Intelligence Schism & War Fabrication
"In the 1970s...Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were among those challenging as too soft the CIA's estimate of Moscow's military power. Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to create a "Team B," which would have access to the CIA's data on the Soviets and issue its own conclusions. [They] championed Team B, whose members included the young defense strategist Paul Wolfowitz. CIA Director William Colby rejected the Team B idea and was fired. Colby's successor as head of the spy agency, George H.W. Bush, the current president's father, accepted it. In retrospect, and with the Team B report and records now largely declassified, it is possible to see that virtually all of Team B's criticisms...proved to be wrong."
-- National Security Reporter Jeff Stein in Congressional Quarterly (and San Francisco Chronicle)
The indictments rocking the current administration are only the tip of the iceberg. As Jeff Stein, national security reporter at the Congressional Quarterly, points out in the informative article below, the deeper story has to do with intelligence schisms and fabrication of intelligence for the purpose of drawing the US into war. Those in power know that war, whether justified or not, is the most reliable profit-producing activity around. When the ruling elite care more about profits than about doing what is best for the nation and world, we end up in protracted wars like Vietnam and Iraq. These wars provide huge profits to the military/industrial complex and oil industries, yet generally create suffering and unnecessary loss for many US families and for civilians in the war zone.
For a wealth of information on how war is used to pad the pockets of the ruling elite, see our War Information Center at https://www.WantToKnow.info/warinformation. The eye-opening essay "War is a Racket" by a highly decorated US General is particularly revealing. By sharing this important information with our friends and colleagues, we can put pressure on those in power to place what's best for all of us above what brings the most profit to Wall Street. By working together, we can and will build a brighter future for ourselves and future generations.
The below San Francisco Chronicle article is excerpted from the Congressional Quarterly
Bush team sought to snuff CIA doubts
Differences over Iraq WMD latest attempt to override agency
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Jeff Stein, Special to The Chronicle
Washington -- Whether or not Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald decides to bring indictments in the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative -- and whether or not any crimes were actually committed -- one element of the case is central to an understanding of what happened and why: At the time of the leak, administration supporters of the Iraq war were determined to neutralize the CIA's doubts about the White House case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, most notably nuclear weapons.
It is also not the first time -- and it most likely won't be the last -- that conflicts over intelligence have had momentous political consequences.
As far back as the 1950s, when the Air Force claimed there was a missile gap between the United States and Russia, the CIA proved to be a sticking point. Only when the agency sent its new U-2 spy plane soaring over the Soviet Union, taking pictures of air bases and missiles from 80,000 feet, did U.S. arms-control advocates have the ammunition they needed to beat back the furor.
In the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon's policy of détente was under attack by some former military officials and conservative policy intellectuals, Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were among those challenging as too soft the CIA's estimate of Moscow's military power.
Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to create a "Team B," which would have access to the CIA's data on the Soviets and issue its own conclusions. Cheney, as White House chief of staff, and Rumsfeld, as secretary of Defense, championed Team B, whose members included the young defense strategist Paul Wolfowitz, who a quarter-century later would be one of the chief architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
CIA Director William Colby rejected the Team B idea and was fired. Colby's successor as head of the spy agency, George H.W. Bush, the current president's father, accepted it.
Team B's conclusion that the CIA was indeed soft on the Soviets was leaked to sympathetic journalists and generated public support for a new round of military spending, particularly on missiles. Team B's conclusions turned out, years later, to be false.
"In retrospect, and with the Team B report and records now largely declassified, it is possible to see that virtually all of Team B's criticisms ... proved to be wrong," Raymond Garthoff, a former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, wrote in a paper for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence three years ago. "On several important specific points it wrongly criticized and 'corrected' the official estimates, always in the direction of enlarging the impression of danger and threat."
Another run at controlling the CIA was taken when then-President Ronald Reagan appointed businessman William Casey CIA director with a mandate to ride herd on supposed agency liberals. Casey set up the irregular, covert operation led by Marine Corps Col. Oliver North, which eventually ended in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. Likewise, when Reagan's Secretary of State George Schultz wanted to secretly back Saddam Hussein against the Iranians, Schultz bypassed the CIA and sent Rumsfeld, then a businessman, to Baghdad to seal the deal.
The path to Plame's outing also led through Baghdad, this time via Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, who had been abandoned by the CIA in the late 1990s as too troublesome, unreliable and corrupt.
Among Chalabi's key supporters were Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz. When the three came back into power in January 2001, the CIA and State Department still refused to back Chalabi.
Cheney began visiting CIA headquarters to challenge its analysts over their intelligence on Hussein's weapons. To Richard Kerr, the former chief of CIA analysis who later studied the agency's pre-war reporting on Iraq, Cheney displayed no anti-CIA animus at the time.
"My experience was to the contrary," Kerr said by e-mail. "He would not accept all our analysis without skepticism and believed we were better on some subjects than others. But those are the characteristics of a good customer."
Over at the Pentagon, however, Rumsfeld was reprising Team B by creating his own intelligence shop. The Chalabi organization's alarmist reports on Hussein's nuclear weapons, which later proved to be false, bypassed the CIA and went directly to the White House.
"That's why they set up an intelligence unit in [Undersecretary of Defense Douglas] Feith's office," said intelligence historian James Bamford. "The whole purpose was to get that kind of information and send it to Cheney."
In 2002, CIA analysts thought so little of a report that Hussein had obtained uranium yellow cake from Niger to build a bomb that they didn't even include it in the president's daily briefing, Bamford said.
"The Pentagon got it and flagged it to get Cheney's attention," he added, riling the White House further. Then covert CIA officer Plame, a specialist on weapons of mass destruction, helped arrange for her husband, career diplomat Joseph Wilson, to investigate the yellow cake claim in Niger.
As the world now knows, Wilson reported that there was nothing to it. And after President Bush offered the Niger intelligence as fact in his 2003 State of the Union speech, Wilson went public with his findings in an opinion piece in the New York Times later that year.
The fallout may be enough to put someone in jail for a time, and it may shake up the White House in major ways. But as past episodes have shown, even that will probably not disarm the combatants in the long and unending war over who controls intelligence.
Jeff Stein is National Security Editor at Congressional Quarterly where a longer version of this article originally appeared.
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Beneath the indictments: Intelligence Schism, War Fabrication