Sunday, November 30, 2003
DEATHS OF SPANISH INTEL OFFICERS LEAD TO MORE CONCERN ABOUT MOLES
Guerrillas ambushed two vehicles carrying Spanish intelligence operatives in Latifiya, a Sunni town just south of Baghdad on Saturday, killing 7 and wounding another. They used rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. Crowds of young men gathered to celebrate, kicking the bodies and chanting slogans in favor of Saddam Hussein. Four of the agents were due to go home, and were riding with their replacements. The incident is sure to kick off another round of debate in Spain about the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq. A majority of the Spanish public opposes involvement in Iraq, and the opposition Socialists are sure to campaign on a withdrawal of the 1200 or so troops, which are mainly in the Najaf region. Another Spanish intelligence officer was assassinated earlier this year, and one wonders whether the ex-Baath still have sources inside the National Intelligence Center operations in Iraq. LINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
PLAME COVERUP SEEMS TO BE SUCCEEDING
By Floyd J. McKay, Special to The Seattle Times
I'm not privy to talks between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush, but I wonder if the names David Kelly and Valerie Plame didn't enter the conversation.
When we were in Britain in August, there was a huge furor over Blair's government "outing" a weapons expert who told the BBC that Blair's office "sexed up" weapons data in order to justify the war in Iraq.
The scientist, Dr. David Kelly, talked to a BBC reporter on condition that his name not be used. The story was a factor in British public opinion turning against Blair....
...Anyone who has covered government or served in a major state or federal office will have little doubt that the leak was authorized at the highest level, if not the White House itself. Lower-level officials don't freelance leaks in sensitive areas.
This is hardball played to the extreme. The president has ordered his people to "fess up," but the investigation will be directed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, so little is to be expected. Unlike in Britain, the American investigation will be conducted in secret.
Also unlike the British, the American media and public don't seem to care. The media, of course, live off leaks. But public concern, or even interest, is lacking.
One reason, I think, is the way career civil servants are regarded in the two nations. The British civil service is highly regarded, difficult to enter and seldom a target of campaign rhetoric. British candidates run against the other party and its policies, not against the national government's career people.
By contrast, the most successful rhetoric for an American candidate, particularly a Republican, is to run against bureaucrats, the "Washington, D.C., establishment." Exception is given, of course, to the military. So the very dangerous outing of Valerie Plame raises little concern in the public. In Britain, a less-serious offense genuinely threatened Blair's hold on his party leadership.
The way Americans regard those who have committed their careers to public service is quite different than most European nations, for that matter. In the major democracies, such as France and Germany, civil servants are held in high respect (politicians are not) and a career in public service is attractive to bright young graduates.
The case of David Kelly sent a message to Downing Street to keep its hands off the career officials. The Valerie Plame case warned career officials to toe the White House line. Quite a difference. LINK
LEAKED RAW INTEL MEMO BACKFIRES
by Jeffrey Steinberg, EIR
The triumphant neo-conservative claim trumpeted throughout U.S. media on Nov. 14—that links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda had been "conclusively proven" by a memo from Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith to the Senate Intelligence Committee—rapidly went the way of all previous such cooked claims from Vice President Dick Cheney's faction in Washington. But more, this claim had, by Nov. 17-18, boomeranged into its opposite: a Defense Department denial of the claim itself; an eruption of official demands to investigate who passed this classified document to the waiting neo-con press; the likely revival of the Intelligence Committee probe which had been shut down on Nov. 7 "to save Cheney's neck"; and the escalation of "Cheney-gate" itself, by the exposure of what appear to be "plumbers' " operations to steal sensitive documents from the Cheney faction's opponents.... LINK
Monday, November 24, 2003
INTEL OK, JUST NOT FAST ENOUGH?
Dems criticized the intelligence Bush used to make his case for war... CIA maintains that its handling of prewar intelligence was sound, and is supported by some Republicans who agree gaps in intelligence existed but stress that committee's review not complete....
...Internal review is underway by a team led by Richard Kerr, retired senior analyst and former DDCI...
Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said criticism of intelligence personnel "is a little despicable."...
...In later interviews, Goss acknowledged gaps in prewar intelligence but contends that many of the problems were due to the failure to finance intelligence agencies adequately in the 1990s and restrictions imposed on intelligence work. "It wasn't flawed," he said. "There wasn't enough of it."
Republicans: Its OK to burn CIA personnel, but not to criticize them. All problems are due to Clinton, and lack of funding.
CIA: WE weren't the ones to screw up (though we can't come right out and say it.).. and we WILL take some more money, thank you...
Dems: We're criticizing the CIA, but we know full well that it was Bush, but this is the only forum we can do it in.
PS NEW ENVIRONMENTAL BLOG: DAMAGE
Sunday, November 23, 2003
FOLLOWUP ON INTEL ANALYST JOHN KOKAL'S "SUICIDE"
Kokal's INR bureau was at the forefront of confronting claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction
FTW Saturday November 15, 2003, Updated November 20, By Wayne Madsen
In a case eerily reminiscent of the death of British Ministry of Defense bio-weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly, an official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research Near East and South Asian division (INR/NESA), John J. Kokal, 58, was found dead in the late afternoon of November 7.
Police indicated he may have jumped from the roof of the State Department. Kokal's body was found at the bottom of a 20 foot window well, 8 floors below the roof of the State Department headquarters near the 23rd and D Street location. Kokal's death was briefly mentioned in a FOX News website story on November 8 but has been virtually overlooked by the major media.
Interestingly, the FOX report states that State Department officials confirmed Kokal's death to The Washington Post yet the Post - according to an archive search - has published nothing at all about Kokal's death. ...
