2, 2001. The place had been trashed and ransacked and Aarfou Mounkaila, the second secretry, reported the crime to the Carabinieri. However, very little was stolen except a Breil steel watch and three small vials of perfume. What were missing were documents. The agents at SISMI would receive a thick packet of documents in exchange for cash. The documents included a codebook, a series of letters laying the groundwork for a 1999 visit to Niger by Wassam al-Zahawiah, Iraq's Ambassador to the Holy See, and few telexes, one with the heading "003/99/ABNI/Rome.".
None of this would appear to be very sinister except, one - the intelligence contained in the documents had been fabricated and found to be false and two - Michael Ledeen, a prominent neocon, was at the time, a "paid consultant" to SISMI," according to former very senior US intelligence officials. His ties dated back to the 1980s. The Italian Parliamentary Committee for Intelligence oversight, which is a single committee made up of reps from the Italian Senate and Chamber of deputies, did an investigation.
They quickly determined that the data was forged, and, not in Italy but in the United States. Ledeen's name surfaced in the probe of the committee, which was trying to determine what role he had played, if any. Nevertheless, SISMI, whose headquarters are at Forte Braschi, had already acted. Its liaison had forwarded the details of the supposed sale of Niger yellow cake to Iraq to Britain's MI-6 and, following a number of meetings in Rome MI-6 passed on a summary of the information to the US labeled "reliable."
The summary sent to the British was called, "Reciprocal Exchange of Information" SISMI did not in any way reveal how it had obtained the information to protect sources and methods. MI-6 forwarded the summary to the CIA where it was not given much notice. It was seen as third-hand uncorroborated information. For example, it was not included in the President's Daily Brief (PDF.)
SISMI also sent copies of the data to Italy's Executive Committee of the Intelligence and Security Service (CESIS) and sent a copy to the Italian Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The African Directorates in the Foreign Ministry was quick to raise "strong objections" and "reservations" about the accuracy of the information forwarded to MI-6 and the CIA. State’s INR was quick to brand the intelligence as "junk." "A whole lot of things told us that the stuff was junk," a former INR official told this reporter.
Among the telltale signs of fraud: the centerpiece of the documents was a three-page memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Iraq and Niger dated July 6, 2000. It was signed by Niger President Tandja Mamadou and Allele Habibou, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and it spoke of a bilateral deal for five hundred tons of uranium oxide which was "legal and authorized under the Niger constitution of 1965." An accompanying letter dated Oct. 10 said it was being sent for information to the ambassador in Rome from the Niger foreign ministry.
According to the MOU, the 500 tons of uranium was to be "shipped secretly by sea" on a Gabon-flagged ship, and, at some point in "international waters," the 500-tons of uranium was to be transferred from the Gabon-flagged vessel to another ship. This was seen by experts to be a total technical impossibility, but few besides experts paid any attention to the absurdity. The yellow cake was to be shipped Aug. 28 and arrive on Sept. 11. (What a coincidence!).
An enclosed letter said, "... very good work done together with the personal emmissary of the Iraqi president," (sic) adding that "It's understood that this information is top secret." In spite of this warning, the letter itself was stamped only "Confidential," one of the lowest orders of classification. But in the package of documents forwarded to SISMI were many signs of fabrication. For example, a letter dated July 30,1999 actually refers in the past tense to supposed deals agreed to in Niamey a year later, June 29, 2000. And the October 10 letter had a heading, "Conseil Militaire Supreme," an organization that went out of existence May 1989. The signature was that of minister of foreign affairs Allele Habibou, who had been out of office for a decade. Finally, while the letter was dated October 10, it was stamped as having been received in Rome on Sept. 28 two weeks before it was sent.
In addition, the Niger constitution of 1965, referred to in one document, had been superceded by a new constitution of Aug 9, 1999, and the presidential signature bore no resemblance to the real signature of Mamadou. The forger also used an inaccurate representation of the Niger national emblem.
The Sept. 3, 2001 document attempting to show a connection to the attacks appears identical to the document outlying the ambassador's previous 1999 trip -- the same flight and time. The only changes had been made to the top of the page. Also, by September 4, 2001, al Zahawiah was no longer ambassador, another slight problem.
The argument over the validity of the allegations was a total waste of time.
A former senior State Department official told this reporter: "If Iraq had had the yellow cake in question, it would not have advanced its ability to develop a nuclear weapon because Iraq lacked the complex industrial capacity required to refine yellow cake into anything usable in that respect.
In fact, in 1991 Iraq already had several hundred tons of yellow cake purchased in two deals with Niger in the early 1980's that were deemed of so little value by the IAEA that they were never removed as part of the UNSCOM disarmament effort because it was of so little significance.
In fact, in the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, looters removed some of the yellow cake from its sealed drums to use the drums as containers for other materials.
"All along, since early 2003, I've wondered why virtually no-one said `so what? '" in reaction to the nuclear aspect of this entire affair."
WE MAKE GET AN ANSWER
The Special Prosecutor in the CIA leak case is known to be in possession of the Italian parliamentary report, and so the full FBI field investigation of the matter. Federal law enforcement officials told this reporter that pursing the career of the forgeries was one reason Patrick Fitzgerald asked for and obtained additional authority to broaden his probe in February of 2004.
Aides To Be Indicted, Probe to Continue
By Richard Sale, long-time Intelligence Correspondent
Two top White House aides are expected to be indicted today on various charges related to the probe of CIA operative Valerie Plame whose classified identity was publicly breached in retaliation after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to buy enriched unranium from Niger, acording to federal law enforcement and senior U.S. intelligence officials.
If no action is taken today, it will take place on Friday, these sources said.
I.Scooter Libby, the chief of staff of Vice President Richard Cheney, and chief presidential advisor, Karl Rove are expected to be named in indcitments this morning by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
Others are to be named as well, these source said. According to U.S. officials close to the case an bill of indiictment has been in existence before October 17 which named five people. Various names have surfaced such a National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, yet only one source would confirm that Hadley was on the list. Hadley could not be reached for comment.
But letters from Fitzgerald, notifying various White House officiials that they are targets of the invstigation, went out late last week, a former senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Although most press accounts emphasized that Fitzgerald was likely to concentrate on attempts by Libby Rove and others to cover-up wrongdoing by means of perjury before the grand jury, lying to federal officials, conspiring to obstruct justice, etc. But federal law enforcement officials told this reporter that Fitzgerald was likely to charge the people indicted with violating Joe Wilson's civil rights, smearing his name in an attempt to destroy his ability to earn a living in Washington as a consultant.
