Sunday, May 27, 2007

Proof that lies led to our invasion of Iraq

Digby uses a new article from the LA Times to contrast what the decision-makers in the Bush administration really knew from American Intelligence Agencies with what they told the public before they started the War in Iraq. Now I'd like to take that and show how those lies were crafted into the casus belli for the war in Iraq by a small group in the White House who wanted the war for years. To get the American nation to go along they created lies and suppressed Intelligence that countered what they wanted, then sold their fantasies on a grand scale to the public and Congress. The result has been the war in Iraq which now kills upward of a hundred American servicemen and women a month and an unknown number of Iraqis.

Iraq is a purposeless war which is impossible to win, but which the White House refuses to consider ending because ending a war we have not "won" is an admission that they should not have started it in the first place. President Bush wants desperately to pass the war on to his almost certainly Democratic successor so that the Democrats will pull American troops out. Then the Democrats can be blamed for losing this unnecessary war. But let's look at how we got here, starting from the excellent post by Digby.

The new LA Times report is only now exposing the warnings and (prescient) predictions of what should have been expected as a result of an invasion of Iraq. Digby compares the realistic Intelligence reports with the unrealistically confident NeoCon-inspired dreamworld that was marketed to Congress and the public by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) as justification for the invasion. The warnings and predictions were provided by the CIA and the Intelligence Community to the White House before the 2003 invasion, but they were classified and suppressed by the White House because they ran counter to the invasion Dick Cheney wanted and George W. Bush went along with.

Much of the pro-war Intelligence used by WHIG in that national sales pitch was obtained through the special "Intelligence" operation (the Office of Special Plans (OSP)) set up by Don Rumsfeld in the Pentagon, staffed by NeoCons and run by NeoCon Douglass Feith (See also Sourcewatch, Office of Special Plans.) The purpose of the OSP was to cherry-pick unprocessed Intelligence reports, usuall those the Intelligence Community considered unreliable or false, then combine those with reports from Iraqi defectors provided by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. The Intelligence Community (properly, as it turned out) considered data from the INC to be unreliable disinformation. But OSP would assemble these reports, package them as thugh they were properly analyzed Intelligence, and stove-pipe the results directly into the Office of the Vice President to be used by Dick Cheney and the WHIG to "sell" the apparent threat Iraq represented. This was intended to justify the preemptive invasion of that country. The likely results of such an invasion were simply ignored.

The excellent recently published book The Italian Letter describes how Cheney's office and the WHIG created the the appearance of the threat that Iraq had or nearly had nuclear weapons. This was combined with the additional threat that Saddam was likely to give those weapons to terrorists for their to use to attack America. The threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons was based on the history of Saddam's nuclear weapon program from the time of the Persian Gulf War and were sold as current based on the fiction that Iraq was attempting to buy Uranium ore (yellow-cake) from Niger around 2000. This latter fiction was based on a set of forged documents provided to U. S. Intelligence by the most unreliable Intelligence Service in Europe, the Italian military Intelligence agency called "SISMI." WHIG used this data as the basis for their public relations offensive in which senior White House officials repeatedly told the public "We don't want the smoking gun to appear in the form of a mushroom cloud." WHIG had concluded that the only threat powerful enough to justify an invasion of Iraq had to be the threat of a nuclear attack. Nothing less than a nuclear threat would be enough to scare the American public into starting a war.

The WHIG had another problem, though. It was well-known that Saddam Hussein, a secular Baathist, disliked and distrusted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. How, then, was WHIG to sell the idea that Saddam might give one or more weapons of Mass destruction to a terrorist group he disliked? Enter an Iraqi defector whose reports of mobile chemical weapons factories were provided to American Intelligence by the Iraqi National Congress. The defector, who was code-named "Curveball" by the German Intelligence Service (BND), was later determined to be the brother of a top aide of Ahmad Chalabi. This report was widely publicized and doubts about its accuracy were concealed. The report was even publicly presented by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations as justification for the invasion of Iraq. The reports from curveball, as we now know (and as the German BND told the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq) were utterly false.

In fact, the CIA was proven to have been correct when it evaluated that all of the so-called Intelligence provided by Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was unreliable and not usable. But Vice President Dick Cheney and the NeoCons running America's foreign policy couldn't accept this. They wanted to invade Iraq. The only thing stopping them was the fact that the American people would not pay for or send large numbers of American soldiers to die for a war fought with a nation that was not a threat to America. None of the legitimate Intelligence supported invading Iraq.

The solution was to create or acquire false "Intelligence" that did support an invasion of Iraq, or cherry-pick Intel reports that supported the case for the invasion while suppressing reports and analysis that countered such favorable reports. Eisner and Royce in their book "The Italian Letter" trace the source of the forgery to several top administrators in Italian SISMI. Why they did it is unknown, but a NeoCon, a strong supporter of the Iraq invasion and close associate of Dick Cheney named Michael Ledeen travels in Italian Intelligence circles and is suspected to have something to do with it. (Ledeen was also involved in the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration.) The Curveball reports were used by excluding the negative assessments of his data provided by his handlers, the BND. The OSP had as a major function the development of Power Point briefings of Intel that supported and sold the invasion. The White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was responsible for collecting the data and coordinating the public relations program that was designed to frighten the Congress and the American public into supporting the invasion of Iraq.

It worked, too.

Now the USA is deeply involved in combat operations in Iraq which have no real purpose for our nation. Five years after being stampeded into an unnecessary (and badly planned) war in Iraq the evidence that was available to the White House countering their decision is slowly trickling out, and even more slowly being reported by news organizations which are NOT the New York Time, the Washington Post, or the major TV news channels.

The only arguments for keeping our troops fighting in Iraq now are that if we leave, the al Qaeda will be somehow freed up to attack America again (as if they can't do both at once), that leaving Iraq now will set off (?) greater sectarian warfare in Iraq (it's not like we are holding it down any now. How does our leaving make it worse?) and that by stopping fighting and going home without "winning" (whatever that might mean) we are signalling "the Terrorists" that we are weak and vulnerable and therefore easy to attack (as if our inability to impress our control of Iraq hasn't already given them that idea.) Oh, and Sen. Pat Roberts did not want to release the report on the use and misuse of Intelligence by the White House to initiate the unnecessary invasion of Iraq because "I don’t think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further."

Digby's post on the LA Times report on the Intelligence that the White House suppressed and what the WHIG told the public and Congress to force up public fear and justify an unjustifiable war is spot on.

Steve Benen at TPM provides a quote from Maureen Dowd (behind subscription wall) today that really sums it all up.
The president said an intelligence report (which turned out to be two years old) showed that Osama had been trying to send Qaeda terrorists in Iraq to attack America. So clearly, Osama is capable of multitasking: Order the killers in Iraq to go after American soldiers there and American civilians here. There AND here. Get it, W.?

The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving. Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding.

The terrorists moved into George Bush’s Iraq, not Saddam Hussein’s. W.’s ranting about Al Qaeda there is like planting fleurs du mal and then complaining your garden is toxic.
[Bolding mine - Editor PPS.]
Or even shorter, Bush, the Republican Party and conservatives, and Dick Cheney have royally screwed America. They will pass on a much diminished American nation when Bush and Cheney finally are evicted from the White House they should have never had.

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