However, a colleague of Kokal's told this writer that the Iraq analyst was despondent over "problems" with his security clearance. Kokal reportedly climbed out of a window and threw himself out in such a manner so that he would "land on his head." At the time Kokal fell from either the roof or a window, his wife Pamela, a public affairs specialist in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, was waiting for him in the parking garage....
....The body was at the bottom of a well of light out of concrete, with the foot of the building of eight floors of the State Department. At first sight, one could have believed that the man had thrown roof to commit suicide. But if the corpse wore a shirt, a tie and trousers, it had neither shoes nor jacket, whereas the temperature in the federal capital these days is hardly higher than ten degrees.
Moreover, the building not having windows, the man should have gone up on the roof of this ultra-protected building to jump into space. In the doubt, the firemen, called to intervene in the five hour old neighbourhoods of the afternoon Friday November 7, preferred not to touch with the body....
...Manis2Society of Cosmic Iguana notes, as pointed out in the Fox piece, that when Kokal's body was discovered, he was wearing neither a coat nor shoes. Manis, in admirable super-sleuth mode, speculates at League of Liberals that "his body was probably moved and those items removed to eliminate clues." (NOTE: these excerpts are from a compilation of writings from various sources: http://news.globalfreepress.com/article.pl?sid=03/11/22/2316240
Friday, November 21, 2003
DID AL-QAEDA REALLY COMMIT THE LATEST BOMBINGS?
The question is Intel work is "Who benefits?" When Moslems kill Moslems, the answer could be the US. That would be a motive, i.e. mobilizing Moslem public opinion against Al Qaeda, but is there any chance it could it be real?
There is a precedent:
In another little episode ... long forgotten by Americans, but still alive in the minds of thousands of Mideast peoples, our CIA's William Casey, attempting to murder Sheik Muhammed Fedlallah (spiritual leader of Lebanese Shiites), which a truck bomb placed outside a Beirut mosque, killed 81 innocent bystanders and injured hundreds. The Sheik escaped. Bob Woodward in his carefully-researched 1987 book Veil reported Israeli agents had manufactured and set off that bomb for our CIA. The well-laundered funding for the disaster had been deposited in Casey's secret account by none other than the Saudi's Prince Bandar. link
U.N. REPORT: SANCTIONS ON AL QAIDA FAILING
FROM NY TIMES via AFIO:
U.N. REPORT: SANCTIONS ON AL QAIDA FAILING -- An expert group established by the UN Security Council last January to monitor the success of sanctions against 272 individuals and entities linked to al Qaida and the Taliban regime has concluded that the only thing holding al Qaida back from using chemical and biological weapons is its lack of technical expertise. The "confidential" report obtained by the AP recently said the terrorists have already decided to use these weapons in future attacks. The UN sanctions include the freezing of assets, a travel ban, and an arms embargo.
While "important progress has been made toward cutting off al Qaida financing," the report said serious loopholes remain that enable the terrorist network to funnel money to operatives. "Al Qaida continues to receive funds it needs from charities, deep pocket donors, and business and criminal activities, including the drug trade," it said. Sanctions are failing in part because many governments refuse to add names to the sanctions list, even though some 4,000 individuals in 102 countries have been arrested or detained. Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen reported the arrest of individuals linked to al Qaida and the Taliban yet in most cases they did not submit the names to be put on the sanctions list. And even some on the list have been allowed to travel and evade sanctions. The expert group called on the Security Council to adopt a new resolution requiring all 191 member states to enforce sanctions.
The latest spate of terrorist attacks against Moslem populaces may prod some of the Middle Eastern states to more effective actions; one could even hope for more extensive and prompt intelligence sharing. While this may have a too-optimistic ring, it should be noted that even the Security Council's own experts' report says that unless the UN requires its members to enforce the sanctions, its role in fighting terrorism "risks becoming marginalized." Americans may detect a familiar ring in those words. [D. Harvey // NYT, 15 Nov '03 via AP]
Winding the Iraq Deathwatch
""It's becoming more and more clear that America's neo-conservative regime was so blinded by it's dual lust for oil and expanded empire that, not only did they fabricate lies to justify the invasion of Iraq but they also didn't bother to plan for the occupation. Now, just like Afghanistan they have what they want, energy resources and a pliant puppet regime. The rest of the country descending into chaos? That's just fine. Soon enough the war will be "won", that is, when the American people stop paying attention and we've moved on to invade Iran or Syria.""
Thursday, November 20, 2003
INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION EXPANDS SURVEILLANCE - AGAIN
REPORT ON 2004 INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION
The new House-Senate conference report on the intelligence
authorization act for FY 2004 provides for a significant
expansion of the government's counterterrorism surveillance
"This provision allows the U.S. Government to have, through use
of 'National Security Letters,' greater access to a larger
universe of information that goes beyond traditional financial
records, but is nonetheless crucial in tracking terrorist
finances or espionage activities," the report said (section
Several Senators, including Republican Larry Craig of Idaho, had
urged that this provision be deferred pending further review and
public hearings, as reported in the New York Times today. Their
request was ignored.
Among numerous other notable features, the conference report
would "Reaffirm the functional definition of covert action."
Although the meaning of this section is obscure, it seems to
imply certain reporting requirements for activities that
resemble traditional CIA "covert action" regardless of which
agency undertakes them. Thus, this section concludes, "The
Conferees expect all departments and agencies of the U.S.
Government to continue to comply fully with the [National
Security] Act and its legislative history."
The conference report interprets the recent termination of the
Total Information Awareness program as a prohibition on
"deployment and implementation," but not as a restriction on
research and development of "advanced processing, analysis, and
But the conferees also call for an unclassified report on the
civil liberties implications of such new technologies: "The
Conferees are convinced... that an analysis of the policies and
procedures necessary to safeguard individual liberties and
privacy should occur concurrently with the development of these
analytic tools, not as an afterthought."
