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Fitzgerald Investigation of Leak of Identity of CIA Agent

 
 
sumac
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Jul, 2005 06:34 pm
Well, well. And the noose tightens on the WH team.
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kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Jul, 2005 10:38 pm
Certainly looks like it. Twisted Evil
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Jul, 2005 11:12 pm
The Judy File
07.31.2005 Arianna Huffington
The Judy File

Ever since I started blogging about Judy Miller's role in Plamegate (and in the selling of the war in Iraq), I've been showered with tips and tidbits about the jailed reporter, whom one e-mailer from Sag Harbor ("her summer hometown") archly referred to as "the amazing Ms. Miller, intrepid girl reporter."

And since I spent the weekend in the vicinity of her summer hometown, some of what I heard was delivered by people who know her well. Together all these pieces of information now comprise my newly labeled -- and ever-expanding -- Judy File.

A recurring theme in many of the conversations and e-mails is how Judy, to the dismay of many of her colleagues, never played by the same rules and standards as other reporters. One source e-mailed to give me some examples of this pattern: "In Feb 2003, Judy was in Salahuddin covering the Iraqi opposition conclave. Iraqi National Congress spokesperson Zaab Sethna told a reporter who was also there that Judy was staying with Chalabi's group in Salahuddin (the rest of the reporters had to stay 30 minutes away in crappy hotels in Irbil), and that the I.N.C. had provided her with a car and a translator (Did the New York Times reimburse them?). The I.N.C. offered another reporter the same, but he turned it down. Judy had just arrived in a bus convoy from Turkey, big footing C.J. Chivers, who was also there covering the story for the Times. While everyone else on the buses had to scramble for accommodations, she was staying in a luxurious villa loaned to the I.N.C. by the Kurdish Democratic Party...

"Two years earlier, she was on assignment in Paris for the Times and conducted her reporting out of the ambassador's personal residence, where she was staying. Felix Rohatyn, the ambassador at the time, was out of town, but it would be interesting to know whether the Times reimbursed U.S. taxpayers for the use of the embassy while she was there on assignment. What is certain is that the Paris bureau was buzzing about this at the time, as getting too close to sources or accepting hospitality -- accommodations, meals -- is a violation of the Times's ethical standards. The feeling was that somehow Judy was able to do whatever she wanted."

For those interested in visiting Judy at the Alexandria Detention Center, one source emailed that Miller's visiting hours "are fully booked until September 15."

Another I ran into told me that the Committee to Protect Journalists is very divided over Miller: "There are those of us who feel that this is not a good case for us to be identified with. There are too many unknowns and too much that's murky here."

The AP reported on Friday that a delegation of the Committee to Protect Journalists (clearly not including those who do not believe that protecting Judy Miller is what they should be doing) visited her last week. During her meeting with the group, which included Tom Brokaw, Miller wore a dark green uniform with "PRISONER" written on the back.

According to the CPJ reps who visited her, Miller told them that while she is allowed to read and write in jail, she's been permitted to go outside only two times in the three weeks she's been locked up. I can't figure this one out. Are prison authorities worried she might get in trouble in the yard? Convince her fellow inmates that Iraq did indeed have (as she wrote in Sept 2002) "12,500 gallons of anthrax, 2,500 gallons of gas gangrene, 1,250 gallons of aflotoxin and 2,000 gallons of botulism throughout the country"?

Besides being able to read and write, she's also able to make long-distance phone calls (collect, I assume). According to a source, she used one of her allowed calls to phone her publisher pal Mort Zuckerman to complain about a Lloyd Grove column that ran in Zuckerman's New York Daily News, in which Grove reported, correctly, that while Miller is in jail her husband, "famed editor Jason Epstein," is cruising around the Mediterranean aboard the Silver Shadow cruise liner. The Grove column included a delicious riff from Chris Buckley. Miller, apparently, was not amused. Grove's piece also featured a priceless quote from Miller's attorney Bob Bennett who, when asked about Epstein's travels, replied, "We all serve our time in our own way."

