Friday, June 03, 2005

Sore Throats

With all the media buzz regarding Deep Throat, and whether or not any such informants could come forward today, and where are today's whistleblowers et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseam, it's worth revisiting this article, which lists 50 individuals and three larger groups who aren't checking DC area flowerpots or skulking in parking garages, but are openly shouting what they know for anyone to listen.
Also, lifted from Bob Harris's daily poll, here are 15 more modern Deep Throats:

1. National Security Advisor Richard Clarke

2. FBI translator Sibel Edmonds

3. Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski

4. Spc. Joseph Darby

5. Mining engineer Jack Spedaro

6. FBI Chief Division Counsel Coleen Rowley

7. Medicare actuary Richard Foster

8. CIA Bin Laden expert Michael Scheuer

9. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill

10. Ambassador Joe Wilson

11. U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki

12. Secretary of the Army Thomas White

13. CIA analyst Larry Johnson

14. State Dept. Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tom Maertens

15. former Council on Bioethics member Elizabeth Blackburn

All these stories will be coming soon to CNN just as soon as they're done nattering about the Jackson trial, the 'runaway bride', and that guy Gallagher slapped onstage.


Blogger Management said...

Profile: Richard Clarke
Four successive US presidents have picked Richard Clarke to defend the country against terrorists.

His fourth boss, George W Bush, may be regretting the choice.

Mr Clarke has turned on his former master, a year after stepping down as the cyber-security adviser charged with protecting America against an "electronic Pearl Harbour".

He has accused President Bush of doing a "terrible job" fighting terrorism - of ignoring the al-Qaeda threat before 11 September 2001 and distorting it afterwards.

His comments coincided with the publication of his book, Against All Enemies - a scathing account of his tenure under Mr Bush.

White House officials have moved swiftly to limit the damage, dismissing Mr Clarke's assault as politically-motivated pre-election spin.

They can take heart from his past - a career showing him to be no stranger to controversy and clashes with superiors.

But with 30 years of government service behind him, Mr Clarke is also a survivor - a man whose expertise cut across party boundaries and a voice few presidents could afford to ignore.

Israel weapons row

Richard Clarke rose to prominence in the Reagan administration of the 1980s, when he became the second-ranking intelligence officer in the State Department.

According to the New York Times, he was credited with devising methods of psychological warfare against the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He left the State Department in 1992 - then serving in the administration of George Bush senior - amid a bitter row over Israel's alleged misuse of American military technology.

A State Department inspector accused him of going against the US government line by turning a blind-eye to Israel's sale of weapons bought from the US to China.

Mr Clarke rebutted the charge, saying it had been fully investigated.

Al-Qaeda strike

Next, President Bill Clinton appointed him to head a committee of top officials from the FBI, CIA, the Justice Department and the US military.

In regular top-secret meetings, the officials weighed up the threats American interests faced in a post-Cold War environment - namely terrorism and narcotics.

Mr Clarke became one of the first US officials to initiate military action against al-Qaeda when, long before 11 September 2001, he argued for cruise-missile strikes against a target in Sudan.

Later reports suggested that the bombed target - premises apparently being used by Osama Bin Laden to produce chemical weapons - was, in fact, a medicine factory.

Faulty intelligence was blamed.

'Bureaucratic guerrilla'

Mr Clarke was one of the few top officials from the Clinton era to be retained by George W Bush's administration, which brought him into the National Security Council.

After the 2001 attacks on Washington and New York, Mr Clarke was criticised for discussing intelligence failings in the press.

"Clarke also screwed up. He was after [all] the counter-terrorism tsar when 9/11 took place," Vince Cannistraro, former chief of operations at the CIA's Counter-terrorism Centre, told Computer World magazine in January 2003.

He described Mr Clarke as "a hands-on bureaucratic guerrilla" famed for a gung-ho approach.

"He was contemptuous of the bureaucracy and this attitude earned him few friends," Mr Cannistraro said.

But many of Mr Clarke's critics have also credited his worth as a determined man-of-action.

Former colleagues remember a man fiercely loyal to those who worked under him - if not necessarily to his superiors.

Story from BBC NEWS:

11:58 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Sibel Edmonds began working for the FBI shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, translating top-secret documents pertaining to suspected terrorists. She was fired in the spring of 2002 after reporting her concerns about sabotage, intimidation, corruption and incompetence to superiors. She first gained wide public attention in October of that year when she appeared on 60 Minutes on CBS and charged that the FBI, State Department, and Pentagon had been infiltrated by Turkish individuals suspected of ties to terrorism. On October 18, 2002, at the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft imposed a gag order on Ms. Edmonds, citing possible damage to diplomatic relations or national security. Edmonds is a key witness in a pending class-action suit filed by 9/11 families against the government. The following interview, conducted this past weekend for almost three hours by telephone, reveals sordid new details about U.S. intelligence practices.

Christopher Deliso: Sibel, first of all, thanks very much for speaking with us today. I'm delighted to have this chance to speak with someone of your experience and bravery in the face of governmental opposition and intimidation.

Sibel Edmonds: Well thanks very much for having me.

CD: Despite your media prominence, I don't think readers know so much about you. So can you tell us a bit about yourself? Are you from Turkey? Or just of Turkish descent?

SE: No, I am from Turkey originally.

CD: But you speak excellent English – and with an American accent too. That's why I thought maybe you were just of Turkish descent. So, how long were you in Turkey before coming to the U.S.?

SE: I had a pretty interesting upbringing. I was actually born in Iran, where I lived until I was two and a half. Then I lived in Turkey till I was 5, then back in Iran till I was 11. And then in Turkey again until I was 18.

CD: That's quite a lot of moving. Why did you come and go so much?

SE: My father is Azerbaijani. He was a doctor during the Shah regime. After the revolution, they kept useful foreigners like him. During the Iran-Iraq war, he was taken to the front lines, and we weren't allowed to leave the country.

CD: Wow! And when did you come to America?

SE: Actually, I came as a student in 1988. My idea was to study for three or four years and then go back to Turkey. But I guess you can't plan life in advance – in my third year I met my future husband and ended up staying.

CD: What drew you to eventually work for the FBI?

SE: Well, I actually studied criminal justice with a major in psychology at George Washington University. When I was finishing in 1997-98, I decided to apply for any kind of a job that would give me hands-on experience in criminal justice. I worked for the Alexandria [Va.] Juvenile Court, working with kids from a deprived background or who had been sexually abused or involved with drugs, etc. At that time I also thought I would apply with the FBI for a similar, hands-on job.

CD: As a linguist?

SE: No, actually I just applied for a general position. It was only after they'd seen all my qualifications and background that they said they were interested in my linguistic abilities.

CD: Now I know you speak Turkish – but what else?

SE: Because of my time in Iran, I also know Farsi. And Azerbaijani.

CD: Which is fairly close to Turkish.

SE: Yes, a Turkic language.

CD: So what did you do next? The FBI?

SE: Well, no, the process actually took a very long time. There was the linguistic proficiency test, forms to fill out, urine and blood samples and polygraph tests – the whole works. Then they said they'd need to do background checks, which would take anywhere from nine to 15 months, and finally they would call me to let me know about my application. And that was the last I heard from them for two or three years.

CD: Huh? What happened?

SE: Well I just went on with my life. I did other things. Sheerly out of curiosity, one day in January or February of 2001 I called the FBI up to see what had happened. They put me on hold, checked certain things, then came back on the line, and apologized profusely. Apparently, my application – along with 150 others – had been lost or had disappeared during the past couple years.

CD: Maybe that should have been a warning right there about their incompetence. So the files just disappeared from FBI headquarters?

SE: Actually, it was not headquarters we're talking about, it was the Tyson's Corner office where I'd taken the exam. Apparently they had moved within the same office complex, and maybe the files were lost then. Anyway, they were very apologetic and nice about it.

CD: So you had to apply all over again?

SE: No, they found some information about me remaining on one of their computers. And they promised they would speed up the background check process. But I told them, "look, I can't work for you now," because after all, my life had moved on at that point. Nevertheless they said they would get back to me later.

And so on September 14, 2001, I got a call asking how soon I could start work in their Washington field office. At the time I got their call, I was studying full-time and also working a part-time job. But in the wake of 9/11, with the government on television almost begging for qualified personnel, it was almost like – like duty calling, you know? So I went and met with them. When I explained my situation and other responsibilities they tried to be very flexible, saying I could work whatever hours I wanted, nights, weekends, whatever. That's how desperate they were for qualified translators. I got a job as a "contract" translator, which allowed more flexibility than if they hired me full-time.

CD: And you worked for them until March 2002, when you were fired for being a whistleblower, correct?

SE: Yes.

CD: And how did they handle that? Did you get some notice, or reason for your dismissal?

SE: No. I was literally thrown out of the building. They even didn't give me time to take all my family photos and personal items from my desk. I'm 5 foot 4 and 100 pounds, and you had all these big burly guys forcibly taking me out of the building. It was absurd.

CD: Did they threaten you in any way?

SE: Yes. This guy, one of my superiors, tried to act tough and threatened me that if I said anything to the press, the congress or even a lawyer, "the next time I see you will be in jail." I replied, "well, I maybe in jail, but I won't be the one behind bars."

CD: Wow. That's pretty brave.

SE: [Laughing] This is why one of the top guys, I am not sure whether it was the same guy, later called me a "nightmare."

CD: After they threw you out on the street, did they keep up the pressure?

SE: It was the worst at the beginning but then they saw they could do nothing. Right before the 60 Minutes interview, for example, they threatened that I would go to jail if I talked to the media, a senator or attorney. But that was all hot air.

The strangest thing was when the Turkish government issued an arrest warrant for my middle sister. I have the translated version, allegedly she was to be arrested for "high-level national security matters." Come on! My middle sister worked for KLM Airlines. She didn't even read newspapers – the most apolitical person I know.

Working Conditions in the FBI Translation Department

CD: So what hours did you end up working?

SE: I usually worked about four days a week, generally from 5 to 11 p.m. Basically 20 to 25 hours a week.

CD: Can you describe what your working conditions were like? For example, what was your office like? How many people were you working with?

SE: The FBI's Washington translation center is located about three blocks from headquarters, and is the largest and most important one of its kind in the country. They don't have centers like that in the L.A. or New York offices, for example. So this gigantic department is basically a connected room containing 200 to 250 translators, all working side by side, at very close quarters.

CD: What, in government-issue cubicles?

SE: Not even – maybe half cubicles. I mean, your shoulders were touching those of the translator next to you. It was that tight.

CD: What languages were covered in this office?

SE: Oh, a lot of languages. Certain departments had 25 to 30 translators. Some only had two. It was based on the perceived importance of the language in question.

CD: So you were put in to translate documents related to the war on terror, from Turkish into English, right?

SE: Yes, Turkish and the other two languages I spoke. For one of these I was the first formal person for one of them that they had, but I can't say which one.

Now the FBI has two kinds of translators – "linguists" and "monitors." The first are more highly qualified, can do the whole range of translating whether it be from documents, audio, verbatim, detainee interviews, etc. The latter, because their proficiency levels were lower in either English or the target language, and because they had obtained lower scores in one of the two exams, had a more limited role. For example, they weren't allowed to do verbatim translations, but more like summaries.

CD: Something like a general overview of a document, to judge whether it would require a closer look by someone better qualified?

SE: Exactly. A summary that a more qualified linguist could then translate verbatim if it contained important information.

CD: So you were in the first category, a full linguist?

SE: For Turkish and Azerbaijani I was, yes. But since I hadn't been practicing Farsi for practically 25 years, I was just allowed to be a monitor in that language. I passed all the FBI exams in written Farsi, but not all for speaking. So I didn't do, say, live interviews.

CD: Whom did you work with? Only fellow translators, or did you work with special agents from the field?

SE: Most of our immediate supervisors were former translators who became bureaucrats. They handled things like time sheets, insurance, and making travel arrangements for us when we would have to travel. But yes, I did work on a daily basis with special agents.

CD: From where? Washington or other places too?

SE: Well, the one special agent I worked with most frequently was from the local office, but also there were agents from FBI offices all over the country. They flooded us with urgent translation requests, especially dealing with assignments and investigations begun before 9/11, and connected with 9/11, but that had been neglected before. Close to 75 percent of my assignments then had to do with pre-9/11 intelligence.

CD: Did you get called out for special assignments in other cities?

SE: Yes, I went to other cities, for example to perform translations for detainees who did not speak English. Let's say an agent in Chicago has a detainee suspected of terrorist involvement, they need to know if he should be kept or released. If he doesn't speak much English it can be hard to know. So you need translators.

The Critical Importance of Translators

CD: People have disparaged the job and position as being "low-level." But from this, it sounds like very important work. Did you ever feel the agents were depending on you?

SE: Well, just think about it: if they don't know the language, they are not in a position to make decisions. You are. You're going through thousands of pieces of evidence, and have to decide which ones to do verbatim, which ones to summarize, which ones to throw away as being irrelevant. I mean, a transcript about someone's sex life is not particularly useful. But there might be important clues hidden in some at first glance not very interesting text. So the translator has to sift out what's important, before the analysts and agents even see it.

CD: So you're saying that you would see all of the raw data first, and then decide what to do with it and who would see it?

SE: Correct.

CD: And that they [the agents] don't have any way of knowing if you're telling the truth or giving them the right translation?

SE: Correct.

CD: So more or less, the agents are at the mercy of the translator?

SE: Correct. While the FBI's internal procedures say that a second translator should always take a look at every text, to prevent any faulty translations from occurring, that never happens.

CD: Really? Why not?

SE: Well, a lot of the translators would find that offensive, you know, the idea that someone might think they're not good enough and need to be babysat in their translating. It could end up in a fistfight.

The whole place is like that. It's like the Twilight Zone in there – you have to keep the Pakistani translators on one side of the room and the Indians on the other, or they will come to blows. You have to keep the Hebrew translators separated from the Arabic ones, and so on. It's so unprofessional it's ridiculous. Most of the time people spend trying to dig up dirt on one another. Really.

CD: From this, I gather that most of the FBI's translators are foreign-born?

SE: As far as I saw, yes, everyone was a naturalized citizen. And I understand that some of these guys had only been in the country for, like, four or five years. So they can't have been able to do really detailed background checks on all of them.

CD: But back to your working relationship with the field agents. Did you have to do anything else to bring them up to speed on the situation in question, or just translate the documents?

SE: For the record, I have to say that most of these agents were really, really good and they did their best despite all the nonsense and bureaucratic obstructions. But they can't be expected to be really successful if they don't have the right background. There was this one guy I worked with, he had formerly done the drug beat in L.A. and then was transferred to counter-intelligence. He was a great agent, but since he didn't have the right political and cultural background, he couldn't understand the translated texts in their proper context. And you also have to be up-to-date [on developments taking place in the country where the target language is spoken]. So I had to give him little notes explaining what it all meant.

CD: That does not sound very auspicious.

SE: It's so funny. You would think that that was supposed to be the job of the analysts. That the information would go first from the translators then to the analysts for color commentary, then finally to the agents to be acted on.

But no. You translate it, give it to the agent and if he decides it's important, he will send it to the analysts – maybe seven or eight days later!

CD: That said, what was the general modus operandi of your translations department? I mean, what percent of translators were both translating well and keeping their agents as informed as you were?

SE: A very few translators worked like I did – basically, the few people who actually cared. But also, note that the majority of agents didn't even realize they needed to understand more than the raw translated text to know what they should do next. So, a lot of times very important information was overlooked, simply because no one recognized its significance.

CD: Aside from these frustrations and letdowns, were there any cases in which you felt some of your work produced a clearly positive result through the actions of those you informed?

SE: Yes. Certain investigations I contributed to as a translator were successfully concluded by our agents. On one occasion, the intelligence agency of a certain foreign country sent a commendation letter to the agent I was partnered with, because they had taken an action based on information he had provided them – information which ultimately derived from me.