The civil rights charge is said to include "the conspiracy was committed using U.S. government offices, buildings, personnel and funds," one federal law enforcement official said.
Other charges could include possible violations of U.S. espionage laws, including the mishandling of U.S. classified information, these sources said.
That Vice President Cheney is at the center of the controversy comes is no surprise. Last Friday, Fitzgerald investigators were talking to Cheney's attorneys, and detailied questionaires, designed to pin down in meticulous sequence what Cheney knew, when he knew it, and what he told his aides,, were delivered to the White House on Monday, these sources said.
The probe is far from being at an end. According to this reporter's sources, Fitzgerald approached the judge in charge of the case and asked that a new grand jury be empaneled. The old grand jury, which has been sitting for two years, will expire on October 28.
Thanks to a letter of February, 2004 which Fitzgerald asked for and obtained expaneed authority, the Special Prosecutor is now in possession of an Italian parliament nvestigationi into the forged Niger documents alleging Iraq's interest in purchasing Niger uranium, sources said.
They said that Fitzgerald is looking into such individuals as former CIA agent, Duane Claridge, military consultant to the Iraqi National Congress, Gen. Wayne Downing, another military consultant for INC, and Francis Brooke, head of INC's Washingfton office in an effort to determine if they played any role in the forgeriese or their dissiemination. Also iIncluded in this group is long-time neoconservative Michael Ledeen, these federal sources said.
On the Hill, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), democratic whip, are asking for public hearings to lay bare the forgeries and how their false allegations ended up in President George Bush's State of the Union speech.
(Part Two -- More on the Forgeries and Wilson's mission.)
I am a Bill Murray fan and I missed this one in the theaters but am still hoping to see it on the tube. For those who share this hope we have here Alan Farrell's broodings on the film.
" Fitzgerald is an Irish doorman's son who attended a Jesuit high school, then Amherst College -- where he was a Phi Beta Kappa mathematics and economics major -- and Harvard.
A witness in the case said of Fitzgerald - "As White House staffers, ..you had generals and Cabinet secretaries being deferential to you. He didn't care what you'd done or how well you knew the president." Wasshpost
This man is a politician's worst nightmare. He doesn't "care what you'd done or how well you knew the president."" He reminds me of the portrait of Robert Kennedy in Richard Mahoney's book, "Sons and Brothers." Relentless, dogged, thorough, a workaholic who goes home to Chicago on the weekends. He has priorities and they are not all about his career. Men like this are not driven by self interest so much as they are by an internal demand for justice and virtue in the world.
He is unimpressed by the argument that "we have always done it that way." Graft, character assasination as political "business as usual," influence peddling? Men like this are outraged by such things.
Nora O'Donnell of NBC news said last week that she had been told by someone interrogated by Fitzgerald that he could best be described as "pious." That strikes me as apt.
Piety can be religious or it can be civic as the Romans would have understood this virtue, as Marcus Aurelius would have understood it. In either case, Fitzgerald's piety is "bad news" for a number of people.
He will do what he is going to do, and partisan hand-wringing will not affect him.
Walid Moallim, the former Syrian ambassador in Washington says that he did not "threaten" Rafik Hariri a couple of weeks before Hariri was killed. He says that he had known and "worked with" Hariri for many years and thought of him as a friend. That could be since Rafik Hariri was variously a "friend" to Saudi Arabia, The CIA and the Baathist government in Damascus. He was also a friend to the Lebanese clique of his"friends" who together hold 75% of the country's national debt, "a gift that keeps on giving." His many friends also included the Sunni zealots on behalf of whom Rafik spoke from the minbar of mosques in Lebanon claiming that he stood between the Sunni population and victimization by the rest of the Lebanese. Learning who it was who killed Hariri is a daunting task for a serious investigator. There are so many candidates for the blame.
Nevertheless, Fox News Sunday (FNS) has already "moved on" from assumption of official Syrian government guilt in this matter to beating the war drums along the Potomac in a "riff" identical to that played as overture to the opera now "on the boards" in Iraq.
Today, 23 October, 2005. Brit Hume and Bill Kristol substantially made the following statements on on FNS:
-Syria's government is that of a band of "Gangsters." (arguably true)
-Syria's government must be fragile and could easily be brought down.
-Syria's government must have no popular support.
- There is a well organized and numerous Syrian exile opposition who could easily "take over." (Kristol says he has met the man. That's interesting in itself)
-The destruction of the regime in syria would be the key to a general societal revolution whtroughout the Middle East.
What part of this does not sound familiar? I will give it as my considered opinion that an attempt to install an internationally "inspired" government in Damascus would lead to internal unrest throughout that country. Syria is made up of similar ethno-religious factions to the ones that have bedeviled our actions in Iraq. I will also forecast that the introduction of foreign troops into Lebanon or Syria would result in widespread guerrilla and terrorist resistance on the bases of outraged nationalism and Islamic perception of another "crusade."
The Jacobin neocons have learned nothing from the pain of the American people and therefore will be forced to repeat the Iraq disaster if they are allowed to have their wishes fulfilled.
For those who have not been to the princely state of Dubai in the Gulf country of the United Arab Emirates, we have here two photographs of the same street in Dubai. The first was taken in 1991 and the second this year.
Those who think of the Arabs a "backward people" should ponder these pictures.
