Category Archives: CIA/Espionage

Why FISA Is Such a Bad Idea

 “Because I say so,” said the Red King.
For years I’ve been following and writing about the absurd paucity of evidence the Bush Administration considers sufficient to lock your ass up indefinitely. Ashcroft was forced to try two of his Gitmo defendants in Germany in front of a court not made up of Bush loyalists or conservative ideologues, andn the judge demanded access to the proof Ashcroft’s DoJ insisted was too sensitive to be made public. When the dossier was opened anyway, despite their protests, there was nothing in it but raw data – unsubstantiated romors, gossip, innuendo. What Ashcroft was protecting wasn’t sensitive information but his own butt, which has come to be known as a standard trait for Bushies.
Now the same damn thing has been repeated under Michael Mukasey.

In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.
The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
 

 

This Administration appears to lie about everything, even the evidence – or lack of it – that it claims justifies holding men and even children in prisons withiout trial for 6 years. Like Ashcroft in Germany, the Bush Administration wasn’t refusing them their day in court because they were dangerous but because Bush didn'[t want us to know they weren’t, that the whole detainee thing had been a bust from the git-go. So why in heaven’s name should we believe them when they claim yet another detainee ought to be killed because he was behind the attack on the Cole?

 

 

A Pentagon official announced war crimes charges Monday against a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, suspected of helping to plan the attack on the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.

 

Military prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against the detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi who has long been described by American officials as Al Qaeda’s operations chief in the Persian Gulf and the primary planner of the October 2000 attack on the Cole.

Mr. Nashiri is one of three detainees who the C.I.A. has acknowledged were subjected to waterboarding, the interrogation technique that simulates drowning. Mr. Nashiri was interrogated in the agency’s secret prisons before he was transferred to Guantánamo in 2006.

(emphasis added)

There hasn’t been a shred of evidence, ever, that Nashiri weas guilty of anything except by the Bush Administration’s unsupported word for it – a word that is worth less than nothing considering its total lack of credibility. Yet the Bush lawyers are demanding the death penalty. For war crimes. Talk about the pot and the kettle.

If one word of that so-called “evidence” came from Nashiri’s being tortured, then legally it has to be thrown out. A co-erced confession IS NOT ADMISSIBLE, not in a civilian court. Maybe in the Kangaroo tribunals the Bushies have dreamed up, but nowhere else in the civilized world. If that’s how they came by it, it’s hopelessly tainted and so is their whole case. Not that they seem to care. They’re going ahead with the trial despite the CIA’s admission, and after all, what do they really have to fear in the way of consequences? Not much, it seems.

A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who had accused the United States of violating the law and his civil rights after he was detained at Kennedy Airport and sent to Syria under what he claims was an act of “extraordinary rendition.”

The man, Maher Arar, tried to win civil damages from United States officials in his suit, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that because he was never technically inside the United States, his claims could not be heard in the federal courts.

 

 

 

While stating that “threats to the nation’s security do not allow us to jettison principles of ‘simple justice and fair dealing,’ ” the majority opinion ruled nonetheless that Mr. Arar, who had been seized as he tried to change planes at Kennedy Airport while flying back to Canada from Switzerland, had no federal standing in his case and that the government did not violate the Torture Victim Protection Act by sending him abroad.

I can hear Lil Dick and Dave Addington chuckling over it now. They got away with it again – on a technicality. They arranged to keep their bloody hands clean even though they arranged for an innocent man to be tortured because technically he wasn’t in the US at the time theyn had him picked up. Giggle giggle. What fun. Put it over on us again, didn’t you?

FISA should never be passed if for no other reason than because the govt can’t be trusted to look at any interests but its own or nopt use its power – whatever powers we give it – to get what it wants. Our experience with Bush proves it’s a HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA TO GIVE ANY PRESIDENT THAT KIND OF POWER.

So why is our Democratic Congress giving it to them? Hmm?

DNI McConnell Wants Expansion of Overseas Eavesdropping Program

Some days one wonders if these people have any sense at all – if they ever did.

Despite serious questions about the Bush Administration’s routine violations of FISA and the legality of their wiretapping programs in general, Adm Mike McConnell, who took over as Bush’s Director of National Intelligence just this past February, has, incredibly, sent a letter to Democratic Bush-Buddy Sylvester Reyes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee asking for permission to intercept overseas messages between “terrorists”.

Citing a “period of heightened threat” to the U.S. homeland, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell asked Congress to “act immediately” to make changes in current law to permit the interception of messages between terrorist targets overseas, which he said now requires burdensome court orders.

In a July 25 letter made public yesterday, McConnell told the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), that he hopes Congress “will be able to act immediately . . . to provide the legislative changes needed to protect the nation in this period of heightened threat.”

At issue is a package of changes that the Bush administration wants in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to facilitate the continuation of its terrorist surveillance program. Congress has delayed amending the program pending further study.

