« Israel's New Justice Minister | Main | Has Ramadi fallen to IS? »

15 May 2015

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

mbrenner

The senior officer at DGSE who handled the matter personally has recounted to me this narrative in words that confirm exactly Patrick Bahzad's account. Of course, this is not to say that it requires confirmation, but merely to impress on any casual visitor to the SST site the credibility and quality of its contributors.

One added tidbit. On one occasion, Martino came to Paris and proposed "coming by" DGSE headquarters with his dossier. They didn't want him near the place, though, and an agent met him in the Parc de Monceau. (3rd bench from North entrance, left, in front of the chestnut tree - something like that). They assumed that Berlusconi was involved, too, wanting to curry favor with the White House.

Patrick Bahzad

mb,

Thx for weighing in with your own credentials ! BTW, I wasn't aware we possibly knew the same people ... world's a small place it seems.
With your added piece if info, I'm afraid we gonna have to use another bench now for "informal visitors" ... ;-)
As for Berlusconi, you said it, but lots of people would totally agree with you !

William R. Cumming

Thanks Patrick for a terrific post and the info contained within. I have personally know 6 CIA station chiefs [some before they were and some after] an I sat in three years of law school often next to Dennis Helms, son of a Director of the CIA. I varied in my personal view as to their character.

But for a variety of reasons I have at least tried to follow the IC closely even calling the CIA GC to argue that 7000 FEMA personnel and contractors with access to raw CIA intel was far too many and please review all FEMA access to CIA programs and materials.

My point is this? What do we know about the classification of the CURVEBALL info and the YELLOWCAKE info? And what when and how were members of Congress briefed?

Underlying my question is that I understand CURVEBALL was a paid lobbyist of Congress by IRAQI ex-pats and dissidents. And I understand that both Saddam H. and his opponents had numerous paid lobbyists in Washington? Any info would be welcome to me.

And BTW uncleared foreign nationals are often Congressional staffers or other staffers "loaned" to Congress by lobbyists with promises of return to jobs after their time "helping Congress"!

The bottom line to me is that after TONKIN GULF and CURVEBALL and YELLOWCAKE is the US and its Armed Forces used largely to benefit and front for others IN YOU OPINION?

BabelFish

Merci, Patrick.

This continues to be a story that, if novelized, would have many people saying 'this is too far fetched to be true'.

Of all the words that nauseated me, the worst was when I heard Karl Rove declare Valerie Plame to be 'a legitimate political target'. What a cunning statement for a traitor to make.

BTW, how do SST correspondence think the 19 year old young lady did in sticking GW Bush in his brother's ear? He looked as if he was trying to figure out which train had just hit him.

turcopolier

All

When I opposed the Bush/Cheney war in Iraq I was riviled. Now I am "main stream" even with the Republicans. IMO Jeb (or El-Jebe) is a dead man walking and HC is teetering on the edge. pl

BabelFish

Pat, did you see The Daily Show episode with Al Madrigal calling Jeb that? It was truly funny.

LeaNder

"The media campaign orchestrated by some of the President's top advisers had been very effective."

That was the most startling revelation in the post 911 universe on US ground. It also was somewhat frightening in it's implication for the larger "free Western world..."

There seemed to be quite a bit of evidence around that the Iraq war was on people's mind before. Or strictly the rumors made more sense than the "evidence" presented.


******
minor point:
"two scandals now stand out: the "Curveball" affair, named after the Iraqi informant who was the source for the "mobile bio-labs" lie that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented in his famous speech to the UN Security Council, and the "yellow cake" uranium deliveries from Niger"

I would like to add the student paper in this context, apparently copied with the same punctuation and spelling errors and outed within hours of Powell's speech. Did I miss anything in this context?????

Weren't the uranium rods, I recall them as uranium tubes German in origin?
It's long ago now.

Croesus

Was Michael "Iran-Contra" Ledeen in Italy at the same time this was going on?

Ledeen spent a decade-and-a-half or so in Italy doing journalism (his PhD credentials as an historian not having passed muster at Washington University in St. Louis).

Ledeen of course was among in the upper echelon of "The War Party" that argued the necessity of invading Iraq. http://tinyurl.com/ch2s5xt

mbrenner

There is a documentary available on You Tube that reviews the entire Curveball affair and includes a long interview with Curveball in Germany. He spills the beans. Also, illuminating interviews with former directors of DGSE and NBD. Unfortunately, I don't have the URL

mbrenner

Pat - since when have you become a disseminator of good news?

Margaret Steinfels

Haven't I read much of this story before? Right here?

Patrick Bahzad

MS,

I'm sure you've read much of American side to the story before, possibly on SST.

