This is the first “indictment” of the president, the vice president, and their colleagues for defrauding us into war in Iraq. I put that “indict” in quotes because what follows, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes clear in her new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., is “not an actual indictment.” It can’t be, of course; but consider it the second best thing.
De la Vega has, in her career as a prosecutor, prepared numerous fraud indictments and, as she argued in the first excerpt from her book posted earlier this week, “A Fraud Worse than Enron,” what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their senior officials committed was a crime, not just in the colloquial sense of the word, but in the legal sense too (and not a victimless crime either). While their crime was of a magnitude that puts even Enron, no less run-of-the-mill fraud cases, to shame, it also has all the elements of a typical, small-time scam.
De la Vega’s “hypothetical indictment” of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell that you are about to read remains, unfortunately, in the realm of fantasy. But only for now. Until our world comes more fully to grips with the criminal nature of the Bush administration’s acts, you can at least turn to the full de la Vega book. A special project, produced in conjunction with Seven Stories Press, a wonderful independent publisher, it’s officially published on December 1st (but available now).
You won’t want to miss it. It’s superbly done and though I hesitate to say it, given the nature of the subject matter genuinely enjoyable to read because De la Vega turns out to be as skilled a writer as she is a prosecutor, and applies both her talents to the book. So check out the indictment, read the first day of grand jury testimony, and in the meantime get the investigative ball rolling by purchasing the book at Amazon.com. After all, the excerpts can only give you a taste of the full case De la Vega makes. This book should be the political stocking-stuffer of the Holiday season. ~ Tom
The Indictment: United States v. George W. Bush et al.
by Elizabeth de la Vega
Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We’re here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice who’s now the Secretary of State, of course Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
It’s a one-count proposed indictment: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. I’ll explain the law that applies to the case this afternoon, but I’m going to hand out the indictment now, so you’ll have some context for that explanation. Take as long as you need to read it, and then feel free to take your lunch break, but please leave your copy of the indictment with the foreperson. We’ll meet back at one o’clock.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ) Criminal No. Plaintiff, ) ) Conspiracy to Defraud v. ) the United States ) GEORGE W. BUSH, ) 18 U.S.C. Section 371 RICHARD B. CHENEY, ) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, ) DONALD M. RUMSFELD, and ) COLIN POWELL, ) Defendants )
THE GRAND JURY CHARGES:
At times relevant to this Indictment:
1. The primary law of the United States Federal Government was set forth in the U.S. Constitution (“Constitution”), which provides that the first branch of government is the Legislative Branch (“Congress”). Pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Congress has certain powers and obligations regarding oversight of foreign affairs, including the powers to: (1) declare war; (2) raise and support the armed forces; and (3) tax and spend for the common good.
2. Article II of the Constitution establishes the Executive Branch. The Executive Power of the United States is vested in the President, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Services.
3. Defendant GEORGE W. BUSH (“BUSH”) has been employed as President of the United States since January 20, 2001. On that day, BUSH took a constitutionally mandated oath to faithfully execute the Office of President and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. BUSH is also constitutionally obligated to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
4. As Chief Executive, BUSH exercised authority, direction, and control over the entire Executive Branch, which includes the White House, the Office of the Vice President, the Departments of State, Defense, and others, and the National Security Council.
5. Defendant RICHARD B. CHENEY (“CHENEY”) has been employed as Vice President of the United States since January 20, 2001.
6. Defendant CONDOLEEZZA RICE (“RICE”) was employed as the National Security Adviser from January 2001 to January 2005, when she became Secretary of State, a position she holds as of the date of this indictment. As National Security Adviser, RICE exercised direction, control, and authority over the National Security Council, which coordinates various national security and foreign policy agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State.
7. Defendant DONALD M. RUMSFELD (“RUMSFELD”) has been employed as Secretary of Defense since January 2001.
8. Defendant COLIN M. POWELL (“POWELL”) was employed as Secretary of State from January 2001 through January of 2005.
9. Before assuming their offices, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD and POWELL took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.
10. As employees of the Executive Branch, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, and POWELL were governed by Executive Orders 12674 and 12731. These Orders provide that Executive Branch employees hold their positions as a public trust and that the American people have a right to expect that they will fulfill that trust in accordance with certain ethical standards and principles. These include abiding by the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as not using their offices to further private goals and interests.
11. Pursuant to the Constitution, their oaths of office, their status as Executive Branch employees, and their presence in the United States, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, and POWELL, and their subordinates and employees, are required to obey Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.
12. As used in Section 371, the term “to defraud the United States” means “to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful government functions by deceit, craft, trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.” The term also means to “impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful function of any department of government” by the use of “false or fraudulent pretenses or representations.”
13. A “false” or “fraudulent” representation is one that is: (a) made with knowledge that it is untrue; (b) a half-truth; (c) made without a reasonable basis or with reckless indifference as to whether it is, in fact, true or false; or (d) literally true, but intentionally presented in a manner reasonably calculated to deceive a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence. The knowing concealment or omission of information that a reasonable person would consider important in deciding an issue also constitutes fraud.
14. Congress is a “department of the United States” within the meaning of Section 371. In addition, hearings regarding funding for military action and authorization to use military force are “lawful functions” of Congress.