Stepping up the pressure on lawmakers after the recently released terrorist threat assessment, McConnell said that “clarifications are urgently needed” in the law to enable the use of “our capabilities to collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets overseas without requirements imposed by an out-of-date FISA statute.”

He added, “As the head of our nation’s intelligence community, I am obligated to provide warning of threats of terrorist activity, and I have deep concern about the current threat situation.”

The underlying question hinges on modern technology: When communications between one foreign-located source and another foreign-located source travel through a U.S.-located terminal or switch, can they be intercepted without a warrant?

For those of you not intelligence experts, a little background:

Continue reading

The CIA’s Secret Prison System Uses NATO as Cover

I haven’t read his book but I’m going to take a wild guess here that George Tenet didn’t mention anywhere in it that he had his agency, the CIA, use NATO cover to set up the secret prison system in Europe that Cheney wanted in order to circumvent US laws against torture.

The CIA exploited NATO military agreements to help it run secret prisons in Poland and Romania where alleged terrorists were held in solitary confinement for months, shackled and subjected to other mental and physical torture, according to a European investigative report released here Friday.

Some of the United States’ highest-profile terrorism suspects, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, considered the prime organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, were detained and interrogated at the facility in Poland, according to the 72-page report completed for the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights agency.

Dick Marty, a Swiss lawyer hired by the council, said the CIA conducted “clandestine operations under the NATO framework,” providing military intelligence agencies in member countries — including Poland and Romania — the cover to assist the agency in disguising the use of secret flights, operations and detention facilities from the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks until the fall of last year.

The report was released yesterday and within hours the Denial Machine was in full swing.

Officials speaking on behalf of the CIA, NATO, Poland and Romania on Friday criticized the report’s findings. Both Poland and Romania have denied that the CIA established secret prisons on their soil.

“The CIA’s counter-terror operations have been lawful, effective, closely reviewed, and of benefit to many people — including Europeans — by disrupting plots and saving lives,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. “Our counter-terror partnerships in Europe are very strong.” He described the report as “biased and distorted.”

Of course it is. Whenever Bush Administration spokesmen use words like that, it’s practically a guarantee that whatever it is they’re attacking is not only accurate, it’s the tip of a much larger iceberg. The only truthful statement in Gimigliano’s response is “Our counter-terror partnerships in Europe are very strong.” Everything else he said is a demonstrable lie. Continue reading

McGovern Suggests Conspiracy Behind Niger Forgery

I assume you’ve heard by now about ex-spook and Bush antagonist Ray McGovern’s rather startling statement on Tucker Carlson’s show that he has evidence Li’l Dick was behind the Italian forgery of the Niger yellowcake papers. I say “rather startling” because anybody who sat down and thought about it for five minutes probably figured it out already, so it’s not exactly striking people as something that came out of the clear blue, more like something they suspected all along.

But there’s something here no one is talking about – the context in which McGovern made his remark, and that context truly is startling, at least to me. You can see the whole interview at Crooks and Liars (where else?), and I urge you to watch it all the way through.

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Bush, Tenet, and Bagman Bartlett (Updated)

George Tenet’s new book has stirred up some supposed controversy, primarily by acknowledging and confirming a bunch of stuff we already knew. Why any of this should be “controversial” at this point is beyond me. Maybe because the Great American “Don’t Tell Me, I Don’t Want to Know” Public remains as inexcusably clueless as it was when almost half of it voted for the Emperor for the second – count ’em, second – time and is determined to stay that way.

There’s no “news” here despite the “Today’s Circus” blanket coverage by the so-called “news” media except for two minor details. The first is the surprising – and disappointing – decision by “I’ll Fall on My Sword for You” Tenet to continue covering Junior’s ass. He’s still willing to take the rap for Bush on behalf of the CIA for “mistaken” intel when actually his agency got it right it –

Mr. Tenet takes blame for the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s weapons programs, calling the episode “one of the lowest moments of my seven-year tenure.” He expresses regret that the document was not more nuanced, but says there was no doubt in his mind at the time that Saddam Hussein possessed unconventional weapons. “In retrospect, we got it wrong partly because the truth was so implausible,” he writes.

– and he continues to praise Dear Leader’s cynical exploitation of 9/11.

Despite such sweeping indictments, Mr. Bush, who in 2004 awarded Mr. Tenet a Presidential Medal of Freedom, is portrayed personally in a largely positive light, with particular praise for the his leadership after the 2001 attacks. “He was absolutely in charge, determined, and directed,” Mr. Tenet writes of the president, whom he describes as a blunt-spoken kindred spirit.

He puts all the responsibility on Cheney, writing as if Junior, you know, didn’t realize the VP was up to all that shit.

