Spy Speaks Out

Sunday, April 23, 2006 11:02 PM

The body of evidence is snowballing that the current U.S. President and his Vice-President are kingsized con men. I'm talking about evidence now, not my opinions, prejudices or theories--or those of any other critics, Left, Right and Center. I did not  watch the CBS 60 Minutes interview last night with retired CIA spymaster Tyler Drumheller, but I am told the gentleman was impressive by someone who did view it.

Drumheller's account (see excerpts below) sounds to me like the smoking gun of malfeasance with respect to the Iraq misadventure. Do Bush and Cheney deserve to be impeached? You bet they do. In fact, the only question now is: would it be a dereliction of duty for the U.S. Congress not to impeach? How can you allow a U.S. President along with his right hand man, his mentor, Dick Cheney, to drag the country into a war on false pretenses, and get away with it? Don't you need to impeach, as a clear warning to future Presidents? If you do not, the skullduggery is condoned.

Sadly, as pointed out several times here going back many months, the Congress  was in on the con, so it would be the apotheosis of hypocrisy for the Congress--specifically, the Democrats--to turn around and impeach Bush/Cheney. It can't happen. As a practical matter, the Democrats can't do it, because their collaboration would surely be pointed out by those under impeachment and by the attack dogs working for those under impeachment.

In addition, the conspiracy was extensive within the executive branch. The top two non-elected conspirators, in fact the chief architects of the whole enterprise, Pentagon masterminds Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, left the building almost as soon as the enterprise started to unravel so that they would not have to answer any questions, leaving Don Rumsfeld, who had acted the part of a useful idiot, behind to twist slowly in the wind.

As important as the Drumheller interview was, the interview yesterday of Senator Ted Kennedy on NBC's Meet The Press could turn out to be more important. Here we have the most vociferous "liberal" critic of all things Bush in the Senate--especially when it comes to the Iraq--and yet we saw Kennedy fidgeting and flapdoodling about Bush's policy toward Iran. Clearly he was nervous, uncomfortable and very careful about his words. Why?

Kennedy was gracious enough to suggest that a U.S. nuclear strike option against Iran be taken off the table. How debonaire. At the same time, he declared unambiguously and more than once that a non-nuclear strike option against Iran should not be taken off the table. Wow. In this, Ted Kennedy is close to that other “liberal” champion of equity, peace, freedom, democracy and Likud foreign policy in the U.S. Senate--Hillary Clinton--who is probably your next President.

In short, it appears that the Democrats once again have given Bush II a pass when it comes to his supposed right to attack any Middle East entity who does not jump through a hoop fast enough upon command. In short, the Democrats are enabling the White House and the so-called "neoconservatives" a second time to go to war based on a pack of lies, thereby subverting the U.S. Constitution. The question is, why?

The answer is simple. We all know that the Democratic establishment needs money, just like the Republicans, to get elected. We all know what pressure group is the largest contributor to the coffers of these two business enterprises. We all now know that the Israel Lobby was the catalyst behind the invasion of Iraq. We all know whose pet project a "preemptive" attack upon Iran is. Connect the dots. It is politics as usual in the halls of power in Washington. When Ted Kennedy proclaims in public that the military option to bomb Iran is on the table, you know the fix is in. =========================
A Spy Speaks Out

April 23, 2006 [CBS News, 60 Minutes] 

When no weapons of mass destruction surfaced in Iraq, President Bush insisted that all those WMD claims before the war were the result of faulty intelligence. But a former top CIA official, Tyler Drumheller--a 26-year veteran of the agency--has decided to do something CIA officials at his level almost never do: Speak out.

He tells correspondent Ed Bradley the real failure was not in the intelligence community but in the White House. He says he saw how the Bush administration, time and again, welcomed intelligence that fit the president's determination to go to war and turned a blind eye to intelligence that did not.


"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it’s an intelligence failure. It’s an intelligence failure. This was a policy failure," Drumheller tells Bradley. Drumheller was the CIA's top man in Europe, the head of covert operations there, until he retired a year ago. He says he saw firsthand how the White House promoted intelligence it liked and ignored intelligence it didn't. "The idea of going after Iraq was U.S. policy. It was going to happen one way or the other," says Drumheller.

Drumheller says he doesn't think it mattered very much to the administration what the intelligence community had to say. "I think it mattered if it verified. This basic belief that had taken hold in the U.S. government that now is the time, we had the means, all we needed was the will," he says.

The road to war in Iraq took some strange turns--none stranger than a detour to the West African country of Niger. In late 2001, a month after 9/11, the United States got a report from the Italian intelligence service that Saddam Hussein had bought 500 tons of so-called yellowcake uranium in order to build a nuclear bomb. But Drumheller says many CIA analysts were skeptical. "Most people came to the opinion that there was something questionable about it," he says. Asked if that was his reaction, Drumheller says, "That was our reaction from the very beginning. The report didn't hold together." Drumheller says that was the "general feeling" in the agency at that time.