Speaking of Bennett, we had a brief but memorable e-exchange with him on Friday, when the HuffPost contacted him to ask about a tip I'd gotten that Miller was in the process of negotiating a book deal about her Plamegate/prison experiences. When asked to confirm the story, Bennett e-mailed back a lawyerly: "Where did you get this info?" Was he expecting me to give him the name, address, and blood type of my source? We replied that I had heard it through "publishing sources" -- to which he emailed back: "No Comment".

Thanks, Bob. Should we take "No Comment" to mean "yes" -- since if you'd meant "no" you surely would have said so? Unsolicited advice to Alice Mayhew, Judy Miller's legendary editor at Simon and Schuster (if she's the one negotiating with Bennett): Hold your horses or, if you can't, keep the advance very low. A reporter going to jail to protect her own ass and not a source smells like remainder to me. But what worries my Times sources the most is that it smells like the straw that could break the Gray Lady's back. A lot hinges on how much of what Judy knows Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger also know. Keller has been very cagey on the subject. When asked by George Stephanopoulos on Nightline if he knew who Miller's source was, he refused to say yes or no.

And no fewer than four sources have either e-mailed, called, or, in one case, run up to me on the street to tell me that what I termed Miller's "especially close relationship" with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales, the leader of the WMD-hunting unit Miller was embedded with during the war, might have been, well, very close indeed. According to one insider, Miller had emailed a picture of Gonzales to a colleague at the Times with the message "Lucky Lady".

So thanks to all those who contributed to the Judy File... which is open and ready for more. Keep 'em coming...
0 Replies
 
sumac
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 04:53 am
Great stuff, BBB. How does one get to that blog? I am just getting my new computer set up with an RSS reader and would like to add that source to it. And any other sources that you think are good. Here, or on PM.
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sumac
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 04:55 am
And if anyone else posting here would like to suggest to me sources, for my edification, I would be glad to add them to the RSS reader. Or put a shortcut to them on my desktop, if RSS feed is not available.

Trying to get the computer organized.
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kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 05:03 am
Re: The Judy File
Arianna Huffington wrote:
And no fewer than four sources have either e-mailed, called, or, in one case, run up to me on the street to tell me that what I termed Miller's "especially close relationship" with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales, the leader of the WMD-hunting unit Miller was embedded with during the war, might have been, well, very close indeed. According to one insider, Miller had emailed a picture of Gonzales to a colleague at the Times with the message "Lucky Lady".


I wouldn't read too much into those Emails. This Gonzalez fellow might be extremely good looking, and she might have sent those Emails just as a form of small talk to friends. I don't think this is necessarily evidence of an actual affair.
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sumac
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 05:08 am
No, we don't need to conclude that. But the mere fact that she is reported to have said that is an indication of some feature of her character.
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kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 05:09 am
I do think it is hilarious, though, considering Judith Miller's posture as the protector of journalism sources, that the first thing her lawyer said when asked about negotiations for a book deal is, "Where did you get this information", lol.
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kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 05:15 am
sumac wrote:
No, we don't need to conclude that. But the mere fact that she is reported to have said that is an indication of some feature of her character.



An affair might not be impossible, but what it sounds like to me is mostly small talk. Like, "As long as I have to be stuck out in this desert, at least there is this stud around to improve the scenery."

If that's the case, I don't think that reflects badly on her character.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 08:36 am
Sumac
sumac wrote:
Great stuff, BBB. How does one get to that blog? I am just getting my new computer set up with an RSS reader and would like to add that source to it. And any other sources that you think are good. Here, or on PM.


Arianna Huffington's blog site is quite good and can be used as a time saving portal to other sites.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Another good blog site is the Daily Kos, one with a fairly good reputation.
http://www.dailykos.com/

There are many other blogs, but I haven't had time to evaluation their credibility.

BBB
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Chrissee
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 09:00 am
Here is a good one

http://dembloggers.com/
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 09:12 am
Novak Speaks Out on Plame Case, Hits CIA Spokesman
Novak Speaks Out on Plame Case, Hits CIA Spokesman
Robert Novak
By E&P Staff
Published: August 01, 2005 8:00 AM ET

NEW YORKColumnist Robert Novak has remained more or less mum on the Plame case since writing the now famous CIA leak column in July 2003. In his column today, however, he says that a recent statement by a former CIA spokesman is "so patently incorrect and so abuses my integrity as a journalist" that he feels he must attempt to rebut it.

