Armitage: Cheney Cabal Scapegoat

Members of the Cheney Cabal – in and outside government – and their media sycophants are charging that then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage played the initial and key role in the exposure of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame and of her "cover," Brewster-Jennings & Associates. And even though that charge is evidently false, they illogically claim that if it were true it would somehow "exonerate" Scooter Libby, found guilty of committing the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Because of that obstruction, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was unable to determine whether there was evidence of a criminal conspiracy to silence those – in and outside government – attempting to expose the Cheney Cabal’s "fixing of intelligence" to support the upcoming war of aggression against Iraq.

There is little doubt that there was such a conspiracy.

And, as it happens, Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV was neither the first nor most important debunker of the Cheney Cabal’s manipulated "intelligence."

Earlier, and more important, debunkers included David Albright, an internationally recognized authority on fissile-material inventories and production capabilities.

The earlier, and more important, manipulated "intelligence" Albright et al. debunked – beginning almost a year before the official launch of the Bush-Cheney war of aggression – concerned aluminum tubes.

"The story of the tubes broke publicly on Sunday, September 8, 2002, when the New York Times published a story giving the administration’s view that the aluminum tubes ‘were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.’ The U.S. couldn’t wait ‘until analysts have found hard evidence that Mr. Hussein has acquired a nuclear weapon. The first sign of a "smoking gun," they argue, may be a mushroom cloud.’ …

"That day the New York Times article was published, senior administration officials, including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice, made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to bolster the case that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S.

"On NBC’s Meet the Press, Dick Cheney said that intelligence showed that Saddam Hussein ‘has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon,’ and that ‘he now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs…. Specifically aluminum tubes.’ He made reference to the leak to Times, saying, ‘I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire … the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge.’ According to Cheney, ‘we do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.’ When asked to confirm that Iraq did not then have a nuclear weapon, Cheney responded ‘I can’t say that.’ In other words, Cheney implied that Iraq may have already obtained a nuclear weapon.

"Condoleezza Rice went on CNN and stated ‘We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going … into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes … that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.’ She added that ‘we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.’

"On September 12, President Bush spoke before the United Nations General Assembly, saying ‘Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.'”

This propaganda campaign – highlighting "aluminum tubes" which were allegedly "only suited for nuclear weapons programs" – was orchestrated by the White House Iraq Group, which had been created in August 2002 to "market" the (bogus) nuke threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

WHIG was founded by Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, and operated out of the vice president’s office.

WHIG was not only responsible for selling the Iraq war – using the "slam dunk" National Intelligence Estimate that George Tenet had hurriedly produced for Congress – but took great pains to discredit anyone who attempted to debunk that NIE.

According to reporter Jason Leopold, National Security Council and CIA officials told grand juries investigating the "outing" of Valerie Plame that Cheney had visited CIA headquarters several times and had asked several CIA officials “to dig up dirt on Albright” and to put together a dossier that would discredit his work that could be distributed to the media.

We also now know that the two-hour meeting Libby had – at the direction of Vice President Cheney – with Cheney Cabal media sycophant Judith Miller on June 22, 2003, was to provide her with additional manipulated "intelligence" about aluminum tubes contained in the 2002 NIE on Iraq.

At that meeting Libby referred to Valerie Plame. (Miller wrote “Flame” in her notes introduced at Libby’s trial.)

This Valerie “Flame” disclosure by Libby came weeks before Novak’s column of July 14, 2003, “outing” Valerie Plame as "a CIA operative."

How did the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame come up in a meeting whose purpose was to leak "classified" misinformation about aluminum tubes?

According to David Corn and Michael Isikoff,

“A shipment of the tubes was seized in Jordan under an operation headed by Valerie Plame Wilson.  She oversaw the operation that intercepted these tubes that were then shipped back to the CIA. …

“She actually was chief of operations for the Joint Task on Iraq.  It’s part of the counter-proliferation division, which is part of the super-secret Operations Directorate.  So she was actually in charge of overseeing and running operations for two years prior to the invasion that were designed to find evidence of Iraq’s WMDs.” 

Alas, to her reported dismay, experts – in and out of government – concluded that the aluminum tubes she intercepted were ill-suited for use in gas centrifuges.

Now according to the CIA, Valerie Wilson only became a CIA employee on Jan. 1, 2002. So how could she have overseen the operation in 2001 that intercepted, confiscated, and sent these tubes “back to the CIA”?

Well, as we now know – thanks to Robert Novak and his treasonous "sources" – in 2001 and for many years before, she was Valerie Plame, an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates, and Plame has W-2 forms to prove it.

Which gets us back to Rich Armitage.

Bob Woodward’s taped interview with Armitage of June 13, 2003, for a book Woodward was writing, was introduced into evidence by the prosecution at Scooter Libby’s trial. In passing, Armitage tells Woodward that "Wilson’s wife" works at the CIA, that she "is an analyst or something out there."

What’s wrong with his saying that?

Read more by Gordon Prather

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. — ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.