15. Accordingly, the presentation of information to Congress and the general public through deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, and fraudulent representations, including lies, half-truths, material omissions, and statements made with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, while knowing and intending that such fraudulent representations would influence Congress’ decisions regarding authorization to use military force and funding for military action, constitutes interfering with, obstructing, impairing, and defeating a lawful government function of a department of the United States within the meaning of Section 371.
16. Beginning on or about a date unknown, but no later than August of 2002, and continuing to the present, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendants,
RICHARD B. CHENEY,
DONALD M. RUMSFELD, and
COLIN M. POWELL,
and others known and unknown, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to defraud the United States by using deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, false and fraudulent representations, including ones made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and omitting to state material facts necessary to make their representations truthful, fair and accurate, while knowing and intending that their false and fraudulent representations would influence the public and the deliberations of Congress with regard to authorization of a preventive war against Iraq, thereby defeating, obstructing, impairing, and interfering with Congress’ lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations.
17. The Early Months of the Bush-Cheney Administration: Prior to January of 2001, BUSH, CHENEY, and RUMSFELD each demonstrated a predisposition to employ U.S. military force to invade the Middle East, including, specifically, to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein.
18. Since 1992, CHENEY has endorsed a “bold foreign policy” that includes using military force to “punish” or “threaten to punish” possible aggressors in order to protect the United States’s access to Persian Gulf oil and to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”), a term that is customarily used to describe chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
19. On or about January 26, 1998, RUMSFELD and seven other future BUSH-CHENEY administration appointees signed a letter sent by a conservative policy institute named “Project for a New American Century” (“PNAC”) to then President William Clinton, which called for U.S. military action to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power.
20. In January 1999, BUSH named RICE and her future Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (“Hadley”), as his presidential-campaign foreign-policy advisers, along with future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (“Wolfowitz”) and four others who had publicly advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.
21. On or before September 2000, 12 future BUSH-CHENEY administration appointees, including Wolfowitz, former Assistant to Vice President CHENEY, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Rumsfeld’s long-term aide Stephen Cambone, participated in drafting “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a PNAC policy statement which asserted that the “need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” PNAC acknowledged that its goals would take a long time to achieve “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.”
22. Once BUSH became the Republican candidate in the 2000 presidential election campaign, he and CHENEY informed the general public that they would be reluctant to use military force and did not believe that the United States should engage in “nation-building.”
23. On and after January 20, 2001, BUSH and CHENEY caused to be appointed as senior foreign policy advisors and consultants, at least thirty-four persons who had publicly endorsed the PNAC principles of United States global preeminence and use of force to “punish” or “threaten to punish” emerging threats from weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”) or impediments to United States access to oil in the Middle East. Of those appointees, eighteen had also publicly advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.
24. In late December 2000, BUSH and CHENEY advised outgoing President William J. Clinton and others that, among potential foreign policy issues, BUSH’s primary concern was Iraq.
25. On February 11, 2001, BUSH ordered the first airstrikes since 1998 to be conducted outside of the United Nations (“UN”) agreed-upon No-Fly zones, to get Saddam Hussein’s “attention.”
26. The Attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four commercial airplanes. They crashed two planes into the World Trade Towers in New York City and another into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. In total, nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the September 11, 2001, attacks (“9/11”).
27. Shortly afterward, United States intelligence agencies determined that 9/11 was the work of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from Yemen, and two from Lebanon. This information, along with the conclusion that no evidence linked the attacks to Saddam Hussein or al Qaeda, was immediately communicated to BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, POWELL, and others.
28. BUSH-CHENEY administration members began discussing an invasion of Iraq immediately after 9/11. BUSH, RUMSFELD and others also assigned various subordinates, including former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, CIA Director George Tenet, and General Richard Meyers to look for intelligence that could justify attacking Saddam Hussein’s regime.
29. On September 17, 2001, BUSH secretly ordered the formulation of preliminary plans for an invasion of Iraq, while admitting to his aides that no evidence existed to justify an attack.
30. On or about September 18, 2001, in response to BUSH’s request, Clarke sent RICE a memo that stated: (a) the case for linking Hussein to 9/11 was weak; (b) only anecdotal evidence linked Hussein to al Qaeda; (c) Osama Bin Laden resented the secularism of Saddam Hussein; and (d) there was no confirmed reporting of Saddam cooperating with Bin Laden on unconventional weapons.
31. On September 20, 2001, BUSH informed British Prime Minister Tony Blair that after Afghanistan, the United States and Britain should return to the issue of invading Iraq.
32. U.S. Intelligence Community Assessments of Risk from Iraq in Effect on November 2001. On occasion, Executive Branch officials request assessments of current intelligence on risks posed by WMD in a given country. Although such assessments are coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), the final product incorporates the analyses, including dissenting opinions, of the intelligence branches of the Departments of State, Energy, Defense, the National Security Agency, and others, which are collectively called the Intelligence Community (“IC”).
33. As of November 2001, the most recent assessment on Iraq was a December 2000 classified Intelligence Community Assessment (“ICA”) called “Iraq: Steadily Pursuing WMD Capabilities.” This ICA was a comprehensive update on possible Iraqi efforts to rebuild WMD and weapons delivery systems after the 1998 departure of International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) representatives and UN weapons inspectors, who are collectively referred to as the United Nations Special Commission (“UNSCOM”).
