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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

Iraq never had a suicide bomb, until…

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2021

Iraq had never had a suicide bombing until after George W. Bush invaded and occupied their country.Iraq was a mix of Sunnis, allied with Saudi Arabia, and Shiites, allied with Iran. Shiites were the majority of the population, but Sunnis held political power.George W. Bush changed that. The “purple-fingered elections,” hailed as a victory for democracy, gave the Shiite majority absolute control over the lives and fortunes of the Sunni minority.Civil War resulted. Bush had put Iran’s Shiite allies in power. They forced him to surrender and leave the country, and refused his request to station any military bases in their country.A million Iraqis were killed, along with thousands of Americans. And for what? To empower Iran in the capital and in the east, and to turn western Iraq over to bin Ladenites.In Chapter 7 of Gus Cantavero’s video adaptation of Scott’s new book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, Scott explains how the “the Surge worked” was basically PR for David Petraeus, and how the U.S. turned around and fought the Shiites they had been allied with for years.
Arm yourself with knowledge so you can fight for peace. Buy Scott’s new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

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RAY McGOVERN: Why Michael Morell Cannot Be CIA Director – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on December 14, 2020

The most accomplished engineers and technical intelligence analysts in the intelligence community knew that the aluminum tubes story was BS. In the finest tradition of intelligence analysis, they remained impervious to the political winds. They insisted that associating those aluminum tubes with nuclear weapons development was wrong and they could not be persuaded to go along. And yet that bogus information got into Powell’s February 2003 speech at the UN.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of “yes men” into the agency’s top ranks and now one of them is being considered by Joe Biden for the top job, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

As President-elect Joe Biden names his cabinet and other chief advisers, what has escaped wide attention is the fact that none of his hawkish national security advisers — except for his nominee for defense secretary, Gen. Lloyd Austin — has served in the military.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who is reportedly on Biden’s short list for CIA director, shares that non-veteran status, one of the reasons along with other skeletons from Morell’s past that make him singularly unfit to lead the CIA.

During my 27 years at the CIA, I worked under nine CIA directors — three of them (Stan Turner, Bill Colby, and George H.W. Bush) at close remove — and served in all four of the agency’s main directorates.

Having closely followed the past-two-decade corruption of my profession — in particular, what the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee called the “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent” intelligence manufactured to “justify” the attack on Iraq, I have on occasion offered an suggestions for remediation, particularly during transition periods like this one. (Links to five such efforts in the past appear below.)

Whiz Kids

Decades of unfortunate experience show that over-dependence on bright, but inexperienced “best and brightest” can spell disaster. War gaming and theorizing at Princeton and Johns Hopkins have yielded knights with benightedly naive, politics-drenched decisions that get U.S. troops killed for no good reason.

Even if Gen. Lloyd Austin is confirmed as secretary of defense, the whippersnappers already appointed by Joe Biden will probably be able to outmaneuver the general and promote half-baked policies and operations bereft of needed military input — not to mention common sense from the likes of Gen. Austin who knows something of war.

The current generation of “whiz kids” — the well-heeled, politically astute chickenhawks Biden has appointed — will always “know better” and — if past is precedent — are likely to pooh pooh what Gen. Austin may advise, assuming he is able to get a word in edgeways.

Moreover, ambitious former generals like David Petraeus — many of them now on the outside of the proverbial revolving door making big bucks in the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex — will not hesitate to weigh in with their own self-interested support to the chickenhawks, fostering the notion that military threats from notional enemies warrant still more funding for the defense contractors on whose boards so many alumni generals sit.

Who does not remember the braggadocio accompanying the criminal attack on Iraq, the full-throated support of journalists like David Sanger of The New York Times, and the chest-thumping of Bush/Cheney neocons saying “Real men go to Tehran?” (Sanger is still at it, sitting on the “Judith Miller Chair for Journalism”.)

Clearly, one does not have to go as far back as Vietnam for noxious examples of the harm that can be done by these “best and brightest,” albeit inexperienced advisers — whether out of the myth of American exceptionalism, ignorance of post-WWII military history, or pure arrogance.

It may be helpful to recall that Vice President Dick Cheney, the archdeacon of the chickenhawks, acquired five draft deferments during Vietnam. (So did his successor as vice president, the president-elect.)

Cheney, of course, was the driving force behind the attack on Iraq. He had appointed himself Bush’s principal intelligence officer (usurping the role of CIA Director George Tenet who made not a murmur of protest) and went first and biggest with the Big Lie on (ephemeral) weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Here’s Cheney in his kick-off speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 26, 2002: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

Simply stated, Tenet dutifully followed White House orders to “fix” the intelligence to support Cheney’s accusations against Iraq. Tenet did so formally in the deceitful National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1, 2002 — which earned the sobriquet “The Whore of Babylon.”