Continue reading

Clintonite Appeals Court Judge Upholds Reaganite Judge in CIA Kidnapping Case

US District Court Judge TS Ellis III, who recently dismissed the corruption suit against Custer Battles on the fairly specious grounds that the CPA was not a “US govt entity” without explaining how it could rationally be considered anything else, last year dismissed Khaled Al-Masri’s lawsuit against the CIA for kidnapping and torture on the dubious grounds that “state secrets” might be “exposed” by a public trial. Al-Masri appealed that decision and yesterday the Fourth Circuit, led by Clinton appointee Robert B King, upheld Ellis’ ruling.

In May 2006, Judge T. S. Ellis III, of the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., dismissed the suit under the so-called state secrets privilege. The privilege can require courts to limit or dismiss suits that might disclose information harmful to national security. The decision yesterday, by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, affirmed that ruling.

“We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied a judicial forum for his complaint,” Judge Robert B. King wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the court. “The inquiry is a difficult one, for its pits the judiciary’s search for truth against the executive’s duty to maintain the nation’s security.”

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Mr. Masri, said there was enough public information about his ordeal to allow his suit to be adjudicated without endangering national security. The appeals court disagreed, saying that Mr. Masri could not win his case without exposing “how the C.I.A. organizes, staffs and supervises its most sensitive intelligence operations.”

Furthermore, the court continued, the defendants “could not properly defend themselves without using privileged evidence.”

King’s argument is tantamount to giving the CIA carte-blanche to do anything it wants to do anywhere in the world without either oversight or accountability and – as the Church Committee proved thirty years ago – there is no such immunity from prosecution enshrined in either US law or international law, nor was it ever the intent of Congress to give the Company such blanket immunity. Continue reading

Conyers Asks for Judiciary Committee Investigation of Franklin

August 31, 2004

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I write to ask that the Judiciary Committee commence an immediate full investigation and examine substantial and credible evidence that Pentagon officials have engaged in criminal wrongdoing in their handling of classified material and have engaged in unauthorized covert activities.

Press reports have recently disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently examining whether a Pentagon analyst, Larry Franklin, illegally passed along a classified document involving the policy of the United States toward Iran. It is not yet known whether Mr. Franklin was acting on his own, or whether he was acting at the behest of his superiors. The fact that a rogue element of the United States government may have been working with a foreign government in possible contravention of current foreign policy is a grave matter that should be of concern to every American.

Unfortunately, based on media accounts, it now appears that these allegations may be only the tip of the iceberg of a broader effort of Pentagon employees working in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, to conduct unauthorized covert activities, without the knowledge of the Central Intelligence Agency. According to press accounts, it also appears that these activities may have involved other disclosures of classified information to foreign governments (1) and the falsification of documents.(2) In addition, these activities may well constitute criminal misappropriation of federal funds.(3) All of these allegations, if true, involve potential violations of federal criminal law and are, therefore, within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee.

To fully investigate these allegations, I would suggest that the Committee examine the following questions:

(1) Did Pentagon officials illegally give classified information to Members of the Iraqi National Congress or to discredited Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi? Were White House officials, including officials in the Office of the Vice President, aware of such activities? Did Mr. Chalabi then pass along such materials, including information that the United States had broken Iran’s communications codes, to Iran?

(2) Did Pentagon officials illegally obtain and disseminate false intelligence information to further the (now discredited) assertion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction? Were Pentagon officials either the conduits for or originators of documents claiming Iraq had made efforts to acquire such records, including fraudulent documents claiming Iraq had attempted to buy weapons grade uranium from Niger? Were White House officials, including officials in the Office of the Vice President, aware of such activities? What role (if any) did officials in the NSC, including Elliott Abrams, have in these actions?

(3) Did Pentagon officials conduct illegal and unauthorized meetings with foreign nationals, including Iranian and Syrian nationals, to plan or direct covert activities against foreign governments? Did Pentagon officials provide monetary or other assistance to such foreign nationals, including a known arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar? Did such meetings involve any foreign intelligence officials, including the head of Italian military intelligence (SISMI), or other foreign military officials? What role (if any) did officials in the NSC, including Elliott Abrams, have in these actions?

(4) Did Pentagon officials obtain information about the covert status of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame? Was such information obtained illegally? Was such information illegally shared with White House officials, including officials in the Office of the Vice President?

While I am fully cognizant that many of these activities may be the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, there is ample precedent that such an investigation does not preclude, and will not be interfered with as a result of, a concurrent congressional investigation. Recently, when allegations were made about the mishandling of classified information in the National Archives by a former Clinton Administration official, you and other Committee Chairmen affirmed this principle.

I urge you to treat this request with the utmost importance. These matters may well constitute the greatest subversion of our democracy and compromising of our national security since the Iran-Contra affair. It is of paramount importance that our committee begin work on this matter immediately.

Thank you for your attention to this request. . .

