July 19, 2004

Joe Wilson's Lies, His CIA Friends

Here's a post from Junkyard Blog speculating on who in the CIA might be giving Joe Wilson quote to the press.

Googling Valerie Plame, the top two sites I found were The Nation article and Mark Kleiman, both from 2003. They make amusing reading now that Wilson's credibility has been busted. The Weekly Standard has an excellent summary of his lies.

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July 16, 2004

The CIA, Joseph Wilson, and Valerie Plame

Joseph Wilson is an opportunistic liar of no great interest in himself, but his story opens up interesting questions about the CIA and about the theoretical difficulties of managing bureaucrats. As I recount in earlier posts such as this one, when Vice- President Cheney tried to prod it into action on investigating the possible Iraq-Niger connection, the CIA chose an anti-Administration activist who is affiliated with a pro-Islamic think tank and was a political appointee of the previous, Democratic Administration to investigate. Moreover, the CIA seems not to have required him to sign an agreement not to disclose his secret mission to the New York Times, despite knowing that he loves publicity, and the CIA was strangely willing to confirm that his wife, Valerie Plame, was categorized as a secret operative, and unwilling to disclose that she suggested her husband for the job. What are we to make of this?

The January 2001 Vanity Fair article has some useful data. First: Vice- President Cheney (a proxy for President Bush) thought the CIA was doing a bad enough job that he wanted to see their raw data rather than trust that their analysis had anything backing it up, and that he visited the CIA in person to try to get them moving:

According to an October 27, 2003, story by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, there seemed to be a tendency by Cheney's office, among others, to bypass the analysts and use raw intelligence given directly to the administration.

...

Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, visited the C.I.A. several times at Langley and told the staff to make more of an effort to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and to uncover Iraqi attempts to acquire nuclear capabilities. One of the people who objected most fervently to what he saw as "intimidation," according to one former C.I.A. case officer, was Alan Foley, then the head of the Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center. He was Valerie Plame's boss. (Foley could not be reached for comment.)

What is "intimidation" to the employee, of course, is "criticism for laziness" and "pressure to uncover past mistakes" to the boss. I had a good session with my PhD students today, one of whom is working on a mathematical model of bureaucracy and term limits, and how policy results from the interaction between voters, politicians, and bureaucrats. He has focussed on modelling policy preferences as a continuum between Liberal and Conservative, but I realize that there are two other dimensions worth his investigation. I can summarize these in the context of the CIA: "A: Let CIA employees play golf all day" versus "B: Make CIA employees work long hard hours" and "A: Let sleeping dogs lie" versus "B: Uncover past CIA mistakes". The CIA prefers option A in each case, and the politician--whether Democrat or Republican-- prefers B. Since each side has power, the ultimate policy will be somewhere in between.

It wasn't just Wilson who lied-- it was the CIA. Again, from Vanity Fair:

Phelps and Royce [of the July 22,2003 Newsday story] also cited a "senior intelligence official" who said that Plame did not recommend her husband for the Niger job, adding, "There are people elsewhere in the government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason. I can't figure out what it could be. We paid his (Wilson's) airfare. But to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit. Most people you'd have to pay big bucks to go there."

Here is what this looks like to me. There are widespread indications that the CIA is incompetent. Vice President Cheney was pressuring the CIA to do a better job. The CIA decided to fight back. They are, after all, experts in information and disinformation. So they gave Wilson the Niger mission to simultaneously pretend they were making efforts to investigate and to create a news story to embarass Cheney.

Both sides-- the Administration and the CIA-- knew this was just one battle in a bigger war. President Bush has been careful to praise the CIA over and over, despite the obviously bad job it has done, despite the embarassment it creates for him, and despite its higher levels being determined by the Clinton Administration for 8 years and by a Clinton appointee even after that. Why? Because Bush is a smart administrator. He knows that the CIA is a tough agency to discipline, especially when foreign affairs require it to function well in the short run. Any kind of reform of any organization is going to hurt short-run performance in exchange for helping long-run performance. Sometimes the short run is just too important to sacrifice. Moreover, the CIA is well positioned to fight back. Its activities are secret, so it is hard to disclose incompetence to the public, and the CIA can badly hurt the Administration in two ways-- by purposely giving it bad or incomplete information so the Administration later looks foolish, and by leaking embarassing information to the press. It can also claim that if the Administration tries to make it more effective that the Administration is bringing politics into what is an agency staffed by people with no opinions of their own, pure technocrats working for the good of the country. The CIA is uniquely positioned to make this claim-- they can say that they deserve very big budgets and have done extremely good work, they just can't give any evidence of it, because that would reveal secrets to the enemy.