34. Regarding Iraq’s possible nuclear program, the December 2000 NIE unanimously concluded that:
(a) The IAEA and UNSCOM had destroyed or neutralized Iraq’s nuclear infrastructure, but Iraq still had a foundation for future nuclear reconstitution;
(b) Iraq was continuing low-level theoretical research and training, and attempting to obtain dual-use items that cold be used to reconstitute its nuclear program;
(c) if Iraq acquired a significant quantity of fissile material through foreign assistance, it could have a crude nuclear weapon within a year; if Iraq received foreign assistance, it would take five to seven years to produce enough weapons-grade fissile material for a nuclear weapon; and
(d) Iraq did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.
35. Escalation of Military Activity and Planning for Invasion of Iraq. On November 21, 2001, BUSH secretly ordered preparation of a formal war plan for invading Iraq. Thereafter, for sixteen months, the BUSH-CHENEY administration expended substantial U.S. government funds in military activity and planning for invasion of Iraq, all without notice to, or approval by, the U.S. Congress.
36. BUSH did not receive an extensive briefing about possible WMD in Iraq before ordering a war plan, nor did he discuss the legitimacy of grounds for war with anyone. BUSH received no such briefing until December 21, 2002.
37. On or about November 27, 2001, RUMSFELD asked General “Tommy” Franks, head of Central Command, which supervises Middle East operations, to immediately prepare an Iraq war plan in response to BUSH’s order.
38. Thereafter, Franks discussed numerous revised Iraq war plans with RUMSFELD. Between December 2001 and August 2002, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, POWELL, and others held at least five lengthy meetings about Franks’ plans. In August, BUSH ordered Franks to prepare to invade Iraq using the “Hybrid Plan,” a combination of the “Running Start” and “Generated Start” plans developed previously.
39. During 2002, the United States and Great Britain increased air strikes in order to degrade Iraqi air defenses and began deploying troops to areas around Iraq.
40. On or about July 30, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH caused the diversion of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds into Iraq invasion preparations.
41. On September 5, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH caused approximately 100 United States and British aircraft to launch ballistic missiles at Iraq’s major western air-defense facility.
42. By September 12, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH had caused the movement of 40,000 military personnel and over 350,000 tons of equipment to areas around Iraq. Franks also ordered Central Command to be moved to Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar.
43. Behind-the-Scenes Strategizing with British Officials: On or before March 2002, BUSH, RICE, Wolfowitz, and others secretly began discussing ways to persuade the public and foreign allies to accept Bush’s goal of invading Iraq, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (“Blair”) and his advisers.
44. On March 12, 2002, in Washington, DC, RICE met with Blair’s Foreign Policy Adviser Sir David Manning and informed him of BUSH’s problems with persuading “international opinion that military action against Iraq was necessary and justified.”
45. On March 17, 2002, in Washington, DC, British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer advised Wolfowitz that the two countries should “wrongfoot” Saddam Hussein by seeking a UN resolution that would require the readmission of weapons inspectors with the expectation that Saddam would create a justification for war by obstructing the inspections.
46. On April 6, 2002, in Crawford, Texas, BUSH and Blair discussed strategies to sway public opinion regarding military action in Iraq. Blair agreed to support a United States invasion if the two countries obtained a UN resolution first.
47. In mid-July, 2002, in Washington, DC, White House officials discussed Iraq with visiting British officials. Upon their return to London, these officials reported the talks to Blair in a meeting at 10 Downing St. on July 23, 2002. Among other things, Blair’s advisers suggested that he urge BUSH to devise a more realistic political strategy for attacking Iraq, because a desire for “regime change” would not justify military action under international law.
48. In mid-July, 2002, in Washington, DC, CIA Director Tenet and others talked about the Bush administration’s intentions regarding Iraq with Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of British Intelligence.
49. On July 23, 2002, during the Downing St. meeting described above, Dearlove informed Blair that in the United States “Military action was now seen as inevitable. BUSH wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
50. On July 23, 2002, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also noted that BUSH had “made up his mind to take military action.” Straw said he would urge POWELL to persuade BUSH to seek a UN resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to readmit weapons inspectors, in effect, suggesting the “wrongfooting” strategy that Meyer had described to Wolfowitz.
51. Behind-the-Scenes Efforts to Fix Intelligence Around the Policy. Within weeks after learning from Clarke, Tenet, and others that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had no involvement with either 9/11 or al Qaeda, RUMSFELD caused Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Douglas Feith (“Feith”) to secretly create the Counter Terrorism Group (“CTEG”), a small unit of political appointees whose mission was to find links between Iraq and al Qaeda by reviewing raw intelligence that previously had been discarded as unreliable. CTEG reported weekly to RUMSFELD’s long-term associate Stephen Cambone, and occasionally presented information directly to Wolfowitz, thereby circumventing standard IC procedures.
52. At some time in 2002, Feith also designated political appointees to work under his supervision in the newly-created Office of Special Plans, whose purpose was to develop and package information for use in marketing the President’s plan for an invasion of Iraq. In the fall of 2002, this group presented information directly to RUMSFELD, to RICE’s office, and to CHENEY’s office, thereby circumventing standard IC procedures.