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr,

Ranking Member

(emphasis added)

The chances of Sensenbrenner agreeing to do any such thing in an election year are slim-to-none, but give Conyers credit–he’s asking all the right questions for all the right reasons.

Feith & Co, like the rest of the neocon faithful, have learned ZIP, nada, zero and counting from the Iraq embarrassment. They’re still playing their stovepiping games, only now it appears that in their dogmatic determination to help Israel they may have crossed the line Big Time. A Congressional investigation is the least we should expect. Too bad we won’t get one.

(The letter comes from a new Gadflyer blog called War and Piece written by investigative reporter Laura Rozen. This one looks good. Check it out.)

Off With Their Heads! – Eliminating The CIA

Sen Pat Roberts has been making waves the last couple of days with his proposal to just eliminate the CIA altogether. I was going to write about this over the weekend but there’s a problem: nobody has seen this ‘plan’ except Republicans. Not knowing what it entails makes it hard–well, impossible, really–to evaluate, but I want to at least offer a word or two of caution.

First, Roberts is a long-time ally and follower of Newt Gingrich. In the early 90’s, Gingrich also proposed eliminating the Company–in everything but name. He was furious with John Deutsche’s CIA for debunking Laurie Mylroie’s fantasies of Saddam Hussein as the Professor Moriarty of MidEast terrorism–a theory in which he still fervently believes despite all the evidence to the effect that Mylroie is a raging loony whose ties to a reality anyone else would recognize are tenuous at best–and in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (where he later became a Fellow), he suggested a reform of the intelligence community that was, in outline, precisely what Gingrich-acolyte Doug Feith later set up with the OSP and C-TEG: stovepiping–sending raw data around Company intelligence analysts straight to the policy-makers.

Newtsie, you see, who fancies himself an intelligence expert (a self-inflicted fantasy that must have arisen from his fondness for Ian Fleming because he has zero actual intelligence knowledge or experience, though he did write a Fleming-ish spy novel that was so bad it was remaindered mere weeks after publication), was convinced that for political reasons Deutsche and the CIA were hiding the proof that Tinfoil-Hat Laurie was right, and he was determined to punish them by marginalizing them (a standard right-wing strategy for dealing with enemies). The ‘reforms’ he proposed would have shifted most if not all of the CIA’s responsibilities to other intel agencies (NSA, DID, NI, and so on) and put it all under the control of a new Intelligence Directorate where an ‘intelligence czar’ would pull all the pieces together and run the show just as Bill Simon had done with ATF, DEA and Customs as the ‘drug czar’ (sound familiar?)

The proposal never went anywhere but Newt never let it go, either, though he changed his approach. By the late 90’s he was pretending to be a CIA ‘supporter’, arguing for more funds, less oversight, and fewer restrictions on the illegal ops intel agencies, especially the Company, could engage in. Sounds like a booster, right? But hidden within his proposal for ‘expanding’ the CIA was the same old ‘reform’ plan: cut it up, spread its duties around, and join it to a ‘larger effort’ where it would be just another player in a welter of them, all responsible to an overall authority.

When I read the 9/11CR, I thought that, although there were key differences, their proposal was just Newt’s plan raising its ugly head again like the monsters in Binkley’s Anxiety Closet who never really go away, they just change their form as his fears change. The problems with both the 9/11C’s proposal and Gingrich’s is the same: first, they don’t solve the problem of politicizing intelligence, they exacerbate it, making the Company even less independent and more obedient to political forces than it is now; second, they don’t address the problem of the CIA’s culture at all.

I suspect (though I cannot, of course, know–I’m not a Republican) that Roberts’ unseen proposal is most likely Newt’s old plan in new clothes with one new wrinkle: getting rid of even the pretense that the CIA would survive the reforms.

The trouble with the Company is not now and never has been with its structure. As Deutsche correctly pointed out, the fault lies with the CIA’s culture–bureaucratic, insanely turf-conscious, slack, and above all, technology-crazed. Amazing amounts of money have been pissed away on satellites, cyber-toys, and increasingly complicated (and ineffective) listening devices while human intel–assets–have been downgraded to expendable accessories. So rare are they that many station-chiefs aren’t even trained in the tradecraft of running a nertwork any more, and couldn’t do a legitimate interrogation or debriefing of an asset if you put a gun to their heads.

Changing the structure may make everybody feel better because they think they’re doing something, but it isn’t going to solve the core problems of culture and politicization. It may dress the dummy up in the latest fashions from Bergdorf’s, but underneath it’s still going to be the same old dummy.

Update: According to the WaPo, Roberts’ plan is, in fact, almost identical to Gingrich’s from 13 years ago.

Under the plan, the CIA’s three main directorates would be torn from the agency and turned into separate entities reporting to separate directors. The Pentagon would lose control of three of its largest operations as well, including the super-secret National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic signals worldwide.

I don’t remember Gingrich taking anything from the DoD, and the czar is missing, oddly enough, but otherwise we’re in the same ballpark. Another terrible proposal.