Incompetence, Corruption and Cover-ups: The Kevin Taskasen Affair

CD: In your October 25 2002 interview with 60 Minutes, "Lost in Translation," you charged the FBI with incompetence and greed – and also of allowing infiltration by foreign intelligence outfits. Some of these charges have also been substantiated by other sources, both congressional and from inside the bureau. For example, there's the Guantanamo Bay Turkish-English translator who actually didn't know either language very well, Kevin Taskasen, I believe? And he worked with you at some point?

SE: Correct.

CD: And also, your bosses told you to work more slowly, in some cases not at all, so that the department's seemingly huge workload would mean more funding the next year, right?

SE: Correct.

CD: Can you provide any more details on these subjects?

SE: Well, as for Kevin – he was this poor little guy who was very nice, his only fault as a translator being that he, well, didn't speak English.

CD: Really! Where was he from? How did he get that job, anyway?

SE: Kevin was from Turkey. He had met an American woman there, married her, and moved to America. But his lower-elementary-school-level English was only enough to get him a job as a busboy/dishwasher in a restaurant.

However, his wife worked in the languages testing center at FBI headquarters in Washington. Hers was the office that takes in the applications of aspiring translators and schedule language proficiency tests.

CD: So in other words, she used her connections to get him a job in the FBI, even though he wasn't qualified?

SE: Correct. There was an Arabic language supervisor in our department, who had about seven or eight family members under his wing, working away in the Arabic language section even though several of them weren't qualified, hadn't passed the proficiency test in either English or Arabic…

CD: So they made a bargain?

SE: Yes, he had made a deal with this woman, Kevin's wife. She had approved all of his extended family members to work for the FBI translations center, and so she then asked to do the same with her poor husband. And I can't really blame him at all, he was just a nice guy who dreamed of opening his own restaurant. But that's not likely to happen when you're working as a busboy for $6.50 an hour.

CD: How much do they pay in the translating department that he was hired to?

SE: The average is $40 an hour.

CD: So basically, what you had was a nudge-nudge wink-wink thing going on between the woman in the application office and the head honcho in the translation center.

SE: Correct. In light of what she'd done for him, the deal was that he [the Arabic supervisor] would turn a blind eye to her poor husband's incompetence for 3 years. He agreed and in October 2001 it started. Again, I can't blame Kevin. He would be coming to me every five minutes asking, "What does this word mean?" He was really trying, but he was struggling because he just didn't know English well enough. So I ended up having to do his work for him too.

CD: How long did this go on for? Did you alert your supervisors?

SE: Yes. I went to them and asked, "what is he doing here?" But nothing was done and only a few months later, in February of 2002, he was given a TDY [travel assignment] – to translate the testimony of Turkic-speaking detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

When told of this assignment, Kevin stood in front of all the other translators. He was crying, and said, "I can't do it, I just can't." I told him to go to the boss – and just say no, if he didn't feel capable. But he didn't.

CD: Come on! One would think that for the marquis interrogation center in the war on terror, the government would send only the best and brightest. Why did they even think of sending him?

SE: Aside from sending Kevin, the FBI had only two options, neither of them good for them. They could send me, as I was the only qualified Turkish linguist, but this raised a red flag considering that I had already started to make a fuss about how the game was being played. Their other choice was to humbly ask the NSA or DIA or another agency to borrow a Turkish-language translator. But they couldn't do this because there is all this intra-agency competition. None of them would ever let it look like their people weren't as good as the other agencies'. So it was partly a matter of pride.

CD: Do you know what happened to Kevin in Guantanamo?

SE: He didn't come back till mid-April [2002]. But surely while there he had heard information he wasn't able to convey properly in English. Maybe clues about 9/11, or about future terrorist attacks in the works. Or maybe information proving that some detainees had been wrongfully imprisoned.

That's another thing. What if a military detainee is on trial? You have to, you simply have to double-check the translations that are being used as evidence against the detainee. After all, you might be sending someone to his death based on faulty evidence! But all too often, they just put the stamp of approval on anything that says "FBI translation," because that is supposed to indicate automatically a certain unassailable level of quality.

CD: After coming back, and after the story broke proving he wasn't a qualified translator, what happened then? Did he get fired?

SE: No. After all that, he is back in Washington D.C., and is the head of the Turkish department in the FBI translations center. As far as I know, he is the only Turkish-speaking translator there now. Even after all this.

CD: Good God! One translator – and an incompetent one at that! Isn't that a national security liability?

SE: Yes, but you have to look at it from their perspective. What if they let him go, and he starts talking about what he knows? Either way, it's about control. If they fire someone, they might either corroborate my story, or even release documents that could prove damning for the FBI … it works out to be more of a liability for them to fire someone than to keep them in the office, where they can continue to compromise our national security.

Criminal Infiltration: The Mysterious "Semi-Legitimate Organizations"

CD: In a fascinating recent interview with, you say that with the synoptic view you acquired at the FBI, the "picture" of non-state organized crime linked with state institutions becomes "crystal clear." For the benefit of our readers, let me just re-quote one of your statements:

"[Y]ou have [a] network of people who obtain certain information and they take it out and sell it to … whomever would be the highest bidder. Then you have people who would be bringing into the country narcotics from the East, and their connections. [It] is only then that you really see the big picture."

At several points you state that such organized crime networks employ "semi-legitimate organizations" as their point of interface with governments and the "legit" world. Can you explain exactly what you mean?

SE: These are organizations that might have a legitimate front – say as a business, or a cultural center or something. And we've also heard a lot about Islamic charities as fronts for terrorist organizations, but the range is much broader and even, simpler.

CD: For example?

SE: You might have an organization supposed to be promoting the cultural affairs of a certain country within another country. Hypothetically, say, an Uzbek folklore society based in Germany. The stated purpose would be to hold folklore-related activities – and they might even do that – but the real activities taking place behind the scenes are criminal.

CD: Such as?

SE: Everything – from drugs to money laundering to arms sales. And yes, there are certain convergences with all these activities and international terrorism.

CD: So with these organizations we're talking about a lot of money –

SE: Huge, just massive. They don't deal with 1 million or 5 million dollars, but with hundreds of millions.

CD: From your previous testimony and the examples I want to bring up next, it would seem that organized crime with terrorist links is really holding the reins inside powerful governments, even the American one. No?

SE: That may be, but I don't know. I didn't get high enough up on the ladder to find out. With all of this suspicious and unprecedented "state secrets" obstructionism from Ashcroft, it might seem that way, but I don't have any direct information.

CD: But what do think, within departments such as the Pentagon and the State Department. Do you suspect certain high officials may be profiting from terrorist-linked organized crime?

SE: I can't say anything specific with regards to these departments, because I didn't work for them. But as for the politicians, what I can say is that when you start talking about huge amounts of money, certain elected officials become automatically involved. And there are different kinds of campaign contributions – legal and illegal, declared and undeclared.

CD: Could this apparent toleration of dangerous criminal groups in the midst possibly be interpreted to mean that American policy is driven by the "ends justify the means" philosophy?

SE: But how are the ends possibly met by such activities? To this day, I just can't see how. What is happening does not benefit 99.9 percent of Americans – just a very small elite.

I'm no expert, but from what I have personally seen I can say that our national security is being compromised every day, because important investigations are being stopped, and potentially important clues are being overlooked. It's absolutely incredible that even after 9/11, certain individuals, foreign businessmen and others, among others, are still escaping scrutiny.

Okay, perhaps talking about the pre-9/11 world they could get away with saying "we didn't know," but to continue doing so – I mean, what if we are attacked by nuclear or chemical weapons, what will be their next excuse? That "we didn't know" it could happen? Come on! I can prove they are lying, because they know.

The Jan Dickerson Affair: A Brief History

CD: Right. So let's discuss your specific experiences of criminal infiltration in the FBI, for example when one of your co-workers, Jan [originally "Can"] Dickerson, and her husband tried to recruit you into a criminal network that had infiltrated high levels of the U.S. government.

SE: Alright, sure.

CD: As I understand it, Jan Dickerson was also trying to protect one criminal associate – a Turkish-speaking suspect of an FBI investigation – by blocking translations referring to him. Yes?

SE: Correct.

CD: And this was an official working out of the Turkish Embassy in Washington –

SE: No, that part is not correct. I cannot talk about the position or the job of this person –

CD: But in the other media stories about your case, he was identified as –

SE: Yes, I know. The term "official" was used in the senators' memos from their [summer 2002] meetings with the FBI, and so then when cited by the media it became automatically assumed that he was government – but since this individual has never been named, I can only describe him as working on behalf of a "semi-legitimate" organization.

CD: Okay, so tell us about Jan Dickerson, and that experience.

SE: Well, I have to be somewhat general about this, but based on unclassified sources alone you can get a pretty good idea. Melek Can Dickerson was a Turkish woman –

CD: Originally from Turkey, like you?

SE: Yes, from Turkey, and she met her husband there, Douglas – Major Douglas Dickerson, that is. He was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Ankara. They met in 1991 and stayed in Turkey till 1994 or 1995. Then they went to Germany, where he was stationed after, for two or three years. And then they came to the U.S. in 1999.

CD: But first, regarding Turkey: do you know what Dickerson's function was there in the USAF?

SE: He was involved with weapons procurement for various Central Asian and Middle Eastern governments from the United States.

CD: Yo! Do you mean he was procuring weapons on an intra-governmental basis, or something else?

SE: Yes, from the U.S. government for these other governments. I assume it was all legal and part of his job.

CD: Okay, but in the process he could have built up contacts and connections with various unsavory characters in regional governments and in the arms trade –

SE: He could have, but I don't know.

CD: Anyway, what kind of countries are we talking about here?

SE: Oh… I don't know all of them exactly, but I guess these would be countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan –

CD: All of our favorites –

SE: [Laughter] Yes, right, countries like these and some Middle Eastern countries.

CD: And what about after Turkey? When they went to Germany?

SE: Well, he was stationed there, and while in Germany, Jan Dickerson started working for this semi-legitimate organization whose members, much later, were being investigated by the FBI, when I was working there.

CD: Fascinating, And this criminal group that the Dickersons were involved in, what kind of countries did it have connections with and where were its members from?

SE: Oh, that varied. Members came from all over; when you're dealing with those huge amounts of money you get people from everywhere.

CD: Americans?

SE: Of course. But also from Europe, Central Asia, etc. And this organization had branches throughout these places, in the U.S., Germany, and several other countries.

The Fateful Visit

CD: Now let's fast-forward to November 2001, when Jan Dickerson joined you at the FBI. What were her duties?

SE: She was a "monitor," the second type of translator, because she didn't have the scores on one of her two language proficiency exams. As a monitor she was supposed to make general summary translations, not verbatim.

CD: Did you have any idea at the time about her suspect allegiances?

SE: I had no idea at first. It was only after some suspicious behavior and then her and her husband's unannounced visit to our house that everything became clear.

One day in December [2001], my husband and I were at our home in Alexandria, Va., when the doorbell rang. It was Jan and Doug Dickerson. They also lived in Alexandria, so I didn't think of it as suspicious at first. I think the point for her was to introduce her husband to mine. We invited them in for coffee, and –

CD: She started trying to recruit you for their illegal activities?

SE: No, actually she herself did not. It was the husband who started talking about this semi-legitimate organization: "Hey, have you ever heard of this group?" he said, casually mentioning this organization to my husband. He replied, "Yeah, I know about them." And I started sweating, because I knew this organization was under FBI investigation, and I was by law not allowed to discuss anything about it with my husband.

CD: But, for your husband to have heard of it, it had to have been a group that was well known to the public as something fairly innocuous, right?

SE: Yes, as I said, a legitimate front. And Dickerson asked my husband if he'd ever thought of joining the organization.

CD: So there was something socially desirable about belonging in this group?

SE: Correct. And so my husband was kind of surprised, you know, because this wasn't the sort of group just anyone could belong to. "But I thought you had to be such and such a person, with such and such connections and references to get in," my husband was saying.

And then Major Douglas Dickerson smiled and pointed at me. "All you have to do is tell them where your wife works and what she does, and they will let you in like that," he said [snapping his fingers]. They wanted to sell me for the information I could provide, basically.

CD: What did you take this to mean? You would have to hand over classified FBI information –

SE: Correct. The information I could give these people would be worth a lot of money.

CD: And what would you get out of it?

SE: Well, money, and we could leave the country, you know, live a very comfortable life wherever we wanted. We would never have to work again, they promised.

CD: So what did you do then, with him propositioning your husband right in front of you?

SE: I tried to change the subject, because anything I might say on the subject would have been against the law, considering the ongoing investigation.

CD: When you went back to work, did you bring the matter up?

SE: I reported it two days later to my direct supervisor, a former Arabic translator. He told me he would file it immediately with the security department. This was in December 2001. When nothing happened, I pursued the matter with a special agent who had also been getting suspicious about some of Jan Dickerson's translations. When we finally got through to the security department, they said they'd never been notified in the first place about my complaint. I have all of the dated documents, emails, etc., still to prove it.

CD: Did Dickerson's protection of the suspects, and their larger infiltration of the American security apparatus, did these things have a deleterious effect on bureau investigations?

SE: As a result of their penetration, certain people who had been detained were released – people who had valuable information. And other targets of this investigation, key people, were allowed to flee the country, right up through January and February of 2002.

CD: These were foreign nationals based in the United States?

SE: Correct.

CD: Did you have any awareness of this exodus?

SE: I reported some of the suspects' names higher up as I came across them in our investigation. And you know what? Within two weeks, they had all left the country. Just vanished.

The Great Escape

CD: So what happened after? As far as I know, Jan Dickerson has quit the FBI and re-located to Belgium. Was she forced out when your story broke? Did she flee? And is her husband still in the Air Force?

SE: I assume that at the time of that conversation in our house, in December 2001, Douglas Dickerson was in the USAF because finally in August of the next year, the USAF held a formal investigation and confirmed this. This was a major violation of his high-level security clearance. By law he is required to report it if his wife or family members are involved with illegal activities.

Mysteriously enough, only two weeks after the formal Air Force investigation began, they both left the country, on September 9, 2002.

CD: Why did the government just let them escape?

SE: Well, after my case began in June 2002, the judge subpoenaed them and ordered the DOJ not to let them leave the country. But the Air Force gave them a free pass – by sending Major Dickerson off to Belgium to work something with NATO, a minimum two-year assignment.

CD: With NATO? Doing what?

SE: I don't know exactly, just that it was with NATO. So before leaving, a pretty angry Doug Dickerson had to make a declaration under oath that if he was requested by the court at any time he would return, and the FBI would pay for his flight.

CD: So there is still a chance that they will face justice someday?

SE: Well, we discovered that the Dickerson's also had bank accounts in several countries, some of which didn't have the appropriate extradition treaties with the U.S. … so I don't think so, no, I don't think it's likely. They're gone.

But the really outrageous thing is that, for the whole month we were subpoenaing them, starting in June 2002, Jan Dickerson was still working away in the FBI translations department, with her top-security clearance. This even though the FBI had simultaneously admitted to a congressional committee that not only had Jan Dickerson worked for this suspect organization in the past, but that she had maintained ongoing relationships with at least two individuals under investigation.

But How Could She Have Been Hired?

CD: Why was she allowed to stay, and keep her security clearance? Were they trying to protect someone higher up?

SE: I don't know. Is it possible? Yes. But I just don't know.

But at the unclassified meeting between the senators and FBI being held then, the former were in utter disbelief when the FBI admitted Jan Dickerson had been working for this semi-legitimate organization since long before she joined the bureau. "But how!?" asked the senators. You know what their answer was? "Well, she didn't write down any previous employers on her application."

CD: What? None?

SE: Correct. She didn't just neglect to mention that job, aside from others she put down. She just left the whole box blank! As if she had never worked a day in her life!

CD: And the FBI hired her? You can't even get a job in a bar without listing previous employers!

SE: Look, it took me a year and a half to get my background check performed. And that after filling out the complete application – at the bottom of which it states that failure to fill out the form correctly will result in a cash fine and jail term for perjury. A federal crime. So based on that alone, even aside from her other activities, Jan Dickerson should have been prosecuted!

CD: But instead she was hired – and kept on even after things heated up. There's something very, very suspicious about all this, especially considering the way Kevin Taskasen was hired. Do you believe another official on the inside, part of that crime ring, brought her in?