53. In the spring of 2002, CHENEY and his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, began visiting CIA headquarters to question CIA agents’ assessments about Iraq. RUMSFELD and Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley also repeatedly pressed CIA Director Tenet and his subordinates to present a stronger case against Iraq.
54. Bush’s Creation of the White House Iraq Group. By the summer of 2002, domestic and international support for BUSH’s plan to invade Iraq was lukewarm. At the same time, Bush’s chief political strategist and Senior Adviser Karl Rove and Kenneth Mehlman, head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, were beginning to coordinate the President’s involvement in the November 7, 2002, congressional election. Their overall goal was to gain Republican majorities in both houses of Congress so that the President would have the greatest possible support for his policies. Rove had specifically recommended that Republicans “focus on war” as a way to win elections. Consequently, in the summer of 2002, BUSH’s efforts to win support for an invasion of Iraq and his efforts to assist Republican congressional candidates became inextricably intertwined.
55. In the summer of 2002, BUSH caused the creation of the White House Iraq Group, which was cochaired by BUSH’s long-term political operatives Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, who remained BUSH’s close associate even though she had resigned her position as Counselor to the President. This team, also called WHIG, was largely a political and public-relations entity that included RICE, Hadley, President’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card, President’s legislative liaison Nicholas Calio, CHENEY’s key aide and veteran Republican political strategist Mary Matalin, CHENEY’s senior adviser Libby, and James Wilkinson, another Republican campaign consultant.
56. On or about September 6, 2002, Rove and Card publicly announced that: (a) the BUSH-CHENEY administration was beginning to “roll out” its case for an invasion of Iraq; (b) its public-relations campaign was specifically directed at forcing Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the President to use military force in Iraq; (c) BUSH wanted the resolution passed in about five weeks, before the 2002 election; and (d) in the end, it would be difficult for any legislator to vote against it.
57. The Defendants’ Massive Fraud to “Market” an invasion of Iraq. On or about September 4, 2002, BUSH staged a photo opportunity with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, after which he falsely and fraudulently announced that Iraq posed a serious threat to the safety of the United States and the world, while concealing from Congress and the American people the material facts that: (a) he had no reasonable basis whatsoever for his assertion; (b) he had never discussed the legitimacy of the grounds for an attack against Iraq with anyone; (c) he had never extensively reviewed existing intelligence regarding any possible threat from Iraq; (d) he had not requested an updated intelligence assessment on Iraq; (e) the United States intelligence assessment then in effect stated that Iraq had neither nuclear weapons nor a nuclear weapons program; and (f) the IC had consistently reported that Iraq had no involvement in 9/11 and no relationship with al Qaeda.
58. On September 4, 2002, BUSH also falsely and fraudulently claimed he was beginning an “open dialogue” with the American public, with Congress, and with United States allies to decide how to respond to Iraq, while concealing the material facts that he: (a) had requested a formal plan to invade Iraq nearly a year before; (b) had been conducting significant military and nonmilitary planning and attacks against Iraq for a year; (c) had directed significant military deployment to areas around Iraq; (d) was planning a massive air assault against Iraq’s air defense facility for the next day; and (e) intended to work with the UN only to create a justification to use military force against Iraq.
59. Thereafter, the defendants and WHIG executed a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive Congress and the American people by making hundreds of false and fraudulent representations that were only half-true, or literally true but misleading; by concealing material facts; and by making statements without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth, regarding, among other things:
(a) their true intent to invade Iraq;
(b) the extent of military buildup and force used against Iraq without notice to or approval by Congress;
(c) their true purpose in seeking a Congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq;
(d) their true intent to use their involvement in seeking a UN resolution requiring Iraq to cooperate with weapons inspectors as a sham; and
(e) their claimed justifications for invading Iraq, including but not limited to:
* The alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, 2001;
* The alleged connection between Iraq and al Qaeda;
* The alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and any terrorists whose primary animus was directed towards the United States;
* Saddam Hussein’s alleged intent to attack the United States in any way;
Saddam Hussein’s possession of nuclear weapons and the status of any alleged ongoing nuclear weapons programs;
* The lack of any reasonable basis for asserting with certainty that Saddam Hussein was actively manufacturing chemical and biological weapons; and
*The alleged urgency of any threat posed to the United States by Saddam Hussein.
60. Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize Use of Force Against Iraq. As a result of the defendants’ false and fraudulent “marketing” of the President’s plan to invade Iraq, on October 11, 2002, the U.S Congress, acting pursuant to its Article I constitutional authority to oversee and authorize use of military force, passed a Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize Use of Force Against Iraq [“the Resolution”] which stated:
The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(a) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(b) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
61. The Resolution required the President to, either before or within 48 hours after exercising the authority to use force, make available to the Senate and the House of Representatives his determination that:
(a) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (1) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (2) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(b) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
62. The Resolution also required the President to, at least every 60 days, present Congress a report on “matters relevant to this joint resolution.”
63. In furtherance of the above-described conspiracy, the defendants and their coconspirators committed and caused to be committed the following overt acts:
A. On December 9, 2001, CHENEY announced on NBC’s Meet the Press that “it was pretty well confirmed” that lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met the head of Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001, which statement was, as CHENEY well knew, made without reasonable basis and with reckless disregard for the truth, because it was based on a single witness’s uncorroborated allegation that had not been fully investigated by U.S. intelligence agencies.
