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View Full Version : The rush to war....LONG



Gayle in MD
11-17-2004, 12:59 PM
The following is based excerpts from, Vanity Fair, "The Path To War," excerpt, and also some from Against all Enemies, Richard Clark.

The centerpiece of the Bush administration's case for an invasion of Iraq, the presentation that laid out the key pieces of intelligence the U. S. govenrment had gathered about Sadam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his Purported links to al-Qaeda terrorists, was delivered by Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations on February 5, 2003. It was a historic speech and yet it was one that Powell, who had argued against the war for months, was probably far from comfortable delivering.

On Wednesday, January 29, a week earlier, Powell appeared in the doorway between his seventh-floor office at the State Department and that of his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, and handed Wilkerson a 48-page dossier that had been sent over by the White House.

The document, which the White House intended that Powell use as the basis of his speech was a laundry list of intelligence gathered by the government about Iraq's weapons programs. It had been cobbled together in Vice President Richard Cheney's Office by a team led by Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and John Hannah, the vice president's deputy assistant for national security affairs-both well-known administration hawks. A few days earlier, Libby had presided over a meeting in the White House Situation Room in which he laid out the case against Iraq, producing what one administration official called a "Chinese menu" of material.
"Go out to C.I.A.," Powelll instructed his staff chief, take whomever you need and start work on the speech. By the next night Wilkerson, along with several staffers and a revolving group of C.I.A. analysts, was ensconced in a conference room down the hall from Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet's office at CIA headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. The White House supplied 45 more pageson Iraq's links to terrorism and its human-rights violations. By the end of the first day, though, Wilkerson and the others did something surprising; they threw out the White House dossier, now grown to more than 90 pages. They suspected much of it had originated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its chief, Ahmad Chalabi, a smooth talking Iraqi former banker, whose family had fled Iraq in 1958, when CHalabi was 13. The INC, an exile group based in London, had often proved suspect or fabricated. The problem with the INC was that its information came with an overt agenda. As the I.N.C.'sWashington adviser, Francis Brooke, admits, he urged the exile group to do what it could to make the case for war: "I told them as their campaign manager, 'Go get me a terrorist and some W.M.D., because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.'" As for Iraq's links to al-Qaeda, Powell's staff was convinced that much of that material had been funneled directly to Cheney by a tiny, separate intelligence unit set up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House," says one official.

Instead, the group turned to the CIA analysts and started from scratch. That night, and every night for the next several days, Powell went to Langley to oversee the process. In Tenet's conference room, Joined by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Scooter Libby, and CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, the secretary of state demanded to know the sources and reliability of the information he had been given. For everyone involved, it was a tense and frustrating process. At one pint, according to several witneses, Powall tossed several documents in the air and snapped, "This is bullshit!"
The meetings stretched on for four more days nad nights. Cheney's staff constantly pushed for certain Intelligence on Iraq'a aleged ties to terrorists to be included-information that Powell and his people angrily insisted was not reliable. Powell was keenly aware he was staking his credibility on the speech, and he wanted to include only solid information that could be verified. Cheney and his staff had insisted that their intelligence was, in fact, well documented. They tld Powell not to worry. One morning a few days before the speech, Powell encountered Cheney in the hallway outside the Oval Office. "Your poll numbers are in the 70's," Cheney told him. "you can afford to lose a few points."
At two o'clock in the morning, hours before Powell was to give his speech, a call came from the C.I.A. to the operations center of Powell's hotel suite at the Waldorf-Astoria. Powell had already turned in for the night, and Wilkerson picked up the phone. The message was clear enough: George Tenet, who was staying at another Manhattan hotel, wanted one last look at the text of the speech.

Tenet, the caller made plain, was worried that Powell's staff had cut too much about Saddam's supposed links to terrorists. Wilkerson was annoyed and baffled. Only a few hours before, Phil Mudd, the C.I.A.'s terrorism specialist, had come to the Waldorf, bearing a gift of Italian food. Then Barry Lowenkron, a senior Powell aide, had informed Mudd that they had tightened the terroriam part. Mudd read the section. "Looks fine," he said, and he left around midnight.

