"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Rightwing 'Smear Campaign' Against World Body

The real agenda here seems to be undermining the U.N., which, for all its flaws, represents the world's best shot at some semblance of international law. Sadly, America today doesn't appear to support international law.

For years, there's been a determined campaign to smear the United Nations and its secretary-general Kofi Annan in connection with the U.N.'s oil-for-food program.

But last week, Annan was cleared of wrongdoing by an independent investigative committee headed by respected former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Specifically, Volcker found Annan did not intervene in the awarding of a lucrative U.N. contract to a company that employed his son Kojo. However, Volcker was highly critical of Kojo, whom he accused of "intentionally" deceiving his father about his relationship with the company.

So the lesson seems to be that Kojo is a dishonest guy who shouldn't be secretary-general of the U.N. Fortunately he isn't.

Volcker's report should end efforts by right-wing congressmen and commentators to discredit Kofi Annan. But last week Republican congressman Norm Coleman repeated his longstanding call for Annan to resign. (Why? For being a bad father?)

The media played up Annan's defiant "Hell, no" response (awfully stubborn, isn't he?). Annan was presented as emerging from the affair politically weakened and bruised, suggesting there's a lingering cloud over him and the U.N.

That's what those on the right want us to believe. They've long disliked the U.N., which stands for co-operation among nations and restricting the use of unilateral power. This clashes with the right's desire for a more muscular U.S., free to assert its power unchecked around the world. The right was furious when the Security Council refused to endorse the U.S. invasion of Iraq and even more furious when Annan described the invasion as "illegal."

Of course, there were serious problems with the oil-for-food program — notably that Saddam Hussein managed to siphon off billions of dollars.

Still, the program managed to provide crucial aid to Iraqis suffering under economic sanctions in the 1990s.

U.S. academic Joy Gordon, who has studied those sanctions, notes that France, Russia and China favoured ending them. But Washington insisted they be maintained, blocking even clearly non-military items: incubators, vaccines for infant hepatitis, and cardiac and dialysis machinery.

The real agenda here seems to be undermining the U.N., which, for all its flaws, represents the world's best shot at some semblance of international law. Sadly, America today doesn't appear to support international law.

In case that sounds like just my opinion, let me quote someone who should know — John Bolton, the Bush administration's choice for ambassador to the U.N.

Here's what The New Yorker recently quoted Bolton saying: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so — because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."

Constrict the U.S.? It's called the rule of law and it's hard to imagine a civilized world without it.

Linda McQuaig is a Toronto-based author and commentator.

© 2005 The Star

Doubts on Weapons Were Dismissed

As former secretary of state Colin L. Powell worked into the night in a New York hotel room, on the eve of his February 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council, CIA officers sent urgent e-mails and cables describing grave doubts about a key charge he was going to make.

On the telephone that night, a senior intelligence officer warned then-CIA Director George J. Tenet that he lacked confidence in the principal source of the assertion that Saddam Hussein's scientists were developing deadly agents in mobile laboratories.

"Mr. Tenet replied with words to the effect of 'yeah, yeah' and that he was 'exhausted,' " according to testimony quoted yesterday in the report of President Bush's commission on the intelligence failures leading up to his decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

Tenet told the commission he did not recall that part of the conversation. He relayed no such concerns to Powell, who made the germ- warfare charge a centerpiece of his presentation the next day.

That was one among many examples - cited over 692 pages in the report - of fruitless dissent on the accuracy of claims against Iraq. Up until the days before US troops entered Iraqi territory that March, the intelligence community was inundated with evidence that undermined virtually all charges it had made against Iraq, the report said.

In scores of additional cases involving the country's alleged nuclear and chemical programs and its delivery systems, the commission described a kind of echo chamber in which plausible hypotheses hardened into firm assertions of fact, eventually becoming immune to evidence.

Leading analysts accepted at face value data supporting the existence of illegal weapons, the commission said, and discounted counter-evidence as skillful Iraqi deception.