However, Vice President Dick Cheney thought the story was worth investigating, and asked the CIA not to discount the story without first taking a closer look. So, in February 2002, the agency sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate. "If Saddam Hussein had acquired 500 tons of yellowcake uranium in violation of U.N. sanctions, that would be pretty serious, wouldn’t it?" Bradley asked Wilson. "Absolutely. Certainly. And the fact that there was an allegation out there that he was even attempting to purchase 500 tons of uranium was very serious, because it essentially meant that they were restarting their nuclear programs," Wilson replied.

Wilson spent eight days in Niger looking for signs of a secret deal to send yellowcake to Iraq. He spoke to government officials who would have known about such a transaction. No one did. There had been a meeting between Iraqis and Nigerians in 1999, but Wilson was told uranium had never been discussed. He also found no evidence that Iraq had even been interested in buying uranium. "I concluded that it could not have happened," Wilson says. At the end of his eight-day stay in Niger, Wilson says he had no lingering doubts.

When he returned, Wilson told the CIA what he had learned. Despite that, some intelligence analysts stood by the Italian report that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Niger. But the director of the CIA and the deputy director didn’t buy it. In October, when the president’s speechwriters tried to put the Niger uranium story in a speech that President Bush was scheduled to deliver in Cincinnati, they intervened. In a phone call and two faxes to the White House, they warned “the Africa story is overblown” and “the evidence is weak.” The speechwriters took the uranium reference out of the speech.

Meanwhile, the CIA had made a major intelligence breakthrough on Iraq’s nuclear program. Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq’s military secrets to the CIA. Drumheller was in charge of the operation. "This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about," Drumheller says. "You knew you could trust this guy?" Bradley asked. "We continued to validate him the whole way through," Drumheller replied.

According to Drumheller, CIA Director George Tenet delivered the news about the Iraqi foreign minister at a high-level meeting at the White House, including the president, the vice president and Secretary of State Rice. At that meeting, Drumheller says, "They were enthusiastic because they said, they were excited that we had a high-level penetration of Iraqis." What did this high-level source tell him? "He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program," says Drumheller.

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" Bradley asked. "Yes," Drumheller replied. He says there was no doubt in his mind at all. "It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked. "The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

Drumheller expected the White House to ask for more information from the Iraqi foreign minister. But he says he was taken aback by what happened. "The group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they're no longer interested," Drumheller recalls. "And we said, 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said, 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'"

"And if I understand you correctly, when the White House learned that you had this source from the inner circle of Saddam Hussein, they were thrilled with that," Bradley asked. "The first we heard, they were. Yes," Drumheller replied. Once they learned what it was the source had to say--that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to wage nuclear war or have an active WMD program, Drumheller says, "They stopped being interested in the intelligence."


"So, let me see if I have it correctly. The United States gets a report that Saddam is trying to buy uranium from Africa. But you and many others in our intelligence community quickly knock it down. And then the uranium story is removed from the speech that the President is to give in Cincinnati. Because the head of the CIA, George Tenet, doesn't believe in it?" Bradley asked. "Right,"  It then appeared in the State of the Union address as a British report.

Drumheller, who oversaw intelligence operations for the CIA in Europe doubts the British had something the U.S. didn't. "No. I don’t think they did," he says. On March 7, 2003, the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency announced that the Niger uranium documents were forgeries. The Bush administration went to war in Iraq 12 days later, without acknowledging that one of its main arguments for going to war was false.

Four months later, Wilson, who had gone to Niger and found nothing to substantiate the uranium rumor, went public and wrote a piece for The New York Times claiming that the Bush Administration had "twisted" the intelligence on Iraq: "This was really an attempt to get the government to acknowledge that the 16 words should never have been in the State of the Union Address. It was as simple as that. If you are going to mislead the American people and you're caught at it, you ought to fess up to it," says Wilson.

One day after Wilson's piece appeared, the White House acknowledged the president should not have used the uranium claim. But according to newly released court records, the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, leaked classified intelligence to reporters a day later in an effort to bolster the uranium story. What Scooter Libby didn’t tell reporters is that the White House had been warned before the State of the Union speech not to use the Niger uranium claim.

"At the same time they were admitting the words should not have been in the State of the Union address, they were, we now know, sending Libby out to selectively leak only those pieces that continued to support this allegation that was baseless. In other words, they were furthering the disinformation campaign," says Wilson.

"The American people want to believe the president. I have relatives who I've tried to talk to about this who say, 'Well, no, you can’t tell me the President had this information and just ignored it,'" says Drumheller. "But I think over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time."

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