"Bush said he called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier in the day and instructed her to call upon the United Nations to convene a session "as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter." Bush was not specific about what steps the international community should take to make sure Syria is held accountable. He said the United States has started talking with U.N. officials and with Arab governments about what steps to take. "Today a serious report came out that requires the world to look at very carefully and respond accordingly," Bush said. Associated Press Somewhere along the "dusty trail" a wise man told me that one should never threaten to do what can not be done, nor should one issue an order that is likely to be disobeyed. To do either of these things is to risk a loss of "gravitas." In other words, people will stop listening to you if you do not perform after making rhetorical demands. SYRIA and the Mehlis report are a case in point. President Bush and his administration understandably take the ominous but not very conclusive outcome of the UN investigation quite seriously. The report is, in my opinion, overly dependent on single witnesses to events, but, it nevertheless points to high level Syrian involvement in the Hariri murder. President Bush is calling for ACTION! I am puzzled as to what kind of action he is thinking of. The Syrian government has a long established and time tested methodology for dealing with external demands placed upon it. It ignores them. The late Hafez al-Assad (papa of Bashar) refined this technique over many years in office. He was the master of "refusenikism." He may have brought this form of "international relations" to a high point unlikely to be surpassed for a long time. The old man even demonstrated his devotion to the method in interviews with visiting "firemen." He would sit in his "throne room" for hours and hours listening patiently to foreign pleas, demands, etc., and then when the "Ajnabi" (foreigner) was finished talking, Hafez al-Assad would begin a monologue on Arab History, geology, literature or whatever had struck his fancy for that day. He was quite learned and very fluent. He would go on and on with never a "potty break" allowed to his "guest" or, for that matter, to himself. It was clearly a contest of wills, and he always won. In the end the great majority begged for the bathroom. Everyone present knew then that Hafez al-Assad was in charge and there would be no response from him to foreign demands. So, now we have his son, the doctor sitting in the same room. President Bush may have in mind some or all of the following - Economic Sanctions - Sure, but does Syria's strange half statist economy depend a great deal on foreign trade? I think not. Life would be more difficult but people in Syria are accustomed to a much lower standard of living than we can imagine and are not as easily intimidated by want as we might be. (Americans were shocked by awareness of poverty in New Orleans. Clearly they have not spent much time in the wretchedness of most of the world) The rich in Syria own property abroad and would retreat from Damascus to Nice or Monte Carlo in search of solace. Embargo food and medical shipments into Syria? Not likely. Transportation Isolation - Translation = Airplanes would not land at Damascus International. Maybe, but in any event those with money either travel by private aircraft or would go to another country to "connect" for London or wherever. I seriously doubt that the US would bar Syrians from entering the United States. We never did that to the Iraqis when Saddam ruled there. Encourage "Democracy" demonstrations? - Whoa! This is a police state we are talking about here. The "folk" in Syria have been indoctrinated for generations with pan-Arab nationalism and Baathi socialism as the "bedrock" of their formation as adults. The conflict between the security forces and any crowd that could be brought to the streets would be impressive. This would not be a reprise of Beirut or Prague. Military Action? - Our ground forces have their hands full. The last thing we would need is yet another Arab country to "democratize." The embittered may think that we would bomb major Syrian population centers to "get things moving," but I do not. The "Giulio Douhet" school of "shock and awe" as foreign policy has lost credibility in recent years. The Israelis? No way!! They are far too smart to want long term engagement with the "tar baby" that is Syria. So, what could we do? We could launch minor and temporary incursions (raids) into the desert barrens in eastern Syria to chase the beduins, jihadis and Iraqi guerrillas around. These could be land or air or both. I do not believe that this would de-stabilize Syria. No. It would be used as a "rallying cry" by the government against the "crusaders," "imperialists," etc. To further complicate things, there really is no Syrian exile opposition analogous to the Iraqi National Congress (INC). There is no Chalabi or Hariri waiting in the wings. There has been a search for one, but, so far, only minor "players" have been found. So, given their past record of non-cooperation, who can say what Syrian reaction might be to whatever "Steps" we may decide to take? Pat Lang
"Bush said he called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier in the day and instructed her to call upon the United Nations to convene a session "as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter."
Bush was not specific about what steps the international community should take to make sure Syria is held accountable. He said the United States has started talking with U.N. officials and with Arab governments about what steps to take.
"Today a serious report came out that requires the world to look at very carefully and respond accordingly," Bush said. Associated Press
Somewhere along the "dusty trail" a wise man told me that one should never threaten to do what can not be done, nor should one issue an order that is likely to be disobeyed. To do either of these things is to risk a loss of "gravitas." In other words, people will stop listening to you if you do not perform after making rhetorical demands.
SYRIA and the Mehlis report are a case in point.
President Bush and his administration understandably take the ominous but not very conclusive outcome of the UN investigation quite seriously. The report is, in my opinion, overly dependent on single witnesses to events, but, it nevertheless points to high level Syrian involvement in the Hariri murder.
President Bush is calling for ACTION! I am puzzled as to what kind of action he is thinking of.
The Syrian government has a long established and time tested methodology for dealing with external demands placed upon it. It ignores them. The late Hafez al-Assad (papa of Bashar) refined this technique over many years in office. He was the master of "refusenikism." He may have brought this form of "international relations" to a high point unlikely to be surpassed for a long time.
The old man even demonstrated his devotion to the method in interviews with visiting "firemen." He would sit in his "throne room" for hours and hours listening patiently to foreign pleas, demands, etc., and then when the "Ajnabi" (foreigner) was finished talking, Hafez al-Assad would begin a monologue on Arab History, geology, literature or whatever had struck his fancy for that day. He was quite learned and very fluent. He would go on and on with never a "potty break" allowed to his "guest" or, for that matter, to himself. It was clearly a contest of wills, and he always won. In the end the great majority begged for the bathroom. Everyone present knew then that Hafez al-Assad was in charge and there would be no response from him to foreign demands.
So, now we have his son, the doctor sitting in the same room.
President Bush may have in mind some or all of the following -
Economic Sanctions - Sure, but does Syria's strange half statist economy depend a great deal on foreign trade? I think not. Life would be more difficult but people in Syria are accustomed to a much lower standard of living than we can imagine and are not as easily intimidated by want as we might be. (Americans were shocked by awareness of poverty in New Orleans. Clearly they have not spent much time in the wretchedness of most of the world) The rich in Syria own property abroad and would retreat from Damascus to Nice or Monte Carlo in search of solace. Embargo food and medical shipments into Syria? Not likely.
Transportation Isolation - Translation = Airplanes would not land at Damascus International. Maybe, but in any event those with money either travel by private aircraft or would go to another country to "connect" for London or wherever. I seriously doubt that the US would bar Syrians from entering the United States. We never did that to the Iraqis when Saddam ruled there.
Encourage "Democracy" demonstrations? - Whoa! This is a police state we are talking about here. The "folk" in Syria have been indoctrinated for generations with pan-Arab nationalism and Baathi socialism as the "bedrock" of their formation as adults. The conflict between the security forces and any crowd that could be brought to the streets would be impressive. This would not be a reprise of Beirut or Prague.