The commission's anatomy of failure on Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program is a case in point. It begins in early 2001, as Bush took office, when the CIA got its first report that Iraq was trying to buy black-market aluminum tubes. The agency swiftly concluded, after intercepting a sample in April of that year, that Iraq intended the tubes to be used in centrifuges that would enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear weapon.

The CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) never budged from that analysis, the report said. In the following 18 months, WINPAC analysts won a fierce bureaucratic battle against dissenters from other agencies who said the tubes - roughly three feet long and three inches in diameter - were the wrong size, shape and material for plausible use in centrifuges.

The tubes became the principal evidence for a "key judgment" in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, which said Iraq had "reconstituted" a nuclear weapons program and could build a bomb before the end of the decade.

To support its assertions about the aluminum tubes, the CIA made a series of arguments that the nation's leading centrifuge physicists described repeatedly as technically garbled, improbable or unambiguously false, the report said.

One WINPAC analyst - identified previously in The Washington Post as "Joe," with his surname withheld at the CIA's request - responded by bypassing the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the nation's only major center of expertise on nuclear centrifuge technology. Joe commissioned a contractor to conduct tests of his own design, then rejected the contractor's results when they did not meet his expectations.

Yesterday's report said the CIA also created a panel of experts to rival the Oak Ridge team. Those experts concluded, based on "a stack of documents provided by the CIA," that the tubes were meant for centrifuges.

The CIA refused to convene the government's authoritative forum for resolving technical disputes about nuclear weapons. The Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee proposed twice, in the spring and summer of 2002, to assess all the evidence. The CIA's front office replied, according to yesterday's report, "that CIA was not ready to discuss its position."

The same summer, then-deputy CIA director John E. McLaughlin brought talking points to a meeting of Bush's national security cabinet, asserting that the tubes were "destined for a gas centrifuge program" and that their procurement showed "clear intent to produce weapons-capable fissile material." The next month, the CIA sent policymakers a report calling the tubes "compelling evidence that Iraq has renewed its gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program."

Within weeks of the tubes' interception, the report said, Energy Department experts told the CIA that they matched precisely the materials and dimensions of an Italian-made rocket called the Medusa, a standard NATO munition. They also pointed out that Iraq was building copies of the Medusa and declared a stockpile of identical tubes to U.N. inspectors in 1996.

The CIA asked the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center for an analysis of the tubes but withheld the information about the Medusa and the 1996 discovery. The Army analysts said, among other things, that no known rocket used that particular aluminum alloy - disregarding not only the Medusa but also the US-built Hydra rocket.

"The intercepted tubes were not only well-suited, but were in fact a precise fit, for Iraq's conventional rockets," the commission said yesterday, but "certain agencies were more wedded to the analytical position that the tubes were destined for a nuclear program."

Even the Energy Department did not hold fast to its analysis. Although it dissented on the tubes, it went along with the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in concluding that Iraq had resumed a nuclear weapons program, based on arguments the commission called insubstantial and illogical. One analyst told the commission, "DOE didn't want to come out before the war and say [Iraq] wasn't reconstituting."

Another key piece of evidence came from an Iraqi defector who told the DIA that Iraq had built a secret new nuclear facility. US intelligence could not verify the report, or locate the alleged facility, which did not exist. After the war, the CIA concluded that the defector was "directed" in his claims by the Iraqi National Congress, led by then-exile Ahmed Chalabi. To this day, however, the DIA has not withdrawn the defector's reporting from national databases, the report showed.

Nor has the DIA withdrawn assessments provided by defectors such as "Curveball," whose tales of mobile laboratories in which scientists cooked up biological weapons were pure fabrication, according to the commission.

Concerns over Curveball had been floating around the CIA for more than three years by the time Powell shared his claims with the world. No CIA officer even met Curveball before the war, although on the night before Powell's presentation, a defense intelligence officer wrote an e-mail to colleagues noting that in his meeting with the defector, Curveball appeared "hung over" and unreliable.

"These views were expressed to CIA leadership," the commissioners wrote, including to McLaughlin and his assistant. But they were also watered down as they moved up within the intelligence community, and were never shared with outsiders. "We found no evidence that the doubts were conveyed by CIA leadership to policymakers in general - or Secretary Powell in particular."