It was successfully used to get Congress to enable Bush/Cheney to make war on Iraq, and eventually create havoc in the whole region. In his memoir Tenet gave the laurels to Morell for “coordinating the CIA review” of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s UN speech that let slip the dogs of war. (Details on that below)

Cakewalks and Cubbyholes

Cheney, the quintessential chickenhawk, surrounded himself with advisers of the same bent. One pitiable example was armchair warrior Kenneth Adelman, who had been director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Reagan. In a Washington Post op-ed of Feb. 13, 2002, Adelman wrote: “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”

Two years later, Adelman wrote an equally pathetic op-ed, insisting that he and his neoconservative friends had been right on everything except Iraq possessing WMD, Iraqi factions cooperating after Saddam Hussein was deposed, and “probably” on close ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

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As for Cheney himself, he did memorize some weapons nomenclature vocabulary, but could not avoid an occasional faux pas betraying his lack of familiarity with things on the ground. Nine months after the attack on Iraq, when WMD were still nowhere to be found, NPR asked Cheney whether he had given up on finding them.

“No, we haven’t,” he said. “It’s going to take some additional, considerable period of time in order to look in all the cubbyholes and ammo dumps and all the places in Iraq where you’d expect to find something like that.” (The continued, quixotic search cost not only a billion dollars but the lives of U.S. troops.).

The amateur but opinionated Cheney was the largest fly in the intelligence ointment. Four months into the war it got so blatantly bad that we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) sent a Memorandum to President Bush entitled “Intelligence Unglued”, recommending that he “ask for Cheney’s immediate resignation.”

Naiveté on War

Jake Sullivan, seated farthest back, as national security advisor to vice president, in a meeting with President Barack Obama and advisers, Aug. 29, 2013. (White House, Pete Souza)

In a recent, disturbingly graphic article entitled “Biden’s young Hawk: The Case Against Jake Sullivan,” retired Army Maj. Danny Sjursen broadly hinted that President Biden’s national security adviser should at least look at the photos. (An editor’s note in the piece explained that such photos are almost totally absent from Establishment media: “Graphic images of war and suffering are included with this text. We believe it is important for the world to witness what their taxes, votes and apathy may be supporting.” )

In his article Sjursen finds himself wondering “whether Sullivan’s ever seen a dead child, gazed upon the detritus of American empire, waded through the sights and smells of our indecency. And, worse still, I wondered whether it’d matter much if he had. …”

The national security adviser is gatekeeper to the president, with the gate strong or weak depending — at least in concept — on what the president wants. In the normal course of business, the CIA director and the director of national intelligence would go through the security adviser to get to the president. Cabinet secretaries in the national security arena and, when appropriate, FBI directors often use the same channel.

What seems important here, though widely overlooked, is that no Biden national security appointee/nominee except Gen. Austin has apparently served a day in the military. Not Sullivan, not DNI nominee Avril Haines, not secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken, and not FBI Director Christopher Wray.

This is just one factor that should disqualify Morell for director of Central Intelligence (DCI). There are already far too many fledgling warhawks-without war experience. In Morell’s case, though, there are many other factors — some even more important — that disqualify him. His playing fast and loose regarding the legality and effectiveness of torture has been in the headlines recently, thanks to Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden (D-OR), who called Morell a “torture apologist.”

It has been a challenge to record Morell’s many artful dodges, but Consortium News did publish “On Iraq/Torture, Still in Denial”,as Morell began to peddle his memoir in May 2015.

Two of Morell’s tours de force with Charlie Rose in 2016, in which Morell advocates killing Russians and Iranians in Syria, were covered by CN.

More revealing still — and damning of his chances for another try at CIA — is an article, “Rise of Another CIA Yes Man.” That piece was written when Morell was picked to be Gen. David Petraeus’s deputy at CIA; it ends with personal comments by intelligence professionals who knew Morell well.

The article also includes citations from Tenet’s own memoir, including encomia he threw in Morell’s direction, one of which should actually be enough to bar Morell from any future role in intelligence.

Tenet to the left of Powell at the United Nations on Feb. 5. 2003. (Wikimedia Commons)

In Tenet’s book, At the Center of the Storm, he writes that Morell “coordinated the CIA review” of the intelligence used by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his infamous Feb. 5, 2003 speech to the UN Security Council on the threat from (non-existent) WMD in Iraq.

Tenet, who sat directly behind Powell on that day, pointed out that Morell had served as regular briefer to President George W. Bush. It has been reported that, of the CIA’s finished intelligence product on Iraq, it was The President’s Daily Brief delivered by Morell that most exaggerated the danger from Iraq.

Morell fluttered quickly up CIA ranks as the yes-sir protege of two CIA directors who were, arguably, the worst of them all — “Slam-Dunk” Tenet and the-Russians-hacked-so-Trump-won John Brennan. During the presidential campaign of 2016, as Brennan and his accomplices in the National Security State worked behind the scenes to sabotage candidate Donald Trump, Morell dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship — which used to be the hallmark of an intelligence professional.