Of course, the main enemy may be the taxpayer, but that is left unsaid.

So-- in this case, the CIA made it clear that if someone from the Administration messed with them even in a small way, they'd hit him hard and they'd be quite willing to hit below the belt. That is especially important because talk of fundamental overhaul of the agency is in the air-- even reorganization that would prevent the CIA Director from being such a defender of his bureaucracy-- and such talk has to be stopped before it gets far.

Why, then, did Cheney leave himself open to this kind of attack? He is an old hand at bureaucracy, after all.

(a) He does want to get results with bureaucrats, and wants to have reputation for toughness. He's worked with the Defense Department, one of the toughest agencies, and has learned that fear works better than love.

(b) He is in a stronger position than most vice-presidents, because he was chosen for his talent rather than for political advantage. Bush clearly chose him because he wanted a smart senior advisor with lots of experience-- there's no other reason to choose a Wyoming oil industry executive with no political constituency. The typical VP is someone like Quayle, Gore, or Edwards, who is chosen to give a slight advantage in an election and who therefore is

dispensable after the election is over. (c) Cheney is hard to scare. He is used to insult, used to running big organizations, and cares more about his legacy than about winning the next election. No doubt he would cheerfully step down as VP if Bush wanted him to-- it is not a stepping stone to something else for him.

Thus, this episode may give us some insight into the perils to be faced in administrative reform.

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Further Reflections on Joseph Wilson's Career

Here's a fuller bio than I had in my earlier post, based on information mostly from PBS (I am not quoting them)

1988 to 1991: Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. During "Desert Shield" he was the acting Ambassador and was responsible for the freeing of several hundred American hostages. He was the last official American to meet with Saddam Hussein before "Desert Storm. He was number two, in charge of administrative matters, to April Glaspie, the career diplomat who it seems in July 1990 made Saddam think the U.S. would not mind if he invaded Kuwait and has not held an ambassador-level job since. She left on vacation later that month, leaving Wilson in charge, and after Saddam invaded Kuwait a few weeks later she didn't return to Iraq. The Air Phase of the First Gulf War started in January 1991.

1992-1995: U.S. Ambassador to the

Gabonese Republic and to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe from 1992 to 1995 (one ambassador for those two countries is standard) 1995-1997: Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces, Europe

June 1997 - July 1998: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council

Just looking at this record, without Clifford May's anonymous sources, it isn't clear that he left the Foreign Service involuntarily. Maybe he just wanted to move into political appointments with the Clinton Administration, whose politics were more congenial to him than the administrations from 1980 to 1992.

The January 2001 Vanity Fair article contains lots of useful information, especially if you connect it to what else we know. There is mention of Wilson's Turkish connection:

He had met Plame in February 1997 at a reception at the Washington home of the Turkish ambassador.

We learn that he is rich and that he was having an affair with Valerie Plame in or before the year he divorced the second of his three wives. The article says "On the third or fourth date, he says, they were in the middle of a 'heavy make-out' session" and from the following excerpt we see that they were looking at houses and discussing marriage in 1998, the same year he was divorced:

The Wilsons live in the Palisades, an affluent neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on the fringe of Georgetown. In winter, when the trees have no leaves, the back of their house has a stunning view of the Washington Monument. They'd first seen the house in 1998, when it was still being built, and they had instantly fallen in love with it. Even so, Plame took some persuading before they made an offer. "She's very frugal," explains Wilson. "My brother who's in real estate had to fly in from the West Coast and explain that a mortgage could cost less than our rented apartment in the Watergate."

Plame also told Wilson that she'd be moving with him into the new house only as his wife. Records show that Wilson and his second wife, Jacqueline, to whom he was married for 12 years, were divorced in 1998. By the mid-90s, Wilson says, that relationship had pretty much disintegrated. "Separate bedrooms-and I was playing a lot of golf," he says.

Note, too, that exactly as I speculated in my earlier post, he was playing a lot of golf in the 1990's-- not the sign of a successful career.

On the positive side, the article (which, it must be noted, is extremely positive and takes a known liar-- Wilson himself-- as its source for much of what it says) has some good things to say about Wilson's career:

... Wilson also came back to Washington, as a senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council, where, according to the Reagan administration's assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Chester Crocker, he was the most effective person in that job during the Clinton administration.
and
In 1992, Wilson was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Gabon, where, he says, he helped persuade President Omar Bongo-"the most clever politician in African politics," according to Wilson-to have free and open elections.
Of course, when Crocker says that Wilson "was the most effective person in that job during the Clinton administration," that may be damning with faint praise. And we also learn that
Former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Wilson had had a "less-than-stellar record."
How about the question of whether Wilson's consulting job is real or phantom?