In fact, the more Curveball's credibility came into question, the more his allegations were used to bolster the case for war, the report said.

Even after Powell's now-famous presentation in the chamber of the U.N. Security Council, the CIA tried to find out more information about Curveball, whose stories had been relayed to the Pentagon through German intelligence. Five days after Powell's presentation, the CIA sent an e-mail to a senior defense intelligence official seeking more information about the defector.

What followed, in the commission's account, highlights the terrible working relationships within the intelligence community, the lack of interest in getting the truth about Curveball and the ease with which the DIA discarded concerns about the case against Iraq.

The defense intelligence division chief who received the CIA e-mail forwarded it to a subordinate in an e-mail that was inadvertently copied back to the sender. In it, the division chief expressed shock at the CIA's suggestion that Curveball might be unreliable. The "CIA is up to their old tricks" and did not "have a clue" about how the source had been handled, the division chief wrote in excerpts quoted in the commission's report.

Only in March 2004, one year after the invasion of Iraq, did the CIA confront Curveball over his prewar claims.

Dafna Linzer and Barton Gellman
Copyright: Washington Post.

Senior Intelligence Officer Sues the CIA

A sacked CIA official is suing the agency for allegedly retaliating against him for refusing to falsify his reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to support the White House's pre-war position, The Washington Post said yesterday.

Described as a senior CIA official who was sacked in August "for unspecified reasons," the plaintiff's lawsuit appears to be the first public instance of a CIA official charging that he was pressured to produce intelligence to support the US government's pre-war contention that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave threat to US and international security.

"Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said Roy Krieger, the officer's attorney.

CIA spokeswoman Anya Guilsher told the daily she could not comment on the lawsuit, adding: "The notion that CIA managers order officers to falsify reports is flat wrong. Our mission is to call it like we see it and report the facts."

Krieger wrote a letter requesting a meeting with CIA Director Porter Goss due to "the serious nature of the allegations in this case, including deliberately misleading the president on intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction," said the daily quoting from the letter.

The US overthrew the Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in April last year, but has found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since then. The US government has acnowledged some of its pre-war intelligence may have been faulty.

The plaintiff, whose identity is blacked out in the lawsuit as well as any reference to Iraq, is of Middle Eastern descent, worked 23 years in the CIA, much of them in covert operations to collect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, said the daily.

The lawsuit was filed in a US District Court in Washington on Friday and made public Wednesday after it was screened by a judge, said The Washington Post, which obtained a copy.

It alleges that the CIA investigated alleged sexual and financial improprieties by the plaintiff "for the sole purpose of discrediting him and retaliating against him for questioning the integrity of the WMD reporting ... and for refusing to falsify his intelligence reporting to support the politically mandated conclusion" of matters that are redacted in the lawsuit.

The document states that in 2002 the plaitiff was "thwarted by CIA superiors" from reporting routine intelligence from a contact of his and that later he was approached by a senior officer "who insisted that Plaintiff falsify his reporting."

When the plaintiff refused, the lawsuit said, the CIA's Counterproliferation Division ordered that he "remove himself from any further `handling'" of the contact, referred elsewhere in the document as "a highly respected human asset."

Last year, the lawsuit goes on to say, the CIA officer learned of the investigations against him and that he was refused a promotion "because of pressure from the DDO [Deputy Director of Operations] James Pavitt."

In September last year, the plaintiff was placed on administrative leave without explanation and in August he was sacked also "for unspecified reasons."

The lawsuit requests that the plaintiff be restored to his former position in the CIA and received compensatory damages and legal fees.

Friday, Dec 10, 2004,Page 7
Copyright © 1999-2005 The Taipei Times

Iraqi Defector Behind America's WMD Claims Exposed As 'Out-and-Out Fabricator'

The case for war against Iraq was dealt another embarrassing blow yesterday due to claims by an American newspaper that the first-hand intelligence source on Saddam Hussein's alleged mobile bioweapons labs was a politically motivated Iraqi defector now dismissed as an "out-and-out fabricator".

