In the moments before he set off on what was to be his final stroll across the hills and copses near his home, British government weapons expert Dr. David Kelly sent a number of emails to friends saying he was being haunted by “many dark actors playing games.”
He was found dead, several hours later, an apparent suicide.
The British government is in a crisis, and the waves of panic are reverberating over on this side of the Atlantic, as the spiders’ web spun by government spinmeisters comes unraveled. The rationale for war on Iraq turns out to have been woven from lies.
The ongoing controversy over the now infamous “16 words” is just the beginning of a scandal that is fast morphing into a much wider cause celebre. Niger-gate is turning into Fibber-gate.
We were told, by the Americans as well as the British government, that Saddam could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of giving the order. That turns out to have been a figment of someone’s imagination but whose?
The President of the United States got up there and told the American people that a fleet of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) possessed by the Iraqis was capable of launching an attack on the continental U.S. and leveling American cities so where is this sinister armada? And where the heck did Bush get such an outlandishly tall tale?
Dr. Kelly was supposedly the key source for a BBC report that the Blair government had “sexed up” the Iraqi WMD dossier in order to drag an unwilling nation into war. In Blair’s England, where the right of free speech is ever more precarious, the government launched an all-out assault on the supposedly independent media organization which does, after all, rely on government revenues and Dr. Kelly’s name had been deliberately leaked as the BBC’s “mole” within the Ministry of Defense. He was dragged before a committee of Parliament, mercilessly grilled, kept holed up in a MoD “safe house,” and ultimately found dead a few miles from his home.
Shortly before Kelly’s death, Julian Borger, writing in the Guardian, brought to light the existence of a network of some very dark actors a faction of the British and American intelligence agencies that almost certainly was about to be exposed as the source of the disinformation put out by the Bush-Blair coalition of deceit.
In the period leading up to the invasion, as millions marched in the streets hoping to stop the rush to war, Newt Gingrich, the disgraced former Speaker of the House, made at least three trips to CIA headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, to browbeat analysts into projecting a more threatening picture of Iraq’s military capabilities. But why, one has to ask, would anyone bother listening to a political has-been and well-known bore? Surely the CIA brass had better things to do.
“Mr Gingrich gained access to the CIA headquarters and was listened to,” reports Borger, “because he was seen as a personal emissary of the Pentagon and, in particular, of the OSP.”
The key link in an international chain of professional prevaricators, the OSP, or Office of Special Plans, was authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and presided over by a cabal of neoconservative ideologues who “functioned like a shadow government,” according to Borger. Bypassing both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, they “cherry-picked” tidbits of raw intelligence, acting more like lawyers arguing a case than analysts probing for facts, and piped their propaganda directly to the President via Dick Cheney.
This story is nothing new: Seymour Hersh gave us a good look inside this network, and several writers have elaborated on a similar theme, but Borger provides some telling (and disturbing) new details:
“The OSP itself had less than 10 full-time staff, so to help deal with the load, the office hired scores of temporary ‘consultants.’ They included lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing thinktanks in Washington. Few had experience in intelligence. ‘Most of the people they had in that office were off the books, on personal services contracts. At one time, there were over 100 of them,’ said an intelligence source. The contracts allow a department to hire individuals, without specifying a job description.”
This was, in effect, a welfare program for warmongers. In the great debate leading up to the war, one side was subsidized and succored by our tax dollars, the other was vilified, threatened, and harassed by paid shills and agents of the U.S. government. Over 100 of the pro-war pundits, professional screamers, and crusading “patriots” who make careers out of finding an “Islamofascist” under every bed were on the take.
Who were they? How much did they get? And how many of them are still sucking at the federal teat? The journalists among them surely need a little exposure, in this, the age of Jayson Blair. And what about all those think-tankers who managed to get on the Iraq war gravy train how many of them were from such bastions of scholarly integrity as the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Strategic Affairs, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies?
As U.S. troops took Baghdad, an article in the Financial Times reported on a rollicking party in the nation’s capital:
“Billed as a ‘black coffee briefing on the war on Iraq,’ yesterday’s breakfast for the influential hawks of the American Enterprise Institute was more of a victory celebration. With a few words of caution that the war to oust Saddam Hussein was not yet over the panel of speakers, part of the Bush administration’s ideological vanguard, set out their bold vision of the postwar agenda: radical reform of the UN, regime change in Iran and Syria, and ‘containment’ of France and Germany.”