SE: I recently met with a reliable source who confirmed that Melek Can Dickerson was hired and granted TSC [top security clearance] without having to go through a background check/investigation, and that in light of [infamous FBI double-agent Robert] Hanssen the bureau is doing all it can to keep it quiet. Still, I have plenty of unanswered questions: why? By whom?

CD: That indeed seems to be the underlying question here. Did the FBI have anything else to say under this senatorial scrutiny?

SE: They made the quite pertinent point that she [Jan Dickerson] had failed to disclose her previous associations with the suspect organization. A shocked senator said, "If you gave her top security clearance, how could she not have been made to disclose [this information]?"

You know how they [the FBI] replied? "A lack of good training" was behind Dickerson's failure to properly disclose her various relationships.

CD: That's incredible. What was the reaction from the senators?

SE: They were persistent, mentioning that beyond that, hadn't she blocked pertinent information [in translations]? The FBI replied, "Oh, well, we've confirmed this in two or three cases."

Actually, there were hundreds of cases from November 2001 to February 2002 in which she obstructed investigations with her translations – or lack thereof.

CD: Right, how exactly would she do this?

SE: Well, as a monitor, she was supposed to give general translations – or not – and if not the document could be marked "not pertinent," and basically never be seen again.

In those few months, she managed to mark every file that mentioned this, these targets, [the Turkish suspect] as "not pertinent." Hundreds of files. Finally, this special agent working on the case got suspicious, and he tasked me with re-translating all of these documents.

CD: So how did that go? Did you find any damning information?

SE: Oh, yes. There was content that directly linked the suspects with the group under investigation.

CD: How many documents did you translate?

SE: Out of the pile of hundreds, I only got to 17 pieces before I was suddenly terminated.

CD: Can you tell us how long the FBI had been investigating these targets by the time you started working for them?

SE: A long time. There's really no time limit with the big criminal and counter-intelligence investigations, versus the counter-terrorism ones. These are investigations we'd never do anything about –

CD: Why?

SE: [Laughing] Because it would hurt certain foreign relations abroad, of course … and they don't want that. So even after 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11, those behind these very lucrative illegal activities get a free pass. And they refuse to continue important investigations because of certain diplomatic relations that 99.9 percent of Americans gain no benefits from.

How the FBI Seduces Dissenters

CD: Sibel, I know you made a lot of complaints about several other examples of corruption and incompetence beyond the ones we have time to discuss. Can you just explain a little about how your superiors received your complaints?

SE: Sure. They used what we call the "hooking" procedure. When I first reported some of these translations failures and stalling tactics in December 2001 to my superiors, my mid-level manager said to me, "Now, Sibel, I understand you've been taking on a lot of coursework at your university. Why not take advantage of our workplace opportunities?"

When I asked him what he meant, this boss suggested that I could "bring my school bag" to work on Saturdays and Sundays, and just study. No work. I wouldn't even have to turn on my computer. He told me that I should then put myself down as having worked all those hours on the time sheet, so that, you know, I would be making something like $700 in a weekend – specifically for not working!

CD: Incredible.

SE: And this is what they say when you file a complaint.

CD: So is that the extent of how they tried to appease you and forestall complaints, or do you have other examples?

SE: That's funny, there is another really amazing example. They would come to me and say, "Sibel, we understand you've been going back to Turkey a couple of times a year to visit family. Before you go the next time, just let us know. We'll make it a TDY" [paid travel]. And all I'd have to do is stop off in some liaison office in Ankara a couple times, make my little appearance, and suddenly all my flights, hotels and expenses would be paid for by the FBI. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

CD: An offer you couldn't refuse, huh? I imagine most people in your position would take it.

SE: Oh, so many people will go for it … but if you do, then they [the FBI] can use it against you. Maybe discover irregularities in your expenses at some later date, "forged" documents, or else just hold it over your head. They love to do things like that to hold you in their power.

On another occasion when I complained about working conditions and practices, they actually offered to hire and train me as SA, special agent! I still have a copy of that offer. I said, "I'm not here to ask for a promotion, I'm trying to make a complaint!" Then they would just change the topic. They would go to any length possible to avoid accountability.

The Current Situation: Ashcroft's Obstructionism and a Legal Battle

CD: Sibel, I know you are eager to speak about the lawsuit you have filed against the Department of Justice, and John Ashcroft's questionable use of the "State Secrets Act" to place a gag order on you. Can you give us some background on this legal battle, and the current state of play?

SE: My case originally began in June of 2002, when I filed a First Amendment and Privacy lawsuit against the Department of Justice. In two unclassified meetings in June and July, eight people from two senators met with three FBI officials, including Margaret Gullota, who is still in charge of the FBI languages department. At these meetings, the FBI admitted that all of my charges were accurate. The memos taken down by Senators Grassley and Leahy, two very senior senators, confirmed this. That's very damning for [the FBI].

CD: I understand that Ashcroft's current restrictive tactics have revolved around this concept of classified versus unclassified meetings. Can you please distinguish precisely what is meant by each term?

SE: A classified meeting must be held in a secure room known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), you know, a room swept for bugs, checked for wiretaps, and everyone in there has to have top security clearance. But this wasn't the case in June and July 2002. They didn't follow any of these procedures in the meetings with the senators, because they were never requested to be classified by the FBI in the first place. So now all they can say is, "Whoops, those meetings should have been classified," and thus try to classify them after the fact.

CD: So how has the case gotten to this point? Has there been no progress at all?

SE: From the beginning, there has been zero activity. Four times I was given a hearing date, and four times it was cancelled without explanation.

However, the big law firm Motley Rice subpoenaed me in April of this year, as part of their lawsuit on behalf of family members of the 9/11 victims. Motley Rice wanted copies of all the memos those senators had written during that unclassified meetings in 2002. But as soon as they even listed some of the questions they were planning to ask me, it was suddenly "state secrets" time.

John Ashcroft – you can expect anything from that man – has now broken the law in trying to silence me. I have been speaking out for over two years, but only now is he saying "everything about Sibel Edmonds is classified." It's ridiculous.

CD: But by demanding all the information be dug up and reburied, isn't the DOJ actually bringing more attention to your cause?

SE: Exactly! That's just what it has done. These people are shooting themselves in the foot.

So, returning to the subpoena, I was scheduled to appear on April 27. Two days before, the DOJ started kicking and screaming to hold an emergency proceeding. This was the first time (on April 26) that I had the privilege of going before the judge President Bush had appointed, Reggie Walton. He was not the first judge who had been appointed to the case. Their tactic was to pass it around from judge to judge to make sure the case would never begin. Judge Walton has now sat on it for two years.

CD: But didn't the intervention of Motley Rice help at all? Did Judge Walton make a new hearing date for you?

SE: Well, on June 24 they filed an appeal. But, oh, my case is so messy and complicated. Judge Walton then set a hearing date for June 14, but of course he cancelled it two days later. Now he has said, and I can be verbally exact: "Tentatively, we will have a hearing on July 9, 2004." But it's not going to happen. They're going to drag this thing out. The judge has liberty to sit on it as long as he wants.

CD: But can't you file an appeal or complaint or anything to expedite the process?

SE: Well, yes you can file a complaint, but some in the legal community caution that this can actually backfire because the judge tends to grow more and more antagonistic if you do so.

CD: So basically, you have had no progress on this case.

Is the Tide Turning?

SE: Correct. We have had no progress. Except, now others are joining up. For the past two weeks, we have had new support from the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and Citizen Watch.

CD: What have they been doing?

SE: The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) has declared that Attorney General Ashcroft violated their regulations when he put the gag order on me and ordered everything to be re-classified. There are three criteria that need to be met for a gag order to take effect: one, that the order must come from the head of the Department of Justice; two, that the information in question must be reasonably recoverable; and three, that the head of the DOJ first obtain the official approval of the ISOO.

However, only the first of these criteria was met – Ashcroft did indeed give the order. But the second criterion was obviously impossible – so many websites, newspapers and TV had long ago published all of the material relating to my case. It was and is everywhere. There is nothing "reasonably recoverable" about it.

And as for the third criteria, let alone not get permission, Ashcroft didn't even bother to notify the ISOO that he was re-classifying the information related to me. He showed contempt for the regulations by going around them.

CD: So in other words, the Attorney General's actions were completely illegal?

SE: Correct. Because these three criteria were not met, the DOJ has actually violated its own rules!

CD: Do you have the support of any congressmen? I know that Senators Grassley and Leahy, in particular, have stepped up to bat for you.

SE: Well it's very interesting, even though this issue is starting to get major media interest, like the recent articles in The New Republic and New York Times, these two senators are still complying with an order from Ashcroft that is completely illegal.

CD: How exactly?

SE: They have removed texts from their official websites detailing the unclassified meeting they had with the FBI in 2002. We found out when the New York Times printed a leaked memo, on May 19 or 20, that senators were ordered the information had been re-classified.

CD: You have expressed a desire for "one brave senator" to take up your cause. But what can they actually do, if the DOJ and judges rule in favor of classification?

SE: You know what they can do? Any senator or congressman can tell the press everything I have to say.

CD: Really? Doesn't that violate whatever the restrictions are the DOJ is putting on you?

SE: I'm authorized under law to testify in secret, in a secure room [SCIF] before a congressman. But if that congressman believes that national security overrides secrecy, he can put my testimony out there. That's what happened with Daniel Ellsberg. Senator Gravel poured out everything he had said before the congress because it was in the interests of the country. These people like John Ashcroft are actually endangering our national security by destroying civil liberties with such things as the Patriot Act. They are just cowards. They lack guts.

CD: So, have you given up on the elected officials to stick up for you?

SE: No, I haven't given up. I hope that there is at least one person in the congress who will convey my testimony in public. But I'm really starting to believe that the best way to do it is through the press. I recently briefed Congress Waxman (CA), again gave him all the information, but nothing so far. I went back into the SCIF, a black hole into which all information disappears and never comes out. Boy, if only those walls could talk.

CD: Have you ever thought of Representative Ron Paul of Texas? He strikes me as someone who would be sympathetic to your plight.

SE: I know of him, and I have heard that an activist person has been sending his office all the details of my case, but I have not received any request from them.

CD: Is that the way it has to work?

SE: Yes, I have to receive an official request first in order to be interviewed.

FBI Reforms: Still on Hold

CD: Even though you haven't been working for the FBI for over two years, can you give us any updates on the present state of affairs there? Have your revelations shaken things up at all, regarding the way they do business?

SE: From the few contacts I still have, 'cause most of them have been cowed into silence by now, nothing has changed.

CD: Haven't they even attempted any reforms in the translations department?

SE: No.

CD: You said that poor Kevin Taskasen remains the only Turkish-language "translator" there. Given the vast importance of the Turkic languages in today's most important national security issues, why does the FBI put such a low priority on finding good Turkish translators?

SE: That I don't know. But I agree with you, it really doesn't make sense.

Future Plans and Final Thoughts

CD: Do you think you were naïve about what it would be like, working for the FBI in the post-9/11 world?

SE: The amount of sh*t you get exposed to on the inside strips you of any innocence you may have had. In an analogy, take the war on drugs. They say they're fighting drugs and keeping America safe by attacking the low-level dealers and addicts on the street – but leaving the big-time, well-connected dealers alone. That is just disgusting.

CD: What are you planning to do next in your life?

SE: I will start a Ph.D. in January, either in the subject of public policy with relation to transparency, or else conflict resolution analysis, regarding Central Asia and Turkey.

CD: Would you work for government again, after what you've been through?

SE: I'd rather be a watchdog – you know, someone who would push Congress to follow their duties and exercise some oversight. It's really incredible, when I asked a congressman's staff whether they have oversight, they say, "Well … we do, but we don't." When I asked what that meant, he said, "Well, we can make a statement, but the DOJ doesn't listen to us." Then don't say you have it, if you don't!

CD: Have you any plans to write a book about your experiences someday?

SE: Well, maybe someday, but not until all of these legal battles are finished and everything is done. But these past two years I've been staying away from anything that can even remotely be seen as cashing in – the old "oh, she's out to make a profit from this" type of accusation. It's very frustrating for the government that they haven't been able to smear my name.

CD: Aha!

SE: Yes, that's one of the first things they try. To dig up dirt. They have their own ways of doing it – to look into your background, check any arrest record, if you've lied somewhere, etc. But they haven't been able to do that in my case and it is very frustrating for them.

CD: If you win the suit, what will happen next? Will you speak openly about everything you know?

SE: Well, just winning the suit is not enough. As long as the Justice Department considers this information related to my case a "state secret," they will use everything they can to quash it. Even if the judge rules and says no state secrets privileges can be granted, the DOJ will still buy time by appealing. So this will most likely be a long and difficult battle.

CD: If your full testimony is heard by the public, who or what agencies are going to be in the biggest trouble?

SE: Well, as for agencies I guess the DOJ, FBI, State Department. But in a way these agencies get some kind of immunity when you charge them like this … I hate to see how a lot of agents get stigmatized in this. Most of the field agents I met in the FBI were good, honest and hardworking individuals. They were trying to do their best, but up against this ingrown bureaucracy – this is where you have the problem, as will as with certain elected officials.

CD: What are they so afraid of?

SE: They're afraid of information, of the truth coming out, and accountability – the whole accountability issue that will arise. But it's not as complicated as it might seem. If they were to allow the whole picture to emerge, it would just boil down to a whole lot of money and illegal activities.

CD: Hmm, well I know you can't name names, but can you tell me if any specific officials will suffer if your testimony comes out?

SE: Yes. Certain elected officials will stand trial and go to prison.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Soldier for the Truth
Exposing Bush’s talking-points war
by Marc Cooper

Busting the liars:
Karen Kwiatkowski
(Photo by Jack Gould)

After two decades in the U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, now 43, knew her career as a regional analyst was coming to an end when — in the months leading up to the war in Iraq — she felt she was being “propagandized” by her own bosses.

With master’s degrees from Harvard in government and zoology and two books on Saharan Africa to her credit, she found herself transferred in the spring of 2002 to a post as a political/military desk officer at the Defense Department’s office for Near East South Asia (NESA), a policy arm of the Pentagon.

Kwiatkowski got there just as war fever was spreading, or being spread as she would later argue, through the halls of Washington. Indeed, shortly after her arrival, a piece of NESA was broken off, expanded and re-dubbed with the Orwellian name of the Office of Special Plans. The OSP’s task was, ostensibly, to help the Pentagon develop policy around the Iraq crisis.

She would soon conclude that the OSP — a pet project of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld — was more akin to a nerve center for what she now calls a “neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon.”

Though a lifelong conservative, Kwiatkowski found herself appalled as the radical wing of the Bush administration, including her superiors in the Pentagon planning department, bulldozed internal dissent, overlooked its own intelligence and relentlessly pushed for confrontation with Iraq.

Deeply frustrated and alarmed, Kwiatkowski, still on active duty, took the unusual step of penning an anonymous column of internal Pentagon dissent that was posted on the Internet by former Colonel David Hackworth, America’s most decorated veteran.

As war inevitably approached, and as she neared her 20-year mark in the Air Force, Kwiatkowski concluded the only way she could viably resist what she now terms the “expansionist, imperialist” policies of the neoconservatives who dominated Iraq policy was by retiring and taking up a public fight against them.

She left the military last March, the same week that troops invaded Iraq. Kwiatkowski started putting her real name on her Web reports and began accepting speaking invitations. “I’m now a soldier for the truth,” she said in a speech last week at Cal Poly Pomona. Afterward, I spoke with her.

L.A. WEEKLY: What was the relationship between NESA and the now-notorious Office of Special Plans, the group set up by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney? Was the OSP, in reality, an intelligence operation to act as counter to the CIA?

KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: The NESA office includes the Iraq desk, as well as the desks of the rest of the region. It is under Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Bill Luti. When I joined them, in May 2002, the Iraq desk was there. We shared the same space, and we were all part of the same general group. At that time it was expanding. Contractors and employees were coming though it wasn’t clear what they were doing.