The mobile labs, since exposed by weapons inspectors as hydrogen production facilities at best and phantoms at worst, were one of the centre pieces of the US Secretary of State Colin Powell's prewar address to the United Nations. As recently as January, Vice President Dick Cheney maintained that discovery of the labs would provide "conclusive" proof that Iraq possessed WMD.

A detailed investigation in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the source claiming to have seen mobile bioweapons labs was the brother of one of the senior aides to Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, who recently boasted how the erroneous information provided by his group achieved his long-cherished goal of toppling Saddam.

The source, given the unintentionally appropriate code name Curveball, was an asset of German intelligence and was never directly interviewed by US officials. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency do not even know exactly who he is, the LA Times reported.

David Kay, the postwar weapons inspector whose declaration in January that Iraq had no WMD initiated a series of hammer-blows to the credibility of the Bush administration and the British government, described Mr Powell's use of Curveball's information before the UN as "disingenuous".

He told the LA Times: "If Powell had said to the Security Council: 'It's one source, we never actually talked to him, and we don't know his name', I think people would have laughed us out of court."

Mr Powell told the world on 5 February last year the administration had "firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails" capable of producing enough anthrax or botulinum toxin to kill "thousands upon thousands of people". He showed "highly detailed and extremely accurate" diagrams of how the trucks were configured. Revealingly, he could only produce artist renditions, not actual blueprints or photographs.

Since the Powell speech, Curveball's reliability has been destroyed. The German foreign intelligence service, the BND, later warned the CIA that it had "various problems with the source". Curveball also lied about his academic credentials and omitted to tell his interlocutors he had been fired as a chemical engineer for the Iraqi army and jailed for embezzlement before fleeing Iraq in the late 1990s.

The possible existence of mobile labs was touted as a theory by UN weapons inspectors frustrated in 1992 at their failure to find evidence of chemical and biological weapons programmes. (Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, later defected and said they had been destroyed in 1991.) The UN inspectors approached Mr Chalabi for help in establishing the existence of the mobile labs in late 1997. Scott Ritter, one of the inspectors, told the LA Times: "We got hand-drawn maps, handwritten statements and other stuff. It looked good. But nothing panned out. Most of it just regurgitated what we'd given them. And the data that was new never checked out."

Evidence, much of it tentative, trickled in throughout the 1990s that Saddam may have built mobile labs to conceal his weapons programmes. In 1994 Israeli military intelligence indicated that poisons were being made in red and white ice cream trucks and in green moving vans labelled "Sajida Transport" after Saddam's wife. UN inspectors later concluded this information was bogus.

The role of Israeli intelligence in the case for war was the subject of a parliamentary report released in Jerusalem yesterday. An eight-month inquiry resisted the notion that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction did not exist, but lambasted the intelligence agencies for exaggerating Iraqi capabilities, particularly before the war.

Yuval Steinitz, the parliamentarian who led the inquiry, said: "Why didn't we succeed in laying down a broad and deep framework so we could rely on reports and not speculation? That is the central question."

Much the same has been said in the US by veteran intelligence professionals appalled by their government's manipulation of information and Mr Powell's UN speech. Mr Powell is likely to come under the closest scrutiny because he was the member of the Bush administration most trusted internationally and because his presentation seemed so convincing.

In addition to the mobile labs, Mr Powell showed slides of what he said were chemical munitions facilities surrounded by "decontamination vehicles". The "chemical munitions" works were later identified by Mr Ritter and others as a site well-known to UN inspectors. The vehicles were later shown to have been fire engines.

Mr Powell also showed surveillance footage of an Iraq plane dropping simulated anthrax in what he said was a military exercise. It later emerged the plane was destroyed in 1991.

Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

FBI at Crossroads in Probe of Pro-Israel Lobby Group AIPAC

Justice Department may soon decide who to lay charges against in alleged espionage affair.

The ongoing investigation into allegations that a Pentagon staffer named Larry Franklin passed on classified government documents to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, continues but with several new twists.

Over the past weekend, several Israeli papers carried a report by JTA, the Jewish news service, that top officials of the lobby group had appeared in front of a grand jury in "late January or early February," and that the two staff members who had contact with Franklin – Steve Rosen, of AIPAC's research department, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC's deputy director of foreign policy issues – have been placed on paid leave.