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

You were indeed one of the few who openly opposed the war and that was actually how I became aware of SST. There were others within the IC and the armed forces who couldn't or wouldn't speak out openly against this madness .... Shame

But I remember Colin Powell's chief of staff, col. Wilkerson, talk about the neo-cons who had turned overnight from the "crazies in the basement" to the "Gestapo on the 3rd floor" (his words)

Patrick Bahzad

The student paper was one more piece of the campaign, but there were others that have been forgotten by now. You could also mention the video shot by Czech intelligence about alleged meetings between Iraqi officials and AQ middlemen. There's quite a list if you want to go through all of it.

Patrick Bahzad

WRC,

I think the US armed forces are used to defend interests considered vital by the political establishment. The issue is more about how foreign policy adventures are sold to the American public, which means asking why servicemen are being sent to die under false pretenses. The question goes even much further, when you consider the amount of lobbying that is being done in DC to win over votes that are actually contrary to the interests of the American people.

Patrick Bahzad

I didn't want to name names and play the blame game. You're free to draw your own conclusions from the info that is out there. I certainly won't stand in your way !

b

The whole Niger affair ran through Michael Ledeen, at that time adviser to Karl Rove and Dough Feith and an Israeli spy. He had intensive contacts with SISME and he knew Rocco Martino who peddled the false Niger docs.

Some bits under the following links but there is more out there (which I have no time to look for right now)

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2005/07/27/17563921.php

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/07/22/132717/-Niger-Yellowcake-and-The-Man-Who-Forged-Too-Much

Patrick Bahzad

Just for the record the first link you posted is a piece of junk, the second suffers from selective memory loss combined with borderline paranoia and your own conclusion - which may or may not be right - is besides the point: this piece is not about who sold the fabricated documents but how they got that far in the first place and how so many warnings and calls for caution were thrown to the wind. it took more than an amateur forger and a master vilain to achieve such a result. It was a systemic failure that is the main point !

LeaNder

True, Patrick. Yes, that was somewhat deeper, thus slipped my mind. But now you say so. Wasn't that supposed to be Mohammed Atta even, at least in some textual variations? Atta in Prague meeting Iraq intelligence? ...

Yes, the Czech sphere caught my attention around that time too. Were they among "the willing", the axis-of-good New Europe? Late Vaclav-turned-neocon-Havel of all people. But then, I was on his side in 1968, not least since the system did not let in the chosen King of May / Kral Majales three years before:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y73rEuQVr6s

I guess google history caught a lot of my open source hunts from US to Berlin based affiliated think tanks to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty or the Prague Security studies Institute. In hindsight a waste of time. ;)

"The times they are a changing..." Are they?

John

Thanks for this Patrick,

Very comprehensive overview and the additional bonus of it coming from the outside-in view of a foreign intel professional adds to the analytical value as it provides a decidedly different viewpoint than the usual fare.

I would only correct one point - and hopefully the text can be amended so that the post can live on as it should! for future readers to find ... Libby was never pardoned, his sentence was Presidentially commuted ... the so called 'third option' chosen by Bush.

Beside that empirical point I can't but applaud the piece and wonder how you think it fits within the pattern of intelligence manipulation so common when wars begin?

Moreover, it would be my contention that this is becoming easier, rather than harder, in the new media landscape; while the 'truth' will out in "alternative" media, it doesn't seem to alter History / current events in real-time :)

Thanks again!

confusedponderer

"The fake "yellow cake" documents still managed to make their way through the media, through US intelligence reports and all the way into a Presidential address. It had been the work of amateurs, but still managed to evade detection because some people wanted to use it as evidence in a case that had to stick, whatever the costs. In that sense, they fully succeeded. What they may have forgotten in their self-delusion of omnipotence is that when you're working with amateurs, your bluff always gets called in the end."

I always wonder whether it matters that much.

If it is just about creating short term perceptions and buying time so you can create facts on the ground in the meanwhile, like having an army in Iraq, then an amateur forgery may do just fine.

I mean, how long must such a deception last? The Ghouta affair would have needed to last only for so long as it would take to have the US bomb Assad, and afterwards (alas, fortunately, it didn't happen) - it wouldn't have mattered afterwards because an entirely new reality on the ground would have beeen created.

After the invasion, it didn't matter that Saddam didn't buy uranium from Niger because, thanks to the US, Iraq didn't exist anymore. And the forgers? Like Ahmad Chalabi they were all heroes in error who helped hurry up destiny.

That is precisely what that Whitepouse person told Ron Suskind when he spoke of people inhabitating the reality-based community, who believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality. He suggested that things have changed and that now the empire acts and creates its own reality - and while we're studying that reality -- judiciously -- they'll act again, creating other new realities, which will be studied too, and that's how things will sort out.