B. On July 15, 2002, POWELL stated on Ted Koppel’s Nightline: “What we have consistently said is that the President has no plan on his desk to invade Iraq at the moment, nor has one been presented to him, nor have his advisors come together to put a plan to him,” which statement was deliberately false and misleading in that it deceitfully implied the President was not planning an invasion of Iraq when, as POWELL well knew, the President was close to finalizing detailed military plans for such an invasion that he had ordered months previously.
C. On August 26, 2002, CHENEY made numerous false and fraudulent statements including: “Simply stated there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us,” when, as CHENEY well knew, this statement was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that the IC’s then prevailing assessment was that Iraq had neither nuclear weapons nor a reconstituted nuclear weapons program.
D. On September 7, 2002, appearing publicly with Blair, BUSH claimed a recent IAEA report stated that Iraq was “six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon” and “I don’t know what more evidence we need,” which statements were made without basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that: (1) the IAEA had not even been present in Iraq since 1998; and (2) the report the IAEA did write in 1998 had concluded there was no indication that Iraq had the physical capacity to produce weapons-usable nuclear material or that it had attempted to obtain such material.
E. On September 8, 2002, on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, RICE asserted that Saddam Hussein was acquiring aluminum tubes that were “only suited” for nuclear centrifuge use, which statement was deliberately false and fraudulent, and made with reckless indifference to the truth in that it omitted to state the following material facts: (1) the U.S. intelligence community was deeply divided about the likely use of the tubes; (2) there were at least fifteen intelligence reports written since April 2001 that cast doubt on the tubes’ possible nuclear-related use; and (3) the U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons experts had concluded, after analyzing the tubes’s specifications and the circumstances of the Iraqis’ attempts to procure them, that the aluminum tubes were not well suited for nuclear centrifuge use and were more likely intended for artillery rocket production.
F. On September 8, 2002, RUMSFELD stated on Face the Nation: “Imagine a September 11th, with weapons of mass destruction. It’s not three thousand, it’s tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” which statement was deliberately fraudulent and misleading in that it implied without reasonable basis and in direct contradiction to then prevailing intelligence that Saddam Hussein had no operational relationship with al Qaeda and was unlikely to provide weapons to terrorists.
G. On September 19, 2002, RUMSFELD told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein,” which statement was, as Rumsfeld well knew, made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that: (1) Hussein had not acted aggressively toward the United States since his alleged attempt to assassinate President George H. W. Bush in 1993; (2) Iraq’s military forces and equipment were severely debilitated because of UN sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War; (3) the IC’s opinion was that Iraq’s sponsorship of terrorists was limited to ones whose hostility was directed toward Israel; and (4) Iran, not Iraq, was the most active state sponsor of terrorism.
H. On October 1, 2002, the defendants caused the IC’s updated classified National Intelligence Estimate to be delivered to Congress just hours before the beginning of debate on the Authorization to Use Military Force. At the same time, the defendants caused an unclassified “White Paper” to be published which was false and misleading in many respects in that it failed to include qualifying language and dissents that substantially weakened their argument that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States.
I. On October 7, 2002, in Cincinnati, Ohio, BUSH made numerous deliberately misleading statements to the nation, including stating that in comparison to Iran and North Korea, Iraq posed a uniquely serious threat, which statement BUSH well knew was false and fraudulent in that it omitted to state the material fact that a State Department representative had been informed just three days previously that North Korea had actually already produced nuclear weapons. The defendants continued to conceal this information until after Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force against Iraq.
J. Between September 1, 2002, and November 2, 2002, BUSH traveled the country making in excess of thirty congressional-campaign speeches in which he falsely and fraudulently asserted that Iraq was a “serious threat” which required immediate action, when as he well knew, this assertion was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth.
K. In his January 28, 2003 State of the Union address, BUSH announced that the “British have recently learned that Iraq was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa” which statement was fraudulent and misleading and made with reckless disregard for the truth, in that it falsely implied that the information was true, when the CIA had advised the administration more than once that the allegation was unsupported by available intelligence.
L. In a February 5, 2003, speech to the UN, POWELL falsely implied, without reasonable basis and with reckless disregard for the truth, that, among other things: (1) those who maintained that Iraq was purchasing aluminum tubes for rockets were allied with Saddam Hussein, even though POWELL well knew that both Department of Energy nuclear weapons experts and State Department intelligence analysts had concluded that the tubes were not suited for nuclear centrifuge use; and (2) Iraq had an ongoing cooperative relationship with al Qaeda, when he well knew that no intelligence agency had reached that conclusion.
M. On March 18, 2003, BUSH sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate which asserted that further reliance on diplomatic and peaceful means alone would not either: (1) adequately protect United States national security against the “continuing threat posed by Iraq” or (2) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, which statement was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that, as BUSH well knew, the U.S. intelligence community had never reported that Iraq posed an urgent threat to the United States and there was no evidence whatsoever to prove that Iraq had either the means or intent to attack the U.S. directly or indirectly. The statement was also false because, as BUSH well knew, the UN weapons inspectors had not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and wanted to continue the inspection process because it was working well.