From retirement (but with eyes on the big prize he coveted in a new Democratic administration), Morell openly backed the Democratic candidate in a highly unusual op-ed in The New York Times on August 5, 2016: “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.”

Iraq: the Crucible

In my view, the key gauge in weighing qualifications for a national security position like CIA director is whether a candidate showed good judgment before the misbegotten, calamitous attack on Iraq.

Morell flunks that test outright. Accordingly, he can hardly be expected to be one of the calmer voices in a room of still less experienced fledgling hawks who, to quote Maj. Sjursen, have never “waded through the sights and smells of our indecency” in killing and maiming abroad. With Morell in the room, there would be greater risk of the U.S. getting sucked into still more misadventures overseas.

What did Morell tell Bush about Iraq? In Tenet’s memoir, he describes Morell as “the perfect guy” to brief President Bush, noting that Morell and Bush hit it off “almost immediately”. Morell added later: “I was President Bush’s first intelligence briefer, so I briefed him kind of the entire year of 2001.”

‘The Entire Year 2001’

So, was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein trying to acquire “weapons of mass destruction” during 2001? The first (and honest) answer was ”No” — if Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are to be believed. Here’s what they said at the time — Powell publicly during a speech in Cairo and Rice to CNN five months later.

Powell on Feb. 24, 2001:

“He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.”

Rice told CNN’s John King on July 29, 2001:

“We are able to keep arms from him [Saddam Hussein]. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

Is this what Morell told Bush just six weeks before 9/11? Did Morell ever explain how Iraq could have developed, purchased, or stolen copious WMD in one year’s time?

Rice. (Wikipedia)

And when Morell briefed Bush right after 9/11, was the president fixated on Saddam Hussein, as counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke describes him in his book Against All Enemies? According to Clarke, on 9/12 Bush told him “to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke says he was incredulous, replying, “But, Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this.” In later interviews Clarke added that he felt he was being intimidated to find a link between the attacks and Iraq.

Did Morell play it straight and tell Bush (as Clarke did) that Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the attacks of 9/11? Did Clarke share that vignette at the time with Tenet and Morell?

And what about those notional Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? After 9/11, did Morell take his cue from Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Tenet and give President Bush the impression that Iraq already had all manner of WMD and was on the threshold of acquiring a nuclear weapon?

Sham Dunk

Later, in December 2002 when Morell’s boss Tenet assured Bush and Cheney that CIA could prove, slam-dunkedly, the existence of WMD in Iraq, did Morell ever ask himself how both Powell and Rice could have been so far off base the year before?

Far more likely, Morell knew what the game was, as he watched Rice do a fancy pirouette, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sept. 8, 2002 that “Saddam Hussein is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments into Iraq of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to nuclear weapons programs.”

The most accomplished engineers and technical intelligence analysts in the intelligence community knew that the aluminum tubes story was BS. In the finest tradition of intelligence analysis, they remained impervious to the political winds. They insisted that associating those aluminum tubes with nuclear weapons development was wrong and they could not be persuaded to go along. And yet that bogus information got into Powell’s February 2003 speech at the UN.

In Morell’s memoir he wrote that he wanted to apologize to Powell. Morell says, “We said he [Saddam Hussein] has chemical weapons, he has a biological weapons production capability, and he’s restarting his nuclear weapons program. We were wrong on all three of those.”

But not my fault, wrote Morell, who tried to shift the blame by claiming he was not a senior official at the time.

How does that square with Tenet writing that Morell “coordinated the CIA review” of Powell’s speech? Whom to believe? However begrudging must be any trust given “slam-dunk” and “we-do-not-torture”Tenet, he presumably would have less reason to dissimulate than Morell in this particular case.

Assuming Morell did “coordinate the CIA review” of Powell’s speech, did Morell know about the strong dissent on the infamous aluminum tubes?

More important, did he know that CIA operators had recruited and “turned” Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister (who Saddam Hussein continued to believe was still working for him) and, with the help of British intelligence, had “turned” the chief of Iraqi intelligence, Habbush, as well.

After the reporting from these two sources on other issues and after their access to secret information was evaluated and judged to be genuine, President Bush was told that Sabri and Habbush both said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Sabri’s information was given to the president by Tenet on Sept. 18, 2002; Habbush’s in late Jan. 2003. 

Did Tenet not share that with Morell before he coordinated CIA input into Powell’s speech?

Clearly, this first-hand intelligence from proven sources with excellent access did not suit the Cheney/Bush narrative for war on Iraq. The president’s staff told CIA operatives not to forward additional reporting on this issue from these sources, explaining that Bush did not want more information about weapons of mass destruction; rather, it was now about “regime change.”

McGovern questions Clapper at Carnegie Endowment in Washington. (Alli McCracken)

Did Morell know about this when he was “coordinating” input into Powell’s disastrous speech? It is a safe bet that Morell was fully aware of the con job he was “coordinating” — as did other senior intelligence officials.

