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August 04, 2005


Your first installment of the embed calls to mind two perhaps peripheral figures, one of whom definitely spent considerable time in Iraq, Amb. Wilson, the other, a civilian who might shrug at the perils and erratic zone behavior in which your thorough account describes Ms. Miller as engaging, William Perry. There was a Secy of Defense with forebearance. I wonder if either of those gentlemen knew her. She has years experience in the middle east.

Gone rogue, eh?

Impeding or impairing both the intelligence and military communities, in extralegal pursuit of political aims. Again. These people are way outside the normal scope of the discretion afforded to governmental actors.

Yup. Taking custody of Jamal Sultan al-Tikriti may itself fit into the objectives of the Americans. But having him interrogated first by people who are not at all trained to do so? That certainly qualifies as impeding the intelligence community.

Arbitrary and capricious. I just want that out there. That should become this scandal's "what did the president know, and when did he know it."

I'm not usually given over to tinfoilery. But given what we've learned so far in this affair - and what I expect you have in store for us in upcoming installments - I find it rather amazing that the Dubyanocchio regime didn't, as some conspiratorialists opined would occur, actually embed some WMDs in Iraq. Were they so sure they would find the real thing that they failed to opt for this as a back-up plan?

MB, that is pretty amazing, isn't it? Is it just too difficult to fake the forensics and keep it secret, maybe? I am surprised it didn't happen.

My theory? They didn't HAVE to plant WMDs, or at least they thought they didn't have to. Remember, we're an empire now. We create our own reality. We don't need "real" WMDs. We can just say we found them--or have Judy Miller do it for us. And that'll be enough. Because we're an empire, you know.

One more thing about intelligence. Remember that the CIA didn't give all the info on suspected sites to Blix, even though Tenet promised Congress (and Levin specifically) that they had. I've always assumed they didn't give them the sites because they didn't want the inspectors to go to them all and prove them all false. But perhaps they don't do so because they want to set up this fake search for WMDs?

And they could be right, emptywheel. How many Americans still believe they did find WMDs in Iraq?

Will you all join me on April 9, 2015, so we can finally say, "Well, Saddam had 12 years to hide them, and we've had 12 years to find them. Are we finally satisfied that they weren't there?"

Did they search every corner of that "spiderhole" they found him in?

She complains she is rotting away
In her jail cell day after day;
But her jailer quipped wise
Cutting Jude down to size:
"You had a head start, I would say."
Durkin T

I keep wondering whether Cheney, whom I suspect of being the mastermind behind much of the war lies and intel abuse, really believed that Saddam had WMD or whether he was completely cynical. Rummy too.

Remember, the background was that after Gulf War I they were quite taken aback to find how advanced Saddam's WMD programs were. They never suspected their (former) good buddy of such treachery. So over the next 10 years they went overboard in the other direction, believing he not only still had the WMD but was even farther along than he had been in 1991.

Saddam, of course, realized that WMD wasn't going to help him against the overwhelming force of the US, but wanted to keep his image as the big bad dude. So he destroyed the WMD as he was told to do, but then kicked out the inspectors in 1998 when he suspected they were actually CIA trying to locate his supposed vulnerabilities, leaving some ambiguity. By the time that admitting he had no WMDs was his only ticket to survival, the Bushies were so far along in their war preparations, and so invested in the project, that they either would not or could not believe him.

Certainly BushCo knew that Saddam had no nuclear weapons, even if they really thought he still wanted them. They may have suspected, I suppose, that he might have some bioweapons or nerve gas or other chemical weapons. But if they seriously suspected that, wouldn't they have secured the weapons sites? Remember there was yellowcake lying around at Tuwaitha, a known site since it was the IAEA-supervised one, and yet the Army left it unguarded and all the stuff was removed.

That is the biggest conundrum--and the best evidence that BushCo knew there were no WMDs--they made no effprt to really secure them, just sent a sort of clown force with a PR person (Miller) to look for the WMDs that were the supposed key cause of the war. Crazy.

Khidhir Hamza and Imad Khadduri, two Iraqis with intimate knowledge of the nuclear program, had totally different stories to tell about it. Both have been called tools of the CIA and Saddam, respectively, for their points of view.

But neither of them was in Iraq after 1998.

This is an excellent review of Judith's reporting from the war zone. What it says to me, in summary is that she was looking for the evidence to back up her pre-war reporting, and not being a true journalist -- namely observing and reporting the What's When's and How's of the war zone. It is flagrent evidence of bias of the worst kind. Even worse is the assumption she apparently made that she could trade the front page of the Times for things she whated.