In a front-page story in last Wednesday's Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei quoted ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow claiming that he told Novak before he wrote the fateful column that Plame (Mrs. Joseph Wilson) "had not authorized" her husband's mission to Africa and that "the story Novak had related to him was wrong."

Novak writes today: "The truth is otherwise....There never was any question of me talking about Mrs. Wilson 'authorizing.' I was told she 'suggested' the mission, and that is what I asked Harlow. His denial was contradicted in July 2004 by a unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee report. The report said Wilson's wife 'suggested his name for the trip.'"

But what about the more vital point of Harlow declaring that he had told Novak not to reveal the agent's name? Novak provides a debatable point of logic. "That is meaningless," he writes. "Once it was determined that Wilson's wife suggested the mission, she could be identified as 'Valerie Plame' by reading her husband's entry in 'Who's Who in America.'

"Harlow said to the Post that he did not tell me Mrs. Wilson 'was undercover because that was classified.' What he did say was, as I reported in a previous column, she probably never again would be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties.'

"I have previously said that I never would have written those sentences if Harlow, then-CIA Director George Tenet or anybody else from the agency had told me that Valerie Plame Wilson's disclosure would endanger herself or anybody."

Novak's column:
http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak01.html
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sumac
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 09:54 am
Thanks, BBB.
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sumac
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 09:58 am
From Novak's column:

"But what about the more vital point of Harlow declaring that he had told Novak not to reveal the agent's name? Novak provides a debatable point of logic. "That is meaningless," he writes. "Once it was determined that Wilson's wife suggested the mission, she could be identified as 'Valerie Plame' by reading her husband's entry in 'Who's Who in America.' "

Guffaw! Snicker.
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DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 11:26 am
worth a thousand words ?


http://www.crooksandliars.com/images/2005/07/20/RoveNovakpals3.jpg
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 10:33 am
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 10:48 am
Dating Cheney's nuclear drumbeat
Aug 3, 2005
Dating Cheney's nuclear drumbeat
By Jim Lobe

In the wake of the release of the Downing Street memo, there has been much talk about how the Bush administration "fixed" its intelligence to create a war fever in the US in the many months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. What still remains to be fully grasped, however, is the wider pattern of propaganda that underlay the administration's war effort - in particular, the overlapping networks of relationships that tied together so many key figures in the administration, the neo-conservatives and their allies on the outside, and parts of the media in what became a seamless, boundary-less operation to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein represented an intolerable threat to their national security.

Vice President Dick Cheney, for instance, is widely credited with having launched the administration's nuclear drumbeat to war in Iraq via a series of speeches he gave, beginning in August 2002, vividly accusing Saddam of having an active nuclear weapons program. As it happens though, he started beating the nuclear drum with vigor significantly earlier than most remember; indeed at a time that was particularly curious given its proximity to the famous mission former ambassador Joseph Wilson took on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Cheney's initial public attempts to raise the nuclear nightmare did not in fact begin with his August 2002 barrage of nuclear speeches, but rather five months before that, just after his return from a tour of Arab capitals where he had tried in vain to gin up local support for military action against Iraq. Indeed, the specific date on which his campaign was launched was March 24, 2002, when, on return from the Middle East, he appeared on three major Sunday public-affairs television programs bearing similar messages on each. On CNN's Late Edition news show he offered the following comment on Saddam:
This is a man of great evil, as the president said. And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time.
On NBC's Meet the Press news program he said:
There's good reason to believe that he continues to aggressively pursue the development of a nuclear weapon. Now will he have one in a year, five years? I can't be that precise.
And on CBS's Face the Nation show:
The notion of a Saddam Hussein with his great oil wealth, with his inventory that he already has of biological and chemical weapons, that he might actually acquire a nuclear weapon is, I think, a frightening proposition for anybody who thinks about it. And part of my task out there was to go out and begin the dialogue with our friends to make sure they were thinking about it.
Why do I think that Cheney moment, that particular barrage of statements about Saddam's supposed nuclear program, remains so significant today, in light of the Plame affair? (The identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame was leaked to the press, some believe because her ambassador husband, Joseph Wilson, did not go along with the Bush administration's nuclear line on Saddam.)