After only one year in the job Wilson decided to retire and go into the private sector because "we wanted to have kids, and felt that it had become very difficult to live off two government salaries." He set up a consultancy, J. C. Wilson International Ventures, with an office in downtown Washington at the headquarters of the Rock Creek Corporation, an investment firm of which little is known. Wilson's right-wing critics have been quick to condemn the affiliation as "murky," though Wilson does not work for Rock Creek and merely rents space and facilities there.

...

"I have a number of clients, and basically we help them with their sort of investments in countries like Niger," explains Wilson. "Niger was of some interest because it has some gold deposits coming onstream. We had some clients who were interested in gold.... We were looking to set up a gold-mine company out of London."

That doesn't really tell us much, except to say that though he lists himself as "Strategic Advisor" for Rock Creek Corporation, he is not really an employee-- just a tenant-- and so must not be getting any salary from them. Thus, I conclude the opposite from Bryan Preston and Roger Simon, who seem to worry about how much he was making from Rock Creek Corporation-- instead, it looks like he is making no money from them, and just wants to list an affiliation so it seems like he has a real job. Further investigation might determine who is right.

The Vanity Fair story tells us more about Wilson's background, including how his first wife got fed up with him:

Wilson is the son of freelance journalists who lived in California and then moved around Europe while he and his brother were growing up. He went to the University of California at Santa Barbara and characterized himself as a "surf dude" with some carpentry skills. In person, he gives off a charismatic, relaxed air, and someone who was with him in Baghdad said it's easy to underestimate him. In 1974 he married his college sweetheart, Susan Otchis, and in 1976 went to work for the State Department. His postings included Niger, Togo-where his wife became pregnant with the first set of Wilson twins, Joseph and Sabrina, now 24-South Africa, and Burundi. It was in Burundi that Susan "decided she'd had about enough of me" and left him, he says. He remains on good terms with the family.

Also in Burundi, Wilson met his second wife, then the cultural counselor at the French Embassy there. They spent a year back in Washington on a congressional fellowship, during which time he worked for Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee, and Tom Foley, then House majority whip. "It was," Wilson says, "happenstance" that he worked for two Democrats. Then he returned to Africa as deputy chief of mission in the Congo Republic, where he helped Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker set up the process that led to negotiations for the withdrawal of the Cuban and South African troops from the Angolan Civil War.

This is all interesting, but what is most interesting is not Wilson's desire to go to Niger and discredit the Bush Administration, but the CIA's desire to help him do it. I'll post on that separately in a little while.

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July 14, 2004

The Wilson-Plame Affair: Career Motives?

In a recent post I discuss the lies of Joseph Wilson IV, the husband of Valerie Plame. One angle that has not gotten enough attention is why he and his wife wanted him to go on the mission to Niger. The most likely explanation is that Wilson wanted to make the President look bad, and planned all along to write his notorious New York Times op-ed, and that the CIA, for its part, wanted to pretend they were investigating the Niger-Iraq connection but actually wanted to bury the topic, because if any connection were found it would make their previous ignorance of it look bad. That's the kind of explanation I thought about a year ago when this first came up.

But there's another possible explanation, complementary to the first. This other possibility is that Wilson wanted to go to Niger on a CIA mission in order to help his consulting business. His wife dutifully proposed it to the CIA, and her bosses were willing to go along with it as a favor to her, a kind of bonus payment.

Let's think about that scenario. It's hard to get much public evidence, but I can lay out what we have and what would confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis.

First, let's look at Wilson's current job situation. Clifford May at NRO tells us:

Wilson spent a total of eight days in Niger "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people," as he put it.

...Oddly, too, as an investigator on assignment for the CIA he was not required to keep his mission and its conclusions confidential. And for the New York Times , he was happy to put pen to paper, to write an op-ed charging the Bush administration with "twisting," "manipulating" and "exaggerating" intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs "to justify an invasion."

...

In 1991, Wilson's book jacket boasts, President George H.W. Bush praised Wilson as "a true American hero," and he was made an ambassador. But for some reason, he was assigned not to Cairo, Paris, or Moscow, places where you put the best and the brightest, nor was he sent to Bermuda or Luxembourg, places you send people you want to reward. Instead, he was sent to Gabon, a diplomatic backwater of the first rank.