The text of the conference report on the 2004 intelligence
authorization act is posted here:
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
By John Diamond, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — CIA Director George Tenet has ordered investigators to substantially widen their internal probe of Iraq intelligence to consider whether the agency missed telltale signs that Iraq had gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion last March....
HUNT FOR SADDAM IS VICTIM OF SADDAM'S SUPERIOR INTEL
DEBKAfile Special Report - LINK
November 18, 2003, 10:37 PM (GMT+02:00) For two months less one day, Saddam Hussein’s gravelly voice was not heard once over the airwaves. On November 16, beginning the last week of Ramdan, an audiotape landed at the Dubai studios of al Arabiya describing the Iraqi people as made of a special kind of chemical that no one alive had ever vanquished and calling on them to wage holy war against the American occupier.
What kept him silent from September 17?
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources have two answers – both highly pertinent to the US forces’ failure to run the deposed Iraqi ruler to earth or bring the Iraqi-Arab guerilla campaign to a halt:
1. The inability of US intelligence to penetrate the inner circle Saddam Hussein kept with him when he went into hiding.
2. That inner circle’s superior ability to keep track of American moves.
In early September, the US command in Iraq was certain that its Task Force 121, charged with catching Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, was closing in on the fugitive dictator and only hours away from capturing him. The hunt that focused on Tikrit at the heart of the Sunni Triangle and on Mosul in the north came to a dead end.
American commanders, running out of leads, decided to launch a massive effort to track the elusive former president through the movements of the audiotapes which he was somehow able to deliver whenever he wanted at the Qatari TV station Al Jazeera and the Al Arabiya TV studio in Dubai. They waited for his taped voice to materialize and signal a fresh stage in the anti-US guerrilla campaign, as it did just before the series of destructive bombings in Baghdad, the systematic sabotage of oil pipelines and the marked upsurge in guerrilla activity. Various experts were assigned to trying to identify the person who handed in the tapes, their recipient and their route to the broadcasting studios as a means of tracing the wanted man’s whereabouts.
Staffers of the two Arab stations were placed under around- the-clock surveillance, their phones and computers tapped and their cars shadowed. Angry confrontations ended more than once with cameras and film being confiscated. At the outset of Operation Iron Hammer on November 13, US bombers made a side swipe at a building owned by al Jazeera TV in south Baghdad. Alternatively, electronic specialists kept a close watch on telephone, radio and electronic traffic to spot any digital transfers or recordings of the audio tapes.
None of this availed. No sooner was this blanket surveillance in place, when the flow of audiocassettes dried up. Clearly, Saddam’s contacts among the TV personnel and other objects of surveillance had warned him to lie low and observe total electronic hush so as not to give his hideout away.
When Ramadan began last month, US intelligence expected Saddam to go into his Muslim leader mode and broadcast a message to the Iraqi people. Hoping he would break silence and cover, physical and electronic observation was tightened. But he sidestepped the spies and re-appeared when he was no longer expected – on the first day of the last week of Ramadan, leaving American undercover watchers no wiser than before.
US administrator Paul Bremer, who had returned the day before from Washington with new White House guidelines for speeding up the transfer of administration to Iraqi sovereignty, was faced with the task of puzzling out why the massive surveillance campaign had ended so fruitlessly.
While Bremer himself appears to be exceptionally well-informed on Iraqi affairs, sentiment and dynamics, some Iraqis criticize his administration for isolating itself in the heavily guarded and fortified Green Zone centering on the former president’s main palaces in central Baghdad. This complex houses the civilian authority run by the coalition and offices of US consultants in Iraq’s reconstruction projects. Being fairly self-sufficient, it is cut off from ordinary city life. Psychologically, say the critics, this is bound to induce in the coalition authority a siege mentality.
One of the enigmas still defying a solution is the precise relationship between former Iraqi rulers and the pro-Saddam guerrilla-cum-terror campaign waged now in Iraq. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources refute the reports circulating this week that Saddam’s deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is running the campaign. Neither are there any signs of direct lines between the guerrillas and terrorists out in the field and Saddam himself. Their discovery would also provide leads to the former president’s lair and are therefore anxiously sought.
Reports placed before last week’s White House conference on Iraq recalled early theories based on the background noise that occurred on his first tapes that they were made in a moving car. He is still believed to be constantly changing houses and very much dependent on tribal contacts. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani told CNN this week that Saddam has changed his appearance. Asked how he knew, he cited “people who have seen him”. Talabani, current president of the Governing Council, also commented that Saddam “is not strong enough or brave enough” to manage the insurgency campaign against coalition forces. He noted that Iraq was a very big country with many good hiding places.
None of these efforts, rumors or theories has brought coalition forces any closer to laying hands on Saddam Hussein. Therefore, the key to breaking the violent warfare that daily claims coalition lives remains elusive.
US STALLS FOR YEARS IN RELEASING RECORDS
FBI, Pentagon, CIA among the worst procrastinators
Tuesday, November 18, 2003, ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle
The FBI, CIA, the Pentagon and other federal agencies have taken more than a decade to release public records on important events -- despite a law that requires them to disclose documents promptly, a study released Monday showed.
The single-oldest pending request to any federal agency is a 1987 request from San Francisco Chronicle reporter Seth Rosenfeld seeking documents on FBI activities at the University of California during the Cold War, the survey found.
The study -- called "Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: The Ten Oldest Pending FOIA Requests" - was done by George Washington University's National Security Archive.
The nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C., sent requests to 35 government agencies for copies of their 10 oldest pending requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The FOIA is the main federal law requiring public access to executive branch records and says agencies must respond to requests within 20 working days, and allows them an extension of 10 days for "unusual circumstances."
Annual reports from the agencies -- required under a 1996 law -- claim the average wait time for records ranges from a low of two working days at the Small Business Administration to a high of 1,113 working days at the Environmental Protection Agency.
