Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Plamegate II

Valerie Plame was not the only CIA analyst to bear the weight of the administration's wrath for daring to contradict their stance on Iraq's 'WMD's' with the facts. A so-far still anonymous former agent is bringing a suit against the agency, alleging he was terminated after refusing to falsify a report he'd written indicating that Baghdad had dropped its nuclear program before 2001. When he refused, that report was coldfiled. As allegations continue to mount, it becomes clear that the CIA was pressured to alter its intelligence on Iraq to support the administration's ambitions.


Blogger Management said...

CIA fired me for not toeing Iraq line, says agent

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday December 10, 2004
The Guardian

A senior CIA analyst who was once decorated for his work on weapons proliferation in the Middle East has accused the spy agency of ruining his career as punishment for his refusal to adhere to official pre-war "dogma" on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

In a lawsuit filed in a US district court, the unnamed agent, described as a 22-year veteran of the agency's counter-proliferation department, accuses his former supervisors of demanding that he alter his intelligence reporting to conform to the views of CIA management in the run-up to the war on Iraq.

The action marks the first time the CIA, which proclaimed that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of WMD, has been publicly accused by one of its employees of exerting pressure to produce reports that would help the Bush administration make its case to go to war on Saddam.

However, one former CIA employee said the process described by the analyst - pressure and retaliation - was a familiar bureaucratic response to agents who did not conform.

The agent's refusal to tailor his reports had, he claims, a disastrous effect on a career that had previously been marked by regular promotions and a CIA medal for the operative's recruitment of moles who penetrated a nuclear weapons programme in another Middle Eastern country.

"The complaint alleges that there was a pre-war dogma at the CIA concerning weapons of mass destruction, and my client's reports were contrary to the dogma," said Roy Krieger, who represents the agent. "My client was told to conform to the dogma. He refused and retribution followed."

The CIA last night rejected the charge. "The notion that CIA managers order officers to falsify reports is flat wrong," said spokeswoman Anya Guilsher. "Our mission is to call it like we see it."

The agent's complaint has been heavily blacked out by the CIA, and it makes no mention of the word "Iraq".

However, the timing of the operative's run-in with his superiors and other details strongly suggest he ran foul of agency managements for his reports on Saddam Hussein's alleged arsenal during the run-up to the war.

But the undercover agent's work was not restricted to Iraq. The first instance of pressure occurred in 2000, when he says he tried to pass on intelligence culled from one of his many "human assets" in the field.

Court papers describe how the "plaintiff was subsequently advised by CIA management that his report did not support the earlier assessment... and instructed that if he did not alter his report to support this assessment, it would not be received well by the intelligence community".

A year later, the agent obtained intelligence from a "highly respected human asset", which he tried to pass on to his superiors, the complaint says. "Plaintiff was later instructed that he should prepare no written report of the matter", and received assurances that the CIA chief would personally brief the president.

However, "upon information and belief, plaintiff avers that no such briefing ever occurred, and therefore the president was misled by the withholding of vital intelligence."

The complaint goes on to describe further instances in 2001 and 2002 where the operative's attempts to report "actionable" intelligence were thwarted by CIA superiors. He was also warned to break off contact with the highly regarded source.

"Plaintiff was subsequently approached by a senior desk officer who insisted that plaintiff falsify his reporting of this matter," the complaint reads.

Some months later, the CIA operative was accused of having sex with one of his female informants. In September 2003, the operative was suspended. He was later accused of stealing funds meant to pay informants, and last September 10 he was sacked.

"Plaintiff avers that the termination of his employment at CIA was in further retaliation for, and to contrive a pretext to discredit, his refusal to falsify his intelligence reporting to support the politically mandated conclusion," the complaint says.

The CIA has had a torrid two years. Its former director, George Tenet, was quoted as telling President Bush that finding WMD in Iraq was a "slam dunk"; and the agency has been pilloried for the way it dealt with intelligence prior to the September 11 attacks.

And under its new chief, Porter Goss, there have been persistent rumblings of mis-management as a series of senior figures have announced their intention to quit.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Management said...

August 1, 2005
Spy's Notes on Iraqi Aims Were Shelved, Suit Says

WASHINGTON, July 31 - The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

Michelle Neff, a C.I.A. spokeswoman, said the agency would not comment on the lawsuit.

It was not possible to verify independently the former officer's allegations concerning his reporting on illicit weapons.

His information on the Iraqi nuclear program, described as coming from a significant source, would have arrived at a time when the C.I.A. was starting to reconsider whether Iraq had revived its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The agency's conclusion that this was happening, eventually made public by the Bush administration in 2002 as part of its rationale for war, has since been found to be incorrect.

While the existence of the lawsuit has previously been reported, details of the case have not been made public because the documents in his suit have been heavily censored by the government and the substance of the claims are classified. The officer's name remains secret, in part because disclosing it might jeopardize the agency's sources or operations.

Several people with detailed knowledge of the case provided information to The New York Times about his allegations, but insisted on anonymity because the matter is classified.

The former officer's lawyer, Roy W. Krieger, said he could not discuss his client's claims. He likened his client's situation to that of Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, the clandestine C.I.A. officer whose role was leaked to the press after her husband publicly challenged some administration conclusions about Iraq's nuclear ambitions. (The former officer and Ms. Wilson worked in the same unit of the agency.)