Military Action? - Our ground forces have their hands full. The last thing we would need is yet another Arab country to "democratize." The embittered may think that we would bomb major Syrian population centers to "get things moving," but I do not. The "Giulio Douhet" school of "shock and awe" as foreign policy has lost credibility in recent years. The Israelis? No way!! They are far too smart to want long term engagement with the "tar baby" that is Syria. So, what could we do? We could launch minor and temporary incursions (raids) into the desert barrens in eastern Syria to chase the beduins, jihadis and Iraqi guerrillas around. These could be land or air or both. I do not believe that this would de-stabilize Syria. No. It would be used as a "rallying cry" by the government against the "crusaders," "imperialists," etc.
To further complicate things, there really is no Syrian exile opposition analogous to the Iraqi National Congress (INC). There is no Chalabi or Hariri waiting in the wings. There has been a search for one, but, so far, only minor "players" have been found.
So, given their past record of non-cooperation, who can say what Syrian reaction might be to whatever "Steps" we may decide to take?The Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon may not be a good indicator of their reaction to increased pressure. That was foreign soil, and the complex issue of the growth of Hizballah power played a role in their decision to leave.
"Well, then, natch, we run Andy through a series of mis-matches with implausible young women. Predictable bits turning on contraceptive devices, toilet sex, personal hygiene, clumsiness, humiliation, despair… you know, all the real laughs in a fella’s life. Happily, though, despite the maladroit efforts his buds subject him to—well-intended, we’re asked to believe, as mortification bursts upon mortification into the poor little schmuck’s circumscribed world of silence and solitude—in course, Andy finds a girl of his own, right across the street in some kind of e-sales business now that she’s dee-vorced: sweet, gorgeous, brainy high cheekbones, pouty lips, tight jeans entrepreneuse… easy to see why some guy wanted shut of her… With this and that and after an appalling contretemps ( a lot like “waste of time,” but—you know—classy!), we break—so to speak—the spell—so to speak—and it’s done: virtue is served as virtue is swerved. “Uxoriousness,” sniffed Matthew Arnold or Cardinal Newman or one of them, leads to the Fall of Man. Rocky, though, knew the real secret: “Women weaken legs.”"
You fell asleep on watch and let some bad guys blow us up, And when you woke you swore to pay them back.
You then attacked a country that had never done us harm Which seems to indicate it's brains you lack.
You needed made-up reasons that you thought the rubes would buy.
You swore Saddam Hussein had done the crime.
You had Ms. Rice warn darkly of some sprouting mushroom clouds In little less than forty minutes’ time.
Michael Murry -- Copyright 2005
President Obama seems inclined to follow a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan with its concomittant "investments" in a large "shield" of coalition conventional combat forces behind which a massive "nation building" investment and advisory activity on the model of CORDS takes place.
General McKiernan, an honest and disinterested man, said yesterday that reinforcements sent to Afhanistan should be expected to be there for at least five years. Given the relative absence of educated human resources, physical infrastructure and institutional sophistication in Afghanistan I think that "five years" is a serious unerestimate.
It also appears that Pakistan would serve as the "sanctuary" for the varied Islamist forces that would face us in the long COIN war in Afghanistan. Are we seeking to replicate Vietnam?
The United States is a poor country now, We did that to ourselves. Who can say what kind of economic condition we will see in a few years down the road? We would need a larger ground force to fight and sustain a COIN war on the roof of the world. How much farther should we push the endurance of the brave and selfless people who carry the real burden of all wars, the soldiers and their families?
Do we want to fight a COIN war in Afghanistan, or do we want to forget about the welfare of the Afghans and turn to the methods of using one group of potential enemies against another to protect ourselves?
I heve been involved in both. I wrote the "post' below in 2005.
In listening to the "Beltway/K St." crowd discuss the ever widening Abuse of Power scandal surrounding the Bush Administration I am struck by the profound immorality of many of the statements being made by people who have served for decades at the right hand of presidents and members of Congress.
"That's just how the Game is Played," or "Let's not Criminalize Politics" would be samples of the kind of rhetoric floating around these days in the world of the "talking heads." What is meant by that?
The idea implicit in statements of this kind by people like Christopher Matthews, David Gergen and Pat Buchanan is that there is nothing wrong with using the power of the executive branch of government to manipulate the press to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of political opponents. The belief seems to be that pressurizing or seducing media executives to accept false and misleading statements about critics of the policies of the government of the day is just a form of "contact sport" and that, in fact, all is truly fair in love, war, and now politics. It seems that the "wise men" also believe that it is just part of the game to "recruit" reporters for the national print media and then use them as instruments of propaganda to deceive the public and contribute to the destruction of the "loyal opposition."
If it is true that the politics of personal destruction are so widely accepted by the political establishment in the city named for one of the most honest men who ever lived, then perhaps we should change the name of the place. Maybe "Nixon City" would be more realistic or perhaps "Pedernales Flats" for one of my "favorite" presidents.
Patrick Fitzgerald is evidently still deciding what to do about the cruel and selfish "system" that his investigation into the equivalent of the "bungled burglary" has revealed. To my mind, the central question before him and his grand jury is not whether or not some combination if these monkeys "outed" Mrs. Wilson.
No, the main issue is whether or not it is a crime punishable under federal law for federal officers and employees to use the power of the state to combine in the covert destruction of a man's reputation and livelihood.
It seems possible that the putative conspirators have violated the civil rights of Joe Wilson by so combining against him. If Fitzgerald thinks so, and a conviction occurred on this charge....
There might be some change in the "rules of the game."
I understood that with that access came an obligation to the state to protect the secrets of the American government. This obligation was entered into freely as a member of "the team." At times a written undertaking of confidentiality was required before access was granted. I accepted that because I was a public servant.
It could be argued that as historic events recede in time this obligation becomes problematic when confronted with the need to complete the public record, but at the time when access is granted there was not and is not any doubt that someone who accepts secret information from the government, any government, has accepted the government as his/her master,
What then are we to make of the news that Judith Miller says she was granted some sort of security clearance by the Defense Department so that she could participate in the hunt for Iraqi WMD and presumably "write up" the successful result of that search when it occurred. (DoD so far denies that this is true) She had previously written in breathless anticipation that such weapons would be found in Iraq after an American invasion, and now we know that the government provided her with access to classified information to facilitate a continuation of her attempt to validate the causes for which we fought. This continued validation was to be conducted in the pages of the New York Times ("All The News That Is Fit To Print"). This knowledge of her status as a "trusted person" in the eyes of the Bush Administration and her continued "stonewalling" of her colleagues at the Times with regard to the details of her relationship with Administration personalities leads me to the OPINION that her loyalties were divided in at least two directions.