For one thing, that Sunday's drum roll of nuclear claims indicated that the "intelligence and facts" were already being "fixed around the policy" four months before Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's MI6, reached that conclusion, as recorded in the Downing Street memo. It's worth asking, then: on what basis could Cheney make such assertions with such evident certainty, nearly six months before, on September 7, 2002, Judith Miller and Michael Gordon of the New York Times first broke a story about how Iraq had ordered "specially designed aluminum tubes", supposedly intended as components for centrifuges to enrich uranium for Saddam's nuclear weapons program. Even five months later, after all, those tubes would still be the only real piece of evidence for the existence of an Iraqi nuclear program offered by then-secretary of state Colin Powell in his presentation to the UN Security Council.

Indeed, on March 24 when Cheney made his initial allegations about an Iraqi nuclear program, we know of only two pieces of "evidence" available to him that might conceivably have supported his charges:

1) Testimony from Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a "defector" delivered up by Ahmad Chalabi's exile organization, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and enthusiastically recounted by the Times' Miller on December 20, 2001 (although rejected as a fabrication by both the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency). Al-Haideri claimed to have personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as 2000.

2) The infamous forged Niger yellowcake documents that, at some point in December 2001 or January 2002, somehow appeared on Cheney's desk, supposedly through the Defense Intelligence Agency or the CIA, though accounts differ on the precise route it took from Italian military intelligence to the vice president's office. It was these and related documents that spurred Cheney to ask for additional information, a request that would eventually result in Wilson's trip to Niger in late February, which, of course, set the Plame case in motion. Wilson's conclusion - that there was nothing to the story - would echo the conclusions of both US ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick and Marine General Carlton W Fulford Jr, then-deputy commander of the US European Command who was also sent to Niger in February. A couple of days after his return to Washington, Wilson would be debriefed by the CIA.

How far up their respective chains of command Wilson's and Fulford's reports made it remains a significant mystery to this day. Cheney's office, which reportedly had reminded the CIA of the vice president's interest in the agency's follow-up efforts even while Wilson was in Niger, claims never to have heard about either report. We do know that Fulford's report made it up to Joint Chiefs chairman Richard Myers, whose spokesman, however, told the Washington Post in July 2003, shortly after Wilson went public on the New York Times op-ed page, that the general had "no recollection" of it and so no idea whether it continued on to the White House or Cheney's office.

Meanwhile, Cheney, whose initial curiosity set off this flurry of travel and reporting, appeared to have lost interest in the results by the time he left on a Middle Eastern trip in mid-March; at least, no information has come to light so far indicating that he ever got back to the CIA or anyone else with further questions or requests on the matter of whether Saddam had actually been in the market for Niger yellowcake uranium ore. Yet, within four days of his return to Washington, there he was on the Sunday TV shows assuring the nation's viewers that Iraq was indeed "actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time".

Did he then acquire new information, perhaps from Iraq's neighbors, during his trip to the Middle East, or had he simply decided by then that the "facts" really had to be "fixed" - or more precisely in Wilson's case, ignored altogether - if the American people were to be persuaded that war was the only solution to the problem of Saddam? In any event, one can only describe his sudden lack of curiosity combined with his public certainty on the subject as, well ... curious.

That Cheney did indeed make the initial request to follow up on the Niger yellowcake report appears now to be beyond dispute, and it also draws attention to another little-noted curiosity of the Plame case - the knowledge and role of Clifford May, ex-New York Timesman, recent head of communications for the Republican National Committee (1997-2001), and president of the ultra-neo-conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).

In an article at National Review Online (NRO) on September 29, 2003 (as pressure was building on attorney general John Ashcroft to appoint a special prosecutor in the case), he boasted that he had been informed by an unnamed former government official of Wilson's wife's identity long before her outing as a CIA operative by Robert Novak, on July 14, 2003, and so had assumed that her identity (and relationship to Wilson) had been an "open secret" among the Washington cognoscenti. He has subsequently told the Nation magazine's David Corn among others that he was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but has never been asked to testify on the subject before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury.