[A] senior intelligence official said…the plan “makes no sense” and would cause more problems than it solves.“Rather than eliminating stovepipes, this will create more of them,” said the intelligence official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the political debate. “Rather than bringing intelligence disciplines together, it smashes them apart. . . . This proposal is unworkable and would hamper rather than enhance the nation’s intelligence operations.”

Politicizing Intelligence: Why Wait for the Czar?

In a blatant attempt to subvert the whole point of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group’s final report on Saddam’s weapons capability, acting Company Director and Cheney sock-puppet John McLaughlin has ordered the group to concentrate on speculations of what ‘might have been’.

WASHINGTON — Having failed to find banned weapons in Iraq, the CIA is preparing a final report on its search that will speculate on what the deposed regime’s capabilities might have looked like years from now if left unchecked, according to congressional and intelligence officials.The CIA plans for the report, due next month, to project as far as 2008 what Iraq might have achieved in its illegal weapons programs if the United States had not invaded the country last year, the officials said.

The new direction of the inquiry is seen by some officials as an attempt to obscure the fact that no banned weapons — or even evidence of active programs — have been found, and instead emphasize theories that Iraq may have been planning to revive its programs.

The change in focus has angered some intelligence officials and at least one key Democrat in Congress and has brought charges of political motivation.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) protested the decision in a sharply worded letter to acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin last week. Trying to forecast Iraq’s weapons capabilities four years into the future would be, “by definition, highly speculative” and “inconsistent with the original mission of the Iraq Survey Group,” Harman wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Times.

Such an effort would be a significant departure for a survey group whose primary mission when it was established last year was to locate and destroy stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that the CIA and other agencies believed were hidden across Iraq.

‘Significant departure’? It’s a complete reversal. McLaughlin’s going to give B/C’04 some cover if he has to reach into FantasyLand with both hands to do it. ‘If this/then that’ speculations can be helpful in intelligence analysis but only as guides for where and when to look for what. As after-the-fact ‘projections’, they’re pointless, nothing more than an exercise in re-writing history. No legitimate intelligence analysis would include such poppycock, and no legitimate intelligence official would ask for it. Two seconds’ worth of thought will tell you why:

Scenario 1: What if Saddam had secret plans to develop nuclear weapons in giant underground labs operated by Pakistani physicists and kidnapped Japanese engineers? Why, by 2008, if he sold every drop of oil in his reserves, he could have enough to RULE THE WORLD!

Scenario 2: What if Saddam had discovered a way to harness the energy of the sun by using thousands of trained Brazilian timors with magnifying glasses focusing on the window of the Oval Office? Why, by 2006 they could be burning a hole right through Bush’s skull!

Scenario 3: What if Saddam was capable of developing a race of mutant lizards who could shoot laser-beams from their eyeballs?

The problems are obvious. The real problem is that the report was supposed to focus on what was found, not what might have been found at some indefinable point in the future by some unknown or undreamt of means.

[S]ome officials familiar with the CIA’s plans for the final report said they thought it was politically motivated and designed to focus the public’s attention on hypothetical future threats.”The case made by the Bush White House was that [Iraq] was an imminent threat that must be dealt with today,” said a senior congressional official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Coming out later and saying [Hussein] would have had the weapons in 2006 or 2008 … is basically a way to justify preemption.”

Bingo. A bullseye first shot out of the box.

It’s yet another Bush/Cheney scam, but that won’t stop the corporate media from wasting endless space and TV time pretending to take it seriously. What the hell–it’s NEWS!

Federal Bureau of Intimidation

There’s nothing new about this administration (and its cronies at the state level) using institutions of state power for political intimidation, but I have the impression that such actions have been carried out more blatently of late. Recent articles point out that:

(1) Potential visitors to this summer’s political conventions were visited by FBI agents and asked three questions: “…were demonstrators planning violence or other disruptions, did they know anyone who was, and did they realize it was a crime to withhold such information” (emphasis added).

(2) Porter Goss, Bush’s nominee to head the CIA (which Stansfield Turner described as “the worst appointment that’s ever been made”), introduced legislation on June 16 that would allow the president to order the CIA to monitor and arrest American citizens within the United States.

“This language on its face would have allowed President Nixon to authorize the CIA to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters,” Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as general counsel of the CIA between 1995 and 1996, told NEWSWEEK. “I can’t imagine what Porter had in mind.”

Somehow I don’t share Smith’s difficulty imagining that.

(On a related topic, check out Atrios’ very interesting comment.)

(3) Jeb Bush’s Florida cops are intimidating elderly black activists who help friends and neighbors get to the polls. This short article will make your blood boil. Take two minutes out of your day and read the whole thing.