"In both cases, officials brought unwelcome information on W.M.D. in the period prior to the Iraq invasion, and retribution followed," said Mr. Krieger, referring to weapons of mass destruction.

In court documents, the former officer says that he learned in 2003 that he was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation and accused of having sex with a female contact, a charge he denies. Eight months after learning of the investigation, he said in the court documents, the agency's inspector general's office informed him that he was under investigation for diverting to his own use money earmarked for payments to informants. He denies that, too.

The former officer's claims concerning his reporting on the Iraqi nuclear weapons program were not addressed in a report issued in March by the presidential commission that examined intelligence regarding such weapons in Iraq. He did not testify before the commission, Mr. Krieger said.

A former senior staff member of the commission said the panel was not aware of the officer's allegations. The claims were also not included in the 2004 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on prewar intelligence. He and his lawyer met with staff members of that Senate committee in a closed-door session last December, months after the report was issued.

In his lawsuit, the former officer said that in the spring of 2001, he met with a valuable informant who had examined and purchased parts of Iraqi centrifuges. Centrifuges are used to turn uranium into fuel for nuclear weapons. The informant reported that the Iraqi government had long since canceled its uranium enrichment program and that the C.I.A. could buy centrifuge components if it wanted to.

The officer filed his reports with the Counter Proliferation Division in the agency's clandestine espionage arm. The reports were never disseminated to other American intelligence agencies or to policy makers, as is typically done, he charged.

According to his suit, he was told that the agency already had detailed information about continuing Iraqi nuclear weapons efforts, and that his informant should focus on other countries.

He said his reports about Iraq came just as the agency was fundamentally shifting its view of Iraq's nuclear ambitions.

Throughout much of the 1990's, the C.I.A. and other United States intelligence agencies believed that Iraq had largely abandoned its nuclear weapons program. In December 2000, the intelligence agencies issued a classified assessment stating that Iraq did not appear to have taken significant steps toward the reconstitution of the program, according to the presidential commission report concerning illicit weapons.

But that assessment changed in early 2001 - a critical period in the intelligence community's handling of the Iraqi nuclear issue, the commission concluded. In March 2001, intelligence indicating that Iraq was seeking high-strength aluminum tubes from China greatly influenced the agency's thinking. Analysts soon came to believe that the only possible explanation for Iraq's purchase of the tubes was to develop high-tech centrifuges for a new uranium enrichment program.

By the following year, the agency's view had hardened, despite differing interpretations of the tubes' purposes by other intelligence experts. In October 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate, produced by the intelligence community under pressure from Congress, stated that most of the nation's intelligence agencies believed that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, based in large part on the aluminum tubes.

The commission concluded that intelligence failures on the Iraqi nuclear issue were as serious and damaging as any other during the prelude to the Iraqi war. The nation's intelligence community was wrong "on what many would view as the single most important judgment it made" before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the commission report said.

Mr. Krieger said he had asked the court handling the case to declassify his client's suit, but the C.I.A. had moved to classify most of his motion seeking declassification. He added that he recently sent a letter to the director of the F.B.I. requesting an investigation of his client's complaints, but that the C.I.A. had classified that letter, as well.

Most of the details of the case, he said, "were classified by the C.I.A., not to protect national security but to conceal politically embarrassing facts from public scrutiny."

3:21 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Fired CIA Agent Seeks Investigation by FBI

A fired CIA agent, who the New York Times reported had told superiors in 2001 that Iraq had abandoned part of its nuclear program, asked the FBI to investigate allegations that the spy agency dismissed him for refusing to falsify intelligence.

A July 11 letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III from the former agent's attorney suggests CIA officials may be guilty of criminal violations involving intelligence he produced on weapons of mass destruction in 2000 that contradicted an official agency position.

The lawyer, Roy Krieger, said his client initially asked the CIA's inspector general to investigate charges that CIA officials had pressured him to alter the intelligence and retaliated when he refused. But the inspector general rebuffed his request.

"If the CIA is telling him to falsify information, that's potentially a crime. This merits an investigation, and if the CIA's not going to do it, the only other place is the FBI," Krieger said.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

The letter to Mueller reiterates charges in a lawsuit the former agent filed last December in federal court in Washington.

Identified as "Doe," the former agent, who worked as a Near Eastern specialist on counterproliferation issues, accuses the CIA of improper action on two separate pieces of intelligence. One was the weapons intelligence the former agent says he was asked to change in 2000. The other was intelligence uncovered in 2001 that the Times described yesterday as dealing with Iraq's nuclear program. The newspaper, citing people it said had knowledge of the case, said the second piece of intelligence came from a credible source and said that Baghdad had dropped a major segment of its nuclear program years before 2001. But CIA officials refused to distribute the finding to other intelligence agencies, the Times said.

The case could shed new light on Bush administration thinking ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which the White House largely justified by charging that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was actively pursuing nuclear arms. No such weapons have been found in Iraq, and U.S. arms investigators have concluded that Baghdad abandoned its nuclear development program soon after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

-- From News Services

3:22 PM  

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