In his own memoir, former Director of National Intelligence (and, during Iraq, director of imagery analysis), James Clapper takes a share of the blame for the Iraq WMD fiasco. Clapper puts the blame for “the failure” to find the (non-existent) WMD “squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”(emphasis added) .

Regarding Morell’s “I-confess-they-did-it” apology to Powell, the still-youngish Morell has not stopped lusting for an eventual seat at the table, so he apparently thought it a smart move politically. Typically, Powell did not react — as far as is known. Nor has the conflict-averse Powell summoned the cohones to say clearly what he thinks of how Tenet, Morell, et al. sold him a bill of goods on Iraq.

In the “where-are-they-now?” department, Tenet quit in July 2004 and fled to Wall Street to be joined the following year by Jami Miscik, who was deputy director for intelligence during the Iraq fiasco. She “lucked into” a nice job at Lehman Brothers before it went bust.

Note to readers: If you know someone advising the Biden team on selecting a director for CIA, please pass this along.

Finally, those interested in suggestions from the experience of previous transition teams, please click on one or two of the links below. The key issues tend to remain the same. Above all, integrity counts.

Additional Readings

1 — A Compromised Central Intelligence Agency: What Can Be Done?

By Ray McGovern, 2004

Chapter 4 in “Patriotism, Democracy, and Common Sense: Restoring America’s Promise at Home and Abroad”, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004

Ray’s chapter follows chapters by Alan Curtis (editor), Gary Hart, and Jessica Mathews.

Link to Chapter 4 text:

2 — Sham Dunk: Cooking Intelligence for the President?

By Ray McGovern, 2005

Chapter 19 in “Neo-CONNED! Again: Hypocrisy, Lawlessness, and the Rape of Iraq”, Light in the Darkness Publications, 2005?

3 — Try These on Your CIA Briefer, Mr. President-Elect

By Ray McGovern, November 8, 2008

4 — What Needs to Be Done in Intelligence (a memo for the Bush-to-Obama transition team)

By Ray McGovern. December 4, 2008

5 — US Intelligence Vets Oppose Brennan’s CIA Plan

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), March 9, 2015

Ray McGovern was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer before serving as a CIA analyst. A specialist on Russia, he also prepared and delivered The President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. In retirement, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Ray works with Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

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RAY McGOVERN: Powell & Iraq—The Uses and Abuses of National Intelligence Estimates – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on July 20, 2020

By Ray McGovern

The New York Times Magazine on Friday posted “Colin Powell Still Wants Answers,” a long article by Robert Draper to appear in Sunday’s edition. The article is based on Draper’s upcoming book, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq.

Google Books calls it “the definitive, revelatory reckoning with arguably the most consequential decision in the history of American foreign policy.” I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, Draper’s article focuses on then Secretary of State Powell and his UN speech of Feb. 5, 2003 and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) upon which it is largely based. A lot of the detail will be new to most readers, not very much new to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which had been established a month before. VIPS watched the speech, dissected it, and sent their verdict to President George W. Bush before close of business that same afternoon

We gave Powell a charitable grade of “C”, faulting him for, inter alia, not providing needed context and perspective. We should have flunked him outright.

Draper describes how, despite CIA’s strong effort to please, the “case” the agency made for war on Iraq, using such evidence as there was on weapons of mass destruction, was deemed not alarmist enough for Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration hawks.

Specifically, the hawks were dissatisfied with the evidence-light, but-alarmist (term of art used was “leaning forward”) Pentagon and White House briefings by CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin in late Dec. 2002 on WMD in Iraq. The hawks started to look elsewhere, since not all senior officials (including Powell) appeared to be “with the program.”

Draper reports that Powell ordered Carl Ford, director of the widely respected State Department Intelligence Unit (INR), to review the bidding regarding biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Ford’s analysts strongly disputed many of the key assertions from the usual suspects — particularly those coming from non-intelligence, war-friendly bureaucrats enlisted to support the war-lust proclivities of Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Powell’s chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, was also spending an inordinate amount of time batting away unsourced and dubious-sourced assertions from Cheney-ites, so Powell finally told Wilkerson to start drafting from scratch.

Here’s where it gets interesting; here is where a little history and inside-baseball intelligence experience comes in handy. Draper quotes Powell: “It was George Tenet who came to the rescue.”

CIA Director Tenet suggested basing a new draft on the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1, 2002, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.” That had immense appeal to Tenet and others who had been co-opted into “leaning forward” to facilitate a Bush/Cheney war on Iraq. Indeed, one can assume it had appeal to most of those involved in Powell’s speech preparation, given that the Security Council briefing was but a handful of days away.

I have been referring to that NIE, advisedly, as The Whore of Babylon, wrong on every major accusation about WMD in Iraq. I speak from experience at the CIA as a former chair of National Intelligence Estimates. This one was prepared not to determine the truth, but rather to “justify” a preemptive war on Iraq, where there was nothing to preempt.

