Plame is about breaking the law, about arrogance, about
the ordinary viciousness that suffuses the corridors of power
but its real significance is overlooked in the frenzy to
find the perpetrator and tie him or her to the White House.
The problem with this theory is that George W. Bush is the
biggest victim of this incident.
all, it was the President who was made to
look like a fool when, in his State of the Union speech,
he referred to the now-discredited
story about Iraq seeking to purchase "yellowcake" uranium
to build a nuclear bomb. When Joe Wilson's op ed piece
appeared in the New York Times, describing his trip
to Niger on behalf of the CIA, and the complete lack of any
real evidence for Bush's contention, it must have occurred
to Team Bush that they'd been set up, bigtime. Remember, the
sole "evidence" supporting the Niger uranium angle had been
a set of papers that turned out to be crude
documents are so bad," a senior IAEA
official told the New Yorker, "that I cannot imagine
that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses
me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not
stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more
checking." A "former high-level intelligence official" interviewed
by the New Yorker is sure it was an inside job (via Gary
deliberately let something false get in there. It could not
have gotten into the system without the agency being involved.
Therefore it was an internal intention. Someone set someone
mind, for the moment, who spilled the beans on Plame. The
real question is: who set up the President of the United States
by feeding him forged documents and passing them off as authentic?
Because the answer to both questions is likely to be the same.
big mystery of the Valerie Plame affair is: why did
they do it? What possible motive could a top U.S. government
official have in "outing" a CIA officer engaged in the essential
work of nuclear nonproliferation?
the context of Robert
Novak's column, which caused all the ruckus to begin with,
it looks like they were trying to discredit Wilson by implying
he got the assignment on account of nepotism: Plame is Wilson's
wife. But the primary effects of naming her were two-fold,
neither of which had much to do with questioning Wilson's
credentials: it ended her career as an undercover operative,
and warned off anybody else thinking of going public with
evidence that the War Party had twisted intelligence estimates
to make the case for war in Iraq. Punish, and deter.
what, exactly, were they trying to deter? What was it about
Wilson's mission to Niger that provoked such extreme retaliation?
They clearly knew what they were doing was illegal, and high
risk: outing a CIA operative is a felony punishable by up
to 10 years
in prison and a $50,000 fine. So why take the chance?
answer is because it throws the spotlight on an even bigger
crime, the Niger-uranium forgeries and links them to
the office of the Vice President.
his op ed, Wilson pointed to Cheney and his staff as the source
of the phony intelligence. It was those guys over in the Executive
Office Building who made repeated trips
to CIA headquarters, pushing "intelligence" that seemed
to confirm the neoconservative case for war. Greeks
bearing gifts, as it turned out
War Party built the case for war by doing an end run around
the CIA, the DIA, and the established intelligence structure.
They set up their own intelligence operation, the "Office
of Special Plans," described by Seymour
Hersh in the New Yorker:
call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal a small
cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon's
Office of Special Plans. In the past year, according to former
and present Bush Administration officials, their operation,
which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary
of Defense, has brought about a crucial change of direction
in the American intelligence community. These advisers and
analysts, who began their work in the days after September
11, 2001, have produced a skein of intelligence reviews that
have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward
By last fall, the operation rivaled both the CIA and
the Pentagon's own Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA, as
President Bush's main source of intelligence regarding Iraq's
possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection
with Al Qaeda."
by Strauss scholar and
and presided over by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Douglas Feith, a militant
neocon and supporter of Israel's Likud
party, the OSP was the nerve center of the War Party inside
the U.S. government. Feith was a co-author, along with Richard
Perle, of the seminal 1996 paper "A Clean Break," that prefigured
the invasion of Iraq. This paper, written for then Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, argued that Syria is the main danger to
Israel and that the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.
pressed for including the alleged meeting of Mohammed
Atta with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in Colin
Powell's pre-war presentation to the UN, but Powell refused
to do so when the CIA vetoed the story as discredited.
The OSP also pushed the alleged Al-Qaeda connection, a case
built on a very slender
reed. Is it unreasonable to suppose that the Niger uranium
story also came from this crew? I'm not alone in my suspicion.
the real source of the OSP's pervasive influence was the patronage
of high administration officials. Julian Borger, writing in
the Guardian, nabs the Vice
president's most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow
network's sharp end. He made several trips to the CIA in Langley,
Virginia, to demand a more 'forward-leaning' interpretation
of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make
his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby,
was. Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence
data was unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times,
and it put pressure on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate
Cheney link is OSP overseer
Cheney advisor. Luti came out for war with Iraq early
on, and is also head of the Defense Department's post-war
Iraq planning group. As Jim Lobe of Interpress News Service
some cases, NESA [Near East and South Asia bureau] and OSP
even prepared memos specifically for Cheney and Libby, something
unheard of in previous administration because the lines of
authority in the Vice President's office and the Pentagon
are entirely separate. 'Luti sometimes would say, 'I've got
to do this for Scooter', said [former NESA employee Karen]
Kwiatkowski. 'It looked like Cheney's office was pulling the
Vice President's DNA imprint is all over
the OSP, and the Niger uranium fiasco. NESA
is headed up by his daughter, Elizabeth.