It’s ‘Blame the CIA’ Week

The report of the 9/11 Commision dumps most of the blame for faulty intelligence into the lap of the CIA as if everything that we now know about the interference of Cheney and Doug Feith’s two–count ’em: TWO–Amateur Night end-runs to stovepipe raw data nobody in either the OSP or C-TEC was capable of evaluating, didn’t exist. Yet the report itself shows instance after instance when CIA analysts’ doubts were simply erased as their work went up the chain of command, most infamously with regard to the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate in which words like ‘maybe’ he had WMD’s and ‘possibly’ he might ‘someday’ have a nuclear capability were removed to turn their doubts into assertions and finally definite statements.

This is the old corporate practice of taking the reports and projections of the sales and development depts and removing any ‘negativity’ until finally they say exactly what upper-level management has decided the stockholders and Wall Street want to hear even if the reports no longer bear any relation to the company’s real position as a result. CEO’s and CFO’s make the decisions about the future direction of the corporation and the rest of the company is expected to fall into line and support those decisions in its reports–the exact bass-ackwards process that led to Iraq: ‘We’ve already decided what we’re going to do; you’re job is to prop up that decision: support it, explain it, defend it, find us the excuses for it.’ As Tom Engelhardt points out, the BA’s ex-corporate honchos were out on the road selling their decision to the stockholders (us) months before the decision had supposedly been made.

Remember, long before that NIE was produced, top administration figures were already out on the national and international hustings selling their wares and their prospective war with their own “intelligence” right at the tips of their tongues. As Dick Cheney, for instance, said in August 2002 speech to the VFW, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction”; while the President addressed the UN General Assembly thusly in September of that year, “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons,” and so on, ad nauseam. And keep in mind, they already had their own outfit, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), set up in the Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, to create a perfect storm of intelligence exactly to the administration’s liking.

Furthermore, the Commission’s conclusion that they ‘did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure [CIA] analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities’ manages to ignore testimony to the contrary in their own report. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggests that the reason for this incongruity is the limitation on the Commission’s mandate.

Although the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is properly critical of the intelligence produced on Iraq, it does not tell the whole story.Since weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq, it is clear that the intelligence case for military action was not supported by the facts. Because the White House was not a subject of the investigation, many critical questions remain: How were the misperceptions about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s link to terrorism created? By whom? And why?

It is one thing to have bad intelligence, it quite another to mischaracterize that intelligence. Congress must investigate whether the intelligence on Iraq was misused or manipulated. (emphasis added)

But that doesn’t really explain their mysterious disregard of much of the evidence; C-TEC was in the WH, working out of Cheney’s office, but the OSP was in the Pentagon, which was NOT off the table for them. And where is the usual background brief? Normally such a report would include a history of events leading up to those under investigation, and any legitimate history would have had to include the systematic denigration of the CIA by the neocon stalwarts, Gingrich acolytes, and PNAC alumni who riddle Bush’s security establishment, their enthrallment with Laurie Mylroie’s crackpot Saddam theories, and their open-mouthed, wide-eyed acceptance of the untested assertions of Chalabi’s ‘defectors’–who the CIA is on record as warning were unreliable. A background brief would have–as it’s supposed to–provided a context within which to evaluate not just the intelligence analyses themselves but the atmosphere in which they were made and the expectations they were supposed to fulfill.

The Commission’s evidence doesn’t support its conclusion that the WH is devoid of responsibility for the debacle, and dumping the blame on the CIA alone simply isn’t credible.

Tenet’s Little Joke

This is funny coming from the man who buckled at the knees every time Bush said ‘Boo!’

WASHINGTON — At a time when U.S. intelligence failures have prompted calls for sweeping reform, outgoing CIA Director George J. Tenet on Thursday delivered a farewell address to agency employees, urging them to resist unnecessary or unwanted changes.”If people want to take us back in the wrong direction, then it is your voices that must be raised to say, ‘We know better and we will not stand for it,’ ” said Tenet, who is scheduled to step down in a few days. “This institution is your own. We who serve as your leaders are stewards for limited periods of time.”

He left his people hanging in the wind when Cheney attacked them and again later when the Veep appropriated their role as intelligence gatherers and analysts, handing it to Doug Feith, who knows as much about intelligence as I know about pig farming. He said nothing when the BA trumpeted intelligence he knew was false or when they justified a war by relying on a document he knew–and had already told them once–was a forgery.

This is a classic case of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’, and he hasn’t earned the right to say it, even. I’d be glad to see him go except that his replacement is bound to be even worse.

Rumsfeld and Tenet In It Up to Their Eyeballs

Here we go again. This kind of report–of leading Bush Admin figures deliberately breaking one law or another–is becoming so routine that one wonders if one should even bother commenting on it. It’s like, ‘So what else is new?’ But one feels one should at least try to keep up with their latest criminal acts, if for no other reason so one can get the jokes Jay Leno will tell tonight. So, in that vein of public-spiritedness, here’s the newest in a long line:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in October ordered a suspected terrorist captured in Iraq to be held in secret, a Pentagon official said Wednesday in what administration officials acknowledged was one of two violations of international law.The unidentified detainee, believed to be a leader of the outlawed Ansar al Islam group, was held without being given a prisoner number, and the International Committee of the Red Cross was not told about him, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.