In August of 2002, the expanded Iraq desk found new spaces and moved into them. It was told to us that this was now to be known as the Office of Special Plans. The Office of Special Plans would take issue with those who say they were doing intelligence. They would say they were developing policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the invasion of Iraq.

But developing policy is not the same as developing propaganda and pushing a particular agenda. And actually, that’s more what they really did. They pushed an agenda on Iraq, and they developed pretty sophisticated propaganda lines which were fed throughout government, to the Congress, and even internally to the Pentagon — to try and make this case of immediacy. This case of severe threat to the United States.

You retired when the war broke out and have been speaking out publicly. But you were already publishing critical reports anonymously while still in uniform and while still on active service. Why did you take that rather unusual step?

Due to my frustration over what I was seeing around me as soon as I joined Bill Luti’s organization, what I was seeing in terms of neoconservative agendas and the way they were being pursued to formulate a foreign policy and a military policy — an invasion of a sovereign country, an occupation, a poorly planned occupation. I was concerned about it; I was in opposition to that, and I was not alone.

So I started writing what I considered to be funny, short essays for my own sanity. Eventually, I e-mailed them to former Colonel David Hackworth, who runs the Web page Soldiers for the Truth, and he published them under the title “Insider Notes From the Pentagon.” I wrote 28 of those columns from August 2002 until I retired.

There you were, a career military officer, a Pentagon analyst, a conservative who had given two decades to this work. What provoked you to become first a covert and later a public dissident?

Like most people, I’ve always thought there should be honesty in government. Working 20 years in the military, I’m sure I saw some things that were less than honest or accountable. But nothing to the degree that I saw when I joined Near East South Asia.

This was creatively produced propaganda spread not only through the Pentagon, but across a network of policymakers — the State Department, with John Bolton; the Vice President’s Office, the very close relationship the OSP had with that office. That is not normal, that is a bypassing of normal processes. Then there was the National Security Council, with certain people who had neoconservative views; Scooter Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff; a network of think tanks who advocated neoconservative views — the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy with Frank Gaffney, the columnist Charles Krauthammer — was very reliable. So there was just not a process inside the Pentagon that should have developed good honest policy, but it was instead pushing a particular agenda; this group worked in a coordinated manner, across media and parts of the government, with their neoconservative compadres.

How did you experience this in your day-to-day work?

There was a sort of groupthink, an adopted storyline: We are going to invade Iraq and we are going to eliminate Saddam Hussein and we are going to have bases in Iraq. This was all a given even by the time I joined them, in May of 2002.

You heard this in staff meetings?

The discussions were ones of this sort of inevitability. The concerns were only that some policymakers still had to get onboard with this agenda. Not that this agenda was right or wrong — but that we needed to convince the remaining holdovers. Colin Powell, for example. There was a lot of frustration with Powell; they said a lot of bad things about him in the office. They got very angry with him when he convinced Bush to go back to the U.N. and forced a four-month delay in their invasion plans.

General Tony Zinni is another one. Zinni, the combatant commander of Central Command, Tommy Franks’ predecessor — a very well-qualified guy who knows the Middle East inside out, knows the military inside out, a Marine, a great guy. He spoke out publicly as President Bush’s Middle East envoy about some of the things he saw. Before he was removed by Bush, I heard Zinni called a traitor in a staff meeting. They were very anti-anybody who might provide information that affected their paradigm. They were the spin enforcers.

How did this atmosphere affect your work? To be direct, were you told by your superiors what you could say and not say? What could and could not be discussed? Or were opinions they didn’t like just ignored?

I can give you one clear example where we were told to follow the party line, where I was told directly. I worked North Africa, which included Libya. I remember in one case, I had to rewrite something a number of times before it went through. It was a background paper on Libya, and Libya has been working for years to try and regain the respect of the international community. I had intelligence that told me this, and I quoted from the intelligence, but they made me go back and change it and change it. They’d make me delete the quotes from intelligence so they could present their case on Libya in a way that said it was still a threat to its neighbors and that Libya was still a belligerent, antagonistic force. They edited my reports in that way. In fact, the last report I made, they said, “Just send me the file.” And I don’t know what the report ended up looking like, because I imagine more changes were made.

On Libya, really a small player, the facts did not fit their paradigm that we have all these enemies.

One person you’ve written about is Abe Shulsky. You describe him as a personable, affable fellow but one who played a key role in the official spin that led to war.

Abe was the director of the Office of Special Plans. He was in our shared offices when I joined, in May 2002. He comes from an academic background; he’s definitely a neoconservative. He is a student of Leo Strauss from the University of Chicago — so he has that Straussian academic perspective. He was the final proving authority on all the talking points that were generated from the Office of Special Plans and that were distributed throughout the Pentagon, certainly to staff officers. And it appears to me they were also distributed to the Vice President’s Office and to the presidential speechwriters. Much of the phraseology that was in our talking points consists of the same things I heard the president say.

So Shulsky was the sort of controller, the disciplinarian, the overseeing monitor of the propaganda flow. From where you sat, did you see him manipulate the information?

We had a whole staff to help him do that, and he was the approving authority. I can give you one example of how the talking points were altered. We were instructed by Bill Luti, on behalf of the Office of Special Plans, on behalf of Abe Shulsky, that we would not write anything about Iraq, WMD or terrorism in any papers that we prepared for our superiors except as instructed by the Office of Special Plans. And it would provide to us an electronic document of talking points on these issues. So I got to see how they evolved.

It was very clear to me that they did not evolve as a result of new intelligence, of improved intelligence, or any type of seeking of the truth. The way they evolved is that certain bullets were dropped or altered based on what was being reported on the front pages of the Washington Post or The New York Times.

Can you be specific?

One item that was dropped was in November [2002]. It was the issue of the meeting in Prague prior to 9/11 between Mohammed Atta and a member of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence force. We had had this in our talking points from September through mid-November. And then it dropped out totally. No explanation. Just gone. That was because the media reported that the FBI had stepped away from that, that the CIA said it didn’t happen.

Let’s clarify this. Talking points are generally used to deal with media. But you were a desk officer, not a politician who had to go and deal with the press. So are you saying the Office of Special Plans provided you a schematic, an outline of the way major points should be addressed in any report or analysis that you developed regarding Iraq, WMD or terrorism?

That’s right. And these did not follow the intent, the content or the accuracy of intelligence . . .

They were political . . .

They were political, politically manipulated. They did have obviously bits of intelligence in them, but they were created to propagandize. So we inside the Pentagon, staff officers and senior administration officials who might not work Iraq directly, were being propagandized by this same Office of Special Plans.

In the 10 months you worked in that office in the run-up to the war, was there ever any open debate? The public, at least, was being told at the time that there was a serious assessment going on regarding the level of threat from Iraq, the presence or absence of WMD, et cetera. Was this debated inside your office at the Pentagon?

No. Those things were not debated. To them, Saddam Hussein needed to go.

You believe that decision was made by the time you got there, almost a year before the war?

That decision was made by the time I got there. So there was no debate over WMD, the possible relations Saddam Hussein may have had with terrorist groups and so on. They spent their energy gathering pieces of information and creating a propaganda storyline, which is the same storyline we heard the president and Vice President Cheney tell the American people in the fall of 2002.

The very phrases they used are coming back to haunt them because they are blatantly false and not based on any intelligence. The OSP and the Vice President’s Office were critical in this propaganda effort — to convince Americans that there was some just requirement for pre-emptive war.

What do you believe the real reasons were for the war?

The neoconservatives needed to do more than just topple Saddam Hussein. They wanted to put in a government friendly to the U.S., and they wanted permanent basing in Iraq. There are several reasons why they wanted to do that. None of those reasons, of course, were presented to the American people or to Congress.

So you don’t think there was a genuine interest as to whether or not there really were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

It’s not about interest. We knew. We knew from many years of both high-level surveillance and other types of shared intelligence, not to mention the information from the U.N., we knew, we knew what was left [from the Gulf War] and the viability of any of that. Bush said he didn’t know.

The truth is, we know [Saddam] didn’t have these things. Almost a billion dollars has been spent — a billion dollars! — by David Kay’s group to search for these WMD, a total whitewash effort. They didn’t find anything, they didn’t expect to find anything.

So if, as you argue, they knew there weren’t any of these WMD, then what exactly drove the neoconservatives to war?

The neoconservatives pride themselves on having a global vision, a long-term strategic perspective. And there were three reasons why they felt the U.S. needed to topple Saddam, put in a friendly government and occupy Iraq.

One of those reasons is that sanctions and containment were working and everybody pretty much knew it. Many companies around the world were preparing to do business with Iraq in anticipation of a lifting of sanctions. But the U.S. and the U.K. had been bombing northern and southern Iraq since 1991. So it was very unlikely that we would be in any kind of position to gain significant contracts in any post-sanctions Iraq. And those sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.

The second reason has to do with our military-basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing. And also there was dissatisfaction from the people of Saudi Arabia. So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter — to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important — that is, if you hold that is America’s role in the world. Saddam Hussein was not about to invite us in.

The last reason is the conversion, the switch Saddam Hussein made in the Food for Oil program, from the dollar to the euro. He did this, by the way, long before 9/11, in November 2000 — selling his oil for euros. The oil sales permitted in that program aren’t very much. But when the sanctions would be lifted, the sales from the country with the second largest oil reserves on the planet would have been moving to the euro.

The U.S. dollar is in a sensitive period because we are a debtor nation now. Our currency is still popular, but it’s not backed up like it used to be. If oil, a very solid commodity, is traded on the euro, that could cause massive, almost glacial, shifts in confidence in trading on the dollar. So one of the first executive orders that Bush signed in May [2003] switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.

At the time you left the military, a year ago, just how great was the influence of this neoconservative faction on Pentagon policy?

When it comes to Middle East policy, they were in complete control, at least in the Pentagon. There was some debate at the State Department.

Indeed, when you were still in uniform and writing a Web column anonymously, you expressed your bitter disappointment when Secretary of State Powell — in your words — eventually “capitulated.”

He did. When he made his now-famous power-point slide presentation at the U.N., he totally capitulated. It meant he was totally onboard. Whether he believed it or not.

You gave your life to the military, you voted Republican for many years, you say you served in the Pentagon right up to the outbreak of war. What does it feel like to be out now, publicly denouncing your old bosses?

Know what it feels like? It feels like duty. That’s what it feels like. I’ve thought about it many times. You know, I spent 20 years working for something that — at least under this administration — turned out to be something I wasn’t working for. I mean, these people have total disrespect for the Constitution. We swear an oath, military officers and NCOs alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. These people have no respect for the Constitution. The Congress was misled, it was lied to. At a very minimum that is a subversion of the Constitution. A pre-emptive war based on what we knew was not a pressing need is not what this country stands for.

What I feel now is that I’m not retired. I still have a responsibility to do my part as a citizen to try and correct the problem.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Abu Ghraib whistle-blower wins JFK award

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- The Army soldier who blew the whistle on abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq received a special John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Monday, an award that recognizes acts of political courage.

Spc. Joseph Darby was the first to report abuse at the Iraqi prison, turning over photos that showed prisoners chained together in sexual poses, piled on the floor naked and forced to form a nude human pyramid.

Other award recipients Monday included Atlanta's first black woman mayor, Shirley Franklin. She was recognized for showing "courageous leadership" by raising taxes and cutting the city's payroll when she took office facing an $82 million budget deficit, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said.

Former Texas state Sen. Bill Ratliff, a former acting lieutenant governor, was honored for being the only Republican lawmaker who publicly objected to his party's 2003 redistricting plan, which critics called divisive and overly partisan.

Winners were announced in March.

President Viktor Yushchenko of the Ukraine, leader of the movement that forced out his country's pro-Russian government last year, received his award during a visit to the United States in April.

The award, which was created in 1989, has often gone to unsung heroes, Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy's daughter, said Monday.

"Often the people who receive this award don't really think they've done anything remarkable, and don't really think that what they did was courageous -- they're just doing a job as they see it. That's one of the things that makes them remarkable," said Kennedy, who serves as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

The award is named after Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Management said...

A Toxic Cover-Up?
April 4, 2004

Who is Jack Spadaro? He's a man who's devoted his life to the safety of miners and the safety of people who live near mines.

He's an engineer, who until recently was head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy (MSHA), a branch of the Department of Labor, which trains mining inspectors.

But he lost that job last year, after he blew the whistle on what he called a whitewash by the Bush administration of an investigation into a major environmental disaster. Correspondent Bob Simon reports. ”I had never seen anything so corrupt and lawless in my entire career as what I saw regarding interference with a federal investigation of the most serious environmental disaster in the history of the Eastern United States,” says Spadaro.

“I've been in government since Richard Nixon. I've been through the Reagan administration, Carter and Clinton. I've never seen anything like this.”

What he's talking about is what he calls a government cover-up of an investigation into a disaster 25 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill.

It happened in October of 2000, when 300 million gallons of coal slurry - thick pudding-like waste from mining operations - flooded land, polluted rivers and destroyed property in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. The slurry contained hazardous chemicals, including arsenic and mercury.

“It polluted 100 miles of stream, killed everything in the streams, all the way to the Ohio River,” says Spadaro, who was second in command of the team investigating the accident.

The slurry had been contained in an enormous reservoir, called an impoundment, which is owned by the Massey Energy Company. One night, the heavy liquid broke through the bottom of the reservoir, flooded the abandoned coalmines below it and roared out into the streams.

Spadaro says the investigators discovered the spill was more than an accident -- it was an accident waiting to happen.

During the investigation carried out by Spadaro and his colleagues, it came out that there had been a previous spill in 1994 at the same impoundment. The mining company claimed it had taken measures to make sure it wouldn't happen again, but an engineer working for the company said the problem had not been fixed, and that both he and the company knew another spill was virtually inevitable.

“He said, ‘We knew there would be another breakthrough,’” says Spadaro. “We knew. And I asked him how many people in the company knew and he said, ‘Well, at least five people.’"

So why didn’t they fix it? “It would have been expensive to find another site. And I think they were willing to take the risk … It was a certainty,” says Spadaro.

He says it was a certainty because there was only a very thin layer of rock at the bottom of the reservoir. But that's not what the mining company had told the government.

“They told the government that there was a solid coal barrier, at least 70 to 80 feet wide between the mine workings and the bottom of the reservoir,” says Spadaro of the barrier, which is less than 20 feet. “They were misrepresenting the facts … and they knew that. The company knew that and I'm sorry to say I believe some people within the government knew that.” Davitt McAteer was Spadaro's boss when the disaster happened, and head of the MSHA. He says Spadaro is right, that his own regulators hadn't done their job: “I know they didn't do enough in terms of enforcement because the thing failed. That's the proof.”

“This was a catastrophic failure. By the grace of God only did we avoid fatalities,” says McAteer, who expected the report to be harsh. The investigators were going to cite the coal company for serious violations that would probably have led to large fines and even criminal charges.

But all that changed when the Bush administration took over and decided that the country needed more energy -- and less regulation of energy companies. The investigation into Massey Energy, a generous contributor to the Republican Party, was cut short.

“The Bush administration came in and the scope of our investigation was considerably shortened, and we were told to wrap it up in a few weeks,” says Spadaro.

“They cut it off. They did,” says Ellen Smith, who publishes the country’s only newsletter devoted entirely to mine safety and health. She's been writing about the mining industry for 16 years.

“People I spoke with, who were on the investigation team, told me that they believed it was absolutely cut short, that they had more work to do and they were told to wrap it up,” says Smith.

“It appeared to me they thought we were getting too close to issuing serious violations to the mining company,” says Spadaro. The new head of MSHA, a Bush appointee named Dave Lauriski, was a former mining industry mining executive, and so were his top deputies.

Spadaro says Lauriski came into his office one day, and insisted he sign a watered down version of the report -- a version that virtually let the coal company and MSHA off the hook.

“He said , ‘I'm in a hard spot here and I need you to sign this report,” recalls Spadaro. “I said, ‘You'd best take my name off that report because I'm never going to sign that report.’”