Rollicking, that is, by neocon standards. The talk was of a measured triumphalism, and a sneering disdain for the defeated peace movement:
“The war was going well, said Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon’s Defence Advisory Board. There were more anti-war demonstrators in San Francisco than Iraqis willing to defend their leader. The ‘coalition of the willing’ was growing.”
As Perle, along with his fellow warmongers Michael Ledeen, and Bill Kristol, pontificated to an audience of like-minded Washington war wonks, how many in that room were not on the government payroll? It was, no doubt, a gathering of welfare queens and kings, and they had plenty to celebrate. Not only on account of their ideological victory albeit a short-lived one but also because they had personally profited handsomely. Perle has already been demoted for improper profiteering off his position with the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Board, and had to resign his chairmanship. How many of his fellow celebrants have similarly dubious relationships is a matter that needs to be thoroughly investigated.
Remember the “poverty pimps” of the 1960s and 70s, who were riding high on the liberal illusion that the welfare state could uplift the poor, if only we lavished enough dollars on social service bureaucracies and waged a “war on poverty”? Today, in the post-9/11 era, we have the propaganda pimps of the “war on terrorism,” who in this age of perpetual war are guaranteed permanent and lucrative employment.
The media and at least two congressional investigations are now busy uncovering the trail of lies that misled us into war. If the scope of the investigation is not limited, and they follow the fibs and outright forgeries back to their original source, investigators are likely to discover that the
neoconservative network inside the Washington Beltway acted like a conveyor belt feeding fantastic tales of Iraqi WMD directly to the Oval Office. The question then becomes how far the White House will have to distance itself from the resulting embarrassing revelations.
The unsavory concoction fed to the President and his top advisors was disguised as "intelligence" to make it easier to swallow and the President is still refusing to take personal responsibility for the fateful 16 words, or much of anything else. In order to maintain that stance, the White House is going to have to fob off the responsibility elsewhere, and there is some indication that this is already beginning to occur, with the President reprimanding National Security advisor Condolezza Rice and even outgoing presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer. Let’s hope that the result of the political tornado now sweeping Washington replicates the plot of “The Wizard of Oz,” and the house falls directly on the Wicked Witch of the OSP.
The “dark actors” in this tale of disinformation and competing spy agencies are shadowy, elusive creatures who wield enormous power with no compunctions about the consequences. Some are Americans, some British: others are Israelis, as Borger reports:
“The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon’s office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam’s Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize. ‘None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,’ said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr. [Douglas] Feith‘s authority without having to fill in the usual forms.”
Bypassing all the normal procedures and regular government agencies, agents of a foreign power Israel were admitted into the inner sanctum of the Pentagon, where they proceeded to clog the arteries of U.S. intelligence operations with misinformation.
The War Party, as we see, was hired on as a “consultant” to the U.S. government in the crucial period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. But what other government gave them succor and assistance? We have said all along in this space that the one country that stood to benefit from the war was not the U.S., but Israel. The war in Iraq, as Professor Paul W. Schroeder pointed out in The American Conservative,
“Would represent something to my knowledge unique in history. It is common for great powers to try to fight wars by proxy, getting smaller powers to fight for their interests. This would be the first instance I know where a great power (in fact, a superpower) would do the fighting as the proxy of a small client state.”
Surely this is a case of the tail wagging the dog, but the explanation for this strange phenomenon is now coming out in the investigation into Liar-gate. If we look at the Iraq war as an intelligence operation directed by the one nation that stood to benefit, the answer to the question of how did we get into this mess becomes a little clearer.
No wonder the neocons were celebrating at that AEI shindig, lifting their coffee cups in a collective toast to a job well-done and gloating over their victory. No matter what the consequences of the Iraq war for the U.S., Israel’s interests were well-served. Let Uncle Sam shell out $3.9 billion per month and let the President take the heat for misleading the nation with bogus information about the imminence of the Iraqi “threat” the cabal‘s mission has been accomplished.