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America In Crisis - The Real Issues
Author Powers Analysis of Iraq

July 22, 2004
by columnist
David Lawrence Dewey
"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
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Thomas Powers, the author of:
"Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al Qaeda," charges that the Bush administration is responsible for what is perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of U.S. intelligence. From failing to anticipate 9/11 to pressuring the CIA to produce bogus justifications for war, from abusing Iraqi prisoners to misrepresenting the nature of Iraqi insurgents, the Bush White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies they corrupted, coerced or ignored have made extraordinarily grave errors which could threaten our national security for years. By manipulating intelligence and punishing dissent while pursuing an extreme foreign-policy agenda, Bush leaders have set spy against U.S. spy and deeply damaged America's intelligence capabilities.

It's a catastrophe beyond belief. Going into Afghanistan was inevitable, and in my opinion the right thing to do. But everything since then has been a horrible mistake. The CIA is politicized to an extreme. It's under the control of the White House. Tenet is leaving in the middle of an unresolved political crisis -- what really amounts to is a constitutional crisis."

The dispute, though not the only one, is between the CIA and the Pentagon, whose own secret intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans, aggressively promoted the war on Iraq. While departing CIA Director George Tenet played along with the Bush administration -- a fact which Powers says reveals the urgent need for a truly independent intelligence chief -- the agency is mad as hell at the Pentagon. The Pentagon, (Rumsfeld) put intense pressure on the CIA to produce reports tailored to the policy goals of the Bush White House. The simmering tensions between the Pentagon of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, and rank and file CIA personnel boiled over in July 2003. It began when the White House trashed the career of veteran CIA operative Valerie Plame by leaking her identity. The move was a crude retaliation against Plame's husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had exposed the Bush administration's unfounded claim that Saddam Hussein had sought "yellowcake" from Africa to build a nuclear bomb. And to date, we still do not know who "leaked" her name, despite a promise from the White House the person would be found and be held accountable for.

The struggle between the CIA and the Defense Department reached a strange climax when Ahmed Chalabi's office was very publicly ransacked by officers working under the command of the CIA according to powers. Chalabi, had been working with the CIA for years. The Iraqi exile leader was later accused of leaking vital information to Iran, among other allegations. The abrupt fall from grace of the man hand-picked by neoconservative policymakers to lead post-Saddam Iraq, says Powers, lays bare the brutal turf war between the two sides.

"It reveals an extraordinary level of bitter combat between the CIA and the Pentagon. It's astonishing that the CIA actually oversaw a team of people who broke into Chalabi's headquarters , which was paid for by the Pentagon -- and ransacked the place. The CIA single-handedly destroyed him."

The collapse of U.S. intelligence and the arrogance and extremism at the top of the Bush administration are also at the root of the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, Powers says. With U.S. troops facing a mounting insurgency from an enemy they couldn't find, Powers believes Bush officials signed off on a systematic policy of hardcore interrogation in a frantic attempt to deal with the problem. He says that while it's unlikely Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave specific orders as to what type of abuse should be meted out to the Iraqi prisoners, there is strong reason to believe Rumsfeld "issued blanket permission for them to turn up the heat."

President Bush used the intelligence system as a blunt instrument, and forced Congress to go along. Congress was in an impossible position. When the president uses the maximum power of his own office and says, "I am soberly telling you that this is necessary for the safety of the country." However, ex-Diplomats and military leaders who oppose Bush urge Americans to vote President out of office in November. Many served under President Reagan and the elder Bush during his Presidency.

Among the group are 20 ambassadors, appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, other former State Department officials and military leaders whose careers span three decades.

Prominent members include retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East during the administration of Bush's father; retired Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., ambassador to Britain under President Clinton and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan; and Jack F. Matlock Jr., a member of the National Security Council under Reagan and ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

''We have agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential,'' said William C. Harrop, the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and earlier to four African countries.

The Bush Administration wants to rip up not just the Bill of Rights. It's going after the Magna Carta also. It wants to do away with habeas corpus, the essential, 800-year-old right that allows the accused to appear before a judge and plead.

But the Bush Administration can't be bothered with that. The foreign enemy combatants it is holding in Guantánamo have no due process rights at all, according to the Justice Department.

And enemy combatants who are U.S. citizens, such as José Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, barely have any, either. They are not entitled to counsel, they are not entitled to appear in court in person, and they are not entitled to a speedy trial. In fact, they can be held indefinitely without charge. What is stunning is how brazen and weak are the arguments the Bush Administration has put forward in these cases. Some of the arguments are downright laughable. In the Hamdi case, the government asserts in its brief that it is acting in a "humane" way, even though Hamdi has been in solitary confinement for two years. The President, the brief says, has "the authority to engage in the time-honored and humanitarian practice of detaining enemy combatants captured in connection with the conflict, as opposed to subjecting such combatants to the more harmful consequences of war."

Even though these men are most likely quilty. According to our Constitution, they are entitled to representation and their day in court.

Also, many moderate Republicans are beginning to speak out. Sen. Chuck Hagel, an influential moderate Republican from Nebraska on June 30th, sharply criticized the Bush administration in an interview, saying "The war in Iraq appears to have hurt America in its battle against terrorism."

You will see in the facts below that America not only actually built up Sadam Hussein, but that the warnings of this new terrorism was emerging.

September, 1980 - Iraq invades Iran. This is the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war.