Originally, Spadaro says his investigating team wanted to cite the company for eight violations. But in the end, Massey Energy was only cited for two violations, and had to pay approximately $110,000 in fines – not a lot for the fifth largest mining company in America.

Massey Energy, declined to talk to 60 Minutes. And Lauriski declined to be interviewed. So did his boss, Elaine Chao, the secretary of labor. The Department of Labor has consistently stood behind the report.

But Linc Chapman, who lives in the path of that black slurry which flooded his property and terrified his 13-year-old daughter, insists the investigation was a whitewash: “I have absolutely no confidence anymore in any of our regulatory agencies.”

He’s added a second floor to his home, so his family wouldn't worry about being buried alive if there were another spill. It’s a possibility that he believes may happen as long as there are hundreds of slurry impoundments in the mountains of Appalachia.

“It’s a terrible thing as a father when your kids lay down at night and you tuck 'em in, and they ask you, ‘Dad, the slurry's not gonna come out tonight is it,’” says Chapman. “And you have to tell them, ‘I don't know that the slurry's not gonna come out tonight.’"

Three years after the spill, there's still slurry on the Chapman's property, and you don't have to dig deep to find it. Now, the Chapmans want to sell their house, but because of the slurry on the property, there aren't any buyers.

“No one wants it. Basically it’s cost me everything that I have invested here, everything I've ever worked for all my life,” says Chapman. All Spadaro has worked for in his life has been mine safety. So when he felt his new bosses were trying to sabotage the investigation by trying to get him to go along with a cover-up, he complained to the Labor Department's inspector general.

The inspector general looked into the matter and released a report, saying: “None of the allegations brought forward by Mr. Spadaro were substantiated."

“That statement is a lie, is a flat out lie,” says Spadaro.

“I do not trust the IG report. So much information was withheld from the public,” adds Smith, who was shocked to see that about half of the report had been blanked out by the government. “If you look through this report, you will see huge black marks. …They were withholding information that may or may not have proved Spadaro's allegations. And we will never know what that report says.”

Spadaro also says that when the new administration came in, they doled out lucrative contracts for work at the academy to their friends. One contract, for a training program, was worth nearly $200,000. “It wasn’t put out for bid at all,” says Spadaro. “They violated the law and they knew it.”

MSHA denies violating the law, but Spadaro says they pulled it off with some clever bookkeeping, by dividing it into smaller contracts. “They thought no one would notice,” says Spadaro.

They were wrong. Smith looked into this and says she found no-bid contracts: “I found that contracts went out to the two deputy assistant secretaries for MSHA to former business associates and friends. They did not go out for bid.”

So what will happen to Spadaro? “He is absolutely getting his life ruined,” says Smith. Last year, government agents entered Spadaro's office, went through his files, and locked him out. “They changed the locks on my door and still have not allowed me to return to my work place,” says Spadaro, who spends his days at home.

The government says he was removed from his job primarily for abusing his authority, failing to follow procedures, and also for using his government credit card without authorization. Spadaro denies all the charges.

“There are cases upon cases of people who have had far more egregious charges than Jack Spadaro,” says Smith.

“You have a guy in one of the regulatory agencies that actually wants to stand up for what's right,” adds Chapman. “And because he rocks their boat, he gets thrown overboard.”

Residents of Appalachia gathered in Charleston, W.Va., to demand that Spadaro get his job back. Without Spadaro, they say they're afraid there's no one left in government who will stand up for the residents instead of for the coal companies.

Spadaro is now back -- sort of. MSHA officials recently told Spadaro that he's not being fired. Instead, he's being demoted and taking about a $35,000 pay cut. He's also being transferred to the agency's Pittsburgh office, far from his family in West Virginia.

But Spadaro says he has no plans to go anywhere, except perhaps to court -- to sue the government. “I think that they thought they could simply roll over me, and I would be gone and out of their way,” says Spadaro. “But I'm gonna fight them forever if it takes it.”

Spadaro has asked the Office of Special Counsel for Whistleblower Protection for help, and they've agreed to investigate whether he was a victim of retaliation by MSHA officials. The Labor Department's inspector general is also looking into whether or not MSHA officials broke the law in awarding government contracts.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller
An edited version of the agent's 13-page letter

Try 4 Issues of TIME magazine FREE!
May 21, 2002

FBI Director Robert Mueller
FBI Headquarters Washington, D.C.

Dear Director Mueller:

I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th. The issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate. Moreover, at this critical juncture in fashioning future policy to promote the most effective handling of ongoing and future threats to United States citizens' security, it is of absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures.

To get to the point, I have deep concerns that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of facts by you and others at the highest levels of FBI management has occurred and is occurring. The term "cover up" would be too strong a characterization which is why I am attempting to carefully (and perhaps over laboriously) choose my words here. I base my concerns on my relatively small, peripheral but unique role in the Moussaoui investigation in the Minneapolis Division prior to, during and after September 11th and my analysis of the comments I have heard both inside the FBI (originating, I believe, from you and other high levels of management) as well as your Congressional testimony and public comments.

I feel that certain facts, including the following, have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons:

1) The Minneapolis agents who responded to the call about Moussaoui's flight training identified him as a terrorist threat from a very early point. The decision to take him into custody on August 15, 2001, on the INS "overstay" charge was a deliberate one to counter that threat and was based on the agents' reasonable suspicions. While it can be said that Moussaoui's overstay status was fortuitous, because it allowed for him to be taken into immediate custody and prevented him receiving any more flight training, it was certainly not something the INS coincidentally undertook of their own volition. I base this on the conversation I had when the agents called me at home late on the evening Moussaoui was taken into custody to confer and ask for legal advice about their next course of action. The INS agent was assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and was therefore working in tandem with FBI agents.

2) As the Minneapolis agents' reasonable suspicions quickly ripened into probable cause, which, at the latest, occurred within days of Moussaoui's arrest when the French Intelligence Service confirmed his affiliations with radical fundamentalist Islamic groups and activities connected to Osama Bin Laden, they became desperate to search the computer lap top that had been taken from Moussaoui as well as conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects. The agents in particular believed that Moussaoui signaled he had something to hide in the way he refused to allow them to search his computer.

3) The Minneapolis agents' initial thought was to obtain a criminal search warrant, but in order to do so, they needed to get FBI Headquarters' (FBIHQ's) approval in order to ask for DOJ OIPR's approval to contact the United States Attorney's Office in Minnesota. Prior to and even after receipt of information provided by the French, FBIHQ personnel disputed with the Minneapolis agents the existence of probable cause to believe that a criminal violation had occurred/was occurring. As such, FBIHQ personnel refused to contact OIPR to attempt to get the authority. While reasonable minds may differ as to whether probable cause existed prior to receipt of the French intelligence information, it was certainly established after that point and became even greater with successive, more detailed information from the French and other intelligence sources. The two possible criminal violations initially identified by Minneapolis Agents were violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, which, notably, includes "creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States") and Section 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities). It is important to note that the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th was based on probable cause of a violation of Section 32.1 Notably also, the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th did not include the French intelligence information. Therefore, the only main difference between the information being submitted to FBIHQ from an early date which HQ personnel continued to deem insufficient and the actual criminal search warrant which a federal district judge signed and approved on September 11th, was the fact that, by the time the actual warrant was obtained, suspected terrorists were known to have highjacked planes which they then deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To say then, as has been iterated numerous times, that probable cause did not exist until after the disasterous event occurred, is really to acknowledge that the missing piece of probable cause was only the FBI's (FBIHQ's) failure to appreciate that such an event could occur. The probable cause did not otherwise improve or change. When we went to the United States Attorney's Office that morning of September 11th, in the first hour after the attack, we used a disk containing the same information that had already been provided to FBIHQ; then we quickly added Paragraph 19 which was the little we knew from news reports of the actual attacks that morning. The problem with chalking this all up to the "20-20 hindsight is perfect" problem, (which I, as all attorneys who have been involved in deadly force training or the defense of various lawsuits are fully appreciative of), is that this is not a case of everyone in the FBI failing to appreciate the potential consequences. It is obvious, from my firsthand knowledge of the events and the detailed documentation that exists, that the agents in Minneapolis who were closest to the action and in the best position to gauge the situation locally, did fully appreciate the terrorist risk/danger posed by Moussaoui and his possible co-conspirators even prior to September 11th. Even without knowledge of the Phoenix communication (and any number of other additional intelligence communications that FBIHQ personnel were privy to in their central coordination roles), the Minneapolis agents appreciated the risk. So I think it's very hard for the FBI to offer the "20-20 hindsight" justification for its failure to act! Also intertwined with my reluctance in this case to accept the "20-20 hindsight" rationale is first-hand knowledge that I have of statements made on September 11th, after the first attacks on the World Trade Center had already occurred, made telephonically by the FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) who was the one most involved in the Moussaoui matter and who, up to that point, seemed to have been consistently, almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents' efforts (see number 5). Even after the attacks had begun, the SSA in question was still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the World Trade Center attacks as a mere coincidence with Misseapolis' prior suspicions about Moussaoui.2

4) In one of my peripheral roles on the Moussaoui matter, I answered an e-mail message on August 22, 2001, from an attorney at the National Security Law Unit (NSLU). Of course, with (ever important!) 20-20 hindsight, I now wish I had taken more time and care to compose my response. When asked by NSLU for my "assessment of (our) chances of getting a criminal warrant to search Moussaoui's computer", I answered, "Although I think there's a decent chance of being able to get a judge to sign a criminal search warrant, our USAO seems to have an even higher standard much of the time, so rather than risk it, I advised that they should try the other route." Leaked news accounts which said the Minneapolis Legal Counsel (referring to me) concurred with the FBIHQ that probable cause was lacking to search Moussaoui's computer are in error. (or possibly the leak was deliberately skewed in this fashion?) What I meant by this pithy e-mail response, was that although I thought probable cause existed ("probable cause" meaning that the proposition has to be more likely than not, or if quantified, a 51% likelihood), I thought our United States Attorney's Office, (for a lot of reasons including just to play it safe) in regularly requiring much more than probable cause before approving affidavits, (maybe, if quantified, 75%-80% probability and sometimes even higher), and depending on the actual AUSA who would be assigned, might turn us down. As a tactical choice, I therefore thought it would be better to pursue the "other route" (the FISA search warrant) first, the reason being that there is a common perception, which for lack of a better term, I'll call the "smell test" which has arisen that if the FBI can't do something through straight-up criminal methods, it will then resort to using less-demanding intelligence methods. Of course this isn't true, but I think the perception still exists. So, by this line of reasoning, I was afraid that if we first attempted to go criminal and failed to convince an AUSA, we wouldn't pass the "smell test" in subsequently seeking a FISA. I thought our best chances therefore lay in first seeking the FISA. Both of the factors that influenced my thinking are areas arguably in need of improvement: requiring an excessively high standard of probable cause in terrorism cases and getting rid of the "smell test" perception. It could even be argued that FBI agents, especially in terrorism cases where time is of the essence, should be allowed to go directly to federal judges to have their probable cause reviewed for arrests or searches without having to gain the USAO's approval.4

5) The fact is that key FBIHQ personnel whose job it was to assist and coordinate with field division agents on terrorism investigations and the obtaining and use of FISA searches (and who theoretically were privy to many more sources of intelligence information than field division agents), continued to, almost inexplicably,5 throw up roadblocks and undermine Minneapolis' by-now desperate efforts to obtain a FISA search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear. HQ personnel brought up almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause.6 In all of their conversations and correspondence, HQ personnel never disclosed to the Minneapolis agents that the Phoenix Division had, only approximately three weeks earlier, warned of Al Qaeda operatives in flight schools seeking flight training for terrorist purposes!

Nor did FBIHQ personnel do much to disseminate the information about Moussaoui to other appropriate intelligence/law enforcement authorities. When, in a desperate 11th hour measure to bypass the FBIHQ roadblock, the Minneapolis Division undertook to directly notify the CIA's Counter Terrorist Center (CTC), FBIHQ personnel actually chastised the Minneapolis agents for making the direct notification without their approval!

6 ) Eventually on August 28, 2001, after a series of e-mails between Minneapolis and FBIHQ, which suggest that the FBIHQ SSA deliberately further undercut the FISA effort by not adding the further intelligence information which he had promised to add that supported Moussaoui's foreign power connection and making several changes in the wording of the information that had been provided by the Minneapolis Agent, the Minneapolis agents were notified that the NSLU Unit Chief did not think there was sufficient evidence of Moussaoui's connection to a foreign power. Minneapolis personnel are, to this date, unaware of the specifics of the verbal presentations by the FBIHQ SSA to NSLU or whether anyone in NSLU ever was afforded the opportunity to actually read for him/herself all of the information on Moussaoui that had been gathered by the Minneapolis Division and the French intelligence service. Obviously verbal presentations are far more susceptible to mis-characterization and error. The e-mail communications between Minneapolis and FBIHQ, however, speak for themselves and there are far better witnesses than me who can provide their first hand knowledge of these events characterized in one Minneapolis agent's e-mail as FBIHQ is "setting this up for failure." My only comment is that the process of allowing the FBI supervisors to make changes in affidavits is itself fundamentally wrong, just as, in the follow-up to FBI Laboratory Whistleblower Frederic Whitehurst's allegations, this process was revealed to be wrong in the context of writing up laboratory results. With the Whitehurst allegations, this process of allowing supervisors to re-write portions of laboratory reports, was found to provide opportunities for over-zealous supervisors to skew the results in favor of the prosecution. In the Moussaoui case, it was the opposite -- the process allowed the Headquarters Supervisor to downplay the significance of the information thus far collected in order to get out of the work of having to see the FISA application through or possibly to avoid taking what he may have perceived as an unnecessary career risk.7 I understand that the failures of the FBIHQ personnel involved in the Moussaoui matter are also being officially excused because they were too busy with other investigations, the Cole bombing and other important terrorism matters, but the Supervisor's taking of the time to read each word of the information submitted by Minneapolis and then substitute his own choice of wording belies to some extent the notion that he was too busy. As an FBI division legal advisor for 12 years (and an FBI agent for over 21 years), I can state that an affidavit is better and will tend to be more accurate when the affiant has first hand information of all the information he/she must attest to. Of necessity, agents must continually rely upon information from confidential sources, third parties and other law enforcement officers in drafting affidavits, but the repeating of information from others greatly adds to the opportunities for factual discrepancies and errors to arise. To the extent that we can minimize the opportunity for this type of error to arise by simply not allowing unnecessary re-writes by supervisory staff, it ought to be done. (I'm not talking, of course, about mere grammatical corrections, but changes of some substance as apparently occurred with the Moussaoui information which had to be, for lack of a better term, "filtered" through FBIHQ before any action, whether to seek a criminal or a FISA warrant, could be taken.) Even after September 11th, the fear was great on the part of Minneapolis Division personnel that the same FBIHQ personnel would continue their "filtering" with respect to the Moussaoui investigation, and now with the added incentive of preventing their prior mistakes from coming to light. For this reason, for weeks, Minneapolis prefaced all outgoing communications (ECs) in the PENTTBOM investigation with a summary of the information about Moussaoui. We just wanted to make sure the information got to the proper prosecutive authorities and was not further suppressed! This fear was probably irrational but was nonetheless understandable in light of the Minneapolis agents' prior experiences and frustrations involving FBIHQ. (The redundant preface information regarding Moussaoui on otherwise unrelative PENTTBOM communications has ended up adding to criminal discovery issues, but this is the reason it was done.)

7) Although the last thing the FBI or the country needs now is a witch hunt, I do find it odd that (to my knowledge) no inquiry whatsoever was launched of the relevant FBIHQ personnel's actions a long time ago. Despite FBI leaders' full knowledge of all the items mentioned herein (and probably more that I'm unaware of), the SSA, his unit chief, and other involved HQ personnel were allowed to stay in their positions and, what's worse, occupy critical positions in the FBI's SIOC Command Center post September 11th. (The SSA in question actually received a promotion some months afterward!) It's true we all make mistakes and I'm not suggesting that HQ personnel in question ought to be burned at the stake, but, we all need to be held accountable for serious mistakes. I'm relatively certain that if it appeared that a lowly field office agent had committed such errors of judgment, the FBI's OPR would have been notified to investigate and the agent would have, at the least, been quickly reassigned. I'm afraid the FBI's failure to submit this matter to OPR (and to the IOB) gives further impetus to the notion (raised previously by many in the FBI) of a double standard which results in those of lower rank being investigated more aggressively and dealt with more harshly for misconduct while the misconduct of those at the top is often overlooked or results in minor disciplinary action. From all appearances, this double standard may also apply between those at FBIHQ and those in the field.