To their credit, State/INR analysts had expressed formal dissent from some of its main conclusions back in September 2002.

No, it is not possible that Powell could have been unaware of that. And it is not difficult to explain why Powell chose to spurn his own intelligence analysts, despite their relatively solid reputation. I will resist the temptation to guess at Powell’s motivation, even though I have had some considerable experience with him. Back in the day, we used to spend a few minutes comparing notes before my one-on-one morning briefings of his boss, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, with The President’s Daily Brief.

I am not surprised, though, as Draper quotes Powell explaining his decision to stay in place as secretary of state and to do what he was told: “I knew I didn’t have any choice. He’s the President.” Draper adds that, “although Powell would not admit it, Bush’s request that he be the one to make the case against Hussein to the U.N. was enormously flattering. Cheney took a more direct approach: ‘The Vice President said to me: “You’re the most popular man in America. Do something with that popularity.””

The All-Purpose NIE on Iraqi WMD

Draper describes INR’s Director Ford as “heartsick” watching Powell on TV before the UN Security Council. Ford’s chagrin was widely shared among serious intelligence analysts — as well as by us alumni watching the prostitution of what had been our tell-it-like-it-is intelligence analysis profession. But there the National Intelligence Estimate was for plucking — an intelligence community-endorsed consensus already “on the books” — and with drafting time running out.

Admittedly, this would be a far cry from starting “from scratch.” Rather, it became a case of “garbage in, garbage out.” Draper names the intelligence garbagemen: CIA Director Tenet, his deputy McLaughlin, the chair of the NIE Robert Walpole, for example. They were out and out guilty of fixing the NIE in the first place and then its derivative that Powell briefed in open session to Security Council. No, these were not innocent mistakes. The intelligence was fraudulent from the get-go.

I am not making this up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rise of Another CIA Yes Man – Consortium News

Posted by M. C. on July 16, 2020

You asked if I knew Morell and what he is like. I do; you nailed it.

The only moment of discomfort is when you use Tenet as a compass point for the actual truth. Because, of course, Tenet often has his own version of the facts.

Exclusive: The gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of “yes men” into the agency’s top ranks. Now one of those aspiring bureaucrats will be Gen. David Petraeus’s right-hand man, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. (Also, at end of article, see special comments from several CIA insiders.)

By Ray McGovern

As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense.

Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell’s record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.

As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth.

Forgive me if my thinking about loyalty to the facts seems “obsolete” or “quaint” or if it seems unfair to expect CIA analysts to put their careers on the line when politicians and ideologues are misleading the nation to war but those were the principles that analysts of my generation tried to uphold.

The recent tendency at CIA to give politicians what they want to hear rather than the hard truth is not healthy for the Republic that we were all sworn to serve.

And, if Petraeus’s own past is precedent, loyalty to the four-star general will not always be synonymous with loyalty to the truth.

Burnishing an Image

However, you will get no indication of this troubling reality from the flattering, but thin, feature about Michael Morell, “Mr. Insider Will Guide Petraeus at the CIA,” by Siobhan Gorman in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 26.

Gorman is normally a solid reporter; but either she did not perform due diligence and let herself be snookered, or her editors stepped in to ensure her story was consonant with the image Petraeus and the Establishment wish to create for Morell.

Before her “rare” interview with Morell, Gorman should have taken a close look at former CIA Director George Tenet’s memoir, At the Center of the Storm, to learn what Tenet says about Morell’s record during the last decade’s dark days of misleading and dishonest intelligence.

In Tenet’s personal account of the CIA’s failures around 9/11 and the Iraq War, Morell Tenet’s former executive assistant is generally treated kindly, but Tenet puts Morell at the center of two key fiascoes: he “coordinated the CIA review” of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous Feb. 5, 2003 address to the United Nations and he served as the regular CIA briefer to President George W. Bush.

Putting Access Before Honesty

So, Morell was there as Bush blew off early CIA warnings about the possibility of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being “determined to strike in the US” and while Bush and his neoconservative inner circle were concocting intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

Tenet credits Morell with suggesting to analysts that they prepare a report on the terrorist threat, which became the President’s Daily Brief that was handed to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Bush brushed aside the warning with a reported comment to the CIA briefer, “all right, you’ve covered your ass,” and went off fishing.

Though Tenet said Morell got along well with Bush, it appears the President didn’t pay much heed to any CIA information coming from Morell, at least not anything that went against what Bush wanted to hear nor did Morell seem to risk offending the President by pushing these contrary points.

After the Aug. 6 PDB was delivered, Tenet wrote that he needed to follow it up, and did so with a trip to Crawford 11 days later, when Tenet remembers Bush driving him around in a pickup truck as Tenet made “small talk about the flora and fauna.”