For you and me it is important whether Saddam bought yellowcake from Niger or not. To the Bush Whitehouse it didn't matter, because the new reality that Saddam appeared to have done that sufficed in order to create a new reality in which this perception was a basis for the US to undo that man and his evil regime once and for all.

While that was illegal, nobody could censor the US for that, and the UN was finally forced to recognise the new reality on the ground and retroactively accept US occupation, so at least rebuilding could start.

And while we were buy analysing, they were already thinking to march on and create other new realities in Syria and Lebanon and leave a blossoming, democratic and free new New Middle East in their wake (which, miraculously, would have been friendly to Israel).

Seen that way, however amateurish, the yellowcake from Niger story arguably worked well enough by adding to the innuendeo that Saddam was up to no good, making the case for war.

The average reader or listener is in no position to tell whether the yellowcake from Niger story is BS or not, they entirely depend on commentary to judge, no matter whether the forgery is done expertly or not. I imagine that that goes for the average small-country intelligence service as well.

As of 2013, in one poll 28% of Americans still believed Saddam was behind 9/11. That belief was far more pronounced in 2003, and so was a sentiment that called for revenge for 9/11. America wanted to see heads on spikes after 9/11 - and Saddam's head, involved in 9/11 or not, was just fine.

Media persons are Americans too, so oftentimes in my impression wjingoism got into the way of their judgment. And the climate of what then passed as debate was toxic towards dissent, on good days. I found it distinctively unpleasant. Bush's "either you're with us or with the terrorists" was asked domestically as harshly as it was in foreign policy.

My impression with the media in the US at the time was not so much that they were incometent per se. IMO they were either intimidated and afraid to appear unpatriotic after 9/11 to ask inconvenient questions - or out for blood and only too happy to be part of the effort and disinterested in asking questions when the enemy was clear anyway.

LeaNder

There was one more serious attempt at the time, but it came short to pointing out series of coincidences. Forget the lady's name, feels she cooperated with Italian media. Strictly not a bad journalist.

Surely never any direct evidence. Faster-please-Ledeen surely managed to focus people's attention at the time. Would he have, had he been involved in such covert matters? But if anything, the ladies attempts left traces on my mind too.

I seem to remember he responded with his famous exchanges with Angleton via his Ouia board. That was funny, and strictly I wasn't a Ledeen fan ever.

Patrick Bahzad

John, you're absolutely right about Libby's sentence being commuted, not pardoned by the President ! I edited that part of the text accordingly. Thx for pointing this out, details matter !
Regarding your question about intelligence manipulation, this is a topic that regularly turns up on SST and I'm afraid there's no final answer to it. There's one fundamental difference I see in this case however, as I believe we've witnessed a government that not only tried to deceive its own citizens in order to go to war but also ended up believing in its own spin doctoring to the point where it wasn't able anymore to see the difference between its official sales pitch and the hard evidence coming from the Intel community, with both types of information overlapping and being contaminated by the same falsehoods.
As for your last point, is it harder or easier to trick your opinion into something nowadays, I would think that the more information there is, the easier it gets indeed to manipulate it. On the other hand, there is also a learning curve, at least it seems there is, judging by the reaction to the chemical attack narrative that was offered after the events in Damascus in August 2013. I'm pretty sure that without the lessons taken from the pre-OIF period, this incident Would have ended with American boots on the ground in Syria ... Live and learn, hopefully :-)

Patrick Bahzad

CP,

Good points you're raising. Short term you may be right, the bluff worked, but only because there was a corrupt and totally immoral group of people running the show. If that had not been the case, they would have hit the glass ceiling way before.
In the long run however, their bluff was called nonetheless and I certainly hope they left such a lasting impression that they will stay under adult supervision for the time being. The ghouta affair shows IMO that people haven't totally forgotten about how they were manipulated in 2002-2003. Had it not been for that lesson, I suspect Ghouta would have ended differently ...
Regarding the yellow cake story, first of all the IC didn't do its work properly, for whatever reasons. That is the systemic failure I pointed out earlier. Then the media didn't do their job properly either as it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the evidence was forged. You're saying they were not incompetent but just intimidated. I think they were both incompetent and intimidated. That is a problem ... I do believe however that some people both in the IC and the media had figured it all out pretty much, but at one point you got to make a choice and prioritize. Those choices also could turn out to be a problem in the future.
In any case the bush presidency will be forever tainted by the way it led America into a war that cost thousands of American lives, and what good came out of it ? That lesson is going to stick for a while: No more American boots on the ground in the ME, for now.

Tyler

Thanks for this Patrick.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

October 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Blog powered by Typepad