N. In the same March 18, 2003 letter, BUSH also represented that taking action pursuant to the Resolution was “consistent with continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001,” which statement was entirely false and without reasonable basis in that, as BUSH well knew, Iraq had no involvement with al Qaeda or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
[Note: This is not an actual indictment]
Assistant United States Attorney: Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to spend the afternoon discussing the law that applies to your consideration of the indictment…
The full discussion is omitted in this excerpt, but, in brief, this is the legal question you will be deciding:
Is there probable cause to believe that the defendants used deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means including lies, false pretenses, misrepresentations, deliberate omissions, half-truths, false promises, and statements made with reckless indifference to their truth to obstruct, impede, or interfere with Congress’ lawful government function of overseeing foreign affairs, relating to the invasion of Iraq?
We’ll see you all tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Our witness tomorrow will be an FBI agent. She’s from Boston, but we should be able to get by without a translator.
Have a good evening.
The Grand Jury Testimony
Assistant U.S. Attorney: Good morning everyone. We’re back here in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. Let’s start by looking at Exhibit 1 in your packets. It’s a chart that lists the main points we’re going to cover in the grand jury.
Evolution of the Fraud
Bush, Cheney, et al. were predisposed to invade Iraq even before they were elected.
* They secretly began to plan the invasion immediately after September 11. Bush requested an Iraq war plan in November 2001 and began escalating military activity.
* They enlisted biased political appointees to find evidence to justify a war beginning in October 2001.
* They began, without a reasonable basis, to imply that Iraq was linked to the September 11 attacks and posed an urgent threat in the fall of 2001.
* They began a massive fraud campaign in September 2002 to overcome weak public support for an invasion and manipulate Congress into passing an authorization allowing the President to use force against Iraq.
* They invaded Iraq in March 2003, knowing that their stated grounds for war were false, fraudulent, and without reasonable basis.
Today, we’ll talk about the administration’s predisposition to invade Iraq.
Now, why is that relevant? Remember I told you that many fraud conspiracies begin as legitimate enterprises? They evolve into criminal activity when people begin to deceive others in response to problems or obstacles to achieving their goals. So, in any fraud case we need to know what the defendants’ original objectives were.
Would somebody go get our witness? Thanks. [Whereupon the witness enters the room and is sworn]
Q. Could you please tell us your full name and what you do?
A. My name is Linda Marie Campbell and I’m a Special Agent with the FBI have been for sixteen years.
Q. What is your current assignment?
A. I’m one of eight agents on the task force that’s investigating whether the President and his senior advisers defrauded Americans about prewar intelligence. But normally my office is in Boston. Home of Tom Brady the Patriot and of course, Sam Adams the beer and the patriot with a small “p.” I do fraud cases, mainly.
Q. Could you tell us about your background? Sort of a Reader’s Digest version?
A. Sure. I was an Air Force brat, so we lived all over Georgia, Germany, Hawaii until I was about twelve, when we landed at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. After Boston College, I started teaching English at Catholic Memorial. I was going to coach softball, go down the Cape in the summer, eat fried clams. But one day I just thought, you know, I really can’t stand talking about Hester Prynne for one more minute, and it seemed as if it would be wicked cool to become an FBI agent. So I applied.
Q. Has it been wicked cool?
A. Yes and no. One thing about the FBI is that they always send you somewhere that’s not where you want to be, even if no one else does want to be where you want to be. Does that make any sense? So I asked to go to Boston after Quantico . . .
Q. And where’d they send you?
A. Tulsa, Oklahoma. But only for two years, because I took a language aptitude test and, next thing I knew, I was at the Monterey Defense Language Institute, learning Russian. I worked in DC for a few years and finally got back to Boston last summer. Although, now I’m in DC again working on this case. I’m also on the Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery Team.
Not exactly condensed was it?
Q. No, but that’s ok. You were, in fact, part of the team at the Pentagon after 9/11, weren’t you?
A. Yes, I was. I will never forget it.
Q. Jurors, you recall that you may only consider evidence your hear from the witnesses? That means we occasionally present testimony about things people already know.
Like, in this case, September 11, 2001. What happened on that day?
A. On September 11, nineteen men hijacked four commercial airplanes United Flight 175 and American Airlines 11 out of Logan, United Flight 93 out of Newark, and American Airlines 77 out of Washington/Dulles. They crashed two planes into the World Trade Towers in New York and one into the Pentagon. The fourth plane, United Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers stormed the cockpit. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed. It was a nightmare.
Q. Were you working at the time?
A. I was at firearms training, but I called my supervisor and told him I’d go wherever they needed me for disaster response. By 5:00 p.m., I’m headed to DC on the Mass Pike, with my Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee. One of the four essential food groups, by the way.
Q. Did you already know who committed the attacks?
A. Basically, yes. By late morning, really, everyone was talking about it having been al Qaeda and, of course, Osama Bin Laden. It was even on the radio. No specifics, but it was only a day or so before we heard those. The main hijacker was Mohamed Atta, who, along with 14 others, was from Saudi Arabia. Two were from Yemen and two were from Lebanon.
Q. We’ll have more about this later, but bottom line was there ever any evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 hijackings?
A. No, not a bit.
Q. But your investigation has shown, has it not, that before the war, a majority of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved?