Morell also was the CIA briefer with Bush in Florida on the morning of 9/11 when news arrived about the attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers. Later, Bush told Morell “that if we [the CIA] learned anything definitive about the attack, he wanted to be the first to know,” Tenet wrote, adding:

“Wiry, youthful looking, and extremely bright, Mike speaks in staccato-like bursts that get to the bottom line very quickly. He and George Bush had hit it off almost immediately. In a crisis like this, Mike was the perfect guy for us to have by the commander-in-chief’s side.”

However, it appears Morell was not willing to risk his rapport with Bush by challenging the President’s desire to pivot from retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan to a full-scale invasion of Iraq based on false and misleading intelligence.

Tenet also described Morell’s role in organizing the review of the “intelligence” that went into Powell’s speech, which let slip the dogs of war by presenting a thoroughly deceptive account of the Iraqi threat, what Powell later called a “blot” on his record.

Though the CIA embraced many of Powell’s misleading assertions, Tenet recounted one exchange in which Morell stood up to John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, regarding Iraq’s alleged efforts to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.

“Hannah asked Mike Morell, who was coordinating the review of the speech for CIA, why the Niger uranium story wasn’t in the latest draft,” Tenet wrote. “‘Because we don’t believe it,’ Mike told him. ‘I thought you did,’ Hannah said. After much wrangling and precious time lost in explaining our doubts, Hannah understood why we believed it was inappropriate for Colin to use the Niger material in his speech.”

Despite that one pushback, the CIA analysts mostly bent to pressures coming from the White House for an alarmist treatment of allegations about the “weapons of mass destruction,” which turned out not to be in Iraq.

Of the CIA’s finished intelligence product, it was reportedly the PDB delivered by Morell that most exaggerated the danger.

Not Mistaken, Dishonest Read the rest of this entry »

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Making Sense of the Impeachment Charges –

Posted by M. C. on January 23, 2020

An unapproved President is simply not reelected.  He does not need to be impeached.  Obviousy, it is Trump’s reelection that Democrats fear, and they are using impeachment to try to prevent Trump’s reelection.  This is not the function of a political party.

Paul Craig Roberts

Prior to the impeachment of Trump, not by Congress as presstitutes report but by self-interested House Democrats, during the entirety of US history there have been only two attempts to impeach a president—Andrew Johnson in 1868 and 130 years later Bill Clinton in 1998.

Clinton was impeached by House Republicans when he clearly lied under oath by denying his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.  The Senate refused to convict him.  Enough Senators had enough sense to know that lying about a sexual affair, even under oath, did not rise to a “high crime.”  Moreover, Senators understood that few men would be inclined to embarrass their wife and daughter, or few women their husband and daughter, by admitting publicly to a sexual affair.

Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, stood with the Republican Union of Abe Lincoln. Consequently, Lincoln chose Johnson as his Vice President in his 1864 reelection campaign.  When Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson became president.

President Johnson took to heart Lincoln’s emphasis on restoring comity between North and South. Consequently, Johnson opposed the harsh, exploitative, and demeaning policies of the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  He didn’t see how the Union could be restored on the basis of dispossession of Southerners, rape of Southern women, and the infliction of general humiliation on a conquered people.

The fanatical Republican Congress, however, was set on punishment and humiliation of the South. By blocking some of the most extreme Reconstruction measures, Johnson aroused the same enmity against himself as the Republicans had toward the South.  A series of disputes between the President and the Republican Congress led to a resolution of impeachment drafted by the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction.

The charges against Johnson were contrived, a product of emotion, like the ones against Trump, and Johnson’s conviction failed by one vote in the Senate.  After his term ended in 1869, Johnson ran for the US Senate and won.

Bill Clinton is the only one of the three to be impeached by the House for cause, but enough Senators realized that the cause was not a high crime and refused to convict.

The three presidents who have been impeached are much less guilty of impeachable offences than many who have not been impeached.  For example, George W. Bush took America to war based on lies—for example, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. These lies are much more serious than Clinton’s denial of a sexual affair.  Bush failed to uphold his duties and violated the US Constitution by suspending habeas corpus and detaining citizens indefinitely without evidence and due process of law.  Obama intended to invade Syria on the basis of a lie, for example, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but was prevented by Russia. Obama escalated Bush’s attack on Constitutionally protected civil liberty by declaring his right to execute US citizens without due process of law.  Franklin D. Roosevelt kept knowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the US Navy in order to have an infamous event that would allow him to enter the war against Germany. Even Lincoln was guilty of destroying states’ rights set out in the Constitution and launching a war of aggression in order to preserve the empire. There are more examples.

It is paradoxical that real crimes provide less inclination  for impeachment than orchestrated fake crimes.

There were 11 contrived articles of impeachment against Johnson.  Against Trump there are two.  One is that he abused his power as president by asking the president of Ukraine to reopen the investigation of the energy company, on which Obama’s Vice President Biden had placed his son as a very highly paid director.  Vice President Biden had forced the previous president of Ukraine to shut down the investigation by firing the prosecutor or otherwise forfeit $1 billion in US aid. 