Was she alone in this bifurcated allegiance (government and the news)? It hardly seems likely. There were other nationally known journalists who were treated in a very special way by the Bush Administration. They were welcome guests of the various people of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, were briefed there regularly, and given access to serving military officers to make their "research" more authoritative. No. we should not believe that it was only Miller who in my OPINION owed the "right" story to the government.
In Kubrick's brilliant film, "Full Metal Jacket," "Joker" the enlisted "Stars and Stripes" reporter is told by the Saigon bureau chief, a marine lieutenant, that he is to go out and find good news because the "troops need it." "Stars and Stripes" is a "house" newspaper for the armed forces.
Are the New York Times and other media who have gone out to find "good news because the troops need it," house media of the government?
How many more "Millers" are there?
... By JUDITH MILLER and MICHAEL R. GORDON ...View free preview
... By MICHAEL R. GORDON and JUDITH MILLER ...
... By MICHAEL R. GORDON and JUDITH MILLER ...View free preview
... By MICHAEL R. GORDON and JUDITH MILLER ...View free preview
SST2005 has in hand several reviews of recent and/or classical films. These were reviewed by Alan Farrell who resides at Lexington in the Shenandoh Valley of Virgina. Professor Farrell is a college teacher of French (ptui!) (That was a joke - see review) Pat Lang
I have read the letter in English and looked at the Arabic on a "sampling" basis and my conclusion would be that it was writen by someone who was not a native speaker of Arabic but who had been well educated in the language. I would guess that an Iranian, A Pakistani or the odd Westerner with such a capability would be likely possibilities.
"Ms. Miller's revelation that she was granted a DoD security clearance while embedded with the WMD search team in Iraq in 2003.
This is as close as one can get to government licensing of journalists and the New York Times (if it knew) should never have allowed her to become so compromised. It is all the more puzzling that a reporter who as a matter of principle would sacrifice 85 days of her freedom to protect a source would so willingly agree to be officially muzzled and thereby deny potentially valuable information to the readers whose right to be informed she claims to value so highly.
One must assume that Ms. Miller was required to sign a standard and legally binding agreement that she would never divulge classified information to which she became privy, without risk of criminal prosecution. And she apparently plans to adhere to the letter of that self-censorship deal; witness her dilemma at being unable to share classified information with her editors."
Folks who still adhere to the "koolaid" version of history profess to despise the New York Times. They see the Times as a bastion of leftist influence in America. I don't care for the Times much myself but in my case it is because it is a New York newspaper, a different complaint.
Judy Miller is/was part of the conspiracy that Mr Fitzgerald is investigating. That is why she is
"playing games" with him. She has to camouflage a couple of things, but this is just opinion on my part:
1-She was an active participant in the plot to smear the Wilsons and discredit them in the eyes of the American people. She still is. Why? I really don't know or am unwilling to give an opinion.
2-She used the NY Times as a vehicle for propagandizing the American people to whip them up for the Iraq war on the basis that Iraq was, in effect, Nazi Germany come again, and that this time the pseudo Nazis were going to provide the Jihadi nuts across the world with nuclear weapons with which to attack us at home. To obfuscate this point of performance, she went to jail for contempt hoping to emerge from this "soulless" place (down the street from my house in Alexandria and run by one of my neighbors, the sheriff) as a champion of press freedom for whom all would be forgiven.
She should be indicted along with her neocon Jacobin and Mayberry Machiavellian pals. They were all in this together.
She called me up once at the point in history at which her BS about the Iraqi WMD program was falling apart. She tried to get me to "sign up" to the idea that "it must have been true." I told her that I did not wish to participate in her fantasy life. She was disappointed. Given Wilson's experience, I have to wonder what she was trying to "set me up for."
Just my opinion.
``Acceptance of the charter won't open any magic doors, but it would demonstrate that the government won't be moved by violence,'' Jonathan Lindley, head of the Middle East unit at the Royal Services Institute, a London-based research organization, said in an Oct. 7 interview. ``If it fails, it will be a setback.'' Full results of the referendum won't be known for days. Shiite Muslim and Kurdish negotiators said Oct. 12 they had reached an agreement with Sunni politicians on the constitution, ending months of wrangling and ensuring the charter's passage. "
``Acceptance of the charter won't open any magic doors, but it would demonstrate that the government won't be moved by violence,'' Jonathan Lindley, head of the Middle East unit at the Royal Services Institute, a London-based research organization, said in an Oct. 7 interview. ``If it fails, it will be a setback.''
Full results of the referendum won't be known for days.
Shiite Muslim and Kurdish negotiators said Oct. 12 they had reached an agreement with Sunni politicians on the constitution, ending months of wrangling and ensuring the charter's passage. "Bloomberg
They won't yield to violence? Are we to believe that the "Shiite Muslim and Kurdish negotiators" reached this agreement with some of the Sunni Arabs on the constitutional draft because their hearts were filled with the milk of human kindness?
Something caused the ruling ethno-religious coalition to decide to, at least theoretically, give up something of value to the Sunni Arabs. There is no free lunch, not in America and not in Iraq.
Think Hegel! Thesis -Antithesis-Synthesis. That is called dialectic and not the marxist kind either. Thesis (constitutional draft rogering the Sunni Arabs) - Antithesis (Sunni Arab backed guerrilla war of great ferocity and persistance) - Synthesis (deal on the constitution).
Now if one were a Sunni Arab Baatho/nationalist insurgent would one not believe that one's antithesis was the cause of the subsequent synthesis?
Therefore --- The government has ALREADY yielded to the pressure of violence, and one might think that further politically targeted violence would yield yet more and BETTER syntheses.
As if in demonstration of this hypothesis, we have learned this evening of a massively effective strike against the power grid in the Baghdad area. The spinners are spinning. The official and un-official spokesmen for the adminstration are minimising, but the fact is that the insurgentos were able to analyse this target system (partly through previous experimentation) and then strike a node that blacked out the city on the eve of the referendum, thus promising more and better antitheses.
I predict that the constitution will pass the referendum and then after a few days of giddy talk, the war will go on.
Even CNN is shocked by this cynical manipulation of American soldiers. Let's see, how did they do this? First we go looking for National Guard soldiers who are stiil basically civilians and probably less inclined to the kinds of suicidal and nihilistic behavior which make Regulars unreliable in political matters. (generals excepted).
Then you go through the available population looking for sycophants and Bush loyalists like the sergeant who pled for recognition as having been in New York when the president told Bin Laden that his days were numbered.