Now the director of central intelligence was fretting and asking to see the speech in the middle of the night. It should not have been a complete surprise; Tenet served at the pleasure of Prsident George W. Bush, and for days the White House, and Cheney's staff in particular, had been trying to persuade Powell to link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. They had pressed him repeatedly to include a widely discredited Czech intelligence report that Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorists, had met in Prague with an Iraqi Intelligence officer. At the last rehearsal of the speech at C.I.A. headquarters, Powell had thrown out the Prague material as suspect and unverified.
Lowenkron tracked Mudd down, woke him up, and asked what the hell was going on. Was there a problem? Mudd acknowledged he had reported to Tenet that Powell's staff had tightened the terrorism section. Now it was clear why the C.I.A. Chief was demanding to see the speech in the pre-dawn hours, and it was dispatched to his hotel.
The next morning at the U.N., Powell insisted that Tenet sit to his right and just behind him. It was theater, a device to signal the world that Powell was relying on the C.I.A. to make his case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the U.S. In the well of the Security Council, Tenet sought to make light of the pre-dawn escapade. "I'm going to kill Phil Mudd for getting me out of bed," he said.
Cheney's office made on last diech effort to persuade Powell to link Saddam and al-qaeda, and to slip the Prague storay back into the speech. Only moments before Powell began speaking, Scooter Libby tried unsuccessfully to reach Wilkerson by phone. Powell's staff chief, by then inside the Security Council chamber, declined to take the call. "Scooter." said on State Department aide, "wasn't happy."
Powell for all his carping, delivered a speech that was close to what the White House wanted, describing mobile biological weapons labs, ties to al Qaeda, and stockpiles of anthrax. Much of it later proved to be untrue. His legacy and the Bush administration's will be forever tarnished as a result. Yet the speech was only one of many low points in a series of historic blunders the U.S. made on its path to war. In 18 short months, from the morning after the 9/11 attacks to the dropping of the first bombs on Baghdad, George W. Bush presided over one of the most startling turnabouts in the history of world opinion. His administration took the unprecedented goodwill America injoyed in September 2001 and squandered it by invading a country to replace a dictator who today seems not to have represented an imminent threat to the United States.
This article is an attempt to trace how it happened. It is-to be candid-incomplete. The White House and several key officials involved in the diplomatic and military preparations, including condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, declined to be interviewed. But many others agreed, including senior officials at the C.I.A., the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House. Some of the keenest observations about the evolution of the war effort come from top officials in the British government, whose pleas to stop a unilateral American invasion led the Bush administration to take its case for was to the United Nations.
When one talks with those involved in the lead-up to the Iraq was, one theme is repeated again and again. From the C.I.A. analysts who felt pressure to tailor their intelligence to fit the Bush administration's aims to diplomats who felt steamrollered by the White House's blinkered view that Saddam was hiding WMD's, many officials felt nothing they said, no fact they could present, could possibly dissuade Bush from war.
For a long time before American tanks dashed across the desert toward Baghdad, before Iraqi insurgents used car bombs and rocket propelled grenades to kill young men and women from Kentucky and Texas and Arkansas, the invasion of Iraq was an idea. It took root after President George H.W. Bush's decision to end the 1991 Gulf War abruptly, to pull back the troops that were slaughtering Iraqi soldiers by the thousands, and to end the headlong rush north toward Baghdad.
During the 1990's the notion of toppling Saddam's regine was championed by a circle of neoconservative thinkers, led by Richard Perle, a former assistant secretarty of Defense for international security policy under President Reagan, and Paul Wolfowitz, an undersecretary of defense for policy for George H.W.Bush.
The neoconservatives first gained notice for their hard-line views on dealing with the Soviet Union during George H.'s administration, in which Cheney served as secretary of defense. During the Clinton years, the neocons, quite a few of whom concerned themselves with hard-line defense policies for Israel, remained tied to one another and to Cheney through a number of right-wing think tanks and institutes. One of the most influential of them is the American Enterprise Institute whose alumni include Cheney, neoconservative godfather Irving Kristol, Perle, Newt Gingrich and failed Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork.