The Democrats have no evidence that Trump offered the Ukrainian president US aid in exchange for political dirt against Biden, and the president of Ukraine said there was no such offer. What would be the point of Trump asking for dirt against Biden when Biden himself boasted before the Council on Foreign Relations that he had forced the Ukrainian President to fire the prosecutor or forfeit $1 billion.  This is common knowledge.  Why should Trump have to pay Ukraine for it?

Vice President Biden’s clear, open admission that he did what Democrats falsely accuse Trump of doing is total proof of the utter corruption of the Democratic Party.

Now, let’s suppose the Democrats are correct in order to see how inconsequential and commonplace the charge against Trump would be even if true.  The United States government has historically, has always, and is forever telling foreign governments to do this or that or you won’t get any money.  This is the commonplace behavior of the United States in its foreign policy, which is not based on normal diplomacy but on bribes, sanctions, threats, and, if the country does not comply, bombings and invasions.

Trump did not tell Ukraine that he was going to sanction, bomb, or invade if Ukraine did not reopen an investigation that was closed entirely on the basis of Biden’s threat to withhold US aid money.  If anyone should be facing a charge, it is Biden.

The second charge in Trump’s impeachment is “obstruction of Congress.”  The US Constitution gives the President the power to obstruct Congress. Every time a President vetoes a bill, he obstructs Congress.  The idea that obstructing Congress is an impeachable offense is insane nonsense.  It works only because Americans are ignorant. They do not know what the Constitution says or anything about the balance of powers the Constitution establishes between executive, legislature, and Judiciary.

Similarly, Congress has the power to obstruct a President by refusing to ratify his treaties, by rejecting his budget and spending priorities and by refusing to confirm his appointees in office.

What is the real basis of the obstruction charge?  I will tell you.  It means that the House Democrats could not find anything on Trump, so they charge that Trump obstructed them by hiding the evidence and not letting executive branch officials testify who would have ratted him out.  That is all the charge means. The charge is that the exercise of executive privilege, which every president has used, is an obstruction of Congress.  That is all the charge means. How did such an absurd charge become an impeachable offense?

In the Senate the fight over “the rules” is a fight over whether Democrats will be able to reproduce in the Senate, in place of what is supposed to be a trial based on the evidence that led to the House’s impeachment charge, a continuation of the House circus with more witnessess, more charges, more orchestrated “evidence.”  In other words, the Democrats intend to use the trial as a continuation of the soap opera hoping to extend it long enough that some of the mud will stick to Trump and defeat his reelection.

We must ask ourselves how American politics has degenerated to such a comical level.  How can the US be taken seriously as a world leader when for the entirety of a presidential term one of the two political parties has done nothing but to try to destroy the President of the other political party? Is the US going to have its own Hutu-Tutsi genocide?

This question is unrelated to whether or not we approve of Trump or think that he is a good President. An unapproved President is simply not reelected.  He does not need to be impeached.  Obviousy, it is Trump’s reelection that Democrats fear, and they are using impeachment to try to prevent Trump’s reelection.  This is not the function of a political party.

A political party is supposed to represent the interests of its constituents.  At one time, the Democrats’ constituents were the working class.  The Republicans represented business interests.  There was countervailing power bewteen the two.  Sometimes business interests got the upper hand.  Sometimes the working class got the upper hand.  But the system worked and served both parties.

What, who, does the system serve today?

Be seeing you



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Peace Expert George W Bush Says ‘Isolationism’ Is Dangerous To Peace – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on October 19, 2019

For those who don’t speak fluent neoconservative, “isolationist” here means taking even one small step in any direction other than continued military expansionism into every square inch of planet Earth,…

Humanity was treated to an important lecture on peace at a recent event for the NIR School of the Heart by none other than Ellen Degeneres BFF and world-renowned peace expert George W Bush.

“I don’t think the Iranians believe a peaceful Middle East is in their national interest,” said the former president according to The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin, whose brief Twitter thread on the subject appears to be the only record of Bush’s speech anywhere online.

“An isolationist United States is destabilizing around the world,” Bush said during the speech in what according to Rogin was a shot at the sitting president. “We are becoming isolationist and that’s dangerous for the sake of peace.”

For those who don’t speak fluent neoconservative, “isolationist” here means taking even one small step in any direction other than continued military expansionism into every square inch of planet Earth, and “We are becoming isolationist” here means “We have hundreds of military bases circling the globe, our annual military budget is steadily climbing toward the trillion-dollar mark, and we are engaged in countless undeclared wars and regime change interventions all around the world.”

It is unclear why Bush is choosing to present himself as a more peaceful president than Trump given that by this point in his first term Bush had launched not one but two full-scale ground invasion wars whose effects continue to ravage the Middle East to this very day, especially given the way both presidents appear to be in furious agreement on foreign policy matters like Iran. But here we are.