8) The last official "fact" that I take issue with is not really a fact, but an opinion, and a completely unsupported opinion at that. In the day or two following September 11th, you, Director Mueller, made the statement to the effect that if the FBI had only had any advance warning of the attacks, we (meaning the FBI), may have been able to take some action to prevent the tragedy. Fearing that this statement could easily come back to haunt the FBI upon revelation of the information that had been developed pre-September 11th about Moussaoui, I and others in the Minneapolis Office, immediately sought to reach your office through an assortment of higher level FBIHQ contacts, in order to quickly make you aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn you so that your public statements could be accordingly modified. When such statements from you and other FBI officials continued, we thought that somehow you had not received the message and we made further efforts. Finally when similar comments were made weeks later, in Assistant Director Caruso's congressional testimony in response to the first public leaks about Moussaoui we faced the sad realization that the remarks indicated someone, possibly with your approval, had decided to circle the wagons at FBIHQ in an apparent effort to protect the FBI from embarrassment and the relevant FBI officials from scrutiny. Everything I have seen and heard about the FBI's official stance and the FBI's internal preparations in anticipation of further congressional inquiry, had, unfortunately, confirmed my worst suspicions in this regard. After the details began to emerge concerning the pre-September 11th investigation of Moussaoui, and subsequently with the recent release of the information about the Phoenix EC, your statement has changed. The official statement is now to the effect that even if the FBI had followed up on the Phoenix lead to conduct checks of flight schools and the Minneapolis request to search Moussaoui's personal effects and laptop, nothing would have changed and such actions certainly could not have prevented the terrorist attacks and resulting loss of life. With all due respect, this statement is as bad as the first! It is also quite at odds with the earlier statement (which I'm surprised has not already been pointed out by those in the media!) I don't know how you or anyone at FBI Headquarters, no matter how much genius or prescience you may possess, could so blithely make this affirmation without anything to back the opinion up than your stature as FBI Director. The truth is, as with most predictions into the future, no one will ever know what impact, if any, the FBI's following up on those requests, would have had. Although I agree that it's very doubtful that the full scope of the tragedy could have been prevented, it's at least possible we could have gotten lucky and uncovered one or two more of the terrorists in flight training prior to September 11th, just as Moussaoui was discovered, after making contact with his flight instructors. It is certainly not beyond the realm of imagination to hypothesize that Moussaoui's fortuitous arrest alone, even if he merely was the 20th hijacker, allowed the hero passengers of Flight 93 to overcome their terrorist hijackers and thus spare more lives on the ground. And even greater casualties, possibly of our Nation's highest government officials, may have been prevented if Al Qaeda intended for Moussaoui to pilot an entirely different aircraft. There is, therefore at least some chance that discovery of other terrorist pilots prior to September 11th may have limited the September 11th attacks and resulting loss of life. Although your conclusion otherwise has to be very reassuring for some in the FBI to hear being repeated so often (as if saying it's so may make it so), I think your statements demonstrate a rush to judgment to protect the FBI at all costs. I think the only fair response to this type of question would be that no one can pretend to know one way or another.

Mr. Director, I hope my observations can be taken in a constructive vein. They are from the heart and intended to be completely apolitical. Hopefully, with our nation's security on the line, you and our nation's other elected and appointed officials can rise above the petty politics that often plague other discussions and do the right thing. You do have some good ideas for change in the FBI but I think you have also not been completely honest about some of the true reasons for the FBI's pre-September 11th failures. Until we come clean and deal with the root causes, the Department of Justice will continue to experience problems fighting terrorism and fighting crime in general.

I have used the "we" term repeatedly herin to indicate facts about others in the Minneapolis Office at critical times, but none of the opinions expressed herin can be attributed to anyone but myself. I know that those who know me would probably describe me as, by nature, overly opinionated and sometimes not as discreet as I should be. Certainly some of the above remarks may be interpreted as falling into that category, but I really do not intend anything as a personal criticism of you or anyone else in the FBI, to include the FBIHQ personnel who I believe were remiss and mishandled their duties with regard to the Moussaoui investigation. Truly my only purpose is to try to provide the facts within my purview so that an accurate assessment can be obtained and we can learn from our mistakes. I have pointed out a few of the things that I think should be looked at but there are many, many more.8 An honest acknowledgment of the FBI's mistakes in this and other cases should not lead to increasing the Headquarters bureaucracy and approval levels of investigative actions as the answer. Most often, field office agents and field office management on the scene will be better suited to the timely and effective solution of crimes and, in some lucky instances, to the effective prevention of crimes, including terrorism incidents. The relatively quick solving of the recent mailbox pipe-bombing incidents which resulted in no serious injuries to anyone are a good example of effective field office work (actually several field offices working together) and there are hundreds of other examples. Although FBIHQ personnel have, no doubt, been of immeasurable assistance to the field over the years, I'm hard pressed to think of any case which has been solved by FBIHQ personnel and I can name several that have been screwed up! Decision-making is inherently more effective and timely when decentralized instead of concentrated.

Your plans for an FBI Headquarters' "Super Squad" simply fly in the face of an honest appraisal of the FBI's pre-September 11th failures. The Phoenix, Minneapolis and Paris Legal Attache Offices reacted remarkably exhibiting keen perception and prioritization skills regarding the terrorist threats they uncovered or were made aware of pre-September 11th. The same cannot be said for the FBI Headquarters' bureaucracy and you want to expand that?! Should we put the counterterrorism unit chief and SSA who previously handled the Moussaoui matter in charge of the new "Super Squad"?! You are also apparently disregarding the fact the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), operating out of field divisions for years, (the first and chief one being New York City's JTTF), have successfully handled numerous terrorism investigations and, in some instances, successfully prevented acts of terrorism. There's no denying the need for more and better intelligence and intelligence management, but you should think carefully about how much gate keeping power should be entrusted with any HQ entity. If we are indeed in a "war", shouldn't the Generals be on the battlefield instead of sitting in a spot removed from the action while still attempting to call the shots?

I have been an FBI agent for over 21 years and, for what it's worth, have never received any form of disciplinary action throughout my career. From the 5th grade, when I first wrote the FBI and received the "100 Facts about the FBI" pamphlet, this job has been my dream. I feel that my career in the FBI has been somewhat exemplary, having entered on duty at a time when there was only a small percentage of female Special Agents. I have also been lucky to have had four children during my time in the FBI and am the sole breadwinner of a family of six. Due to the frankness with which I have expressed myself and my deep feelings on these issues, (which is only because I feel I have a somewhat unique, inside perspective of the Moussaoui matter, the gravity of the events of September 11th and the current seriousness of the FBI's and United States' ongoing efforts in the "war against terrorism"), I hope my continued employment with the FBI is not somehow placed in jeopardy. I have never written to an FBI Director in my life before on any topic. Although I would hope it is not necessary, I would therefore wish to take advantage of the federal "Whistleblower Protection" provisions by so characterizing my remarks.


Coleen M. Rowley
Special Agent and Minneapolis Chief Division Counsel


1) And both of the violations originally cited in vain by the Minneapolis agents disputing the issue with FBIHQ personnel are among those on which Moussaoui is currently indicted.

2) Just minutes after I saw the first news of the World Trade Center attack(s), I was standing outside the office of Minneapolis ASAC M. Chris Briesse waiting for him to finish with a phone call, when he received a call on another line from this SSA. Since I figured I knew what the call may be about and wanted to ask, in light of the unfolding events and the apparent urgency of the situation, if we should now immediately attempt to obtain a criminal search warrant for Moussaoui's laptop and personal property, I took the call. I said something to the effect that, in light of what had just happened in New York, it would have to be the "hugest coincidence" at this point if Moussaoui was not involved with the terrorists. The SSA stated something to the effect that I had used the right term, "coincidence" and that this was probably all just a coincidence and we were to do nothing in Minneapolis until we got their (HQ's) permission because we might "screw up" something else going on elsewhere in the country.

4) Certainly Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which begins, "Upon the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government" does not contain this requirement. Although the practice that has evolved is that FBI agents must secure prior approval for any search or arrest from the United States Attorneys Office, the Federal Rule governing Search and Seizure clearly envisions law enforcement officers applying, on their own, for search warrants.

5) During the early aftermath of September 11th, when I happened to be recounting the pre-September 11th events concerning the Moussaoui investigation to other FBI personnel in other divisions or in FBIHQ, almost everyone's first question was "Why?--Why would an FBI agent(s) deliberately sabotage a case? (I know I shouldn't be flippant about this, but jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort.) Our best real guess, however, is that, in most cases avoidance of all "unnecessary" actions/decisions by FBIHQ managers (and maybe to some extent field managers as well) has, in recent years, been seen as the safest FBI career course. Numerous high-ranking FBI officials who have made decisions or have taken actions which, in hindsight, turned out to be mistaken or just turned out badly (i.e. Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.) have seen their careers plummet and end. This has in turn resulted in a climate of fear which has chilled aggressive FBI law enforcement action/decisions. In a large hierarchal bureaucracy such as the FBI, with the requirement for numerous superiors approvals/oversight, the premium on career-enhancement, and interjecting a chilling factor brought on by recent extreme public and congressional criticism/oversight, and I think you will see at least the makings of the most likely explanation. Another factor not to be underestimated probably explains the SSA and other FBIHQ personnel's reluctance to act. And so far, I have heard no FBI official even allude to this problem-- which is that FBI Headquarters is staffed with a number of short term careerists* who, like the SSA in question, must only serve an 18 month-just-time-to-get-your-ticket-punched minimum. It's no wonder why very little expertise can be acquired by a Headquarters unit! (And no wonder why FBIHQ is mired in mediocrity! -- that maybe a little strong, but it would definitely be fair to say that there is unevenness in competency among Headquarters personnel.) (It's also a well known fact that the FBI Agents Association has complained for years about the disincentives facing those entering the FBI management career path which results in very few of the FBI's best and brightest choosing to go into management. Instead the ranks of FBI management are filled with many who were failures as street agents. Along these lines, let me ask the question, why has it suddenly become necessary for the Director to "handpick" the FBI management?) It's quite conceivable that many of the HQ personnel who so vigorously disputed Moussaoui's ability/predisposition to fly a plane into a building were simply unaware of all the various incidents and reports worldwide of Al Qaeda terrorists attempting or plotting to do so.

*By the way, just in the event you did not know, let me furnish you the Webster's definition of "careerism - - the policy or practice of advancing one's career often at the cost of one's integrity". Maybe that sums up the whole problem!

6) For example, at one point, the Supervisory Special Agent at FBIHQ posited that the French information could be worthless because it only identified Zacarias Moussaoui by name and he, the SSA, didn't know how many people by that name existed in France. A Minneapolis agent attempted to surmount that problem by quickly phoning the FBI's legal Attache (Legat) in Paris, France, so that a check could be made of the French telephone directories. Although the Legat in France did not have access to all of the French telephone directories, he was able to quickly ascertain that there was only one listed in the Paris directory. It is not known if this sufficiently answered the question, for the SSA continued to find new reasons to stall.

7) Another factor that cannot be underestimated as to the HQ Supervisor's apparent reluctance to do anything was/is the ever present risk of being "written up" for an Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) "error." In the year(s) preceding the September 11th acts of terrorism, numerous alleged IOB violations on the part of FBI personnel had to be submitted to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) as well as the IOB. I believe the chilling effect upon all levels of FBI agents assigned to intelligence matters and their manager hampered us from aggressive investigation of terrorists. Since one generally only runs the risk of IOB violations when one does something, the safer course is to do nothing. Ironically, in this case, a potentially huge IOB violation arguably occurred due to FBIHQ's failure to act, that is, FBIHQ's failure to inform the Department of Justice Criminal Division of Moussaoui's potential criminal violations (which, as I've already said, were quickly identified in Minneapolis as violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b [Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries] and Section 32 [Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities]). This failure would seem to run clearly afoul of the Attorney General directive contained in the "1995 Procedures for Contacts Between the FBI and the Criminal Division Concerning Foreign Intelligence and Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations" which mandatorily require the FBI to notify the Criminal Division when "facts or circumstances are developed" in an FI or FCI investigation "that reasonably indicate that a significant federal crime has been, is being, or may be committed." I believe that Minneapolis agents actually brought this point to FBIHQ's attention on August 22, 2001, but HQ personnel apparently ignored the directive, ostensibly due to their opinion of the lack of probable cause. But the issue of whether HQ personnel deliberately undercut the probable cause can be sidestepped at this point because the Directive does not require probable cause. It requires only a "reasonable indication" which is defined as "substantially lower than probable cause." Given that the Minneapolis Division had accumulated far more than "a mere hunch" (which the directive would deem as insufficient), the information ought to have, at least, been passed on to the "Core Group" created to assess whether the information needed to be further disseminated to the Criminal Division. However, (and I don't know for sure), but to date, I have never heard that any potential violation of this directive has been submitted to the IOB or to the FBI's OPR. It should also be noted that when making determinations of whether items need to be submitted to the IOB, it is my understanding that NSLU normally used/uses a broad approach, erring, when in doubt, on the side of submitting potential violations.

8) For starters, if prevention rather than prosecution is to be our new main goal, (an objective I totally agree with), we need more guidance on when we can apply the Quarles "public safety" exception to Miranda's 5th Amendment requirements. We were prevented from even attempting to question Moussaoui on the day of the attacks when, in theory, he could have possessed further information about other co-conspirators. (Apparently no government attorney believes there is a "public safety" exception in a situation like this?!)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Foster: White House Had Role In Withholding Medicare Data
HHS Actuary Feels Bush Aide Put Hold on Medicare Data

By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 19, 2004; Page A02

Richard S. Foster, the government's chief analyst of Medicare costs who was threatened with firing last year if he disclosed too much information to Congress, said last night that he believes the White House participated in the decision to withhold analyses that Medicare legislation President Bush sought would be far more expensive than lawmakers knew.

Foster has said publicly in recent days that he was warned repeatedly by his former boss, Thomas A. Scully, the Medicare administrator for three years, that he would be dismissed if he replied directly to legislative requests for information about prescription drug bills pending in Congress. In an interview last night, Foster went further, saying that he understood Scully to be acting at times on White House instructions, probably coming from Bush's senior health policy adviser.

Foster said that he did not have concrete proof of a White House role, but that his inference was based on the nature of several conversations he had with Scully over data that Congress had asked for and that Foster wanted to release. "I just remember Tom being upset, saying he was caught in the middle. It was like he was getting dumped on," Foster said.

Foster added that he believed, but did not know for certain, that Scully had been referring to Doug Badger, the senior health policy analyst. He said that he concluded that Badger probably was involved because he was the White House official most steeped in the administration's negotiations with Congress over Medicare legislation enacted late last year and because Badger was intimately familiar with the analyses his office produced.

The account by Foster, a longtime civil servant who has been the Medicare program's chief actuary for nine years, diverges sharply from the explanations of why cost estimates were withheld that were given this week by White House spokesmen and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. They suggested that Scully, who left for jobs with law and investment firms four months ago, had acted unilaterally and that he was chastised by his superiors when they learned of the blocked information and the threat.

Two days ago, Thompson told reporters: "Tom Scully was running this. Tom Scully was making those decisions." Thompson said the administration did not have final cost estimates until late December predicting that the law would cost $534 billion over 10 years, $139 billion more than the Congressional Budget Office's prediction. Foster has said his own analyses as early as last spring showed that the legislation's cost would exceed $500 billion.