In 1992, Woplfowitz's office drafted a document called the Defense Planning Guidance, which said that the US might be faced with the question of whether to take military action to prevent the use or development of WMD-a precursor to the so-called Bush Doctrine, supposedly formulated by the current president. In 1998, Perle and Wolfowitz, along with Donald Rumsfeld and 15 others, sent a much talked about letter to President Bill Clinton urging regime change in Iraq and a more aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.
When Cheney became vice-president, he remembered his neocon friends while making political appointments. In fact, the neocons' influence is so great in the current administration that it has led those unsympathetic to their hawkish views to talk about the existence of " a cabal." In addition to Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, who had been on of Wolfowitz's top aides in the first Bush administration, became Cheney's chiief of staff, his national-security adviser, and an adviser to Bush. William Luti had been a military adviser to Newt Gingrich before working on Cheneys staff and eventually shifting taao tahe Pentagon as chief of Middle Eastern policy. Stephen J. Hadley, a former member of George H. administration, was made deputy to Condoleezza Rice. Douglas Firth, who had served as special counsel to Richard Perle when Perle was an assistant secretary of defense in the 1980's, was appointed undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon, and David Wurmser, a close associate of Perle's, became Cheney's Middle East adviser.
As he entered the White House, Bush gave no signs of being the global adventurist he has since become. By all accounts, it was Cheney and Rumsfeld who brought about his transformation. The neoconservative world view is summarized in An End To Evil, a recently published book co-written by Perle and former Bush speechwriter David Frum. Their dream, they write, is "a world at peace; a world governed by law; a world in which all peoples are free to find their own destinies." It is h9ow the neoconservatives hope to reach this post-Cold War utopia, however, that frightens many people. Perle and Frum believe such a world will be brought into being "by American armed might,"
Among many neoconservatives, removing Saddam became a kind of panacea for all the Middle East's ills and a solution for dealing with the rise of Islamist terr9or and bringing democracy to Iraq, and the Middle East. But, others were quick to point out, given the hatreds among the three main groups in Iraq-the Sunni Muslims, the Shi-ite Muslims, and the Kurds-there would be serious problems with managing the power vacuum that deposing Saddam would create.
Even among Republcan hawks, there were widely differing views about how to oust Saddam. In 2001, in the early months of the Bush administration, everyone had a plan. Colin Powell's State Department favored a program of international pressure in concert with the UN and its weapons inspectors; Wolfoqitz and his fellow neocons all but sneered at Powell and his dovish tendencies, ridiculing the UN as the do-nothing pawn of AThird World nobodies and Euro-peaceniks. The CIA considered what some called the 'magic bullet" plan, that is, an assassination or coup d'etat. The INC and Ahmad Chalabi floated atheir own plan, a partial invasion of southern Iraq that would supposedly lead to a popular revolution. At President Bush'e first National Security Council meeting, on January 30, 2001, a decision was made to formulate a coherent Iraq strategy.
For months memos flew among the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the White House, but through a series of bruising meetings everyone stuck to his guns,. The process swiftly became bogged down in bitter interagency disagreements. In such cases, it is the national security admiser's job to forge a common line. This, say numerous officials, is something Condoleezza Rice was unwilling to do. "She has no opinions of her own," Says an insider. "Her supreme concern is preserving her own relationship with the president. She's a chief of staff, not an advocate, until she's sure he knows whata he wants to do." The result, this insider says, is "there's a tier missing in the foreign-policy wedding cake. A subject will get up to a certain level and then just stick until Bush decides."
At first the president seemed in no hurry to deal with Saddam. "Faced with a dilemma, he has this favorite phrase he uses all the time: Protect my flexibility," says the insider. Often, this person says, the president will ask by what date he needs to make a particular decision. "If, for the sake of argument, you say he needs to decide by November, he'llturn round and say,'In that case, I'm not going to do it in May."
Powell spotted this weakness immediately and used it to his advantage, the neocons believe. "[Powell] is incredibly smart, the suprme courtier, brilliant tactically and strategically," A former White House official says. "Bush would be breathing fire about something in the days before an NSC meeting; he would evenbe raising hell spontaneously in privaate meetings with ambassadors. And then Powell would say to Bush, 'Yes, I agree with you, this is terrible, but if we push it too vigorously it will upset our allies: let [the Departmentof] State handle this. We agree with you, but this isn't the way to do it." Again and again, Powell would win the argument.
It was, in the words of one former White House official, "a formula for gridlock." Which is just where the Bush administration's Iraq policy remained stuck when the World Trade Center fell.