But the study found that the annual reports greatly understated "excessive" delays and that some FOIA requests wait more than 10 years without being processed. ...LINK
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
CIA investigates yet another leak
By Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, November 18, 2003; Page A18
The CIA will ask the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a 16-page classified Pentagon memo that listed and briefly described raw agency intelligence on any relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, according to congressional and administration sources.
In addition, the leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), are considering making their own request for a Justice investigation. The top-secret memo was attached to an Oct. 27 letter to them from Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith. Feith was answering a request that he support his assertion during a closed-door hearing in July that there was intelligence to support a longtime relationship between the Iraqi leader and the terrorist group....
...[BUT]...W. Patrick Lang, former head of the Middle East section of the DIA, said yesterday that the Standard article "is a listing of a mass of unconfirmed reports, many of which themselves indicate that the two groups continued to try to establish some sort of relationship. If they had such a productive relationship, why did they have to keep trying?"
Another former senior intelligence official said the memo is not an intelligence product but rather "data points . . . among the millions of holdings of the intelligence agencies, many of which are simply not thought likely to be true." link
BRIT INTEL WHISTLEBLOWER ARRESTED FOR EXPOSING U.S. BLACKMAIL ATTEMPT at U.N.
Katherine Gun: Another Heroic Whistleblower
An old college classmate of mine just called my attention to the following story in The Guardian. It appears that back in March, when the U.S. and Britain were still going through the motions of attempting to obtain UN approval for the war on Iraq, the U.S. National Security Agency was brought in to help 'persuade' certain delegates thought to be on the fence. Specifically:
"The NSA made clear that the particular targets of what was described as an eavesdropping 'surge' were the delegates from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan - the six crucial 'swing votes' on the security council.
A memo sent by Frank Koza, a senior NSA official, said the information would be used for the US's 'QRC' - quick response capability - 'against' the key UN delegations."
The upshot here being that the NSA was hoping to get some dirt on the swing voters in order to threaten them into supporting the war resolution.
In short, the U.S. was trying to blackmail UN delegates into approving the war.
If all of this happened back in March, why are we only hearing about it now? Well, it seems that we wouldn't be hearing about it at all were it not for a certain intelligence employee named Katherine Gun, who has now sacrificed her career and quite possibly her freedom in order to bring these facts to light. She leaked this information back in March, was arrested, and the information bottled up again by the British legal system. A fuller explanation comes from my college contact, who is a long time family friend of Ms. Gun:
"Katherine has worked as a Chinese translator for British intelligence for the last few years, and was arrested back in March for leaking to the press a document from the most secretive of the US intelligence agencies, the NSA, asking British intelligence to help them gather information about the UN reps of various countries with critical swing votes that could influence the vote on war with Iraq in the hope that they could use the information gathered to blackmail those countries into voting for the war.
British law mandates a media blackout in cases like this so there was no press coverage of her arrest when it happened. She and her parents decided to keep silent about it, hoping that she would not end up getting charged.
Now that she has been formally charged, apparently some coverage is allowed, and the Harwoods want everyone to know about it."
Over at UK Indymedia, someone has bothered to point out that people with Ms. Gun's inside connections are thoroughly vetted, and so almost never leak information like this. The fact that she felt compelled to do so speaks to the seriousness of what the U.S. was doing.
We can only hope that others in the intelligence community will perform similar acts of conscience.
Friday, November 14, 2003
IRAQIS HAVE BETTER INTEL THAN US
Insurgents gain a deadly edge in intelligence Guerrillas have better sources than the coalition
By John Diamond, Steven Komarow, and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
U.S. forces are losing the intelligence battle in Iraq to an increasingly organized guerrilla force that uses stealth, spies and surprise to inflict punishing casualties.
U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement officials say that after six months of intensifying guerrilla warfare, Iraqi insurgents know more about the U.S. and allied forces -- their style of operations, convoy routes and vulnerable targets -- than the coalition forces know about them. Indeed, U.S. intelligence has had trouble simply identifying the enemy and figuring out how many are Iraqis and how many are foreign fighters.
With local knowledge and the element of surprise on their side, the guerrillas are exploiting their intelligence edge to overcome the coalition's overwhelming military superiority. Insurgents routinely use inexpensive explosives to destroy multimillion-dollar assets, including tanks and helicopters. Using surveillance and inside information, the guerrillas have assassinated many Iraqis helping the coalition, gunned down a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, killed the top United Nations official in Iraq and blasted the heavily guarded hotel in Baghdad where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.
Sophisticated U.S. intelligence tools such as spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping intercepts have been of little practical use, according to intelligence officials in Washington and military officers in Iraq. And despite an intense search and exhaustive intelligence efforts, deposed leader Saddam Hussein remains at large.
The key problem is that Iraqi guerrillas simply have more and better sources than the coalition. U.S. military officers worry that the Iraqis who work for them, such as translators, cooks and drivers, include moles who routinely pass inside information back to insurgents. In at least two cases, Iraqis have been fired on the suspicion that they were spies.
A former senior director in the Iraqi intelligence service says the Americans are right to be anxious.''The intelligence on the Americans is comprehensive and detailed,'' says the Iraqi, who insisted on not being identified and spoke to a reporter in a private home rather than at a restaurant or hotel to avoid being observed. He says guerrillas get detailed reports on what is going on inside the palace grounds occupied by Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. civilian administrator, Bremer's staff and the Governing Council. Again on Tuesday, guerrillas fired mortar rounds into the ''Green Zone,'' a heavily secured area of central Baghdad that includes Bremer's headquarters.... LINK
PS: New Blog Recommendations
open eyes, open ears, open minds
Thursday, November 13, 2003
NEW CIA REPORT SHOWS CIA FIGHTING BACK
...The CIA report, whose existence was disclosed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, concluded that growing numbers of Iraqis believe that the occupation can be defeated and are supporting the insurgents.