Then you have various colonels and generals stand around to make sure no one misbehaves. Then you have some "wag the dog" creature coach them.
Most of these brave souls believe in the holiness of their mission. God Bless Them.
This is wrong. The American citizen soldier should not be treated this way.
Watch "Rome" on HBO and you will see where we are headed.
In this column Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who once had a claim to be considered something other than the usual self-absorbed member of the coastal press corps, tells us that Patrick Fitzgerald of Brooklyn and Chicago should go away quietly.
He opines that destruction of people's reputations by the Washington political machines in government or out of "K" Street is OK because that is how " the game is played."
He further opines that illegal release of classified information by government officials to the press in pursuit of the above is acceptable and should be tolerated because, if it is not, then journalists, in Washington, will not be able to ply their trade in the marketplace of information. Why is that in his opinion? It is because the leakers in government will be afraid to leak and Mr. Cohen will not then be able to take advantage of this porosity and frailty in our government.
I suggest that the journalists should get up off their dead butts and go out and do their own research rather than waiting for some government (foreign or domestic), lobby or corporation to bring "information" to them for the purpose of manipulating public opinion.
For shame, sir.
"Would Americans Invade A Country They had Never Heard Of?"
That's the title of this comedy news piece. apparently the answer is YES, at least in Austin.
Whoa! I wear cowboy boots too, but let's get a grip! It was Santa Ana and the fancy pants lanceros with the cute plastrons and ten foot bamboo pig-stickers that did in the boys at the Alamo.
Kyrgyz Suburban Development -
See - They have horses too.
Mired in heat and dust and sand
Gallant band of brothers true
Country’s service is their aim
Death and maiming is their due.
In where angels fear to tread
Foolish, dreaded leaders rush
Bringing power’s fearsome groan
Leaving only graveyard’s hush.
Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2004
Gazi Kanaan killed himself in his Damascus office today. He was Minister of the Interior in Bashar Assad's government there. In Syria, as in most countries, the Minister of the Interior is the Police Minister. He is not concerned with national parks.
This man was Syrian proconsul in Lebanon for a decade. He was effectively "governor" of an occupied and co-opted Lebanon which he ran through a combination of intimidation and "pay-offs." He was the ultimate authority there until he was "promoted" to the Interior Ministry in Damascus. When he was promoted in the Syrian police to "liwa'" (Major General) a few years ago the Lebanese nomenklatura (Muslim and Christian alike) lined up in their hundreds outside his office door to kow-tow and "gift" him with the odd Mercedes, jewelry, etc. His power was manifest throughout the land. On various occasions he would simply inform the Lebanese parliament of desired legislation, and they would pass it. Street demonstrations in Beirut were child's play for him. He could arrange them for the next day in however many thousands were desired (complete with photograph laden placards).
Now he is gone and little lamented. Why is he gone? Smart money has always been wagered that Rafik Hariri's assassination was the result of a cabal among Lebanese and Syrian security officials who feared Hariri's return to power by election, this time as a "reform" candidate with the full backing of the Bush Administration and, of course, of Chirac's France. In previous iterations of Hariri as PM, Rafik was not a "reform" figure. The circumstances in which downtown Beirut was re-built under Hariri's supervision by the company "Solidere" would not bear close inspection. A lot of money was made by Rafik and his associates in this and other business enterprises.
Kanaan made a "farewell" call to a Lebanese Radio station before he died today. In that interview he said that if it was true that Rafik Hariri had been paying him off when both had ruled in Lebanon, then why would he have participated in killing him. This was inspired by the recent interview in which the UN investigator, Mehlis, had confronted him with documented evidence of the relationship. At the same time he said that he, Kanaan, had not been "responsible" for the bad things that had happened in Beirut over the years. I suppose that was a reference to the ultimate culpability of the late Hafez al-Assad. Was Kanaan's death a case of "assisted suicide?" Who can tell? There is a tradition of "a little help from your friends" in Syria. What is the net result of this man's death?
The White House has been pursuing "regime change on the cheap" in Syria for the last couple of years while at the same time Bashar Assad's government has been pursuing the Bush Administration with the goal of some sort of accomodation. The Syrians have been begging for a deal for several years. They have pursued this goal through every channel they could find or invent. There has been "zero" receptivity to this effort. ZERO! Recently, the NSC has made a "data call" throughout the foreign policy parts of the US government to learn if anyone knows of more plausible candidates to be replacements for Bashar Assad than the ones they have looked at so far. Result? Unknown.
There has been a lot of talk in the US Government lately of the possibility of seeking a "Libyan" solution to the "problem" of Syria. By this it is meant that Assad's submission to the imperatives of the "Greater Middle East Initiative" (GMEI) might be accepted (as was that of Qaddhafi) as a substitute for regime change. Well, this death presents the opportunity to find this solution.
Kanaan was a bad man. He was a prime suspect for having been inplicated in the Hariri killing "at the top." The United States does not need another direct involvement in another Arab country. Bashar Assad wants accomodation. There are no clear successor figures for Bashar Assad. The jihadi zealots wait in the wings.
What part of this is unclear?
In the CNN interview cited below Bashar doesn't sound submissive enough. He will have to "do better."
This story is the work of Brigadier General Alan Farrell who is a distinguished professor of French at my alma mater, VMI. Dr. Farrell served as a sergeant in USMACVSOG in Vietnam after receiving his doctorate in French literature from Tufts University and study at the Sorbonne. His mastery of the Montagnard French spoken by the hill people of SE Asia is remarkable.
I am not Major Grunwald.
"The tragic outcome for Iraq and the region could be that both Arabs and Iranians might enhance their assistance to their respective sectarian allies in Iraq in what is shaping up as a fight by proxy.
These are the very developments that the Bush administration and its allies had wanted to avoid. But they are now confronted with them as a fait accompli. The occupying forces can no longer really trust either the Iraqi Sunni or Shiites. The only friends on whom they can count are the Kurds. No wonder President Jalal Talabani, the most prominent Kurd in the present Iraqi leadership, is desperately trying to persuade the United States and Britain against any early withdrawal of their troops.
"Unless Bush and Blair succeed in opening direct negotiations with the Iraqi resistance and enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors, especially Iran and Syria, as well as the Arab League, the Iraq conflict is set to grow into a bigger and longer-term regional crisis. "
(Amin Saikal, a professor of political science, directs the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University.)