The same report also said that Mr. Franklin had been "quietly" rehired at the Pentagon over the "FBI's objections." Franklin, however, was not given back his previous position in the Iran section, but instead placed in a "non-sensitive" area which the report didn't specify.

The FBI's investigations into Franklin's actions became public last August when CBS reported that a "suspected mole" at the Pentagon had passed along government documents to AIPAC staffers. The "suspected mole" was later revealed to be Mr. Franklin.

Time reported last December that government sources said the investigations into AIPAC had been ongoing for about two years, looking into allegations that AIPAC was "obtaining sensitive data and passing it along to the Israeli government."

United Press International reported on December 9 that the initial investigations began when the FBI discovered "new, 'massive' Israeli spying operations in the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey."

It was later reported in the Jerusalem Post that Franklin had agreed to help in an FBI sting. Ha'aretz reported that Franklin was told to tell the AIPAC staffers that "Iran was planning to attack Israelis operating in the Kurdish region in Iraq." The two men then "rushed to pass it on to Israeli diplomats, thereby falling into the FBI trap."

Franklin later stopped cooperating with the FBI, fired his public defender laywer and hired one of Washington's best known defense lawyers. The Washington Times reported that the FBI was "hopping mad" at this turn of events, and this was when the bureau decided to pursue a more agressive policy, including the subpeonas of top AIPAC officials.

Some media sources have said the entire Franklin affair illustrates some of the internal battles that have taken place over how the US should deal with Iraq. The document that Franklin is alleged to have given the two AIPAC staffers may have been a draft copy of a National Security Presidential Directive written by Pentagon neocons (who advocate a hard line towards Iran), which contained a proposal to destabilize Iran. The directive had apparently been turned down by the White House.

Ha'aretz reported last week that the case has reached a crossroads, where the investigators "must decide on the suspects in the case." Either Franklin would be charged with acting alone, or Franklin and the two AIPAC employees, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, would be charged, or "whether, on top of those three, the entire AIPAC organization has acted unlawfully."

Sources close to the investigation suggested recently that it would end in a plea bargain. Franklin would plead to a lesser crime of unauthorized transfer of information, Rosen and Weissman would be charged with receiving classified information unlawfully, and AIPAC would remain unstained. Franklin's lawyer, Plato Cacheris, yesterday denied the reports, stating: "We have not entered any plea of defense with the Justice Department."
AIPAC refused to say anything about the possibility of a plea bargain.

Ha'aretz also reports that the FBI's larger goal seems to be "an extensive examination of AIPAC itself." Since the investigation began seven months ago, AIPAC, one of the strongest lobbying groups in Washington, has been "struggling in two arenas": trying to resolve the allegations against its staff members, and more important, dealing with the "political change going on in Israel" in its relationship with the Palestinians.

'AIPAC is simply lagging behind developments,' said a congressional staffer close to the issue. According to the staffer, the fact that most of the AIPAC board is hawkish on the Israel-Palestinian conflict makes it difficult for the lobby to accommodate itself to Israel's new policies.

Tom Regan | csmonitor.com

India Spying on N-plants: Pak?

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Interior Ministry has asked provincial authorities to step up vigilance at the country's nuclear installations on suspicion that Indian and Israeli intelligence are spying on them, a newspaper reported Friday.

"According to the ministry, Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies had trained 25 Afghans in Kabul and sent them to Pakistan to glean information about its nuclear installations," Daily Times reported quoting the BBC Urdu service.

It said in a letter dated March 5, the ministry warned the provincial authorities to be "extra vigilant".

At the same time, BBC quoted Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao as saying he was not aware of any such letter.

The ministry also said that a second group of Afghans was also being trained in Kabul and that two men, identified as Hazrat Ali and Haji Zahir, had been assigned to recruit spies.

The ministry also alleged that the Indian government had supplied fake Pakistani currency to the two Afghans, the report said.

"The ministry directed the provincial governments to be on the alert for suspicious Afghans and send regular updates on their measures in this regard", it added.

Central Chronicle