Last night, White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy said, "It is my understanding that Mr. Badger did not in any way ask anyone to withhold information from Congress or pressure anyone to do the same." Duffy said he asked Badger this week whether he had done so and that Badger replied he had not. Duffy said that Badger was traveling last night and was unreachable to comment. Calls to his home were not returned.

Foster suggested the White House had been involved as new details emerged of the manner in which he had been threatened. The actuary released an e-mail, dated last June 20, from Scully's top assistant at the time regarding one GOP request and two Democratic requests for information about the impact of provisions of the Medicare bill on which the House would vote a week later.

In a bold-faced section of the three-paragraph note -- reported in yesterday's Wall Street Journal -- Scully's assistant, Jeffrey Flick, instructed Foster to answer the Republican's question but warned him not to disclose answers to the Democratic queries "with anyone else until Tom Scully explicitly talks with you -- authorizing release of information. The consequences for insubordination are extremely severe."

The warning came in response to an e-mail Foster had sent to Scully that same Friday afternoon, 22 minutes earlier, in which he said the three questions "strike me as straightforward requests for technical information that would be useful in assessing drug and competition provisions in the House reform package." Foster offered in that e-mail to show Scully his proposed replies in advance.

Flick, who now oversees the Medicare agency's regional office in San Francisco, did not return several phone calls.

Scully was out of town and did not respond to efforts to reach him via e-mail last night. He said in an interview this week that he and Foster had disagreed over how helpful an executive branch employee needed to be to Congress. He called it "a separation of powers issue."

In 1997 budget legislation, Congress sought unsuccessfully to require the Medicare actuary to respond to all of its requests. Such language was included in a conference report on the bill but does not carry the force of law.

Foster said that the e-mail was the only instance in which he had been explicitly threatened in writing, but that "there were other instances in which Tom in an e-mail or just over the phone would clearly be unhappy and would say less formally something to the effect, 'If you want to work for the Ways and Means Committee, I can arrange that.' "

The actuary said that in June 2001, shortly after Scully arrived, he directed Foster to send weekly reports of any requests for information he had received from Capitol Hill or elsewhere in the administration.

Congressional Democrats yesterday called for the General Accounting Office to investigate the episode. Thompson announced Tuesday he had ordered HHS's inspector general to conduct an inquiry.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

CIA Insider Says Osama Hunt Flawed
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2004

An experienced CIA counterterrorism officer tells Congress the agency is still failing to adequately staff the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a newspaper reports.

The officer claims that the headquarters unit assigned to bin Laden has fewer experienced case officers now than on Sept. 11, 2001.

The New York Times reports Michael Scheuer, who recently penned a book critical of the CIA's counterterrorism efforts called "Imperial Hubris," lodged his complaints in a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

A 22-year CIA veteran who ran the bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, Scheuer also claims that the CIA is rotating inexperienced officers into the bin Laden unit for short stints of 60 to 90 days.

A CIA official who refused to be identified disputed Scheuer's account, saying there are more officers working on bin Laden worldwide now than there were three years ago.

"Our knowledge of and substantive expertise on al Qaeda has increased enormously since 9/11. The overall size of the counterterrorism center has more than doubled, and its analytic capabilities have increased dramatically," he said, according to The Times.

Scheuer also claims that the CIA had more opportunities to capture or kill bin Laden that has been reported previously. He says there were 10 such chances between May 1998 and May 1999. It was not clear who decided not to take those chances.

"The pattern of decision making I have witnessed seems to indicate a want of moral courage, an overwhelming concern for career advancement, or an abject inability to distinguish right from wrong," he said.

Scheuer says the bin Laden unit was slated for elimination in the spring of 1998, but then-CIA director George Tenet blocked the move.

The report of the Sept. 11 commission says the U.S. government missed a few chances to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader.

In May of 1998, after months of planning, officials called off a CIA plan to have Afghan allies capture bin Laden and send him out of Afghanistan for trial. The plan was apparently scrapped because of worries about the chance of killing bystanders, and even bin Laden himself, as well as concerns over the strength of the legal evidence against bin Laden.

After the August 1998 African embassy bombings, President Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on Afghanistan that failed to kill bin Laden.

The Sept. 11 report identifies three other occasions on which there was intelligence on bin Laden's location but not attempt to kill him: December 1998 in Kandahar, February 1999 in his desert camp and back in Kandahar in May 1999.

Questions about the CIA's capabilities are part of a larger debate over reforming U.S. intelligence, reflected on Capitol Hill in the confirmation hearings for President Bush's nominee to head the CIA, Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla.

The CIA's last director, George Tenet, earlier this year told the Sept. 11 commission that it would take five years to have in place the kind of clandestine service needed to deal with international terrorism and other threats.

Without being specific, Goss said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that it would take longer to hire train and place all the operatives that are needed. The good news, he said, is that some would be ready soon. But "it is a long build-out."

Goss, a former CIA officer, also backed away from a controversial provision he included in an intelligence reform bill in June, which would have loosened long-standing restrictions on the agency's ability to operate inside the United States.

He said he was trying to start a debate then on an important issue — the blurring of the lines between foreign and domestic intelligence. As the CIA's director, he said he would come to policymakers for guidance on intelligence and law enforcement capabilities.

Goss' political past came up at the outset of his confirmation hearing Tuesday. The Senate panel's senior Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, questioned whether Goss displayed a willingness to use intelligence issues as "a political broadsword" against Democratic lawmakers.

"Having reviewed your record closely, I have a number of concerns about whether your past partisan actions and statements will allow you to be the type of nonpartisan, independent and objective national intelligence adviser our country needs," Rockefeller said.

As recently as this summer, Goss criticized John Kerry's voting record on intelligence. Last October, explaining why he did not want to launch an investigation of a White House official's possibly illegal leaking of a CIA officer's name to the press, Goss made reference to the Clinton impeachment saga.

"Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation," Goss said.

Goss promised Tuesday to provide Congress and the president with independent, objective intelligence.
"I have made a commitment to nonpartisanship," retiring Rep. Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He conceded that during his 16 years in Congress he may — "at times" — have engaged in debate with too much vigor.

In his testimony, Goss outlined a series of commonly cited priorities for the U.S. intelligence community. They included improving human intelligence and analytic capabilities, expanding intelligence sharing with state and local law enforcement agencies and enhancing foreign language capabilities at the CIA.

Tenet resigned as head of the CIA in June, just before the intelligence committee and the Sept. 11 commission released reports criticizing the agency's performance during much of his tenure.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush Sought ‘Way’ To Invade Iraq?
Jan. 11, 2004

A year ago, Paul O'Neill was fired from his job as George Bush's Treasury Secretary for disagreeing too many times with the president's policy on tax cuts.

Now, O'Neill - who is known for speaking his mind - talks for the first time about his two years inside the Bush administration. His story is the centerpiece of a new book being published this week about the way the Bush White House is run.

Entitled "The Price of Loyalty," the book by a former Wall Street Journal reporter draws on interviews with high-level officials who gave the author their personal accounts of meetings with the president, their notes and documents. [Simon and Schuster, the book's publisher, and, are both units of Viacom.]

But the main source of the book was Paul O'Neill. Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports. Paul O'Neill says he is going public because he thinks the Bush Administration has been too secretive about how decisions have been made.

Will this be seen as a “kiss-and-tell" book?

“I've come to believe that people will say damn near anything, so I'm sure somebody will say all of that and more,” says O’Neill, who was George Bush's top economic policy official.

In the book, O’Neill says that the president did not make decisions in a methodical way: there was no free-flow of ideas or open debate.

At cabinet meetings, he says the president was "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection," forcing top officials to act "on little more than hunches about what the president might think."

This is what O'Neill says happened at his first hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Mr. Bush: “I went in with a long list of things to talk about, and I thought to engage on and as the book says, I was surprised that it turned out me talking, and the president just listening … As I recall, it was mostly a monologue.”

He also says that President Bush was disengaged, at least on domestic issues, and that disturbed him. And he says that wasn't his experience when he worked as a top official under Presidents Nixon and Ford, or the way he ran things when he was chairman of Alcoa.

O'Neill readily agreed to tell his story to the book's author Ron Suskind – and he adds that he's taking no money for his part in the book.

Suskind says he interviewed hundreds of people for the book – including several cabinet members.

O'Neill is the only one who spoke on the record, but Suskind says that someone high up in the administration – Donald Rumsfeld - warned O’Neill not to do this book.

Was it a warning, or a threat?

“I don't think so. I think it was the White House concerned,” says Suskind. “Understandably, because O'Neill has spent extraordinary amounts of time with the president. They said, ‘This could really be the one moment where things are revealed.’"Not only did O'Neill give Suskind his time, he gave him 19,000 internal documents.

“Everything's there: Memoranda to the President, handwritten "thank you" notes, 100-page documents. Stuff that's sensitive,” says Suskind, adding that in some cases, it included transcripts of private, high-level National Security Council meetings. “You don’t get higher than that.”

And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’" says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

And that came up at this first meeting, says O’Neill, who adds that the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later.

He got briefing materials under this cover sheet. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq,’" adds Suskind, who says that they discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001. Based on his interviews with O'Neill and several other officials at the meetings, Suskind writes that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq's oil wealth.

He obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts," which includes a map of potential areas for exploration.

“It talks about contractors around the world from, you know, 30-40 countries. And which ones have what intentions,” says Suskind. “On oil in Iraq.”

During the campaign, candidate Bush had criticized the Clinton-Gore Administration for being too interventionist: "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that."

“The thing that's most surprising, I think, is how emphatically, from the very first, the administration had said ‘X’ during the campaign, but from the first day was often doing ‘Y,’” says Suskind. “Not just saying ‘Y,’ but actively moving toward the opposite of what they had said during the election.”

The president had promised to cut taxes, and he did. Within six months of taking office, he pushed a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts through Congress.
But O'Neill thought it should have been the end. After 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, the budget deficit was growing. So at a meeting with the vice president after the mid-term elections in 2002, Suskind writes that O'Neill argued against a second round of tax cuts.

“Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand,” says Suskind. “He says, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.’ … O'Neill is speechless.”

”It was not just about not wanting the tax cut. It was about how to use the nation's resources to improve the condition of our society,” says O’Neill. “And I thought the weight of working on Social Security and fundamental tax reform was a lot more important than a tax reduction.”

Did he think it was irresponsible? “Well, it's for sure not what I would have done,” says O’Neill.

The former treasury secretary accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of not being an honest broker, but, with a handful of others, part of "a praetorian guard that encircled the president" to block out contrary views. "This is the way Dick likes it," says O’Neill. Meanwhile, the White House was losing patience with O'Neill. He was becoming known for a series of off-the-cuff remarks his critics called gaffes. One of them sent the dollar into a nosedive and required major damage control.

Twice during stock market meltdowns, O'Neill was not available to the president: He was out of the country - one time on a trip to Africa with the Irish rock star Bono.

“Africa made an enormous splash. It was like a road show,” says Suskind. “He comes back and the president says to him at a meeting, ‘You know, you're getting quite a cult following.’ And it clearly was not a joke. And it was not said in jest.”

Suskind writes that the relationship grew tenser and that the president even took a jab at O'Neill in public, at an economic forum in Texas.

The two men were never close. And O'Neill was not amused when Mr. Bush began calling him "The Big O." He thought the president's habit of giving people nicknames was a form of bullying. Everything came to a head for O'Neill at a November 2002 meeting at the White House of the economic team.

“It's a huge meeting. You got Dick Cheney from the, you know, secure location on the video. The President is there,” says Suskind, who was given a nearly verbatim transcript by someone who attended the meeting.

He says everyone expected Mr. Bush to rubber stamp the plan under discussion: a big new tax cut. But, according to Suskind, the president was perhaps having second thoughts about cutting taxes again, and was uncharacteristically engaged.

“He asks, ‘Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,’” says Suskind.

“He says, ‘Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?’ Now, his advisers, they say, ‘Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.’ And the president kind of goes, ‘OK.’ That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. ‘Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, ‘You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?’"

But according to the transcript, White House political advisor Karl Rove jumped in.

“Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. ‘Stick to principle. Stick to principle.’ He says it over and over again,” says Suskind. “Don’t waver.”

In the end, the president didn't. And nine days after that meeting in which O'Neill made it clear he could not publicly support another tax cut, the vice president called and asked him to resign.

With the deficit now climbing towards $400 billion, O'Neill maintains he was in the right.

But look at the economy today.

“Yes, well, in the last quarter the growth rate was 8.2 percent. It was terrific,” says O’Neill. “I think the tax cut made a difference. But without the tax cut, we would have had 6 percent real growth, and the prospect of dealing with transformation of Social Security and fundamentally fixing the tax system. And to me, those were compelling competitors for, against more tax cuts.” While in the book O'Neill comes off as constantly appalled at Mr. Bush, he was surprised when Stahl told him she found his portrait of the president unflattering.

“Hmmm, you really think so,” asks O’Neill, who says he isn’t joking. “Well, I’ll be darned.”

“You're giving me the impression that you're just going to be stunned if they attack you for this book,” says Stahl to O’Neill. “And they're going to say, I predict, you know, it's sour grapes. He's getting back because he was fired.”
“I will be really disappointed if they react that way because I think they'll be hard put to,” says O’Neill.

Is he prepared for it?

“Well, I don't think I need to be because I can't imagine that I'm going to be attacked for telling the truth,” says O’Neill. “Why would I be attacked for telling the truth?”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked about the book on Friday and said "The president is someone that leads and acts decisively on our biggest priorities and that is exactly what he'll continue to do."

12:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Published on Sunday, July 6, 2003 by the New York Times
What I Didn't Find in Africa
by Joseph C. Wilson 4th

Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

For 23 years, from 1976 to 1998, I was a career foreign service officer and ambassador. In 1990, as chargé d'affaires in Baghdad, I was the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein. (I was also a forceful advocate for his removal from Kuwait.) After Iraq, I was President George H. W. Bush's ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe; under President Bill Clinton, I helped direct Africa policy for the National Security Council.

It was my experience in Africa that led me to play a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nonconventional weapons programs. Those news stories about that unnamed former envoy who went to Niger? That's me.

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip. The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government.

In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey, where I had been a diplomat in the mid-70's and visited as a National Security Council official in the late 90's. The city was much as I remembered it. Seasonal winds had clogged the air with dust and sand. Through the haze, I could see camel caravans crossing the Niger River (over the John F. Kennedy bridge), the setting sun behind them. Most people had wrapped scarves around their faces to protect against the grit, leaving only their eyes visible.

The next morning, I met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick at the embassy. For reasons that are understandable, the embassy staff has always kept a close eye on Niger's uranium business. I was not surprised, then, when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington. Nevertheless, she and I agreed that my time would be best spent interviewing people who had been in government when the deal supposedly took place, which was before her arrival.

I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.

(As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors — they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government — and were probably forged. And then there's the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.)

Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. I also shared my conclusions with members of her staff. In early March, I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the C.I.A. I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Affairs Bureau. There was nothing secret or earth-shattering in my report, just as there was nothing secret about my trip.

Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.

I thought the Niger matter was settled and went back to my life. (I did take part in the Iraq debate, arguing that a strict containment regime backed by the threat of force was preferable to an invasion.) In September 2002, however, Niger re-emerged. The British government published a "white paper" asserting that Saddam Hussein and his unconventional arms posed an immediate danger. As evidence, the report cited Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from an African country.

Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa.

The next day, I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them. He replied that perhaps the president was speaking about one of the other three African countries that produce uranium: Gabon, South Africa or Namibia. At the time, I accepted the explanation. I didn't know that in December, a month before the president's address, the State Department had published a fact sheet that mentioned the Niger case.

Those are the facts surrounding my efforts. The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

The question now is how that answer was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses. (It's worth remembering that in his March "Meet the Press" appearance, Mr. Cheney said that Saddam Hussein was "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.") At a minimum, Congress, which authorized the use of military force at the president's behest, should want to know if the assertions about Iraq were warranted.

I was convinced before the war that the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein required a vigorous and sustained international response to disarm him. Iraq possessed and had used chemical weapons; it had an active biological weapons program and quite possibly a nuclear research program — all of which were in violation of United Nations resolutions. Having encountered Mr. Hussein and his thugs in the run-up to the Persian Gulf war of 1991, I was only too aware of the dangers he posed.