In that NRO article, he also noted that he "was the first to publicly question the credibility of Mr Wilson" following the ambassador's Times op-ed. Indeed, only five days after that op-ed appeared, on July 11, 2003, NRO published May's first attack on Wilson - many more would follow right up to the present - depicting the ambassador as a "pro-Saudi, leftist partisan with an axe to grind". The article - and this is the curious part - included the following passage: "Mr Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA to verify a US intelligence report about the sale of yellowcake - because Vice President Dick Cheney requested it, because Cheney had doubts about the validity of the intelligence report." This phrasing is fascinating because it purports to know Cheney's subjective motivation, and the motivation ascribed to him - that he had "doubts" about the Niger story - conflicts with everything we've otherwise come to understand about why he asked for the Niger story to be investigated. It hints, certainly, at how consciously Cheney would indeed fix the facts when it came to Saddam's nuclear doings.

Given this tidbit of curious information hidden in May's piece, it's important to know what former government officials might not only have told May about Plame's identity but possibly about Cheney's real thoughts on the subject of Saddam's nuclear program - presuming, that is, that Cheney himself or "Scooter Libby", his chief of staff, was not the source. Among May's board of advisers at FDD were several former government officials, a number of whom were known to be very close to Cheney and Libby as well as to Pentagon hawks like then-deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz and under secretary of defense Douglas Feith. They included head of the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. All of them played starring roles in efforts to tie Saddam's Iraq to al-Qaeda and the September 11 attacks, as well as in raising the nuclear bogeyman well before Cheney did so on March 24, 2002.

In fact, a close examination of how the pre-war propaganda machine worked shows that it was led by the neo-cons and their associates outside the administration, particularly those on the Defense Policy Board (DPB) like Richard Perle, Woolsey and Kenneth "Cakewalk" Adelman (and Judith Miller of the Times) who had long championed the cause of Ahmad Chalabi and his INC, and were also close to the Office of Special Plans that Douglas Feith had set up in the Pentagon to cherry-pick intelligence. They would invariably be the first to float new "evidence" against Saddam (such as the infamous supposed Prague meeting of September 11 conspirator Mohammed Atta with an Iraqi intelligence officer). They would then tie this "evidence" into ongoing arguments for "regime change" in Iraq that would often appear in the Times or elsewhere as news and subsequently be picked up by senior administration officials and fed into the drumbeat of war commentary pouring out of official Washington. It is by now perfectly clear that the neo-conservatives on the outside were aided by like-minded journalists, particularly the Times' Miller - then the only "straight" reporter on the client list of neo-conservative heavyweights and columnists represented by Benador Associates - and media outlets, especially the Wall Street Journal's editorial page and Fox News. Working hand-in-glove with the war hawks on the inside, they created a powerful and persuasive machine to convince the public that Saddam's Iraq represented an imminent and potentially cataclysmic threat to the US that had to be eliminated once and for all. The failure to investigate and demonstrate precisely how seamlessly this web of intra and extra-administration connections worked in the run-up to the war - including perhaps in the concoction of the Niger yellowcake documents, as some former intelligence officials have recently suggested - has been perhaps the most shocking example of the mainstream media's failure to connect the dots (the reporters from Knight-Ridder excepted.)

In that context, it is worth noting the first moment that the specter of an advanced Iraqi nuclear-weapons program was propelled into post-September 11 public consciousness. On December 20, 2001, the New York Times published Judith Miller's version of the sensational charges made by Chalabi-aided defector al-Haideri. Her report was immediately seized on by former CIA director and Defense Policy Board member Woolsey, (who had just spent many weeks trying desperately but unsuccessfully to confirm the alleged Mohammed Atta meeting in Prague that would have linked Saddam to the September 11 attackers). Appearing that same evening on CNBC's "Hard Ball", he breathlessly told Chris Matthews, "I think this is a very important story. I give Judy Miller a lot of credit for getting it. This defector sounds quite credible." Within a week, he was telling the Washington Post that the case that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons was a "slam dunk". (Now, there's a familiar expression!) He continued confidently, "There is so much evidence with respect to his development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles ... that I consider this point beyond dispute."

One week later, Perle weighed in with an op-ed in the New York Times in which he also referred to Miller's work, albeit without naming her. "With each passing day, [Saddam] comes closer to his dream of a nuclear arsenal," he wrote.

"We know he has a clandestine program, spread over many hidden sites, to enrich Iraqi natural uranium (Nigerian yellowcake perhaps?) to weapons grade. We know he has the designs and the technical staff to fabricate nuclear weapons once he obtains the material. And intelligence sources know he is in the market, with plenty of money, for both weapons material and components as well as finished nuclear weapons. How close is he? We do not know. Two years, three years, tomorrow even? We simply do not know, and any intelligence estimate that would cause us to relax would be about as useful as the ones that missed his nuclear program in the early 1990s or failed to predict the Indian nuclear test in 1998 or to gain even a hint of the September 11 attack."

It was a new argument being taken out for a test run, one that would become painfully familiar in the months that followed. At about that time, or shortly thereafter, a report about the mysterious Niger documents landed on Cheney's desk, and the rest would be history.

Jim Lobe is a reporter for the Rome-based international news agency Inter Press Service and has followed the paths of the neo-conservatives since the early 1970s.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 10:51 am
CIA vs the White House: the leaks go on
CIA vs the White House: the leaks go on
August 2nd, 2005
Rick Moran is proprietor of the blog Rightwing Nuthouse

Reading today's story in the Washington Post by Dafna Linzer about a National Intelligence Estimate of Iran detailing the mad Mullah's progress toward achieving a nuclear weapon, one could be forgiven for thinking that we've been down this road before. The leaking of classified information is, after all, a felony. That doesn't seem to stop some employees at the CIA from assuming the job of policy makers by leaking information that buttresses their opinion that Iran is not an immediate threat to the United States and that the Administration is once again lying about a potential adversary's intentions.

The problem is that, as the article points out, only selected portions of the NIE were relayed to the reporter. Is it an accident that those portions that were leaked are at odds with the Administration's oft-stated claims that Iran, if left to its own devices, would be nuclear capable in a matter of a year or two?

In fact, the report predicts that Iran would be unable to build a weapon for ten years, something that would come as a huge surprise to the state of Israel. In an article written by Peter Hirschberg for Ha'aretz, the author quotes an Israeli military official giving a quite different analysis of the threat from Iran:

Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Iran could be capable of producing enriched uranium within six months and have nuclear weapons within two years. Earlier this month, head of Israeli military intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi said that while Iran was not currently capable of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb, "it is only half a year away from achieving such independent capability - if it is not stopped by the West."

And yet, the Washington Post story says that the consensus estimate of our intelligence community is that Iran would not be capable of producing a bomb for a decade:

The new estimate extends the timeline, judging that Iran will be unlikely to produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for an atomic weapon, before "early to mid-next decade," according to four sources familiar with that finding. The sources said the shift, based on a better understanding of Iran's technical limitations, puts the timeline closer to 2015 and in line with recently revised British and Israeli figures. The estimate is for acquisition of fissile material, but there is no firm view expressed on whether Iran would be ready by then with an implosion device, sources said.

The problem with Iran's "technical limitations" is that the production of Highly Enriched (HE) uranium is not a huge technical problem to overcome. Hiding the process from prying eyes is the real dilemma. The two practical ways to separate U-235 (bomb material) from U-238 (uranium hexafluoride or "hex") are gaseous diffusion and centrifuges. A gaseous diffusion plant would be impossible to hide given how big the works would have to be to efficiently separate the uranium. The centrifuge method is much easier to conceal but a bigger technical challenge given the engineering tolerances necessary to spin the centrifuge at the enormous speeds in order to separate the isotopes.
There is a third way and would in fact be a shortcut to a nuclear weapon; acquire the material from a third party. The article doesn't say whether or not the NIE deals with that possibility.

As for constructing an "implosion" device, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was constructed using the so called "gun design" where a sphere of U-235 sits at one end of a barrel and a smaller pellet of the material is fired into it thus achieving critical mass and detonating the bomb. This is less efficient than an implosion device but still packs a huge wallop.

The point I'm trying to make is that given the piecemeal release of parts of the NIE, the leaker has succeeded in spinning the Iran nuclear story toward a conclusion at odds with what the Administration has been saying since at least 2002 - that Iran must be prevented from enriching uranium because of how close they are to constructing a nuclear device.