Those infamous sixteen words that got into
the President's State of the Union the single most important
speech on our chief executive's calendar had to be retracted
by a White House that rarely admits error. Somebody is going
to pay, and my guess is it's going to be the Vice President
has already been implicated as the Spy-gate leaker by
Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer who worked with Ms. Plame
while she was in training. As Marc Rich's lawyer for 15
years, Libby has some interesting connections. The fugitive billionaire
who renounced his U.S. citizenship rather than face prosecution
for fraud and tax evasion secured his pardon due to an
extraordinary campaign engineered, in large part, by Libby.
Intense pressure was brought to bear on then President Clinton,
who was heavily lobbied by Ehud Barak and American Jewish
leaders. This campaign was motivated, at least in part, by
services Rich reportedly rendered to Israeli intelligence.
links to the pro-Israel, pro-war network in the U.S. government,
and the OSP, point to him as the linchpin of a sophisticated
con game, with the President being spoon-fed flat-out false
information. The American government, and the American people,
were neo-conned into war. And
now there is hell to pay.
Libby and his minions are just the front men for the main
operation. After all, they didn't forge the Niger-uranium
papers themselves, but somebody did. We are supposed to believe,
as ABC News
"reported," that the Niger uranium forgeries were authored
by "an underpaid African diplomat who was stationed in Rome."
He "created bogus documents, which he then sold to the Italian
that doesn't jibe with the known facts. The trail begins with
January 2001 break-in at Niger's diplomatic mission in Rome:
the place is riffled, files are scattered about, no serious
damage done. Police theorize that the purpose was to gain
official seals and other information essential to forging
documents. A few months later, the Niger-uranium documents
show up. Do you suppose that maybe just maybe these two
events are somehow connected?
story that an "underpaid" African diplomat peddled these bogus
papers to Italian intelligence turns out to have been itself
bogus. The Italian intelligence agency denies
playing any role: it turns out that an Italian journalist,
Burba, of Panorama magazine, brought them to the U.S. embassy,
after declining to publish an article about them because she
doubted their authenticity. She got the papers, she says,
from a "usually reliable source."
break-in, the forgery, the mysterious circumstances that permitted
a fraud to go undetected at the highest levels of our intelligence-gathering
apparatus: all point to a well-coordinated scheme to drag
us into war, a state-sponsored covert operation that succeeded
all too well. As Karen
Kwiatkowski, a former Pentagon analyst, testifies:
"Kwiatkowski said she could not confirm published
reports that OSP worked with a similar ad hoc group in Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office. But she recounts
one incident in which she helped escort a group of half a
dozen Israelis, including several generals, from the first
floor reception area to Feith's office.
just followed them, because they knew exactly where they were
going and moving fast.'
the group arrived, she noted the book which all visitors are
required to sign under special regulations that took effect
after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks. 'I asked his secretary, 'Do
you want these guys to sign in'? She said, 'No, these guys
don't have to sign in.' ' It occurred to her, she said, that
the office may have deliberately not wanted to maintain a
record of the meeting."
Dreyfuss, writing in The Nation, cites a highly placed
former intelligence official who points the
finger directly at Israel:
to the former official, also feeding information to the Office
of Special Plans was a secret, rump unit established last
year in the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel.
This unit, which paralleled Shulsky's and which has not previously
been reported prepared intelligence reports on Iraq in English
(not Hebrew) and forwarded them to the Office of Special Plans.
It was created in Sharon's office, not inside Israel's Mossad
intelligence service, because the Mossad which prides itself
on extreme professionalism had views closer to the CIA's,
not the Pentagon's, on Iraq. This secretive unit, and not
the Mossad, may well have been the source of the forged documents
purporting to show that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake
uranium for weapons from Niger in West Africa, according to
the former official."
how did they get taken seriously enough to be included in
the President's State of the Union speech?
may well be treason, as
many people say, to expose an undercover U.S. intelligence
officer. So what do we call funneling disinformation to the
President on behalf of a foreign power high treason?
Libby is implicated as having anything to do with Plame's
"outing," then that, in turn, implicates Cheney, who must
take responsibility. The Vice President's resignation, under
these circumstances, is a distinct possibility. Will we soon
hear an announcement that he's retiring "for health reasons"?
There could soon be an empty spot on the national Republican
people have compared Spy-gate to the
scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, and the parallels
are certainly striking. Watergate, too, started in a small
way, with a petty, even quite stupid slip-up: a bungled break-in
at Democratic party headquarters. In Spy-gate, as in the Watergate
scandal, a towering hubris, a vindictive mindset, and the
attempted cover-up will be the conspirators' undoing.
the scandal metastasizes, and threatens to engulf the White
House, one might hope this administration would learn the
lesson of history. Before the Democrats can take hold of this,
and use it, George W. Bush must launch a preemptive strike
against the cancer eating away at the vitals of his presidency.
the neocons, Mr. President, and get us out of the quagmire
they created before it's too late.
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