Intel Vets to Biden: Don’t Be Suckered on Russia

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President-elect
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Attempts to Sucker You Into Russia-Bashing

Dear President-elect Biden,

Fool Me Once …” You may recall that President George W. Bush could not remember the last part of that aphorism. No matter. It turned out that – on Iraq – Bush was not fooled by bad intelligence. Rather, he and Vice President Dick Cheney were determined to attack Iraq and asked malleable former colleagues of ours to manufacture intelligence to “justify” that catastrophic war.

It was so bad that Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller described prewar intelligence as “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” James Clapper, who was in charge of imagery analysis, admits in his memoir that the Bush/Cheney pressure to document a rogue WMD program in Iraq was so intense that “intelligence officers, including me, were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”(Emphasis added).

That coterie of “intelligence officers” – first and foremost CIA Director George Tenet and his protégé Michael Morell – were able to pull the wool over the eyes of enough members of Congress to grease the skids for unnecessary war. Many of the latest crop of intelligence leaders bubbled up to the top for services rendered under the malleable Tenet, and seem to have adopted his flexible attitude toward truth.

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Intel Vets: To the Attorney General – Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings

MEMORANDUM FOR: The Attorney General
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs)
SUBJECT: Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings (Part 2)
REFERENCE: Our March 13, 2019 Memo to you: “Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings” (Part 1)

Dear Attorney General Barr:

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s June 4 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee brings to mind our Memorandum to you of March 13, 2019 – nine days before Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave you his “Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election”.

At the time of our Memo, it was already clear that Mueller’s findings would be fatally incomplete. We were virtually certain that Mueller’s report would lack the forensic findings that we VIPS had arrived at through the kind of rigorous investigation that the FBI avoided doing. So we gave our Memo to you with the title: “Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings”.

Sans forensics, Mueller’s report fell far short of Rosenstein’s earlier commitment “to ensure a full and thorough investigation”. It was also clear to us that relying for forensics on CrowdStrike, a private cyber-security firm of checkered reputation, picked and paid for by the Democratic National Committee, would signal a conflict of interest on this controversial issue. Now we know a lot more as a result of testimony released last month (but widely ignored in Establishment media).

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Intel Vets: To the President – Avoid Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs)
SUBJECT: Avoiding Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

Mr. President:

Recent U.S. rhetoric and actions against Venezuela – most immediately regarding Iran’s shipping of gasoline desperately needed during the pandemic – puts the US at risk of an outbreak of dangerous and almost certainly counterproductive hostilities, not only in the Caribbean, but also in waters closer to Iran. As five Iranian tankers approach Venezuela, with the first due to arrive Sunday, hardliners in both Washington and Iran would relish a chance to give a bloody nose to the other side, but it may not be that simple.

While the US can invoke the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, geography trumps doctrine. True, the US holds the upper hand in the Caribbean. It does not have tactical advantage in the Persian Gulf – despite the formidable amount of US weaponry already deployed in the area. We believe there is a good chance Iran will pick the Gulf as the place to retaliate for any quarantine or more warlike actions off Venezuela.

As former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners with many decades of experience, we understand the frustration your Administration feels as its “maximum pressure” campaign to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro enters its 17th month without much progress. Our purpose is not to defend Maduro, whose economic performance has alienated many and compounded Venezuela’s problems. Rather, we wish to ensure that you are aware of the possible pitfalls of the general threatening to use “maximum pressure” and “all means necessary” to effect “regime change” in Venezuela. In our view, any US attempt to interdict access of the Iranian ships to Venezuela will be widely seen as an act of war. It could conceivably lead to unprecedented retaliation in places as far away as the Persian Gulf – events that the US will not be able to fully control.

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Doubling Down Into Yet Another ‘March of Folly,’ This Time on Iran

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs)
SUBJECT: Doubling Down Into Another “March of Folly”?

The drone assassination in Iraq of Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani evokes memory of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914, which led to World War I. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to warn of “severe revenge.” That Iran will retaliate at a time and place of its choosing is a near certainty. And escalation into World War III is no longer just a remote possibility, particularly given the multitude of vulnerable targets offered by our large military footprint in the region and in nearby waters.

What your advisers may have avoided telling you is that Iran has not been isolated. Quite the contrary. One short week ago, for example, Iran launched its first joint naval exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman, in an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. in the region.

Cui Bono?

It is time to call a spade a spade. The country expecting to benefit most from hostilities between Iran and the US is Israel (with Saudi Arabia in second place). As you no doubt are aware, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life. He continues to await from you the kind of gift that keeps giving. Likewise, it appears that you, your son-in-law, and other myopic pro-Israel advisers are as susceptible to the influence of Israeli prime ministers as was former President George W. Bush. Some commentators are citing your taking personal responsibility for providing Iran with a casus belli as unfathomable. Looking back just a decade or so, we see a readily distinguishable pattern.

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Intel Professionals Urge Trump to Avoid War in Venezuela

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Avoiding War with Russia over Venezuela

Mr. President:

Your Administration’s policies regarding Venezuela appear to be on a slippery slope that could take us toward war in Venezuela and military confrontation with Russia. As former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners with many decades of experience, we urge you not to let yourself be egged on into taking potentially catastrophic military action in response to civil unrest in Venezuela or Russian activities in the Western Hemisphere. With the recent arrival of two transport aircraft and enduring political support for the government of Venezuela, the Russians are far from crossing any “red line” emanating from the 1823 Monroe Doctrine.

Unfulfilled Objectives in Venezuela

Inside Venezuela, U.S. actions have failed to do more than plunge the country into deeper crisis, cause greater human suffering, and increase the prospects of violence on a national scale. President Maduro’s mishandling of the economy and authoritarian reactions to provocations are impossible to defend, but they result in part from the fact that he has been under siege since he was first elected in 2013 and has faced sanctions aimed ultimately at removing him from office. In our view, the advice you’ve received from your top advisors – Florida Senator Marco Rubio, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Special Representative Elliott Abrams, and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo – was and apparently continues to be wrong.

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Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria

TO: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria

We are concerned that you may not have been adequately briefed on the upsurge of hostilities in northwestern Syria, where Syrian armed forces with Russian support have launched a full-out campaign to take back the al-Nusra/al-Qaeda/ISIS-infested province of Idlib. The Syrians will almost certainly succeed, as they did in late 2016 in Aleppo. As in Aleppo, it will mean unspeakable carnage, unless someone finally tells the insurgents theirs is a lost cause.

That someone is you. The Israelis, Saudis, and others who want unrest to endure are egging on the insurgents, assuring them that you, Mr. President, will use US forces to protect the insurgents in Idlib, and perhaps also rain hell down on Damascus. We believe that your senior advisers are encouraging the insurgents to think in those terms, and that your most senior aides are taking credit for your recent policy shift from troop withdrawal from Syria to indefinite war.

Big Difference This Time

Russian missile-armed naval and air units are now deployed in unprecedented numbers to engage those tempted to interfere with Syrian and Russian forces trying to clean out the terrorists from Idlib. We assume you have been briefed on that – at least to some extent. More important, we know that your advisers tend to be dangerously dismissive of Russian capabilities and intentions.

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