An ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou has been indicted under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists. [more inside]
Big Newsfilter: US Attorney General Holder appoints a prosecutor to investigate abusive CIA interrogations in the War on Terror. [more inside]
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
"I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in 'Who's Who in America.'" Bob "Prince of Darkness" Novak comes clean (sort of) on his role in the Plame scandal. Novak asserts that Fitzgerald knew the identities of his source for Plame's identity. "That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act," Novak says. Further, he says that his source spilled the beans inadvertently: "After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part."
Personality, Ideology and Bush's Terror Wars [...]Just as disturbing as Al Qaeda's plans and capabilities are the descriptions of the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror and its willful determination to go to war against Iraq. That war, according to the author's sources who attended National Security Council briefings in 2002, was primarily waged "to make an example" of Saddam Hussein, to "create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States."[...]
CIA Secret Prisons Exposed The disappeared: Are they dead? Are they alive? Ask Congress. Ask the president.
Newsfilter: CIA director Porter Goss resigns. After taking some of the
fall heat for bad intelligence in the months before 9/11, Cheney's "cat's paw" finally gets out of the kitchen.
CIA warned White House -- no WMD programs in Iraq. A retired senior CIA official interviewed by 60 Minutes claims that the White House ignored intelligence from Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri in the run-up to the invasion. CIA Director George Tenet delivered the information to President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials in September 2002, according to the CIA official. A few days later the administration said it was no longer interested. "...we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' " The interview airs on CBS, Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," writes former CIA official Paul Pillar, coordinator of U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until 2005, in an article soon to appear in Foreign Affairs, hardly a radical rag. More confirmation that Seymour Hersh was right about the administration "cherry-picking" intelligence to justify a foregone conclusion to go to war in Iraq.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Has the C.I.A. legally killed prisoners? Two years ago, Manadel al-Jamadi, a suspected Iraqi insurgent, walked into a Baghdad interrogation room. He was dead in 45 minutes, his head covered with a plastic bag, shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that led to his asphyxiation. U.S. authorities classified his death a homicide. His CIA interrogator has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency. President Bush says "We do not torture." But if that’s true, then why is Vice President Cheney fighting to exempt CIA interrogators from a torture ban? And al-Jamadi? His case is stalled in the Alberto Gonzalez Justice Department, two years after soldiers posed for thumbs-up pictures next to his corpse.
The administration's latest innovation in its effort to export democracy: Soviet-style gulags, a network of secret C.I.A. prisons known as "black sites." [From the Washington Post]. Meanwhile, SecDef Rumsfeld says no thanks to the idea of U.N. inspectors talking to detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Why outing Plame mattered. If you wonder what's really at stake behind all the media buzz around the Fitzgerald indictments, read this lengthy and cogent analysis by Stratfor's no-nonsense George Friedman. "Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a 'bodyguard of lies' -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities... The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter."
President Bush pledged in 2003 that "A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists... A free Iraq will not destabilize the Middle East." This past January, the CIA's National Intelligence Council observed that Iraq had become "a training ground, a recruitment ground" for jihadists. Now the senior Marine commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. James Conway -- in a statement that has not yet been picked up by the media -- acknowledges that the war is furnishing a new "a training ground" for foreign fighters trained in urban warfare who will export terror all over the world, saying, "But there's not much we can do about it at this point in time."
Time to name names in Plame affair. Time Magazine has announced that they will hand over the full notes and emails of their reporter to federal investigators, revealing the identity of the White House official(s) who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer. Will Joseph Wilson finally get his frog march?
The Still Unsolved Stoffel Affair: How Is Known – but Not Who or Why Iraqi guerrillas calling themselves Rafidan – the Political Committee of the Mujahideen Central Command – have recently woken up and begun releasing a series of communiqués claiming to shed new light on the still unsolved deaths on December 8, 2004, of two Americans, Dale C. Stoffel, 43, whom they describe as “a CIA shadow manager in Iraq, close friend of George Bush,” and his associate Joseph J. Wemple, also 43.
Outsourcing Torture The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.
It is not the first time this thing happens, but I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more of this until Americans finally wake up and realise the nightmare Bush has dragged us all in. What with CIA reports painting a completely different picture than the administration would have us belive and the help from people with experience from previous military blunders, it looks like we may soon have a revival of the "stop the war trains" tradition. Cheers!
Al Gore claims the Bush administration is not helping America, but hurting it by focusing on all the wrong things. Gore:The administration is still not investing in local government training and infrastructures where they could make the biggest difference. The first responder community is still being shortchanged. In many cases, fire and police still don’t have the communications equipment to talk to each other. The CDC and local hospitals are still nowhere close to being ready for a biological weapons attack. The administration has still failed to address the fundamental disorganization and rivalries of our law enforcement, intelligence and investigative agencies. In particular, the critical FBI-CIA coordination, while finally improved at the top, still remains dysfunctional in the trenches. The constant violations of civil liberties promote the false impression that these violations are necessary in order to take every precaution against another terrorist attack. But the simple truth is that the vast majority of the violations have not benefited our security at all; to the contrary, they hurt our security.
GOP Warns TV Stations Not to Air Ad Alleging Bush Mislead the Nation Over Iraq They claim that the ad itself is dishonest, and cite the obligation of broadcast outlets to be free of misleading information. “Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement.” Despite the implicit threats, only one station has refused to run the ad, a Fox station.
Payback? How did Bush officials get back at Ambassador Joseph Wilson for talking publicly two weeks ago about his trip to Niger to investigate claims of an Iraqi uranium deal? By outing his wife as an undercover CIA operative. As David Corn of The Nation says, "...the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it..... a pair of top Bush officials told a reporter the name of a CIA operative who apparently has worked under what's known as 'nonofficial cover' and who has had the dicey and difficult mission of tracking parties trying to buy or sell weapons of mass destruction or WMD material. If Wilson's wife is such a person--and the CIA is unlikely to have many employees like her--her career has been destroyed by the Bush administration." The exposure of an undercover CIA agent is in fact a federal crime.
The First Casualty. The New Republic is one of the few left-leaning political journals who supported the war on Iraq. Now it seems like they've come to their senses and have written a very exhaustive story on how exactly Team Bush manipulated evidence to support the war on Iraq: "Rather, interviews with current and former intelligence officials and other experts reveal that the Bush administration culled from U.S. intelligence those assessments that supported its position and omitted those that did not. The administration ignored, and even suppressed, disagreement within the intelligence agencies and pressured the CIA to reaffirm its preferred version of the Iraqi threat. Similarly, it stonewalled, and sought to discredit, international weapons inspectors when their findings threatened to undermine the case for war."
“President Bush’s case against Saddam Hussein ... relied on a slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday.” Another article on the same subject says, “Rumsfeld’s recent remark that the United States has ‘bulletproof’ evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Hussein struck many in the intelligence community as an exaggerated assessment of the available evidence.” One paper explains the differences this way, “The C.I.A. has to maintain its credibility for objective estimates. The White House is mobilizing the public and preparing foreign nations for a potential American invasion of Iraq.”
U.S. Stops Iraq-Al Qaeda Talk From the Washington Post. Beyond the superficial significance of administration back-tracking, in regards to intelligence there seems to be two key aspects to this story: 1) The article talks about how the CIA was unable to "validate two prominent allegations made by high-ranking administration officials," implying that Bush/Cheney/etc. have been making baseless assumptions about Iraq in their pro-war arguments, and 2) it brings into question whether we know anything at all about Iraq, anyway. What if the same can be said of Hussein's nuclear plans?