But were these dangers the same ones the administration told us about? We have to find out. America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.

Joseph C. Wilson 4th, United States ambassador to Gabon from 1992 to 1995, is an international business consultant.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

12:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Scorned general's tactics proved right

Profile of the army chief sidelined by Rumsfeld

Matthew Engel in Washington
Saturday March 29, 2003
The Guardian

This has been a terrible week at the Pentagon: the worst since the building itself was attacked more than 18 months ago. But as his limo drew up to fetch him last night, one of the most senior figures in the building might just have permitted himself the thin smile of a vindicated man.

His name in General Eric Shinseki. And at a time when generals - whether on active or pundit duty - are the hottest showbiz properties in the world, hardly anyone knows who he is.

Officially, he is Tommy Franks's superior, head of the United States army, a member of the mighty joint chiefs, and two months away from what ought to be honoured retirement at the end of a military career stretching back to the Vietnam war.

But for the past two years Gen Shinseki has been in total eclipse after what appears to have been the most spectacular bust-up with his civilian bosses, in particular Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

Hardly any of this the reached public domain until last month when Gen Shinseki told a congressional committee that he thought an occupying force in the hundreds of thousands would be required to police postwar Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld publicly repudiated him, saying he was "far off the mark".

In semi-private, the Pentagon's civilian leadership was far more scathing. A "senior administration official" told the Village Voice newspaper that Gen Shinseki's remark was "bullshit from a Clintonite enamoured of using the army for peacekeeping and not winning wars".

Then the general said it again. "It could be as high as several hundred thousand," he told another committee. "We all hope it is something less." Most of the media were too distracted by the build-up to war to notice. Serious analysts, however, were staggered by the insubordination.

This appears to have been round two of another, more immediately relevant, dispute about how many troops are needed to win this war. In this case, the military prevailed over the original civilian notion that fewer than 100,000 could do it. As even more soldiers rush to the Gulf to bring the number closer to 300,000, the original Rumsfeld plan looks in hindsight to be what the army said at the time: a recipe for possible catastrophe.

The full reality on the ground may not become known until Saddam Hussein has fallen, but no one can now seriously believe - as many top Pentagon civilians appear to have done a week ago - that the main problem for an occupying force will be what to do with all the floral gifts.

The origins of the Shinseki-Rumsfeld war long predate any mention of Iraq. There are many ironies to it, but the most bitter seems to be that the general has found himself characterised as an obstacle to progress. This is improbable on the most personal level. He is a Japanese-American (as is his wife), born in Hawaii in 1942 when his parents were officially enemy aliens.

He was inspired to join the army by the example of uncles who fought for the US then and eradicated the perception that they might be traitors. In Vietnam, "Ric" Shinseki was terribly injured twice - losing a foot the second time - yet he persisted in the army.

He came into office in June 1999 with a clear vision for "transformation" and talked passionately about the army's need to adjust from thinking about traditional enemies to what he called "complicators", including both terrorists and the then little-known phrase "weapons of mass destruction". Gen Shinseki might thus have relished the arrival of a Republican team equally committed to change.

Unfortunately, the two sides had very different ideas about what the words meant. The general wanted a new kind of army, one that could combine the adaptability of light infantry and the power of heavily mechanised forces. His new bosses had other ideas. "They had pre-decided what transformation meant," said one Pentagon source. "It meant more from space, more from air and it didn't involve the army much. That was the essence of the conflict."

This erupted over the Crusader mobile artillery system, which Mr Rumsfeld has scrapped. Gen Shinseki told Congress a year ago it would have saved lives during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. By then he had already been turned into a lame duck ("castrated", according to the same Pentagon source) by the apparently unprecedented Rumsfeld decision to announce his successor 18 months in advance.

He seems to have been caught in a classic bind: distrusted by his subordinates for being too radical and by his bosses for being too conservative.

On Japanese-American chatlines, he is characterised as a victim of racism. Certainly in that community he is an authentic hero: "One of the most gracious, soft-spoken, low-key individuals you could meet with four stars on his shoulder," according to Kristine Manami of the Japanese-American Citizens' League.

Put it all together: a nice man, a wounded veteran - and maybe right when it mattered. Despite the allegations, his politics are unknown. But if he is a Democrat and chooses to go after one of Hawaii's Senate seats, he might have a platform for some very tasty revenge indeed.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Ex-Army boss: Pentagon won't admit reality in Iraq
By Dave Moniz, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The former civilian head of the Army said Monday it is time for the Pentagon to admit that the military is in for a long occupation of Iraq that will require a major commitment of American troops.

Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.

"This is not what they were selling (before the war)," White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."

The interview was White's first since leaving the Pentagon in May after a series of public feuds with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld led to his firing.

Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops." Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark."

Rumsfeld was furious with White when the Army secretary agreed with Shinseki.

Last month, Rumsfeld said the United States would remain in Iraq as "long as it takes." But the Defense chief was not specific about the size of the force.

The Pentagon declined to respond to White's comments, but a senior official said it was too early to draw conclusions about the size or length of the U.S. troops' commitment in Iraq.

White said it is reasonable to assume the Pentagon will need more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to provide stability for at least the next year. Pentagon officials envisioned having about 100,000 troops there immediately after the war, but they hoped that number would be quickly drawn down.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

As administration allies seek to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson as a partisan critic disregarding his commendation by President Bush Sr. for his “heroism” in the 1991 Persian Gulf War we speak with former intelligence officer Larry Johnson who worked with Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, at the CIA. [Includes transcript] Click here to read to full transcript

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 69% of Americans believe there should be a special counsel independent of the administration investigating the allegations that Bush administration officials illegally leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle and three other Senators wrote to the president repeating their call for a special counsel and asked for all White House senior staff members to sign a statement saying they were not responsible for the leak. Separately, Sen. Chuck Hagel said that Bush "needs to get this behind him" by taking a more active role.

Bush remained quiet on the topic, but White House press secretary Scott McClellan was besieged by questions from reporters with the Wilson affair filling 22 of 24 pages in the transcript of yesterday’s White House press briefing.

The White House left open the possibility that administration officials could submit to lie detector tests as part of the investigation. McClellan did not directly answer questions about whether White House staff would take polygraph tests saying "Full co-operation is full co-operation."

Meanwhile, administration allies are seeking to discredit Wilson, whose wife was named as a CIA operative. RNC Director Ed Gillespie said Wilson is prone to "rash statements" and is “someone - given his politics - who is obviously prone to think the worst of this White House."

However, as the former US ambassador to Iraq, Joseph Wilson was formally commended by the Bush Sr. administration for his bravery and heroism in the weeks leading up to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. At that time Wilson was the only open line of communication between Washington and Saddam Hussein and the White House consulted Wilson daily. Wilson also helped evacuate thousands of foreigners from Kuwait, negotiated the release of more than 120 American hostages and sheltered nearly 800 Americans in the embassy compound. President Bush the First wrote Wilson in a letter which read in part: “Your courageous leadership during this period of great danger for American interests and American citizens has my admiration and respect.”

* Larry Johnson, former intelligence officer at the CIA where he worked with Joseph Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame. He served as deputy director of the U.S. State Department Office of Counterterrorism, 1989-1993. He is now CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC ,an international business-consulting firm.


AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now! It's good to have you with us.

Well, can you first respond to what has taken place? The outing of your colleague, Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson's wife.

LARRY JOHNSON: It was just a cheap political shot. Unfortunately there are elements of the Bush administration that seem intent upon plain and intense partisan politics and smearing people without dealing with the substance of issues.

I don't care if Joe Wilson was an overt communist, that has nothing, no relevance to the fact that he delivered a report which was backed up by the other U.S. ambassador as well as backed up by Marine General who also conducted an investigation that there was no uranium being sold out of Niger.

So, instead of focusing on the substance of the issue what is underway we continue to see Scott McClellan engage in this to suggest that because of some political beliefs by ambassador Wilson that that discredits the substance of his report.

Unfortunately, that is what has become typical of politics. We saw it under the Clinton administration and now we're seeing it under the Bush administration. George Bush promised a new tone in town and got the same old note.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Johnson, what was your relationship with Valerie Plame? Did you work directly with her?

LARRY JOHNSON: We went through special training program together, starting in 1985.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you understand about what she was doing?

LARRY JOHNSON: Well, I don't understand much about what she's doing, but what is certain, she has been undercover since 1985.

Now, what the nature of that cover is, I don't know, nor do I need to know. The spin that's been put out by people like Bob Novack to suggest that she was “just an analyst”, all I can say is that I was an analyst for the four years I was at the CIA. I was in an undercover capacity the entire time, which meant that the only person who was really aware of where I was actually working was my wife. The other members of my family thought I was working with another government agency.

AMY GOODMAN: The reports and Bob Novack's piece, watching him yesterday on CNN saying, yeah, he used the word "operative" but he was using it loosely he didn't quite understand, he sort of thought analyst, not really sure.

LARRY JOHNSON: Doesn't matter. That is a red herring. That is completely irrelevant to the issue. Issue's not was she an analyst or was she a cleaning lady, if she's undercover she's undercover, period.

If the media allows themselves to get distracted with those kinds of curve balls, they ignore the issue. Unfortunately there's a lot of ignorance, that's understandable.

To refer to Joe's wife as an agent, she's not an agent. Agents are people from other countries who are paid by the United States to betray their country; they're spies. Intelligence officers, case officers, run agents. Joe's wife is an intelligence officer not an agent.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Johnson, maybe you could just clarify for us as we take this look at the C.I.A. as a whole country peeks in, what does it mean to work under the Directorate of Operation?

LARRY JOHNSON: The Directorate of Operations, well as the name implies, is responsible for conducting operations. Those are clandestine operations, there's need for being able to do some things which are not necessarily attributed to the United States, or people who are gathering information, or being asked to carry out actions on behalf of the United States can do so without necessarily being any attribution to the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your sense of where this leak came from, Larry Johnson?

LARRY JOHNSON: I've been told by someone who I believe has direct knowledge that it came out of the old executive office building.

I'm not going to identify specific individuals because I think that has to be carried out by the Justice Department to investigate.

I don't want to try people in public, but I think we've seen a parsing of words, “No, it didn't come out of the White House”.

Well, the reporter are just doing their job. How about asking the follow-up question: Well did it come out of the old executive office building?

AMY GOODMAN: And who is in the old executive office building?

LARRY JOHNSON: Well, more of the President's staff; people that work for the President; that work on national security issues. You have other senior officials from different agencies, the Vice President's staff is there. You've got a whole host of people who might possibly -- what we know for certain based upon what Bob Novack has said, is that two senior administration officials gave him this name.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Johnson, it was interesting to watch the Vice President, Dick Cheney, on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert a couple of weeks ago, because when he was asked about Joe Wilson he said, I never met Joe Wilson, I don't know Joe Wilson.

We did a piece called “Does a Felon Rove the White House” I did with fellow producer Jeremy Scahill.

Looking at what Cheney said, he then went on to say when Russert told him, “Well he was sent by the C.I.A. “ he said, “Who sent him?” clearly raising this question of his wife, I think is the suggestion.

But what about Dick Cheney going to the C.I.A. with Scooter Libby, his top aide, I believe Scooter Libby went, "Washington Post" reported, many times perhaps close to 20, the Vice President went a number of times as well during the period after Joe Wilson gave his report. He says he never heard about this, which is quite hard to believe considering the unprecedented nature of his visits as well as Scooter Libby's. Do you think they have anything to do with this?

LARRY JOHNSON: Specifically to meet with analysts and/or operations folks and on these particular issues and to do it multiple times is unprecedented in my memory.

I've got two exceptional performance plaques sitting on my wall from my last year there. One is given for series of briefings I did for then Vice President Quayle over a four-day period.

Usually if you're going to talk to the Vice President you go down to him he doesn't come out to you.

What I am told by people who were inside working on intelligence issues at the time, is that there was direct pressure being brought by variety of people who were -- they had a world-view of what they wanted to see. And they were insistent upon trying to get evidence to corroborate that world-view.

At the end of the day they were unsuccessful; there were some frustration on their part and I think there was some belief, I think it's false, but a perception that the C.I.A. analysts and some of the C.I.A. operators were sandbagging them, that they really had the information they just weren't sharing it with them.

It's unfortunate, naive view of the world. That's just not how it operates.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Johnson to say the least, this is a political firestorm. You're a Republican. Why are you speaking out?

LARRY JOHNSON: There's right and wrong in this. I was disgusted by a lot of things I saw happening under the Clinton administration, and I expected a new tone and new direction. Instead we're getting a level of thuggery with -- the White House continues to do it.

What's unfortunate, when I say White House I mean Scott McClellan by raising questions about Joe Wilson's political affiliation. It's not relevant The simple question is, who revealed the name of his wife and compromised her cover status; and why are they attacking Joe Wilson for bringing the news that was available also in other sources which told them that that report that the President based his State of the Union message on was erroneous; and that there was in fact no credible evidence that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear material. That was used as a pretext for war. That's wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: Was it common knowledge, as some had put forth, that Valerie Plame worked for the C.I.A.?

LARRY JOHNSON: No, it's not. That is ludicrous. That's more of the spin machine working back here, unfortunately.

She was undercover, by virtue of being undercover; she claimed to work for some other organization, and would not go out and say, “wink, nudge, I work for a government agency”. That is not how it is done.

AMY GOODMAN: What did she work for? You've got people who say they work for another government agency as it sounds like you did or even though you were former intelligence officer…

LARRY JOHNSON: I'm not going to get into the specifics of how the cover works.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask one thing, in general I mean we have done pieces on, for example, the NOC program, which means Non-Official Cover, when a C.I.A. operative will say they're working for, say Campbell's soup or something overseas and Campbell's soup provides that cover for them.

But in fact they are working -- they are a C.I.A. operative. Could you explain that system? How that works?

LARRY JOHNSON: No. I'm not going to get into discussing what would be the sources and methods. It's public knowledge that there are two systems of cover, that there's official and not official. They're both designed to provide a protection to the individual who's put undercover as to well to allow them to perform their activities.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Larry Johnson, former intelligence officer at the C.I.A. where he worked with Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. He served as deputy director of the U.S. State Department of Counter Terrorism,1989-1993; now C.E.O. and co-founder of Berg Associates, a business consulting firm. We're about to speak with former C.I.A. agent Phillip Agee in Cuba, would you stay with us?

LARRY JOHNSON: I don't really care to be on air with Mr. Agee. I think he's a traitor and has already cost the lives of some Americans.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks for joining us. We'll ask Phillip about that. Thank you.

Stay with us. We'll be back in a minute with Phillip Agee in Cuba.

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12:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Elizabeth Blackburn is a great scientist, the only stem cell biologist who served on the Presidents Council on Bioethics under Leon Kass, and those who watched as she was dismissed from the Council were appalled - particularly at the assertion by Kass in newspapers that Blackburn was dismissed not for her politics but because she did not participate in the panel's discussions. If you followed the scandal you know that Blackburn was in fact very active in the discussions, by email, but that at the heart of the matter was the question of how to cast her contributions as a scientist to the public debate.

Benjamin Franklin would have loved Elizabeth Blackburn, and no doubt it is that fact - as well as her basic science acumen - that insipred the judges at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to award her the Benjamin Franklin medal, which has been awarded to truly outstanding scientists since 1824.

Blackburn, an Australian who is now a U.S. citizen and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, was one of 18 people chosen in 2001 to serve on the President's Council on Bioethics. She researched developments in embryonic stem cells and told her fellow council members that the field held great promise in the health-care field.

The use of such cells from human embryos is opposed by abortion opponents. Blackburn and another scientist were replaced in 2004 with three people who held more conservative views.

The panel chairman said her removal was not related to politics, but Blackburn disagrees. She wrote of her experience in a two-page column in the New England Journal of Medicine, and said she received positive calls and letters from around the world.

'People don't like the idea that science policy is not being based on evidence,' she said yesterday."

12:07 PM  

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