On the morning of September 11 seven members of Rumsfeld's neocon brain trust, officials who would wield enormous influence over Iraq policy in the coming months, were busy on unrelated missions in Europe and the Middle Ease. The next morning, Wednesday the 12th they gathered in a light rain on the tarmac at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany, and boarded an airforce refueling plane that had been sent to ferry them back to Washington.

The main question was, "If we were at war, who was the enemy?" "What were our war aims"

Although they had not yet claimed responsibility, Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network were prime suspects. Closing thierhavens by toppling the Taliban government of Alghanistan seemed the obvious first priority.
"Obviouasly we had Afghanistan in our minds straightaway, Luti says, "that was our immediate concern. But we also thought we had to learn about the terrorist networks, how they connected to the states."
the list of posibilities-states which might have unconventional weapons and athose which might be prepared to use them in support of terrorists, was not very long, and one nation loomed large in their deliberations. Iraq was not on the table as a matter of detailed military planning that day, but it was on the table as a concept.
September 15, Bush gathered his closest advisers at Camp David to discuss the war.
Much of their discussion dealt with Afghanistan. But during a session that morning, acording to bBob Woodward's Book, BUSH AT WAR, Wolfowitz advocated an attack on Afghanistan. There was a 10 to 50 pecent chance that Iraq had been involved in 9/11 he argued, concluding that Saddam's brittle oppressive regime might succomb easily to an American attack in constast to the difficulties involved in prosecuting was in the mountains of Afghanistan.
colin Powell was appalled. To attack Iraq without clear evidence of Saddam's involvement in September 11 would drive America's allies away, he argued. Much better to go after bin Laden's obvious state sponsor, the Taliban. If that went well, it would only enhance America's ability t oust Saddam later. In front of his advisers at Camp David, and in later interviews, Bush indicated that he supported Powell's argument. During the lunch break, the president sent a message to Wolfowitz and the other neocons, indicating that he did not wish to hear any more about Iraq that day. But, according to richard Perle, Wolfowitz had planted a seed. Bush told Perle at Camp David that once Afghanistan had been dealt with, it would be Iraq's turn.
By that monday Wolfowitz and his neocon colleagues were already busy studying ways to justify an eventual attaack on Iraq. The next day, Perle convened a two day meet8ing of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the Pentagon. (Perle has since resigned, first as chairman, amid charges of conflicts of interest because he was representing a company seeking Defense Department approval of a sale to two foreign companies, and the from the group altogether.} The boards meetings amount to a form of organized brainstorming witah the defense secretary, his key lieutenants, and a group of well informed outsiders, all of whom are cleared to have access to classified intelligence. The 30 members, appointed by the secretary of defense, have traditionally represented a broad spectrum of political beliefs. Under Rumsfeld, however, the board has taken a hard turn to the right, with several Democrats being ousted.

This group met in Rumsfeld's conference room. After a CIA briefing on the 9/11 attacks, Perle introduced two guest speakers. The first was Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, a longtime associate of Cheney's and Wolfowitz's. Lewis told the meeting that America must respond to 9/11 with a show of strength, to do otherwise would be taken in the islamic world as a sign of weakness-one it would be bound to exploit. At the same time, He said, America should support democratic reformers in the Middle Ease, "Such as," he said, turning to the second of Perle's guest speakers, "my friend here, Dr. Chalabi." It would be Chalabi' a convicted felon for embezzling tens of millions of dollars from Petra Bank, Jordan's third laargest, whichhe had started, who would promote the WMD Iraq theory.

crawdaddio
11-17-2004, 01:22 PM
Gayle, I have read many of your posts, and agree with most of your sentiments. However, I don't think you are going to prove anything to the cons on this board, as I have tried myself. Keep up the good fight, but don't waste your time here.

BTW, I think it's quite obvious that the Iraq war was not waged for any of the ever-changing reasons given to the public by the Bush admin. JMO.

Peace
~DC

Gayle in MD
11-17-2004, 01:47 PM
Thank you Friend,
I know you are right, lol. Lately the only time I check in here is when my neck is too bad to shoot pool, lol.

Thanks for the warning, I think I get so mad over Bush I have to let off steam somewhere, LOL.
Love,
Gayle /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif