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July 08, 2004

The CIA versus Vice-President Cheney

I've found another example of the curious battle between the Administration and the intelligence bureaucracy-- see, e.g, the Plame story and the King op-ed. In this case, the vice- president cited a Weekly Standard article based on a famous leaked memo from the Defense Department to Congress, and "senior intelligence officials", probably from the CIA or State Department, claim to know nothing about it. Brad DeLong writes
How Delusional Is Richard Cheney?

Robert Waldmann points us to a Dana Milbank story that says that Richard Cheney is highly delusional:

washingtonpost.com: Cheney, Bush Tout Gains in Terror War: Countering the staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which found no "collaborative relationship" between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda, Cheney renewed his accusation that they had "long-established ties." He listed several examples and stated: "In the early 1990s, Saddam had sent a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service to Sudan to train al Qaeda in bombmaking and document forgery."

Senior intelligence officials said yesterday that they had no knowledge of this.

Professor DeLong notes that "senior intelligence officials" work for the Administration, and wonders if the Vice-President is delusional. My immediate reaction was, "Well, this isn't the first terrorist action that senior intelligence officials know nothing about. They usually seem to be three steps behind the press, Moreover, they hate Cheney, and Cheney despises the CIA." From the comment section of Professor DeLong's post, we find:
10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al- Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al- Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs-- remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.
That's from the Feith summary.

And before you say it, no, the DOD never questioned the accuracy of Hayes's report - they in fact confirmed its accurary and sources. The DOD only questioned the conclusions which Hayes drew from that raw intelligence.

So. Now who is delusional?
Posted by am at July 3, 2004 11:19 PM


"So. Now who is delusional?"

Feith
Posted by Brian Boru at July 4, 2004 12:08 AM


No, that report was a summary of many intelligence reports from CIA, DIA, foreign and other agencies. All Feith did was to pull it together and present it to a congressional committee. The accuracy and fairness with which it chose and represented those reports has never been challenged.

Try again.
Posted by am at July 4, 2004 03:07 AM
The Feith memo was leaked to the Weekly Standard and reported on in November 2003 :
OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

...

According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points-- Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact- based intelligence reporting, which some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source.

At the top of the Weekly Standard article it says,
Editor's Note, 1/27/04: In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney . . . in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."
The "senior intelligence officials" surely knew of the Feith memo and the Weekly Standard article. But they said "they had no knowledge of this," presumably as a way to try to embarass Cheney. The Administration is playing a dangerous game. It is trying to conduct a strong foreign policy in delicate foreign circumstances against heavy partisan domestic opposition while at the same time hoping-- if perhaps not yet trying-- to reform the two dysfunctional agencies-- the Defence Department and the CIA-- which are most important to the strong policies. The policies moreover are opposed by the third agency most involved-- the State Department-- though I don't recall any signs that the Administration is out to threaten the comfort of any career bureaucrats there. Rumsfeld and Cheney are perhaps the two major reformers, so we should expect to see lots of attacks on them from inside the bureaucracy.

Posted by erasmuse at July 8, 2004 11:23 AM

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