The report, written by the CIA's station chief in Baghdad, was formally presented to top officials Monday, but word of its conclusions was also selectively leaked to various reporters, apparently, said the newspaper, to "make sure the assessment reaches Bush."
The Inquirer's source indicated frustration with Iraq hawks, including Vice President Dick Cheney and the Pentagon's civilian leadership, whose optimistic assessments of the situation had crowded out more somber analyses in White House discussions.
According to the newspaper, the report argued that public skepticism of US intentions in Iraq remained very high – an assessment corroborated by recent Gallup polls in Baghdad – and that the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), which was hand-picked by the CPA, has virtually no popular support.
It also warned that friction between occupation authorities and the Shia Muslim community, both in Baghdad and in the southern part of the country, was growing and could lead to open hostilities, a contingency that has been Washington's worst nightmare since last March's invasion.
Shiites account for at least 60 percent of Iraq's total population, more than twice as much as the Sunnis in central Iraq, the area that US officials have described as the main focus of Ba'ath Party "terrorists" who presumably remain loyal to ousted President Saddam Hussein....
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
YET ANOTHER FORMER INTEL OFFICIAL COMES FORWARD ON IRAQ
BY THE STAFF OF DEMOCRACY NOW!
November 11, 2003 — Veterans from several U.S. wars are protesting across the country today. But at the vigil outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, there is an unusual presence in their ranks.
Peter Molan spent years listening to Arab radio broadcasts, watching Al Jazeera and visiting Arabic Internet chat-rooms. As one of the many intelligence bureaucrats in the chambers of Washington’s war-planning center, the Pentagon, he had his ear to what was happening on the “Arab street.” In August, 2001, the 25 year veteran Middle East analyst retired to spend more time with his family, continue his scholarship and pursue his hobbies: photography, carving duck decoys and dry-fly fishing.
But then came September 11th.
Not long after the planes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Molan received a call from the Pentagon saying his services were once again needed. Fluent in Arabic, he was pulled out of retirement to work on the bin Laden case for the Defense Department. After four months of work, Molan went back to retirement. Then he began hearing the Bush administration amplifying the rhetoric against Iraq, implying that Saddam Hussein was tied to the 9-11 attacks.
“The justifications for that war were completely counter to everything that I had learned in that 20-odd years of government service working on the Middle East,” Molan told Democracy Now!. “I was simply outraged by the twisting and turning of intelligence information that I had helped develop to what was clearly, to my mind, a preordained policy decision that I felt to be profoundly wrong. Nothing about this suggests that Saddam Hussein was anything but a brutal dictator. He was. But that's not why we went to war.”
Molan said that due to restrictions on revealing classified information, he cannot discuss details of his work on the bin Laden/9-11 investigation. “But what I can tell you,” he said. “Is that my involvement, my direct, immediate involvement, day-to-day involvement with Veterans for Peace arises precisely out of the subsequent decision by the Bush administration to go to war with Iraq.” .... LINK
WILSON CASE IS INSTRUCTIVE LESSON
By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor THE SUN, November 9, 2003
The case of former Central Intelligence Agency officer Edwin P. Wilson recalls the words of the great American thinker, H.L. Mencken: "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."
The Wilson case has outraged me for 20 years.
In 1982 and 1983, the federal court in northern Virginia - the same hang-'em-high court the feds now use to try terrorism cases - along with courts in New York and Texas, sentenced Wilson to a total of 52 years in prison for selling arms, including 22 tons of explosives, to Libya. He was also convicted on shaky charges of attempted murder.
Wilson, now 75 years old, has served 20 years in a maximum security prison.
I always believed Wilson innocent and spoke to him many times in prison.
"I was framed by the government," Wilson told me. "They want me to disappear. I know too much."
His words shake me to this day.
"They buried him alive in prison," a former CIA official confided to me.
Last week, Houston Federal District Judge Lynn Hughes threw out Wilson's two-decades old conviction. She wrote: "Government knowingly used false evidence against him," concluding "honesty comes hard to government."
Wilson, a veteran, tough-as-nails CIA field agent who specialized in running arms and mounting coups, was one of the agency's old-time "cowboys." In 1971, Wilson officially "retired" from the CIA and went into business on his own. In reality, the CIA used Wilson for potentially explosive clandestine deals it wanted to keep "deniable."
I first heard of Wilson and his partner, Frank Terpil, while covering the war in Angola between Soviet and Cuban-backed Marxist forces and Jonas Savimbi's anti-communist UNITA guerrilla army. UNITA was secretly armed by South Africa and the U.S., but Washington did not want to be seen as an ally of the apartheid regime. So the CIA used Wilson and Terpil to channel arms to Savimbi, using CIA front firms and banks in Asia and Europe.
In the late 1970s, the CIA sent Wilson and Terpil to Libya to covertly strengthen the regime of Moammar Khadafy. Washington planned to use the fiery Libyan leader as its strongman in North Africa, just as it was using longtime CIA "asset" Anwar Sadat in Egypt.
Wilson sold Libya C-4 explosives and arms, and sent teams of ex-Green Berets to train Libyan commandos and "terminate" some of Khadafy's many enemies abroad. But while the CIA was backing Khadafy, the new Ronald Reagan administration sought to distance itself from the soft policies of the Jimmy Carter administration by denouncing Khadafy as the world's leading terrorist and a threat to America.
The CIA was ordered to overthrow Khadafy, putting the agency in a frightfully embarrassing dilemma. Bureaucratic panic erupted in Langley,Va. The Libyan operation was ordered immediately shut down and all records destroyed. As word of secret U.S. backing of Khadafy leaked out, Wilson and Terpil were cut adrift and proclaimed outlaws. They fled to the Mideast. In 1982, Wilson was lured by American agents to the Dominican Republic, kidnapped to the USA, and charged with gun-running.
During numerous trials, Wilson maintained he had been working for the CIA. But he was not allowed to cross-examine CIA witnesses for "security reasons" - shades of today's terrorism trials.... LINK
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
CIA EXPECTS IRAQ SITUATION TO DETERIORATE
WASHINGTON (CNN) --A recent CIA assessment of Iraq warns the security situation will worsen across the country, not just in Baghdad but in the north and south as well, a senior administration source told CNN Tuesday.
The report is a much more dire and ominous assessment of the situation than has previously been forwarded through official channels, this source said. It was sent to Washington Monday by the CIA station chief in Iraq.
It was not immediately clear if the assessment was what prompted the hastily arranged trip to Washington by Iraq civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer, who met Tuesday at the White House with President Bush and senior national security officials.
The report was discussed during the high-level meetings, sources said.
The senior administration source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bremer agreed with the CIA assessment and added his personal comments to the station chief's memo.
In his Veterans Day speech Tuesday, Bush referred to "recent reporting" of cooperation between Saddam loyalists and terrorist elements from outside Iraq.
"Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists may have different long-term goals, but they share a near-term strategy: to terrorize Iraqis and to intimidate America and our allies," Bush told the conservative Heritage Foundation.
"In the last few months, the adversary has changed its composition and method, and our coalition is adapting accordingly."
Another senior administration official said those points in the speech were based on a U.S. intelligence report about the security situation.
A third U.S. official said the intelligence report was from the CIA and that it highlights what the official conceded are several "major ongoing security issues."
That official refused to characterize the report in further detail. But the senior administration source who did discuss the report said it essentially says things are "gonna get worse" across Iraq.
The source said the memo notes that:
• More Iraqis are "flooding to the ranks of the guerrillas." Many of these Iraqis are Sunnis who had previously been "on the sidelines" but now believe they can "inflict bodily harm" on the Americans.
• Ammunition is "readily available," making it much easier to mount attacks.... link
Monday, November 10, 2003
F.A.S. ASSESSES THE LATEST INTEL BLOWUP
The operation of the Senate Intelligence Committee practically came
to a halt last week as Senators bickered over the leak of an
uncirculated staff memo that Republicans said violated the
nonpartisan norms of the Committee.
The memo, leaked to Fox News, outlined how Democrats could use
Committee procedures to advance their critique of the Bush
Administration's handling of intelligence on Iraq.
The uncirculated staff memo had "poisoned the well" of
bipartisanship, said Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
On Friday, Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) set forth
several conditions for a return to normal Committee operation: the
memo's author must identify himself, repudiate the contents of the
memo, and apologize to Sen. Roberts. See:
Democrats were mostly unmoved. "The purpose of the memo apparently
was to lay out options," Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) told Fox News
yesterday. "And I don't disavow the options, including the words
Objectively, Republicans seemed to have little to complain about.
Under the modest, non-confrontational leadership of Vice Chairman
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the minority members of the Senate
Intelligence Committee are about as deferential to the executive
branch as any President could wish.
Committee Democrats have concurred in allocating huge increases in
intelligence spending. They have acquiesced in the closed-door
approach to oversight favored by Chairman Roberts, though it left
the public at a loss. Senator Rockefeller even defied many of his
Democratic colleagues (and some Republicans) and declined to press
the White House for declassification of the censored 28 pages of the
Congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11.
But if, as appears to be the case, intelligence on Iraq was distorted
by Bush Administration officials in a self-serving manner (e.g. by
declaring that Iraq had "reconstituted" its nuclear program when
there was no evidence of this), then the intelligence oversight
function is indeed likely to fracture along partisan lines in
Meanwhile, Committee Democrats are on notice that the confidentiality
of their internal deliberations cannot be assured, and that any
future criticism of the Bush Administration will be dismissed as
Sunday, November 09, 2003
TOP ANALYST ACCUSES THE PRESIDENT
By Andrew Gumbel, THE INDEPENDENT, 09 November 2003
"The intelligence process is a bit like virginity," says Ray McGovern, who worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years. "Once you prostitute it, it's never the same. Your credibility never recovers.
"Watching what has happened with Iraq over the past several months has been like watching your daughter being raped."
Such is an indication of the extraordinary depth of feeling within the US intelligence community as the Bush administration's basis for the war in Iraq - the weapons of mass destruction, the dark hint of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida - has been shown to have been built on air.
Mr McGovern worked near the very top of his profession, giving direct advice to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon era and preparing the President's daily security brief for Ronald Reagan. Now he is co-founder of a group of former CIA employees called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or Vips for short.
What the Bush White House has done, he believes, is far worse than the false premise that dragged the United States into the Vietnam War - a reported second attack on a US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin which later turned out not to have taken place. "The Gulf of Tonkin was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and Lyndon Johnson seized on that. That's very different from the very calculated, 18-month, orchestrated, incredibly cynical campaign of lies that we've seen to justify a war. This is an order of magnitude different. It's so blatant.".......LINK
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Friday, November 07, 2003
CIA SCAPEGOATED AGAIN FOR REJECTING IRAQ PEACE OFFER
NOTHING IS TOO MUNDANE TO BE POLITICZED OR COVERED UP BY THIS ADMINISTRATION
The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing yesterday on the
need to increase diversity among employees in intelligence
agencies. The prepared testimony from that hearing, as released by
the Committee, is available here:
But some of that testimony was altered before presentation at the
instruction of the Justice Department, reports Shaun Waterman of
United Press International. "Congressional Democrats said the
Justice Department had recalled the testimony because some of it
conflicted with the administration's position on affirmative
The Reuters press release said:
White male spies are rumbled
07 November 2003
WASHINGTON: US spy agencies must change their traditional Ivy League white male image if they are to gain ground in fighting terrorism and other threats around the world, lawmakers say.
"We can no longer expect an intelligence community that is mostly male and mostly white to be able to monitor and infiltrate suspicious organisations or terrorist groups," representative Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said at a hearing.
"We need spies that look like their targets, CIA officers who speak the dialects terrorists use, and FBI agents who can speak to Muslim women who might be intimidated by men," she said.... link
Thursday, November 06, 2003
SENATE INTELLIGENCE LEAK REFLECTS DISARRAY
TENSION ERUPTS ON INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT
More than ever before, the quality and performance of U.S.
intelligence are today being called into question. But at this
time of urgent questioning, the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence has little or nothing to offer the American public.
Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate Intelligence Committee
hasn't held an open hearing for months. Nor has it issued any kind
of preliminary findings or provided other insight.
If it vanished suddenly, how would anyone know?
The Committee web site also hasn't been updated for months. The most
recent Committee press release, issued by Chairman Pat Roberts
(R-KS) last July, complains of "press leaks by the CIA in an effort
to discredit the President" -- an eccentric reading of events, to
say the least. The web site provides a link to executive order
12356 on classification policy, which was revoked more than eight
years ago, but there is no link to its successors. There is a
spelling error ("jurisdicton") on every page.
Judging by the available external evidence, this Committee is not in
Unsurprisingly, a degree of tension has developed between the
majority Republicans and the minority Democrats on the Committee.
It came to a head this week in response to an uncirculated draft
memo written by a minority staffer that urged a more aggressive
posture for Committee Democrats, which might culminate in an
attempt to establish an independent Commission on intelligence and
the Iraq war, an option Congress has previously rejected.
"We have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading
-- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior
administration officials who made the case for a unilateral,
preemptive war," the uncirculated draft memo stated.
More in sorrow than in anger, and more in gleeful spite than in
sorrow, Senators denounced what they viewed as an expression of
"It is a disgusting possibility that Members of the Senate would
actually try to politicize intelligence, especially at a time of
war, even apparently reaching conclusions before investigations
have been performed," said Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
Senators aired their views of the matter on November 5 here:
Meanwhile, in a genuinely constructive act of bipartisan oversight
of intelligence, two House subcommittee leaders this week
challenged the CIA's refusal to comply with their request for a
copy of the recent report by David Kay on the search for Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction.
"We do not understand why you are refusing to provide Mr. Kay's
report," wrote Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Henry Waxman
(D-CA) in a November 3 letter to DCI George Tenet. See:
NEW BLOG TO CHECK OUT
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
US SHOULD HAVE ABSORBED SADDAM'S ARMY, INTELLIGENCE ASSETS
Peyman Pejman, IPS NEWS AGENCY
BAGHDAD, Nov 3 (IPS) - U.S. intelligence gathering operations are being called into question after the devastating attacks on the weekend, and the rocket attacks and suicide bombings rocking Baghdad and other cities almost every day.
To many Iraqis in the know, and even among Coalition officials, the answer is clear.
"One of the biggest mistakes of the coalition forces was to dissolve the army and the security forces," Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani told IPS in Baghdad. Shahwani left Iraq in 1990 and became a part of Washington's covert efforts to topple Saddam Hussein.
"We had a good intelligence network," he said. "They knew everybody, they knew the criminals. But they went home. Nobody can do it any more. If you start from the beginning, you need time." LINK
More on the "Secret Supreme Court case"
The Supreme Court yesterday directed the government to respond to a
petition from a "Middle Eastern man" identified only as M.K.B. who
is seeking review of the extraordinary secrecy surrounding his case
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press had filed an amicus
brief on November 3 urging the Court to intervene in the matter.
"This case is perhaps the most egregious recent example of an
alarming trend toward excessive secrecy in the federal courts,
particularly in cases that bear even a tangential connection to the
events of Sept. 11, 2001," the Reporters Committee brief stated.
See a copy here:
"M.K.B." is none other than South Florida resident Mohamed K.
Bellahouel, reported Dan Christensen of the Miami Daily Business
Review, who has provided the most in-depth media coverage of this
unusual case beginning last March.
His latest story, "Plea for Openness," November 5, appears here:
WHAT IS UP WITH THIS?
Secret 9/11 case before high court
The justices consider a petition for a case with no public record.
By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
MIAMI - It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period.
Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice?
Secrecy has been a key Bush administration weapon in the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft warns that mere tidbits of information that seem innocuous about the massive Sept. 11 investigation could help Al Qaeda carry out new attacks.
Yet this highly unusual petition to the high court arising from a Miami case brings into sharp focus the tension between America's long tradition of open courts and the need for security in times of national peril. At issue is whether certain cases may be conducted entirely behind closed doors under a secret arrangement among prosecutors, judges, and docket clerks... SOURCE
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
PRESSURE ON ASHCROFT TO RECUSE SELF
By Murray Waas, AlterNet, October 31, 2003
Several senior federal law enforcement officials in recent days have spoken privately among themselves of what they believe to be an increasing necessity by Attorney General John Ashcroft to formally recuse himself from any further role in the probe as to who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Investigators have begun to interview a number of personal friends and political associates of Ashcroft and members of his senior staff.
That belief among the senior law enforcement officials has only intensified in recent days since as many as a half-dozen White House officials have been asked by federal investigators about contacts they had with the Republican National Committee and conservative political activists. Investigators apparently are looking at whether the contacts were aimed at discrediting Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.
Ashcroft’s own deputy chief of staff and a recently departed director of public affairs for the Justice Department have held senior positions at the Republican National Committee. Several investigators question whether Ashcroft should continue to oversee the investigation, as more individuals close to Attorney General and his staff are drawn into the probe, according to federal law enforcement officials.... LINK
Feds used Patriot Act to bust Strip Clubs
By Jace Radke, LAS VEGAS SUN
Federal officials used the Patriot Act to get financial records for current and former politicians as part of the ongoing political corruption probe involving strip club owner Michael Galardi's influence, sources said. link
Another corruption of intelligence resources. Homeland Security used to chase Texas Democrats, Patriot Act against drug dealers, (justified by the exageration that the drug money was being used to finance terrorism) and now strip clubs. I guess they'll say now that strippers support terrorism? Maybe some of those 72 virgins they get in Paradise were actually strippers?...?
Monday, November 03, 2003
NOVEMBER THREAT REITERATED
Al Qaeda again threatens New York, Washington and Los Angeles
Monday, November 3, 2003
A new message was posted in the last few hours by the Jeddah-based al-Qaeda-linked Al-Islah (Reform) society calling on Muslims to flee New York, Washington and Los Angeles in advance of major al Qaeda attacks in those cities. This is revealed by DEBKAfile.
The message accuses the United States of predetermining its end (doom) by its policies. “The Jews rule the Pentagon by remote control and (are the cause) of Muslims being killed in every corner of the world. The United States should therefore expect more blows.”
The message is signed on behalf of the al Bayan (The Threat) movement by “your warrior brother, Abul Hassan al Khadrami”.
Our Muslim expert identifies the name of the signatory as belonging to a Yemeni from Hadhrameuth, the Bin Ladens’ place of origin where Osama enjoys substantial tribal support.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources stress that warnings appearing on these forums are taken both very seriously and with caution by the intelligence services keeping track of the terrorist network’s electronic traffic.
Last November, Jeddah-based fundamentalist forums addressed a message to an Al Qaeda member, saying whoever understands – understands; whoever knows, knows, but we are marching towards an operation that will take us to Paradise. Three days later, the Mombasa Paradise hotel was blown up killing 12 Kenyans and 3 Israelis and a failed shoulder-launched Strela anti-air missile missed an Israeli airliner at Mombasa airport. LINK
IRAQIS TRAINED ON SURFACE TO AIR MISSILES
SUNNI INSURGENTS TRAINED TO USE SA-7 MISSILE
WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Sunni insurgents are being trained to use their arsenal of Soviet-origin surface-to-air missiles.
The training was said to have been conducted by former members of the Iraqi Air Force under the Saddam Hussein regime. The effort was believed to have been financed by Saddam loyalists, led by Izzet Ibrahim Al Duri, the vice chairman of the defunct Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council.
U.S. officials said the training was expected to lead to a series of lethal anti-aircraft attacks against the U.S.-led coalition. On Sunday, Sunni insurgents fired what U.S. officials asserted were two Soviet-origin SA-7 surface-to-air missiles at a U.S. CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter that was heading from Faluja toward Baghdad. One SA-7 missile missed and the other shoulder-fired projectile struck the engine of the Chinook combat helicopter near the village of Hasi about 65 kilometers southwest of Baghdad.
At least 16 U.S. soldiers were killed another 20 were injured in the crash of the CH-47. Another 10-ton dual-rotor CH-47 helicopter that was flying in formation nearby was not struck. Later, two other U.S. soldiers were killed in a separate roadside attack near Faluja. link
Bush Impeding Intelligence Inquiry
By WILLIAM C. MANN, Associated Press Writer, November 3, 2003, 3:22 AM EST
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee expects the White House to give the panel access to all materials it sought for its inquiry into prewar information on Iraq. A spokesman for President Bush indicates he shouldn't be so sure.
Both Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and White House spokesman Trent Duffy spoke Sunday of "a spirit of cooperation" regarding the documents. That's where agreement seemed to end.
Roberts said White House aides told committee staff members late Friday of acquiescence, on behalf of the National Security Council, to the committee's demands. The Pentagon also said it would cooperate, Roberts said on CNN's "Late Edition."
The committee had set a deadline of noon last Friday.
While agreeing on a new spirit in relations with the committee, Duffy, with Bush in Crawford, Texas, said he could offer no concrete promises and refused to confirm Roberts' assertion of agreement on a turnover.
"We've had productive conversations about ways we can work with and assist the committee," Duffy said. "While the committee's jurisdiction does not cover the White House, we want to be helpful and we will continue to talk to and work with the committee in a spirit of cooperation."
The panel's top Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, took issue with that position, which the White House had held previously. The committee's job involves not only "rigorous oversight of the collection and analysis of intelligence, but also the use of intelligence, and that includes all of the U.S. government. That includes policy-making, defense and national security," Rockefeller said on CNN.
The CIA and the State Department turned over large quantities of documents ahead of the committee's Friday deadline, and more material is coming, Roberts said.
But Rockefeller said he wants "to see the documentation before ... I'm satisfied. I want to know that we really have it in hand."
Roberts, speaking from Kansas, commented just after Rockefeller complained that the White House and Defense Department were "being very resistant."
Rockefeller, in Washington, had just finished saying, "We have to have those documents. We're going to get those documents, one way or another," when Roberts was asked if he concurred.
"Well, that's yesterday's story," the chairman said.
Roberts said he had not had the chance to call Rockefeller over the weekend to report the latest development.
After the deadline passed Friday, both senators accused the White House of ignoring the intelligence panel's demand for documents and access to officials for interviews it needed in its work.
The committee is examining the accuracy of intelligence about deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and purported contacts with terrorist groups. That intelligence served as Bush's main arguments for the U.S.-led war.
The administration also is in a battle of wills with an independent commission studying circumstances of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The commission, which has a May 27, 2004, deadline to complete its report, has threatened to issue subpoenas unless the requested documents are provided quickly. link