Q. Danny Crain Special Agent Crain will be testifying about that in more detail, but in the meantime, have you determined how people came to believe that?
A. Unfortunately, yes. President Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and Powell deliberately gave people that impression, or allowed them to have it. That’s Danny’s area of testimony, I know, but let me say this: In fraud cases, we don’t have to prove that people were actually deceived, but the case is stronger when you can prove they were. And here we know that many people came to believe many things about Iraq that were just false including that there was some 9/11 connection.
Q. Well, let’s turn to
A. May I just add something?
Q. Of course.
A. Sometimes, the best way to understand the impact of fraud is not so much the number of victims, but the stories of the victims. Like in the movie Why We Fight, Wilton Sekzer. He was a retired cop whose son died in the World Trade Center. He strongly supported the war against Iraq, but only because he thought it was related to 9/11.
So, in 2004, when the President said not only that he had no evidence linking Saddam to the 9/11 attacks, but also “I don’t know where people got the idea that I connected Iraq to 9/11,” Mr. Sekzer was devastated. I’ll read what he said:
What did he [Bush] just say? I mean, I almost jumped out of the chair. I don’t know where people got the idea that I connected Iraq to 9/11. What is he, nuts or what? What the hell did we go in there for? We’re getting back for 9/11. Well, if he didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, why did we go in there? I was mad. I was mad. My first thought is: you know, you’re a liar.
Q. And he felt betrayed?
Q. Was he the only one?
A. No. As of July 2003, approximately 71 percent of the people in the United States believed that the President had deliberately implied that there was a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.
Assistant U.S. Attorney: How’s the temperature? I got GSA to turn off the air conditioning.
Grand Juror: No kidding. Now it’s way too hot.
Second Grand Juror: Are we allowed to vote someone off the Grand Jury?
Q. It’s tempting.
Agent Campbell, what evidence shows that Bush et al. were predisposed to invade Iraq before January 2001?
A. Well, we have to start back in 1992, after the first Gulf War.
Q. Ok. We’re not going anywhere.
A. As some jurors may know, the ground-assault phase of the first Gulf War had ended after a hundred hours, because George H. W. Bush decided not to send troops on into Baghdad. Afterward, there was a bloodbath as Saddam Hussein put down a Shiite rebellion in southern Iraq.
At the time, at least publicly, Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense, supported Bush Sr.’s decision. He said if we’d gone into Baghdad, we’d still have forces there and we would be running the country. Cheney didn’t think Saddam Hussein was worth “that damned many” casualties, meaning more than the 146 American soldiers who had already died.
Q. Does it appear that Cheney later changed his mind?
A. Yes. But Libby and Wolfowitz disagreed from the beginning.
Q. Who are Libby and Wolfowitz?
A. Libby is I. Lewis Libby, Cheney’s aide in 1992. In 2001 he became a top adviser, mainly on foreign-policy issues, for Cheney and also for Bush. Until he got indicted. Paul Wolfowitz was also Cheney’s aide in 1992 and in 2001 became Rumsfeld’s Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Libby, Wolfowitz, and Cheney had a foreign-policy philosophy that’s been described as neoconservative. They first wrote about it, as far as we know, in a 1992 paper called “Defense Planning Guidance.” It was never published, but the draft was leaked to the press, so we know its main points. They wanted the United States to “assert world dominance” and to “to punish” or “threaten to punish” possible future aggressors to protect U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil or stop the proliferation of WMD weapons of mass destruction. They also recommended that the United States ignore the UN Security Council and act alone if it chose to do so.
Q. How were those ideas received at the time?
A. About as well as Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
Q. Not a warm reception, I take it. So what happened to “Defense Policy Guidance”?
A. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Libby published a watered-down version of it in 1993 called “Defense Strategy for the 1990s.”
Q. Did other future Bush-Cheney administration members publicly state their positions about the Middle East and/or Iraq in the 1990s?
A. Yes, they did. In 1996 Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser wrote a paper for the Israeli government, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” that advocated invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.
Q. And how did those three figure in the Bush-Cheney administration?
A. From 2001 to 2003, Perle was Chairman of Bush’s Defense Policy Board. Feith was Bush’s Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and Wurmser was brought in after 9/11 as part of the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group that reviewed raw intelligence looking for evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden.
Q. In 1997, there was
A. Also, oh, sorry
Q. No, go ahead. But if we both talk at the same time, the court reporter might quit.
A. What I was going to say was that David Wurmser also publicly advocated a United States invasion of Iraq. Twice, actually. Once in a 1997 Wall Street Journal editorial and then in a November 2000 Washington Times op-ed, where he argued that the United States and Israel should “strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza.”
Grand Juror: Someone who had publicly advocated using military force to remove Saddam Hussein and attacking Syria, Libya, Iran, and Gaza was assigned to look for evidence to justify invading Iraq?
A. Yes. He is now Vice President Cheney’s adviser on the Middle East.
Q. All right. In 1997, a group called Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, was formed. What was that?
A. According to its website, PNAC is a think tank dedicated to “American global leadership.” Its stated principles were: (1) promoting a bold foreign policy; (2) significantly increasing defense spending; and (3) meeting threats “before they become dire.”
Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, and Wolfowitz were founding members, as was Jeb Bush, President Bush’s brother.
