Who knows what to believe about the bloody catastrophe that is Iraq? Faced with the serial deceptions of Richard Cheney and George W. Bush, layer upon layer, we tend to become inured. We do know now that what we were told back then by the White House was hogwash. Yes, I am referring, once more, to the run-up, to the origins, and to the actual reason for the fraudulent enterprise, resulting in a full-blown fiasco, code-named “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. This is not beating a dead horse. The issue could be grounds for impeachment. It is already the reason why Cheney’s former chief-of-staff is a convicted felon. By promoting his memoir, At The Center of the Storm, ex-CIA supremo George Tenet has forced the public to reconsider this amazing and disgraceful episode in America’s recent history. In the process of trying to justify himself, Tenet digs not just a bigger hole for himself, but an even bigger one for Cheney and Bush. Tenet can’t help it. What he has been saying does not add up.
His friend and helpmate on the book, Bob Woodward, gently indicates as much in his review in the Washington Post this past weekend. Tenet is constantly attempting to cover his rear and explain away the inexplicable. With Tim Russert last Sunday, for example, Tenet was splitting hairs like a lawyer over the CIA’s assessment of Iraq’s relationship to al-Qaeda. Tenet affirms, on the one hand, that he told the Administration that there was no “command and control relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but on the other hand, he also reported that some kind of a relationship did exist and was cause for concern. Tenet so informed a befuddled, confused Congress, leaving Congress to figure it out. Concurrently, the relentless Cheney, and his pack of “neocon” hit men, and G.W. himself ignored Tenet completely and continued to bombard Congress and the public with brazen disinformation concerning Iraq’s link to Osama bin Laden and to 9/11 itself. This disinformation to promote the war must have worked, because most Americans believed that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Tenet constantly reiterates that he believed Saddam possessed WMD, as if this colossal error in judgment somehow explains everything and absolves him of blame for getting it wrong. Why would Tenet believe it, in the first place, when there was no evidence for it from the UN inspectors or from any other credible source? Clearly, he felt an uncontrollable urge to exaggerate the threat in order to please his bosses. Or he may have thought that the WMD story was a nice, plausible scenario, and that something would turn up in the aftermath of the invasion anyway, getting him off the hook. Besides, amid the joys of “liberation”, everything would be forgotten and fudged, or so he may have imagined. It should be noted that Tenet and the CIA had been working on “regime change” in Iraq for years under Bill Clinton. That’s what the murderous sanctions against Iraq were all about, not WMD. That’s why Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, thought the sanctions were “worth it”, no matter how many Iraqi children were left sick and dying.
WMD was always a front, an excuse, for more economic sanctions, and finally for the finishing stroke, the invasion itself. Such was the premise and the environment in which Tenet worked. He became CIA head in 1997, after having worked inside the Clinton White House as the NSC intelligence director. The “Iraq Liberation Act” sailed through Congress in 1998, in the Senate by unanimous consent. Did Tenet rationalize his actions to facilitate a war in 2002/2003 under the Cheney Regency, (G.W. holding the nominal title of President) as nothing but the logical implementation or culmination of the “Iraq Liberation Act” signed by Bill Clinton? Cheney and his “neocon” playmates were simply delivering the coup de grâce to Iraq, after many years of grinding down that unlucky country with embargoes. Why stand in the way? Why not put Iraq out of its misery, so to speak, while wrapping oneself in the flag? This rationale may have occurred to Tenet, who was not a true believer and who went along for the ride. It may also have worked for Colin Powell. Again, without the truth, we are left to speculate what actually happened, and why.
In this regard, does the name Carne Ross ring a bell? Does anybody remember who he is? He was the British diplomat, the then up-and-coming diplomat, who resigned in protest after Tony Blair had railroaded England into Wolfowitz’s War. He was part of the delegation representing Whitehall at the UN from 1998 to 2002. His story is inspirational. Please refer to “Diplomat at Large”, an article in The Guardian from June 20th, 2005. Of the run-up to the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, Ross states:
“It was an agonised experience because I knew that the evidence they were presenting for WMD was totally implausible. I’d read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there’s no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too. We all believed the Iraqis had something, but that is very different from saying they had that much. The intelligence indicated that they’d failed to account for what they had in the past. They hadn’t given us a complete account of the disposal of their past stocks, so we thought there was something, but there was no way that the claim of an imminent threat was sustainable. The 45-minute stuff was ridiculous.”