CIA officials captured the man in July and spirited him out of Iraq. He was returned in October after the Justice Department issued a legal opinion stating that the international law embodied in the Geneva Convention forbade removing a prisoner of war from the nation in which he was captured, U.S. and intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.Tenet then asked Rumsfeld to take the prisoner into U.S. military custody at an undisclosed location, Pentagon spokesman Whitman said. He was kept in solitary confinement, away from other prisoners.

At Tenet’s request, Rumsfeld wrote a memo ordering Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq, not to assign the detainee a serial number and added words to the effect, an unidentified U.S. official said, of “do not acknowledge that we are detaining him to any international organization” — an apparent reference to the Red Cross.

Sanchez, head of Joint Task Force 7, the military command in Baghdad directing the war, complied with Rumsfeld’s order “in violation of international law,” the official added.

I probably should apologize for wasting your time with what is, for these guys, a pretty minor…um, indiscretion? But I thought you ought to know.

US-Sponsored Terrorism

Clinton’s CIA put car-bombs into the hands of an Iraqi dissident group–Iyad Allawi’s.

WASHINGTON, June 8 — Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990’s to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.Dr. Allawi’s group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein’s rule.

So we armed terrorists–car bombers are terrorists, right? That’s what the president keeps saying–and sent them into a foreign country to terrorize the population? Don’t worry, though–they were ineffective.

The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former C.I.A. official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.One former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was based in the region, Robert Baer, recalled that a bombing during that period “blew up a school bus; schoolchildren were killed.” Mr. Baer, a critic of the Iraq war, said he did not recall which resistance group might have set off that bomb.

Other former intelligence officials said Dr. Allawi’s organization was the only resistance group involved in bombings and sabotage at that time.

But one former senior intelligence official recalled that “bombs were going off to no great effect.”

“I don’t recall very much killing of anyone,” the official said.

So maybe it’s OK because the terrorists we sent in–trained by the guy who’s taking over the interim govt in Iraq–were incompetent?. Oh, good. I feel so much better now.

Is Nick Berg Another Charlie Horman?

I’m not usually into conspiracy theories, but if you read the exchanges between me and Seattle in the Comments section of the previous Nick Berg post, you’ll know I think this whole thing smells like yesterday’s herring. Well, I finally put my finger on what was bothering me: Charlie Horman. I’ve seen this run-around before.

Charlie Horman was a free-lance reporter living in Chile at the time of Allende’s murder and the coup that put Pinochet and the Chilean military in charge of the govt. The date was September 11, 1973, 28 years to the day before 9/11. He disappeared on Sept 12. Two years later, after a prolonged investigation and a whole lot of pressure from Charlie’s father, Ed, a successful NY businessman–and Republican contributor to Nixon’s campaign–the bodies of Charlie and his friend, Frank Teruggi, were found riddled with bullets, Frank’s in the Santiago soccer stadium and Charlie’s in the morgue after being dumped unceremoniously in the street. But before that, Charlie had been buried inside a wall in the tunnels under the stadium. Inside.

At first the American Embassy and the new Ambassador to Chile said they’d never heard of Charlie and had no records concerning him. When Horman proved that Charlie had been to see them a few days before the coup looking for help in getting a friend of his out of the country at a tense time, they suddenly found those records.

And that’s the way it went until the ‘discovery’ of Charlie’s body: govt officials at the US Embassy and US military officials would tell Horman stories, and Ed would painstakingly prove that those stories weren’t true. When Ed didn’t fall for the official fairy tales, they attacked Charlie personally: he was an irresponsible hippie; they’d tried to help him but he wouldn’t listen; he was poking his nose into places he shouldn’t have been and it was too bad but they’d done everything they could; they’d offered to get him out of Chile but he had insisted that he wanted to stay to report on the coup; and so on. In one particularly shameful meeting, the American Consul told Ed that they’d found Charlie and that he was still alive. Ed later proved that he had in fact known of Charlie’s death since a few days after it happened.

Ed and Charlie’s widow, Beth, between them proved that virtually everything Nixon’s embassy officials had told them was a lie, starting on Day One, that everything the military had told them was a lie, and that Charlie had been turned over to Pinochet’s military by US intelligence because he had seen US military and intelligence officers acting very chummy with a covey of high-ranking Chilean officers in a hotel the day before the coup. As we now know, Henry Kissenger had used the CIA, G2, and carefully selected US military brass to co-ordinate and supervise Pinochet’s overthrow of Allende’s Socialist govt because Kissenger thought Allende was a Communist, and because Allende opposed Kissenger’s plans for South America and Pinochet did not.