Our basic mistake in Iraq was to believe that Iraq was eagerly awaiting a social revolution that would sweep away the old and welcome the new in a kind of joyful French Revolution festival of retribution and enabling. The neocon Jacobins, true to their names, believed this most of all and somehow believed that the 12er Shia would be the instrument for the realization of this fantasy. These Shia were the same people who were angry at Saddam for not allowing them to beat themselves with chains and machetes on Ashura.
So, instead of re-starting the clock of history in Iraq as a first and triggering step toward a general festival of westernization in the Middle East, we have de-stabilized a system in which the only thing that unites all the groups, tribes, ethnic nations and religious identities is their mutual detestation of the "other." Oh, yes, they don't have much use for us either. (Kurds excepted, but they might get there yet)
So.... After the momentary elation of the referendum (purple thumbs) dies down, let us all think of how we are going to try to live in the real world and give up for a while our preference for some other world.
Oh! I am inclined to think that some measure of accountability should be attempted for the catastrophe that has been visited on so many. In Lincoln's time the Congress created the "Committee on the Conduct of the War." Perhaps the word "misconduct" could be substituted.
"But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.
Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.
The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey, has acknowledged that such a scenario is possible, while officials elsewhere in the administration, all of whom declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, say they share similar concerns about the referendum.
I have been saying for some time (to mixed reviews) that the constitutional process in Iraq was an interesting exercise in the transfer of power from one group to several others and was remarkable but essentially irrelevant to the out come of the insurgency war. Looks like official opinion has come around to that on the part of those not driven by ego or ideology. The Sunni Arabs must feel it is worth their while to support the new constitution.
Bottom Line: No National Compact - no peace.
The reaction on the Right to the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers has made it clear how fragile the coalition of factions that ruled the US for the last five years really was.
-Evangelical Christians who are focused on moral issues.
-Movement Conservatives intent on fiscal restraint, federalism and a restricted role for the federal courts.
-Neoconservatives obsessed with foreign policy and "national greatness."
The alliance of these groups has proven unstable. This was pathetically clear today on the weekly TV talkathon in the statements made by representatives of these groups. The level of abandonment of Bush by those who have been his faithful "friends" was striking. Statements were made that essentially imdicate that he is believed to be "unreliable" and "untrustworthy." One should not want to hear that said about a US president, any president. National polls indicate that such sentiment is spreading.
At this point it looks as though only the evengelicals are going to stick with the president on the Miers nomination. She may squeek by for confirmation in the Senate but the battle will be so bloody that her creibility as a jurist will be forever harmed.
Why will the evengelicals persist in backing Bush on her nomination? It seems clear that they have been given indications in the "back channel" that she will certainly vote on the court in ways that will please them and President Bush.
Does this mean that she will vote to end the federal protection of abortion rights? It seems likely given her life story and associations. Some people think that Bush does not really want to reverse "Roe v. Wade" because of the damage that this would probably cause the party among women voters. Given his personality it seems unlikely that President Bush would let the welfare of the party be a governing concern once he has left office.
Senator Specter will be intent on learning if it is that it is true that Harriet Miers is as committed to the "pro-life" cause as people tell me she is.
In any event, the conservative coalition is badly split. Considering the multitude of crises faced by the Republican Party, it will be very hard to put that coalition together again.
"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bomb blasts killed six Marines in western Iraq, and U.S. forces killed 29 militants in U.S. offensives aimed at uprooting al-Qaida insurgents ahead of the country's vote on a new constitution, the military said Friday." Yahoo News
"My Time In Hell" was a book and then a television production about the Second World War in the Pacific. Lee Marvin, a WW2 combat marine narrated the TV show. At the end he said that as they died off it would be appropriate for the survivors to announce their arrival at the Pearly Gates with the words. "Another Marine reporting, sir. I've served my time in hell." Now they have hell on the Euphrates. They, and their Navy medical corpsmen brothers deserve the gratitude of us all.
Yesterday, the president spoke. He said many things, but the one that stands out in my mind is his repeated insistence that the enemy in Iraq is ONE and that this enemy is the international jihadi movement. Recently, a new chief military intelligence officer in Baghdad has taken to saying the same thing. Everyone I know who is recently back from Iraq says that this is not true, that in fact AQ Iraq and its allies are a small portion of the total strength among the insurgencies although they make a lot of noise and kill many. I think the president and the general in Baghdad are wrong about this. I think it is clear to everyone fighting the insurgents that what the president and the general have said is untrue.
Why would they say that?
The president's rationale for intervention in Iraq has disintegrated into progressively more embarassing disarray. WMD? Out. AQ-Saddam Alliance? Out. Fight them there rather than in Cleveland? Madrid and London pretty much defeat that argument. Fightng Terrorism wherever we find it? the number of lethal terrorist incidents is dramatically up the last two years. What is left? What is left is the assertion (made yesterday) that Iraq is THE central battlefield in the war against religious fanatics (now specifically Islamic) who are the most fell enemy the human race has faced in millennia, and who threaten the very existence of life as we know it. It is interestng if a few thousand jihadis from 3rd world countries are that potent. Interesting.
In any event, this assertion is the president's last ditch defense against those wish him ill as well as those afflicted with sadness because more marines and soldiers are reporting for duty in heaven every day.
If the majority of the insurgents are Iraqis fighting us for specifically Iraqi reasons, then the president's argument over Iraq falls to bits. He doesn't have many more places of refuge in his rhetoric.
The military intelligence general in Baghdad?" Oh, well...
"Now Sunni Arab leaders were gearing up to try to veto the constitution at the ballot box. "With this result, the Sunni Arabs will be able to defeat the constitution, if there is honesty and an international supervision on the process," al-Mutlaq said. "I am sure if there is honesty, 95 percent of Sunni Arabs will vote no." Yahoo
Whetber the Bush Administration realizes it or not, the best chance it has to salvage its position in Iraq lies in defeat of the constitutional proposal in the referendum this month.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reason for this conclusion is compelling. The administration has refused for two and a half years to accept the basic truth that the Sunni insurgencies that afflict the country receive widespread support from the Sunni Arab population in the form of logistics, concealment, transportation, intelligence, etc. Recently government spokesmen have begun to sound as though they might be learning that this is true. I am sure that Ambassador Khalilzad is too sophisticated not to understand this and his recent actions in Baghdad in attempting to have the Shia government modify the constitution in favor of the Sunni Arabs show this.