Of the sanctions, which had devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands over a ten-year period, Carne states:
“I think sanctions [against Iraq] were wrong and they harmed the wrong people. They did immeasurable damage to the Iraqi civilian population. We were conscious of that damage, but we did too little to address it. We said we were trying to address it, but frankly it wasn’t enough and I’m not proud of my own role in that because I was a vigorous defender of British policy in the security council. We would not have treated a European or American people in that way.”
The next article about Carne Ross you might want to look at is in the Independent of December 15th, 2006 entitled “Diplomat’s suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war”. It is a bombshell. The article strongly indicates, if not fully confirms, that Prime Minister Tony Blair and, by clear implication Cheney & Bush, did more than just exaggerate a nonexistent “threat” from Iraq’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in order to launch a war. Rather, it appears that Blair, Bush and Cheney and their “neocon”-embedded entourages were fabricating tall tales from the word go to scare the bejeezus out of their respective countrymen. Blair, Bush and Cheney must have known that no such weapons existed, because that is what their own intelligence services as well as the UN inspectors had told them, at least according to Ross. Note that Bush expressed concern during the sell-the-war marketing session in the Oval Office three months before the invasion, on Dec. 21, 2002. Bush was unimpressed with the CIA presentation, and wanted more convincing intel on WMD to feed the public. But there was none. There was only Tenet’s boastful, hollow assertion that the case was a “slam dunk”.
When speaking to the public and the media, did Blair, Bush and Cheney put on an act—and flat out lie about WMD? In view of all their mendacities which have come to light, big and small, we have good reason to suspect the worst. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. Certainly, Cheney and Bush deserve to be impeached for malfeasance. I grant you this option is unrealistic, given the fact that the Democratic leadership on Capital Hill was fully complicit with the White House in launching the war. Still, the mystery remains, where does George Tenet fit into this puzzle? Unlike Carne Ross and a handful of others on the inside—who did not happen to be “neocons” or opportunists, or fools—Tenet felt insufficient compunction at the time to stop him from enabling the ongoing scheme. Simply put, the “preemptive” attack on Iraq was a war crime. In legal terminology, the pre-war White House propaganda blitz to promote the war was a conspiracy to defraud the United States. It is entirely plausible to suspect that Iraq was attacked not because it possessed “weapons of mass destruction” but precisely because it didn’t.
Among that handful of patriotic naysayers and non-enablers, Marine Colonel and U.N. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, immediately comes to mind. He did his best on T.V. talk shows to refute the “neocon” bombast and blather. He is still reporting the truth to whomever will listen or read. Then there was career U.S. diplomat John Brady Kiesling, who resigned after 20 years in the State Department, working under four Presidents. In his letter to Colin Powell of February 27th, 2003, Kiesling wrote: “The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests… We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security… We have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam.” John Brady Kiesling for Secretary of State! He and Scott Ritter got it right. George Tenet and Colin Powell got it wrong. Doesn’t it seem that Tenet and Powell are implying they did not understand what was happening all around them, and that in any event they were powerless to stop it, even if they had tried? That’s my impression.
Returning to Carne Ross, the second disturbing revelation contained in the text of his suppressed testimony to a Parliamentary inquiry is the following: both British and U.S. officials were fully aware, repeat fully aware, that the invasion of Iraq would leave the country in shambles. That doesn’t seem to have concerned “The Decider” in the White House or his fast-talking sidekick in residence at 10 Downing Street. “Regime change” was the goal, no matter what the adverse repercussions to Iraq, the region, the United States or Britain. In another article on Carne Ross, entitled “;US was warned of Iraq chaos, says ex-diplomat”, the Independent reported on November 9th, 2006:
“A former diplomat has revealed that the British mission to the United Nations opposed the policy of regime change in Iraq but was ordered by London to change its position in the lead-up to war.
“The disclosure was made to MPs yesterday by Carne Ross, a member of the mission who resigned in protest at the Iraq war. He told the Foreign Affairs Committee that the US government was repeatedly warned by British diplomats that Iraq would fall apart if Saddam Hussein was toppled [My emphasis]. But from mid-2002 instructions were received to change that view to fall in with the Bush administration…
“He claimed that when official documents from the Foreign Office are made public, they will prove that the view of British officials, repeatedly conveyed to the Americans, was that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would cause chaos.”