The similarities between the Horman pattern and the Berg pattern already emerging are striking.

#When Beth Horman made it public that her husband had been in contact with the US Embassy hours before his disappearance, they denied it; after pressure was brought to bear, they ‘found’ the records that confirmed her statement and claimed that they had warned Charlie weeks before his disappearance to leave the country because the situation was ‘unstable’.

*When Suzanne Berg, Nick’s mother, told a Pennsylvania newspaper that the family had been trying for weeks to learn where their son was but that federal officials had not been helpful’, and that she had ‘basically ended up doing most of the investigating myself’, it took mere hours for the US military to release a statement denying that he had ever been in US custody and that Berg ‘was in Iraq “of his own accord” and had been advised to leave Iraq but refused’. Sound familiar?

Update: At Notes on the Atrocities, Jeff reprints this email:

“I have confirmed that your son, Nick [Berg], is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly.”Beth A. Payne, from the US Consular office in Iraq (emphasis added)

So now the Army admits that it lied and Nick was in its custody. Beth would think this was oh so SOP.

#When Beth said the US military had interrogated Charlie’s friends after he disappeared in an apparent attempt to prove that Charlie had been involved in ‘subversive activities’, they denied it, and they denied having any contact whatever with them in the days after the coup.

*While Nick was being held, he was interrogated by the FBI three times.

Mr. Berg [in an email to his family] described F.B.I. agents’ questioning as amicable, but pointed. Among the questions asked, he wrote, were: “Why was I in Iraq? Did I ever make a pipe bomb? Why was I in Iran?”He conjectured that their questions arose from some Farsi literature and a book about Iran that he had.

*When Michael Berg, Nick’s father, accused the govt and the military of complicity in his death by holding him illegally when he was about to leave the country, the CPA replied that they had no responsibility for Berg.

“My understanding,” [CPA Senior Advisor Dan] Senor said of the Iraqi police, “is that they suspected that he was involved/engaged in suspicious activities. U.S. authorities were notified. The F.B.I. visited with Mr. Berg on three occasions when he was in Iraqi police detention and determined that he was not involved with any criminal or terrorist activities. Mr. Berg was released on April 6, and it is my understanding he was advised to leave the country.”

But the Iraqi police deny that they ever held him, or that they were the ones who arrested him.

Senor referred questions about the reason for Berg’s detention to the Iraqi police. In Mosul, however, police told the AP they had no knowledge of the Berg case. Police official Safwan Talal said the only American arrested there in recent months was a woman who was released soon afterward.Mosul police chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi told reporters Thursday that his department had never arrested Berg.

“The Iraqi police never arrested the slain American,” he said. “Take it from me … that such reports are baseless.”

#When Ed Horman demanded that the US military authorities in Chile use their contacts with the Chilean military to find his son, the US military representative insisted that they had no contacts and even if they did, they didn’t have the power to force the Chilean Army to give him up. Ed scoffed at that, refusing to believe that Chile’s military govt would dare to hold an American unless they knew that the US approved, and that they would certainly never dare to refuse to surrender him if American authorities demanded it. As the later Congressional investigation showed, Ed was absolutely right–Teruggi and Charlie Horman were the only Americans to be tortured and killed by the GOC (the Chilean Army) during the coup; although 80 other Americans had been held ‘for questioning’, they had all been released as soon as US authorities ordered it, and none had been mistreated.

*When the CPA’s Dan Senor insisted they had no authority or control over the Iraqi police, David Berg, Nick’s brother, replied:

“The Iraqi police is mentioned frequently, which is, of course, absurd, because there is no Iraqi government right now,” David Berg said. “And if you think about it, to be detained by the Iraqi police without the U.S. government’s knowing would be tantamount to kidnapping.”

Michael Berg, told that the FBI had visited Nick and determined his innocence but that the Iraqi police had refused to release him despite this, ridiculed the FBI claim, saying, “The Iraqi police do not tell the FBI what to do, the FBI tells the Iraqi police what to do. Who do they think they’re kidding?”

Us, Michael. Us.

Nick Berg was held in an unidentified jail that he ‘described…as managed by Iraqis with oversight from United States Military Police forces. He wrote that federal agents had questioned his reasons for being in Iraq, whether he had ever built a pipe bomb or had been in Iran.’

Did Nick witness something in that jail, as Charlie had in the hotel, that US authorities didn’t want him talking about when he got home? If so, the whole sorry mess could have been staged for our benefit, just as the charade of the US ‘search’ for Charlie Horman was staged. As I pointed out in a reply to Seattle, ‘Finally, the mercs in Iraq count among their numbers some of the worst murderers and torturers of the old S African secret police. A bogus beheading would strike them as an afternoon’s good fun and a blow struck for freedom. They’ve done a lot worse.’

What really happened to Nick Berg? And why?