One thing that bothered me in the run up to the war was the misuse of the history of the Occupation of Germany in 1945 as a sort of mythical model for what would happen. Condi in particular made claims that said to me that she knew absolutely nothing about the German Military Occupation and how it was planned, organized and deployed. It is a huge subject -- but one little part of it is instructive, the Military Government's first objective on entering any German district, village or City was to disarm the population -- and I mean disarm. (They confiscated the pig slaughtering knives for instance). Somehow I feel they had the National Rifle Ass. as primary advison on the occupation plan, as they instituted no rules at all regarding arms. In contrast, in Germany the occupation law was that if any military ordinance was on your property, and undeclared, you could be shot. (they did not shoot many.)

The other failures were 1) no census, 2) no strict controls on travel, and 3) no quick development of local government with limited scope (garbage collection for example.) There is a whole book to be written on George Marshall's theory of successful occupation leading into political reconstruction, but the crime in the case of 2003 was that all too many Military Historians know about all this and they kept their mouths shut -- or were dismissed.

WRT the question of what Dick was thinking...As I continue to write this series (and read about Chalabi's role in some of the deplorable Shiite violence in the south, I get all confused again.

I know, for example, that I was thoroughly convinced that Chalabi had been working with Iran all the way through this, probably to further his own interests, but it was still unclear where is allegiances lay. So is it Dick Cheney fixing the intelligence in Iraq, or the Iranians? Or were the Iranians just that smart to know that we knew there were no WMDs, but that we would use the claim to go to war? Whose side is Michael Ledeen on, anyway?

But the rest of this series certainly supports your clown force with a PR person theory, Mimikatz. MET Alpha was disbanded in April or May, and then there was a lull before they brought in David Kay and the people who had real experience as inspectors.

I wonder whether maybe there really is the possibility that Cheney, et al. knew there were no WMD, or far fewer than suspected. If you take as your model the Reagan-era hysteria over Soviet military power, then you already know that the political price of finding out later that the threats were hollow is nil, just so long as you're able to tie the endgame to the toppling of an "evil empire."

Good point, Kagro.

Wheel--I think Chalabi was working for Chalabi. Iran and Chalabi? A marriage of convenience.

Cheney and Ledeen? Maybe it is like cops who fabricate evidence to strengthen their case. They generally do it because they believe that the perp did it, or at least that if he didn't do that, he did something else for which he deserves to be convicted.

Whatever they believed in early 2001 (no WMD) or before the war ("the rationale we could all agree on"), they certainly knew at the time of the invasion itself, or they would have behaved differently.

Don't ever forget one factlet from the 1990's. When the Clinton Administration, in response to confirmed i8ntelligence about Iran's sponsorship of certain terrorist attacks, put much more substantial financial sanctions on Iran, it was Dick Cheney, then with Halliburton, who led the opposition to Clinton's attempt to pressure Iran. (See Chapter 5, in Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies" -- chapter about how Clinton almost went to war against Iran in 1996.

Clarke made the Iran-Halliburton-Clarke story its single chapter for a good reason. My sense is that Cheney may seem to want to go to war with Iran, along with the neo-cons, but in reality, if I read Clarke carefully, Cheney may be allied with Iran.

Clarke -- Wilson, all the rest of this gang of "formerly High Ranking" types want us to understand some of the inner reality, but they are all stoppered up like someone with a huge sinus cold because they are witting to secrets. We have to learn the skills of the folk in the old Soviet Union and E. Europe -- How to read around and inbetween the lines.


I also remember what Pat Lang said when the whole Chalabi spy thing came out. He pretty much said we had been snookered about the whole war. Lang is certainly someone I put some trust into.

As you'll see in Installment 4, I just think finding a solution to who forged the Niger documents may involve some rethinking of our understanding of Iran's role. Which makes sense, since Michael Ledeen was involved.

(Mimikatz, Saddam didn't kick out the inspectors, the US forced them out.)

By looking at Canadian and UK sources, and some lesser know US sources, it was possible for me to determine in the fall before the war that all WMD programs had ended in Iraq 10 years before. Many of these sources were public or leaks from the CIA where most competent analysts knew this. A conservative influential element in our military/polical/intelligence leadership community didn't believe this. When Bush assumed power theses were the ones put in positions of authority. There they had a chance to put in their plan to create an American Empire for this century and step one was an Iraq under US control and with US military bases.

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