Q. Did the founding statement mention Iraq?
A. No, but a letter the members of PNAC wrote to Clinton in 1998 did.
Q. Before we get to that, were there other public statements advocating forcible removal of Saddam Hussein made by future Bush-Cheney people in 1997?
A. Yes, in a December 1997 issue of the Weekly Standard magazine called “Saddam Must Go: A How-to Guide,” Wolfowitz and the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, called for “sustained attacks” on Hussein’s military and security forces to get rid of him.
Q. Early in 1998, the Project for a New American Century wrote the letter you just mentioned, right?
A. Right. Yes, most of it is excerpted in Exhibit 2:
Excerpts from January 26, 1998 Letter from PNAC
to President William J. Clinton
We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. . . . We urge you to . . . enunciate a new strategy . . . [that] should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power…
The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months…
It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.
Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.
In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.
Q. Any familiar names in the signature block?
A. Twelve of the eighteen signers became Bush-Cheney advisers or appointees: Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Khalilzad, Perle, as well as Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitage, Paula Dobriansky, Peter Rodman, R. James Woolsey, and Robert Zoellick.
Q. Well, it’s 12:30 and I’m “stahvin,” as Agent Campbell would say. So let’s go eat.
Assistant U.S. Attorney: Did everyone make it back? Good.
Grand Juror: Agent Campbell, doesn’t this 1998 letter contain the same arguments that the Bush administration made in 2002?
A. Yes it does: (1) containment wasn’t working; (2) inspections wouldn’t work; (3) Saddam would definitely have WMD if we didn’t act immediately; and (4) we didn’t need to work with the UN.
Grand Juror: What does “containment” mean?
A. In the context of Iraq, it referred mainly to the use of UN sanctions and restrictions to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring WMD and from threatening his neighbors.
Q. We’re going to switch gears and turn to the 2000 election campaign. Before that, any questions?
Grand Juror: Was Bush in PNAC?
A. No. But in 1999, he hired Condoleezza Rice and her future Deputy National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, along with five PNAC people Perle, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Zoellick, and Dov Zakheim to be campaign foreign policy advisers. Four of those five had previously advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.
Q.> During the 2000 campaign, did Bush and Cheney talk about U.S. global preeminence and taking preventive military action against possible threats from WMD or to our oil interests in the Middle East?
A. No. Well, yes and no.
Q. Oh, okay. Everybody got that, then?
A. Well, behind the scenes, with the neoconservative crowd, Bush and Cheney conveyed a very strong message. In fact, in September 2000 Libby, Wolfowitz, and ten other future Bush-Cheney appointees signed a policy statement, called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” that was posted on the PNAC website. The paper, which described itself as a “blueprint for maintaining global U.S. preeminence” that grew out of Cheney’s 1992 “Defense Policy Guidance” paper, advocated substantially increased defense spending. Regarding the Middle East, it said the “need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
In plain English: We should have permanent military bases in the Middle East.
Q. Did the statement indicate whether PNAC thought the public would agree with this strategy?
A. Yes. PNAC acknowledged that its goals would likely take a long time to achieve, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Q. Anyone could look at this website, couldn’t they?
A. Yes. But it was not well known outside of DC and certain conservative circles, and publicly, especially in the general election, Bush and Cheney said nothing whatsoever about a “bold” foreign policy or any other PNAC principles.
Q. Can you give us some examples?
A. Sure. On August 27, 2000, on Meet the Press, Cheney said that the U.S. should not act as “an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” He was talking about the Middle East.
Also, in the presidential debate against Al Gore at UMass on October 3, Bush said he would “take the use of force very seriously” and “be guarded” in his approach. He also said he disagreed with Vice President Gore about the use of troops: “He [Gore] believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation-builders.”
Then, in the October 11 debate, Bush was asked how the world should view us and he said they would welcome us “if we’re a humble nation, but strong.” He also said we needed to “project strength in a way that promotes freedom.”
Q. What did Bush say about the need for building coalitions?
A. One of Bush’s main themes was that he was a leader and that leaders build coalitions. On December 2, 1999, for example, he said he would “keep the peace” by “strengthening alliances, which says [sic] America cannot go alone, we must be peacemakers not peacekeepers.” In the October 11 debate, he said, “It’s important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting [sic] your determination.” It was especially important to have strong ties in the Middle East, he said, because of the oil there.
Q. Did Bush or Cheney talk about forcibly removing Saddam Hussein during the 2000 campaign?
A. Cheney never did, but early on, Bush seemed to say just that, perhaps inadvertently. In the December 2, 1999, New Hampshire Republican primary debate, the Fox News reporter Brit Hume asked him what he would do differently from Clinton regarding Saddam Hussein. And Bush said:
I wouldn’t ease the [U.N.] sanctions, and I wouldn’t try to negotiate with him. I’d make darn sure that he lived up to the agreements that he signed back in the early ’90s. I’d be helping the opposition groups. And if I found in any way, shape or form that he was developing weapons of mass destruction, I’d take ’em out. I’m surprised he’s still there. I think a lot of other people are as well.
Now, it’s odd. The transcript says “’em” and I have no idea who’s responsible for that. But, at the time, Hume clearly thought Bush was referring to “him,” as in Saddam Hussein. And he Hume, I mean said, “Take him out?” A