After that, he says in his memoir, "I had risen about as high as I could in the Foreign Service and decided it was time to retire." Well, that's not exactly accurate either. He could have been given a more important posting, such as Kenya or South Africa, or he could have been promoted higher in the senior Foreign Service (he made only the first of four grades). Instead, he was evidently (according to my sources) forced into involuntary retirement at 48. (The minimum age for voluntary retirement in the Foreign Service is 50.) After that, he seems to have made quite a bit of money — doing what for whom is unclear and I wish the Senate committee had attempted to find out.

Actually, I wonder whether we know if he "made quite a bit of money". He seems to be driving a Jaguar and wearing fancy clothes, but when somebody is a liberal white Democrat with a name like "Joseph Wilson IV" and a career in the Foreign Service, you wonder if there might be some inherited WASP money there. Against this theory, the Middle East Institute Media Resources tells us that

Ambassador Wilson was raised in California and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1972.

(Note, by the way, that this website, dated 2002, also says "He is married to the former Valerie Plame and has two sons and two daughters." He made no secret of his marriage to someone whose supposed job sounds awfully like a CIA cover job. )

PBS says

Currently, Wilson is CEO of JCWilson International Ventures, Corp., a firm specializing in Strategic Management and International Business Development. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.

A forum had a caller asking him what he actually does for a living:


Alexandria, Va.:...Also, could you tell us a little bit about your company JC Wilson International? Thank you.
Joseph C. Wilson: We do political risk assessment for companies wanting to do business in Africa Europe and the Middle East.

He didn't go into any more depth, which I think is significant.

It seems, too that he is a "Strategic Advisor" to the CPS :

Corporate and Public Strategy Advisory Group (CPS) is a consultancy company providing strategic advice in public affairs and business and investment development, to the public and private sectors.

CPS actually seems to be a Turkish consulting firm, as a glance at its personnel shows. Why is Wilson linked to them? Maybe he's knows a lot about Turkey too. Or maybe they're eager to have a former U.S. Ambassador on their masthead, and he's willing to sell his name cheap.

Those are our facts. What can we make of them? Well, here are my speculations. WASPy liberal Joseph Wilson IV graduated from Santa Barbara in 1972 and didn't want to dirty his fingers with a job in business, so he went into the Foreign Service. He didn't do terribly well there, and was eased out at age 48, two years before the earliest voluntary retirement age. What was he to do? He kicked around in various political appointments in the Clinton Administration for a few years, he put up his shingle as a consultant, and he did odd jobs for CPS and anyone else he could get work from. In America, even if you're rich, you're supposed to have a job if you're under age 65. If you can't find a job or don't want to, the conventional way out is to call yourself a consultant and change the subject if people rudely ask you exactly what being a consultant means.

But you know that some consultants actually make money, and that if you are a consultant on political matters, one way to earn money is by seeming to have important contacts in government. Your wife is one such contact, but she's pretty far down the totem pole. Nonetheless, she can help. She can get you a gig visiting a foreign capital-- it's only Niger, but you're desperate-- as a representative of the CIA, on a mission of the highest importance. Your air fare is paid, as is the bill at the one decent hotel in Niger (only about 100 bucks a night, at the Hotel Sofitel I'm guessing). That doesn't matter much, though, and neither does the fact that you can't get paid anything because that would violate the federal anti-nepotism law, 5 USC Sec. 3110. What matters is that you come back to America and, since somehow you didn't sign any nondisclosure agreement, when people ask what you did last year, you can say, "Oh, lots of stuff. For example, when the CIA needed to send someone to Africa to check on possible uranium sales to Iraq, they naturally thought of me, and after some thought I agreed to take the time to go, since I do like to serve my country even now that I've joined the private sector."

Is this part of his motivation? I don't know. You've got the same facts as I do now. I still think the "Get Bush" motivation-- which, note, has also been a huge source of publicity and income for him-- is the main thing. But 8 days in Africa would be worth it for the boasting value alone, whether that value came back in actual consulting contracts or just in preserving one's self-respect as a man ashamed of involuntary early retirement.

This hypothesis could easily be disproved if it was false. What we would need is a copy of Wilson's tax returns or some other measure of how he is spending his time. If he is making lots of money from consulting and seems to have more business than he can handle, the hypothesis is false. If, on the other hand, he isn't doing much business at all, and is spending a lot of time at the golf course, then the hypothesis becomes more plausible.