From a certain point of view it’s hard to say which is stranger: (A) a war criminal with a blood-soaked legacy of mass murder, torture and military expansionism telling Trump that he is endangering peace with his “isolationism”, or (B) the claim that Trump is “isolationist” at all. As we’ve discussed previously, Trump’s so-called isolationism has thus far consisted of killing tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions in an attempt to effect regime change in the most oil-rich nation on earth, advancing a regime change operation in Iran via starvation sanctionsCIA covert ops, and reckless military escalations, continuing to facilitate the Saudi-led slaughter in Yemen and to sell arms to Saudi Arabiainflating the already insanely bloated US military budget to enable more worldwide military expansionism, greatly increasing the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians in airstrikes for which he has reduced military accountability, and of course advancing many, many new cold war escalations against the nuclear superpower Russia.

But these bogus warnings about a dangerous, nonexistent threat of isolationism are nothing new for Dubya. In his farewell address to the nation, Bush said the following:

“In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.”

As we discussed recently, use of the pro-war buzzword “isolationism” has been re-emerging from its post-Bush hibernation as a popular one-word debunk of any opposition to continued US military expansionism in all directions, and it is deceitful in at least three distinct ways. Firstly, the way it is used consistently conflates isolationism with non-interventionism, which are two wildly different things. Secondly, none of the mainstream political figures who are consistently tarred with the “isolationist” pejorative are isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, or even proper non-interventionists; they all support many interventionist positions which actual non-interventionists object to. Thirdly, calling someone who opposes endless warmongering an “isolationist” makes as much sense as calling someone who opposes rape a man-hating prude; opposing an intrinsically evil act is not the same as withdrawing from the world.

Nobody actually believes that US foreign policy is under any threat of anything remotely resembling isolationism. The real purpose of this buzzword is to normalize the forever war and drag the Overton window so far in the direction of ghoulish hawkishness that the opposite of “war” is no longer “peace”, but “isolationism”. By pulling this neat little trick, the propagandists of the political/media class have successfully made endless war seem like a perfectly normal thing to be happening and any small attempt to scale it back look weird and freakish, when the truth is the exact opposite. War is weird, freakish and horrific, and peace is of course normal. This is the only healthy way to see things.

It would actually be great if George W Bush could shut the fuck up forever, ideally in a locked cell following a public war tribunal. Failing that, at the very least people should stop looking at him as a cuddly wuddly teddy bear with whom it’s fun to share a sporting arena suite or a piece of hard candy or to hang award medals on for his treatment of veterans. This mass murdering monster has been growing more and more popular with Democrats lately just because he offers mild criticisms of Trump sometimes, as have war pigs like Bill Kristol and Max Boot and even John Bolton for the same reason, and it needs to stop. And in the name of a million dead Iraqis, please don’t start consulting this man on matters of peace.


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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment » | Fun on Friday: Did You Know There Are 31 Ongoing National Emergencies?

Posted by M. C. on March 21, 2019

But I’m going to guess that it has something to do with giving some government entity (like the executive branch) some kind of unconstitutional power they shouldn’t have ever had in the first place.


Well, if you’re any kind of news junkie, you probably know that the Senate voted this week to reject President Trump’s national emergency declaration. But fear ye not – there are plenty of other national emergencies on the table!

On a side note, I don’t know about you, but I find it a little disconcerting that the government can’t even agree whether or not there is an emergency. I mean, for the most part, you know when there’s an emergency situation, right? It’s pretty obvious. The house is on fire – emergency! The heat goes out and it’s 20-below – emergency! You run out of M&Ms – emergency.

But this is the government. Those people can’t agree on anything. They would argue about the color of the sky. So, is there an emergency on the border or no? Who knows.

At any rate, if you’re concerned about not having an emergency due to congressional stonewalling, well, don’t you worry. Because like I said, there are still plenty of emergencies for the government to attend to.

Thirty-one to be precise… Read the rest of this entry »

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When American Warmongers Unite – Original

Posted by M. C. on December 4, 2018


A gross political diversion has found its way onto American mainstream and social media recently, one that stinks of historical manipulation and neoconservative bias. It showed its face during the reaction to the death of John McCain and continued with Joe Biden presenting a farcical award to George W. Bush. It’s the continued white washing of the Bush administration’s horrifying military actions against the people of the Middle East, the reality that the media is more than a willing accomplice in trying to paint over that history, and that other high profile individuals such as Barack and Michelle Obama are lending their reputations to the fight by participating in the rewriting of US history beginning with George W. Bush.

The administration of George W. Bush should sit in specific infamy, as he and his underlings inaugurated the absurd and tragic “war on terror,” taking the “known” rules of war and transforming them into paltry shields used to explain away the ongoing death, destruction, and refugee crisis created by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an invasion wholly unsupported by facts, despite the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein was holding large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. And in a odd but understandable case of “monkey see, monkey do,” he gave oppressive governments the world over a convenient excuse to whitewash their war crimes: simply say that the government is fighting “terrorists.” Read the rest of this entry »

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