February, 1982 - Despite objections from congress, President Reagan removes Iraq from its list of known terrorist countries.

December, 1982 - Hughes Aircraft sells 60 Defender helicopters to Iraq.

1982-1988 - Defense Intelligence Agency provides detailed information for Iraq on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb damage assessments.

November, 1983 - A National Security Directive states that the U.S would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing its war with Iran.

November, 1983 - Banca Nazionale del Lavoro of Italy and its Branch in Atlanta begin to funnel $5 billion in unreported loans to Iraq. Iraq, with the blessing and official approval of the US government, purchased computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

October, 1983 - The Reagan Administration begins secretly allowing Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt to transfer United States weapons, including Howitzers, Huey helicopters, and bombs to Iraq. These shipments violated the Arms Export Control Act.

November, 1983 - George Schultz, the Secretary of State, is given intelligence reports showing that Iraqi troops are daily using chemical weapons against the Iranians.

December 20, 1983 - Donald Rumsfeld, Reagan's envoy, provides Iraq with chemical & biological weapons. Rumsfeld , then a civilian and now Defense Secretary, meets with Saddam Hussein to assure him of US friendship and materials support.

July, 1984, - CIA begins giving Iraq intelligence necessary to calibrate its mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.

January 14, 1984 - State Department memo acknowledges United States shipment of "dual-use" export hardware and technology. Dual use items are civilian items such as heavy trucks, armored ambulances and communications gear as well as industrial technology that can have a military application.

March, 1986 - The United States with Great Britain block all Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons. On March 21, the US becomes the only country refusing to sign a Security Council statement condemning Iraq's use of these weapons. Did you read the last sentence?

May, 1986 - The US Department of Commerce licenses 70 biological exports to Iraq between May of 1985 and 1989, including at least 21 batches of lethal strains of anthrax.

May, 1986 - US Department of Commerce approves shipment of weapons grade botulin poison to Iraq.

March, 1987 - President Reagan bows to the findings of the Tower Commission admitting the sale of arms to Iran in exchange for hostages. Oliver North uses the profits from the sale to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua.

Fall of 1987 - The Iraqi Air Force begins using chemical agents against Kurdish resistance forces in northern Iraq.

February, 1988 - Saddam Hussein begins the "Anfal" campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq. The Iraq regime used chemical weapons against the Kurds killing over 100,000 civilians and destroying over 1,200 Kurdish villages.

April, 1988 - US Department of Commerce approves shipment of chemicals used in manufacture of mustard gas.

August, 1988 - Four major battles were fought from April to August 1988. Iraqis massively and effectively used chemical weapons to defeat the Iranians. Nerve gas and blister agents such as mustard gas are used. By this time the US Defense Intelligence Agency is heavily involved with Saddam Hussein in battle plan assistance, intelligence gathering and post battle debriefing. In the last major battle with of the war, 65,000 Iranians are killed, many with poison gas. Use of chemical weapons in war is in violation of the Geneva accords of 1925 and yet the United States had provided these horrors of war too Saddam Hussein. All during the previous years, certain U.S. Corporations made billions of dollars, like Dow Chemical.

August, 1988 - Iraq and Iran declare a cease fire.

August, 1988 - Five days after the cease fire Saddam Hussein sends his planes and helicopters to northern Iraq to begin massive chemical attacks against the Kurds.

September, 1988 - US Department of Commerce approves shipment of weapons grade anthrax and botulinum to Iraq.

September, 1988 - Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State: "The US-Iraqi relationship is... important to our long-term political and economic objectives."

December, 1988 - Dow chemical sells $1.5 million in pesticides to Iraq despite knowledge that these would be used in chemical weapons.

July 25, 1990 - US Ambassador to Baghdad meets with Hussein to assure him that President Bush "wanted better and deeper relations". Many believe this visit was a trap set for Hussein. A month later Hussein invaded Kuwait thinking the US would not respond. August, 1990 - Iraq invades Kuwait. This was the precursor to the Gulf War.

July, 1991 - The Financial Times of London reveals that a Florida chemical company had produced and shipped cyanide to Iraq during the 80's using a special CIA courier. Cyanide was used extensively against the Iranians.

August, 1991 - Christopher Droguol of Atlanta's branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro is arrested for his role in supplying loans to Iraq for the purchase of military supplies. He is charged with 347 counts of felony. Droguol is found guilty, but US officials plead innocent of any knowledge of his crime.

June, 1992 - Ted Kopple of ABC Nightline reported: "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush Sr., operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980's, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power we see today."

July, 1992 - Representative Henry Gonzalez, Texas, testified before the House. "The Bush administration deliberately, not inadvertently, helped to arm Iraq by allowing U.S. technology to be shipped to Iraqi military and to Iraqi defense factories..." Throughout the course of the Bush administration, U.S. and foreign firms were granted export licenses to ship U.S. technology directly to Iraqi weapons facilities despite ample evidence showing that these factories were producing weapons

February, 1994 - Senator Riegle from Michigan, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, testifies before the Senate revealing large US shipments of dual-use biological and chemical agents to Iraq that may have been used against US troops in the Gulf War and probably was the cause of the illness known as Gulf War Syndrome. Yet, President Clinton does nothing.

August, 2002 - Colonel Walter Lang, former senior US Defense Intelligence officer tells the New York Times, "The use of gas during the Iran-Iraq war] on the battle field by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern... We were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose."



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