If the hypothesis is true, a new question arises. It would certainly be unethical for his wife to have gotten him a CIA consulting gig just for their own private purposes when she knew he wouldn't do the best job of it, but would it be illegal? It would be if he were paid cash, but he was not. Suppose, though, that she plainly admitted that he was given the job for the purpose of helping him get private consulting contracts. Would that be illegal? I don't know.

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July 12, 2004

The Plame-Wilson Affair: Wilson Lied

Clifford May at NRO has the best coverage of the unsurprising vindication of the conservative (or just non-alarmist?) view of the Plame-Wilson affair. (See my posts on Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and French trickery. ) Mr. May's article should be read in its entirety, but here is what I found new:
But now Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV — he of the Hermes ties and Jaguar convertibles — has been thoroughly discredited. Last week's bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report concluded that it is he who has been telling lies.

For starters, he has insisted that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, was not the one who came up with the brilliant idea that the agency send him to Niger to investigate whether Saddam Hussein had been attempting to acquire uranium. "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson says in his book. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." In fact, the Senate panel found, she was the one who got him that assignment. The panel even found a memo by her. (She should have thought to use disappearing ink.)

Wilson spent a total of eight days in Niger "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people," as he put it. On the basis of this "investigation" he confidently concluded that there was no way Saddam sought uranium from Africa. Oddly, Wilson didn't bother to write a report saying this. Instead he gave an oral briefing to a CIA official.

Oddly, too, as an investigator on assignment for the CIA he was not required to keep his mission and its conclusions confidential. And for the New York Times , he was happy to put pen to paper, to write an op-ed charging the Bush administration with "twisting," "manipulating" and "exaggerating" intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs "to justify an invasion."

In particular he said that President Bush was lying when, in his 2003 State of the Union address, he pronounced these words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

We now know for certain that Wilson was wrong and that Bush's statement was entirely accurate.

...

Yes, there were fake documents relating to Niger-Iraq sales. But no, those forgeries were not the evidence that convinced British intelligence that Saddam may have been shopping for "yellowcake" uranium. On the contrary, according to some intelligence sources, the forgery was planted in order to be discovered — as a ruse to discredit the story of a Niger-Iraq link, to persuade people there were no grounds for the charge.

But that's not all. The Butler report, yet another British government inquiry, also is expected to conclude this week that British intelligence was correct to say that Saddam sought uranium from Niger.

And in recent days, the Financial Times has reported that illicit sales of uranium from Niger were indeed being negotiated with Iraq, as well as with four other states.

According to the FT: "European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq."

There's still more: As Susan Schmidt reported — back on page A9 of Saturday's Washington Post: "Contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence."

The Senate report says fairly bluntly that Wilson lied to the media. Schmidt notes that the panel found that, "Wilson provided misleading information to the Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on a document that had clearly been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.'"

The problem is Wilson "had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel discovered. Schmidt notes: "The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger."

...

Schmidt adds that the Senate panel was alarmed to find that the CIA never "fully investigated possible efforts by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger destined for Iraq and stored in a warehouse in Benin."

...

... Now that we know that Mrs. Wilson did recommend Mr. Wilson for the Niger assignment, can we not infer that she was working at CIA headquarters in Langley rather than as an undercover operative in some front business or organization somewhere?

As I suggested in another NRO piece (Spy Games), if that is the case — if she was not working undercover and if the CIA was not taking measures to protect her cover — no law was broken by columnist Bob Novak in naming her, or by whoever told Novak that she worked for the CIA.

...

In 1991, Wilson's book jacket boasts, President George H.W. Bush praised Wilson as "a true American hero," and he was made an ambassador. But for some reason, he was assigned not to Cairo, Paris, or Moscow, places where you put the best and the brightest, nor was he sent to Bermuda or Luxembourg, places you send people you want to reward. Instead, he was sent to Gabon, a diplomatic backwater of the first rank.

After that, he says in his memoir, "I had risen about as high as I could in the Foreign Service and decided it was time to retire." Well, that's not exactly accurate either. He could have been given a more important posting, such as Kenya or South Africa, or he could have been promoted higher in the senior Foreign Service (he made only the first of four grades). Instead, he was evidently (according to my sources) forced into involuntary retirement at 48. (The minimum age for voluntary retirement in the Foreign Service is 50.) After that, he seems to have made quite a bit of money — doing what for whom is unclear and I wish the Senate committee had attempted to find out.

It would be interesting to see which of Wilson's many defenders in the blogosphere have commented on the discovery that he was lying-- something they vehemently denied earlier.

Permalink: 11:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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.

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