To give him due credit, Tenet gave the same clear warning. The questions is, why was the warning ignored? Why did Bush and Blair, not to mention Cheney, remain unperturbed at the prospect of Iraq’s likely collapse into anarchy? It is entirely possible, given their track record, that they just didn’t give a damn, one way or the other, and were eager to roll the dice. It is also possible that chaos, civil war and a break up of the country were deliberate policy objectives of the war in addition to regime change, at least on the part of certain American policy makers who were riding high in the saddle in Washington.
One of these was a “neocon” operative by the name of David Wurmser, who worked under Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, Esq., in the “Lie Factory“ called the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon. All three were Likud partisans. Wurmser and his fellow “neocons” in the “Special Plans” office cooked up false “intelligence” to justify the war. Today, Wurmser has moved into the White House, where he is the chief “Middle East advisor” to the Vice-President. In effect, Wurmser has been promoted by Cheney for being such a successful warmonger and fabricator. That’s the way it works. After all, wasn’t Wolfowitz elevated to the World Bank for similar reasons? Please refer to a most informative and important article in the May, 2006 issue of the American Prospect magazine, written by its senior correspondent, Robert Dreyfuss, entitled “Vice Squad”. Here, in part, is what Dreyfuss has to report about David Wurmser:
“In a series of papers and a book, Wurmser argued that toppling Saddam was likely to lead directly to civil war and the breakup of Iraq, but he supported the policy anyway: ‘The residual unity of [Iraq] is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state.’ After Saddam, Iraq will ‘be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families,’ he wrote. ‘Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq’s] ‘politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition.’ Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to ‘expedite’ such a collapse. ‘The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.’”
Get the picture? The “chaotic collapse” we see today in Iraq was anticipated, “expedited” and even welcomed. It came as little surprise to Washington “neocon” insiders like Wurmser, Feith, et al. No doubt the implosion of Iraq as a nation-state was also anticipated by AIPAC’s pro-Likud lobbyists on Capital Hill, who were riding herd over an obsequious, look-the-other-way Senate and Congress.
The Israeli peace activist and commentator, Uri Avnery, in Tel Aviv, has written, “Let’s take the Iraq affair. Who is the dog? Who the tail? The Israeli government prayed for this attack, which has eliminated the strategic threat posed by Iraq. America was pushed into the war by a group of Neo-Conservatives, almost all of them Jews, who had a huge influence on the White House. In the past, some of them had acted as advisers to Binyamin Netanyahu. On the face of it, a clear case. The pro-Israeli lobby pushed for the war, Israel is its main beneficiary.” Well, that’s one possibility. Then there is the “Big Oil” hypothesis, for a future column. Let’s keep an open mind.
You may wonder, why would “neocons” in Washington, of whatever persuasion or ethnic background, desire chaos and a civil war in Iraq, as described or predicted by the White House fanatic, Wurmser? For the same reason that they and their hero, Ariel Sharon, created the conditions for anarchy and a civil war in Lebanon and in Palestine. Divide et impera. This is the “neocon” agenda for the Middle East, which agenda remains operative post Sharon and post Saddam.
In terms of strategy, “divide and rule” is the essence of the Washington/Tel Aviv game plan to maintain Israeli paramountcy in the region. The White House project to spread “democracy” in the Middle East, headed up by “the neocon’s neocon,” Elliot Abrams, is a transparent and preposterous cover story. No one buys it. “Divide and rule” is the actual policy, using the “War on Terror” as a backdrop. It has been an unparalleled success so far. It has worked in Iraq, beyond expectations. It worked like a dream in Lebanon in the 1980’s, and could work again at the drop of a hat. Without question, the reason behind Ehud Olmert’s invasion of Lebanon last summer was to ignite a civil war. The strategy is working well in Palestine at this very moment among rival factions in Gaza and on the West Bank. The Palestinians remain under military occupation and, like the Iraqis before them, have been embargoed by Washington and the EU. They are under siege and lockdown.
The question is, will fomenting internecine conflicts among the Arabs, and exploiting rivalry between the Arabs and the Iranians, be successful over the long haul to divert attention away from the core, unaddressed issue of Palestine, without at the same time completely bankrupting America, both morally and financially? We will undoubtedly find out. There is nothing to stop the perpetrators from moving forward, carrying out their private agenda in our name, supposedly for our benefit.
Patrick Foy is author of The Unauthorized World Situation Report.