The Sunni Arabs are supporting the insurgencies because they are unwilling to accept the radical re-distribution of power and wealth on the basis of "one man, one vote" that we are sponsoring. Why are we doing that? It is because we believe, deeply, that justice in voting rights for INDIVIDUALS produces government that embodies a "National Compact" that is accepted by all. The Middle East is not like that. In the Middle East people self-identify in a number of ways, only one of which is at the level of the individual. More importantly, people there predominately see themselves as members of COMMUNITIES of various kinds whether they be ethno-religious, tribal, clan, regional or just plain family. A system that strips an indivdual's community of power and wealth is inevitably going to be seen as HOSTILE and to be defeated.
On Fox News today a former Assistant Secretary of the Army said that political accomodation would not produce an acceptable result in Iraq and that the solution lies in unlimited application of force against the Sunni Arab population until "they give up" supporting the guerrillas. As appalling as this idea is, it has to be acknowledged that an unlimited application of force sometimes produces this result. I could give examples in the history of counterinsurgency warfare. Are we going to do that? NO!! NO!! We are not going to do that. The American people would not allow it.
If that is the case, then the only rational approach is to change the political circumstance that call forth resistance on the part of the Sunni Arabs of Iraq.
The international Jihadis are another matter. They have no goal but the creation of Sharia states. There is nothing to do with them but "hunt them down" as President Bush likes to say.
If the constitution is ratified unmodified, Sunni Arab support for the insurgents will continue. If it is defeated, then it may be possible to convince all concerned that the interests of the Sunni Arabs as a COMMUNITY must be safe guarded if there is to be any chance of a cessation of hostilities against the Iraqi nationalists.
Finally - someone speaks out! I know we all have a variety of views on the many machinations of the UN; however, this time they are on the mark. The January Iraqi elections were a farce and did not meet international standards as will be the case with the October referendum. Of course, no one on the US side has condemned this facade - in fact, some US apparatchik probably gave the Shia and Kurds the idea.
T.J. Snodgrass II
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/04 14:50:30 GMT
© BBC MMV
The godlike reference by Bill O'Reilly to the supposed massacre by the 82nd Airborne Division of German prisoners at Malmedy during the Bulge is on this page. In fact it was soldiers of the 1st SS Panzer Divsion, specifically the Regiment Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler who massacred AMERICAN prisoners at Malmedy. Their commander (Jochen Peiper) was tried for this crime after the war and condemned to death, then later released for "time served" in part because of the testimony of an American officer prisoner held at Peiper's headquarters who said that Peiper never knew about it. Amusing.
As Clark said in this exchange, O'Reilly should apologise to the 82nd. Either that or they should go visit him.
But the "real deal" here is the segment on TDS in which Myers tells McCain that people who served in the VN war don't understand Iraq. McCain was annoyed. Now I am sure that it is true that Myers served in VN and that he does not understand Iraq. Myers was a fighter jock or some such flying creature in VN. The fighter guys' life consisted of getting up in the morning, having a nice breakfast, getting briefed, taking off, flying to the target, doing "whatever," landing at the base, having a nice dinner, watching a Filipino floor show complete with watching nice looking girls perform "Country Roads," and then going to bed early to get enough "crew rest." The next day - the same thing. You don't learn much about counterinsurgency that way.
Now, before the cards and letter start I would like to stipulate a couple of things:
- I owe my life to the USAF on any number of occasions.
- I always enjoyed the floor show whenever I got the chance to go visit one of their bases.
Nevertheless, I can only hope that General Pace will have more common sense than this.
For the record and always:
"Counterinsurgency=Political Action+Civic Action+Countrguerrilla Operations"
"Revolutionary War=Political Action+Civic Action+Guerilla War (Guerillas+sabotage+terrorism)"
I learned that from several Frenchmen including Bernard Fall who taught me at Ft. Bragg.
If you read this carefully, you will hear the marines telling you that what we are doing along the Syrian border is necessary but inconclusive in terms of the ultimate outcome in the war.
There have to be IRAQI troops who can hold the towns, especially the towns in this western beduin-descended Sunni Arab part of Iraq. Without that, we can do this kind of thing forever.
The administration is now considering further action against Syria in the evident belief that the Syrian government is more than a passive actor in the also beduin-descended area of eastern Syria. Evidently Elliot Abrams and his NSC crew wuold liek the air forces to bomb a group of towns inside Syria.
Both DIA and CIA have told the NSC that the evidence is inconclusive concerning Syrian government involvement in cross-border infiltration but, no matter.
Maybe they can come up with another Office of Special Plans (OSP) to do "better analysis."
This kind of thing is absolutely predictable in 3rd World Elections (someone will now write to say that it is true of elections everywhere). I think it is less likely in Europe. Nevertheless, it raises the issue of the ballot counting in the coming Iraq constitutional referendum. In the January election, there was considerable "to-ing and fro-ing" in reporting the results and somehow the unfortunate secular Shia Allawi ended up with more votes than the early counting had indicated he might get.
The referendum will be a critical point on the history of the new Iraq. If the constitution is approved, then the pattern of political history will be irrevocably set for Iraq as the "game" is played out. If it fails then there is a chance to start over and more fully address the grievances of the Sunni Arabs AS A COMMUNITY with the idea of weaning them from support of the non-jihadi insurgents.
Who is going to count?
That's what Lawrence said of the Arabs. Kurds aren't Arabs but... They couldn't even make it to the referendum...
It was predictable that the Shia Arabs, having achieved power in the supposed government (and backed by their Iranian friends) would decide on some collective basis that they did not want to see a Kurdistan that even remotely resembled a sovereign entity.
As I have written before, there are very few examples of federal states being attempted in the Islamic World and even fewer of such projects succeeding. The culture just does not run in that direction. Federalism is thought of as weakness, division, indirection. "Ta'ifa" is a bad word in Arabic. It means "faction" and is inherently negative.
The state, like everything else, should take its model from religion. God is one...
When this is combined with the interests of regions and ethnic group, then the ability to resolve basic issues, like "who gets Kirkuk?" are made much more difficult.
The Bush Administration like to talk about Zarqawi's "AQ in Iraq." AQ doesn't have the problem of dealing with things like federalism . AQ is an absolutely monotheistic movement which aims to create a new Caliphate to rule over the Umma, the UNIFIED world of the believers. Of course they believe that we shaould ALL be "believers."
We have start dealing with the Islamic people within the reality that is their world view. So long as we continue to deal with them on the basis of our world view we will have disapppointments like this.