Evidently, part of the Administration's concern was that the Iranian military had its own nuclear program separate from the civilian government:

Sources said the new timeline also reflects a fading of suspicions that Iran's military has been running its own separate and covert enrichment effort. But there is evidence of clandestine military work on missiles and centrifuge research and development that could be linked to a nuclear program, four sources said.

Suspicions are "fading" but there is "evidence" of clandestine military work on centrifuges? It appears that either we have someone wanting to cover all bases at the same time or we have no consensus in our intelligence community on the issue. If this is the case, how can the estimate of Iranian capabilities be taken seriously? Is there another estimate at odds with the conclusion leaked in the article?

We don't know which is why the leaking of this NIE should be seen in the context of the continuing war being waged by a faction at the CIA on the White House. Is it an accident that much of the information leaked confirms what one former CIA agent has been saying about Iran since at least March?

Ray McGovern is on the steering committee for the radical group of ex-CIA agents at war with the White House known as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Here's what Mr. McGovern had to say in an article for Tom Paine, an on-line leftist magazine:

Let's look briefly at the scariest rationale-If Iran is allowed to produce fissile material, it may transfer it to terrorists bent on exploding a nuclear device in an American city.

This seems to be the main boogeyman, whether real or contrived, in U.S. policymaking councils. Its unexamined premise - the flimsily supported but strongly held view that Iran's leaders would give terrorists a nuclear device or the wherewithal to make one - is being promoted as revealed truth. Serious analysts who voice skepticism about this and who list the strong disincentives to such a step by Iran are regarded as apostates.

For those of you with a sense of deja vu, we have indeed been here before - just a few years ago. And the experience should have been instructive. In the case of Iraq, CIA and other analysts strongly resisted the notion that Saddam Hussein would risk providing nuclear, chemical, or biological materials to al-Qaeda or other terrorists - except as a desperate gesture if and when he had his back to the wall.

Similarly, it strains credulity beyond the breaking point to posit that the Iranian leaders would give up control of such material to terrorists.

Since Mr. McGovern wrote that article in March, Iran's ruling Guardian Council has by most accounts rigged an election so that a hard line militarist with ties to terrorist groups was elected President. Even before President elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken office, a crackdown on dissidents as well as an ideological purge of key government and civil institutions has been underway in Iran. And President elect Ahmadinejad has made it clear that he sees the Islamic revolution as a worldwide phenomena that will conquer "every mountaintop."

Now, we can choose to believe what we read and what we see or we can listen to the very same people were saying in July of 2001 that al Qaeda was not a threat. And let's not forget most of these same analysts concurred in the estimates regarding Iraqi WMD.

The point is that regardless of recent steps to reform our intelligence capability, it appears that we're still working with a dysfunctional system where agency personnel feel perfectly comfortable with leaking classified information in a bid to influence both Administration policy and the political process. No one expects everybody to agree on everything. But the American people have a right to expect that the unelected bureaucrats who work at the CIA allow policy making to reside with those we have entrusted for the task - the elected representatives of the people.
0 Replies
 
sumac
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 03:01 pm
Cheney is a scumbag. I don't for a moment believe that he believed what he said.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 09:48 am
That Awful Power: How Judy Miller Screwed Us All
That Awful Power: How Judy Miller Screwed Us All
By James Moore
Source: The Huffington Post

Okay. I couldn't stand it any longer. When I saw the quote today from a New York Times spokesperson about Judy Miller, I blew coffee through my nose. "Judy is an intrepid, principled, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has provided our readers with thorough and comprehensive reporting throughout her career." I am submitting the lengthy piece below to prove precisely otherwise. I don't care how many awards Judy Miller has, she is a miserable failure who has irreparably harmed her country with bad journalism and by allowing her own personal beliefs to infect her reportage. Below is but one example. This is an edited excerpt from a book I wrote, which no one ever read, called "Bush's War for Re-election." And I am not trying to sell a damn book. I don't care if anyone ever buys it. But I do want people to know what this woman did:

"If you don't want to work, become a reporter. That awful power, the public opinion of the nation, was created by a horde of self-complacent
simpletons, who failed at ditch digging and shoe making, and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse."

Mark Twain
Connecticut Evening Dinner Club, 1881
0 Replies
 
 

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