The Carnegie Endowment has made a stab at rehabbing James Clapper, whose imagery analysis unit lied us into the war on Iraq. For Clapper’s second try, Carnegie used the title (now get this) “Getting the Intel Right With James Clapper, July 11, 2022,”
On Nov. 13, 2018, Clapper appeared at Carnegie hawking his memoir, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence,” in which he openly admits to making the cardinal sin in the intelligence-analysis trade – cooking intelligence to the taste of policy makers. Hard truths, indeed.
That Nov. 2018 talk was not virtual; there was ample time for Q & A. I had read Clapper’s book; then-President of Carnegie, William Burns (now CIA director), indulged my questioning for as long as he could, then moved to rescue Clapper. (See: Clapper’s Credibility Collapses).
In an unusually candid section of his book, Clapper gingerly places the blame for “the failure” to find (non-existent WMD) “where it belongs – squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.” [Emphasis added.]
Clapper goes on to explain in his book:
“… we heard that Vice President Cheney was pushing the Pentagon for intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and then the order came down to NIMA [the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] to find (emphasis in the book) the WMD sites. We set to work, analyzing imagery to eventually identify, with varying degrees of confidence, more than 950 sites where we assessed there might be WMDs or a WMD connection. We drew on all of NIMA’s skill sets … and it was all wrong.”
“To support his [Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003] speech, NIMA (which Clapper headed) had gone through the difficult process of declassifying satellite images of trucks arriving at WMD sites just ahead of the weapons inspectors to move materials before they could be found, and my team also produced computer-generated images of trucks fitted out as ‘mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.’ Those images, possibly more than any other substantiation he presented, carried the day with the international community and Americans alike.”
So, it was Clapper who was responsible for those computer-generated images.
That was all wrong too.
A Specialist on Russia?
Typically, Clapper also saluted when “the order came down” from President Obama in the fall of 2016 to find “intelligence” to support the narrative that Russia was interfering in the 2016 election. Evidence? Shemvidence! It turns out that such subversive behavior fit in well with Clapper’s familiarity with what Clapper had learned about Russian genetics as well as its “historical practices and techniques,”
During an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on May 28, 2017, the retired James Clapper talked about “everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election” … “And just the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So, we were concerned.” [Emphasis added.]
I suppose one can give Clapper the benefit of the doubt and concede that he may truly believe what he says about the Russians. His lying about other important issues, however, shows a rather dismissive attitude toward the truth. In fact, he has a record of perjury.
During sworn congressional testimony in March 2013, he claimed that NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans. The revelations from Edward Snowden’s leaks almost immediately disproved that claim and revealed that NSA was illegally spying on millions of Americans as part of a mass surveillance program.
Will Carnegie’s confab help rehab the ubiquitous James Clapper, who is now a “security analyst” for CNN? It probably will help with those who know little else about him. Readers are invited to judge for themselves – to the point of watching his do-over at Carnegie; personally, I did not have the stomach for it.
Why This Matters
The results of an informal poll I did recently shows that 80 percent of Americans still believe that the Russians interfered in 2016 to elect Donald Trump. The Establishment media has had such success in the five-year campaign that Americans have been conditioned to believe just about anything about the Russians.
Fortunately, no evidence collected by the Jan. 6 Commission has so much as hinted at any Russian involvement. Even Mrs. Clinton has backed off that one, for the nonce. But see below for where she tried to lead Nancy Pelosi back in January.
Interviewed by Mrs. Clinton Monday [Jan 17], Speaker Nancy Pelosi eagerly rose to the bait when Clinton spoke of “her concerns that the outgoing commander-in-chief was compromised by the Kremlin”. Setting the stage, Clinton expressed the hope that “we’ll find out who he [Trump] is beholden to, “who pulls his strings”.
Clinton added ominously: “I would love to see his phone records to see whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol”. She then asked Pelosi if the nation needs “a 9/11-type commission to investigate and report everything they can pull together.”
Pelosi agreed on the need for such a commission, and proceeded to burnish her own anti-Putin credentials:
“As I said to him [Trump] in that picture with my blue suit … pointing rudely at him, ‘With you Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.’’ Pelosi conceded that she does not know ‘what Putin has on him politically, financially, or personally, but what happened last week was a gift to Putin.”
Putin’s Useful Idiots?
Pelosi added, “And these people, unbeknownst to them, they are Putin puppets. They were doing Putin’s business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president … so, yes, we should have a 9/11 commission and there is strong support in the Congress for that.”
What leaps out of this Clinton-Pelosi pas de deux is who is leading the dance. Clinton hints broadly (not, of course, for the first time) that Putin is pulling Trump’s strings. It is Clinton who voices suspicion that Trump and Putin were somehow coordinating on the phone on Jan. 6; and it is she who suggests that “a 9/11-type commission” might be needed.
Due largely to the captive “mainstream” media, ‘Russia Russia Russia’ has proved to be the gift that keeps giving for the Democrats. Are there limits to the degree of credence Americans will give to corporate media spinning all the sins attributed to Russian President Putin? Why the insinuation that he may be partly to blame for the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6?
Russia is Convenient
It’s a matter of convenience. For the Democrats it has been super-convenient to blame Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in 2016 on Russia, although key aspects of that case (Russian “hacking” of (See: Round Up the Usual Suspects; Don’t Forget Putin DNC, for example) have been debunked.
Very few people know that.
This originally appeared at RayMcGovern.com.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).