Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bush Knew Saddam Had No Weapons of Mass Destruction

Number 2 in yesterday's post, "5 Reasons Why The American People Can't Stand The Republican Party," was "Bush Wastes Money And American Lives," described (with our italics) thus:  "Many believe that there were never any weapons in Iraq and that it was an excuse to invade the country.and tomorrow," and we promised to revisit one of the more horific presidencies of the 20th century.

After just a few minutes searching on the 'net, we found this piece from in 2007 by former White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal, "Bush Knew Saddam Had No Weapons of Mass Destruction," that tells the whole sordid story of the "President" who was installed into office via a judicial coup de etat, then stayed on for another term through voter suppression and intimidation to become one of the worst Presidents in American history.

The story is subtitled, "Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched top-secret intelligence, and a briefing by George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.":

Bush knew Sadaam had no WMDs.

"On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam’s inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

"Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.
"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy"
"On April 23, 2006, CBS’s '60 Minutes' interviewed Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, who disclosed that the agency had received documentary intelligence from Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, that Saddam did not have WMD. 'We continued to validate him the whole way through,' said Drumheller. 'The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.'

"Now two former senior CIA officers have confirmed Drumheller’s account to me and provided the background to the story of how the information that might have stopped the invasion of Iraq was twisted in order to justify it. They described what Tenet said to Bush about the lack of WMD, and how Bush responded, and noted that Tenet never shared Sabri’s intelligence with then Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to the former officers, the intelligence was also never shared with the senior military planning the invasion, which required U.S. soldiers to receive medical shots against the ill effects of WMD and to wear protective uniforms in the desert.

"Instead, said the former officials, the information was distorted in a report written to fit the preconception that Saddam did have WMD programs. That false and restructured report was passed to Richard Dearlove, chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on it as validation of the cause for war.
 "But Tenet, according to the sources, never told Powell about existing intelligence that there were no WMD, and Powell’s speech was later revealed to be a series of falsehoods."
"Secretary of State Powell, in preparation for his presentation of evidence of Saddam’s WMD to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, spent days at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and had Tenet sit directly behind him as a sign of credibility. But Tenet, according to the sources, never told Powell about existing intelligence that there were no WMD, and Powell’s speech was later revealed to be a series of falsehoods.

"Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. 'The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissile material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons,' one of the former CIA officers told me.

"On the eve of Sabri’s appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam’s case, the officer in charge of this operation met in New York with a 'cutout' who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was 'excited' about the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri’s information was at odds with 'our best source.' That source was code-named 'Curveball,' later exposed as a fabricator, con man and former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.
"Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."
"The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. 'Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,' said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information 'the same old thing.' Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. 'The president had no interest in the intelligence,' said the CIA officer. The other officer said, 'Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up.'

"But the CIA officers working on the Sabri case kept collecting information. 'We checked on everything he told us.' French intelligence eavesdropped on his telephone conversations and shared them with the CIA. These taps 'validated' Sabri’s claims, according to one of the CIA officers. The officers brought this material to the attention of the newly formed Iraqi Operations Group within the CIA. But those in charge of the IOG were on a mission to prove that Saddam did have WMD and would not give credit to anything that came from the French. 'They kept saying the French were trying to undermine the war,' said one of the CIA officers.
" of Tenet’s deputies told them, 'You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change."
"The officers continued to insist on the significance of Sabri’s information, but one of Tenet’s deputies told them, 'You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.'

"The CIA officers on the case awaited the report they had submitted on Sabri to be circulated back to them, but they never received it. They learned later that a new report had been written. 'It was written by someone in the agency, but unclear who or where, it was so tightly controlled. They knew what would please the White House. They knew what the king wanted,' one of the officers told me.

"That report contained a false preamble stating that Saddam was 'aggressively and covertly developing' nuclear weapons and that he already possessed chemical and biological weapons. 'Totally out of whack,' said one of the CIA officers. 'The first [para]graph of an intelligence report is the most important and most read and colors the rest of the report.' He pointed out that the case officer who wrote the initial report had not written the preamble and the new memo. 'That’s not what the original memo said.'
"Blair bought it.' 'Blair was duped,' said the other CIA officer. 'He was shown the altered report.'"
"The report with the misleading introduction was given to Dearlove of MI6, who briefed the prime minister. 'They were given a scaled-down version of the report,' said one of the CIA officers. 'It was a summary given for liaison, with the sourcing taken out. They showed the British the statement Saddam was pursuing an aggressive program, and rewrote the report to attempt to support that statement. It was insidious. Blair bought it.' 'Blair was duped,' said the other CIA officer. 'He was shown the altered report.'

"The information provided by Sabri was considered so sensitive that it was never shown to those who assembled the NIE on Iraqi WMD. Later revealed to be utterly wrong, the NIE read: 'We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.'

"In the congressional debate over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, even those voting against it gave credence to the notion that Saddam possessed WMD. Even a leading opponent such as Sen. Bob Graham, then the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had instigated the production of the NIE, declared in his floor speech on Oct. 12, 2002, 'Saddam Hussein’s regime has chemical and biological weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity.' Not a single senator contested otherwise. None of them had an inkling of the Sabri intelligence.

"The CIA officers assigned to Sabri still argued within the agency that his information must be taken seriously, but instead the administration preferred to rely on Curveball. Drumheller learned from the German intelligence service that held Curveball that it considered him and his claims about WMD to be highly unreliable. But the CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) insisted that Curveball was credible because what he said was supposedly congruent with available public information.
"In fact, there was only one Iraqi source — Curveball — and there were no labs."
"For two months, Drumheller fought against the use of Curveball, raising the red flag that he was likely a fraud, as he turned out to be. 'Oh, my! I hope that’s not true,' said Deputy Director McLaughlin, according to Drumheller’s book 'On the Brink,' published in 2006. When Curveball’s information was put into Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address, McLaughlin and Tenet allowed it to pass into the speech. 'From three Iraqi defectors,' Bush declared, 'we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs … Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them.' In fact, there was only one Iraqi source — Curveball — and there were no labs.

"When the mobile weapons labs were inserted into the draft of Powell’s United Nations speech, Drumheller strongly objected again and believed that the error had been removed. He was shocked watching Powell’s speech. 'We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails,' Powell announced. Without the reference to the mobile weapons labs, there was no image of a threat.

"Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, and Powell himself later lamented that they had not been warned about Curveball. And McLaughlin told the Washington Post in 2006, 'If someone had made these doubts clear to me, I would not have permitted the reporting to be used in Secretary Powell’s speech.' But, in fact, Drumheller’s caution was ignored.

"As war appeared imminent, the CIA officers on the Sabri case tried to arrange his defection in order to demonstrate that he stood by his information. But he would not leave without bringing out his entire family. 'He dithered,' said one former CIA officer. And the war came before his escape could be handled.

"Tellingly, Sabri’s picture was never put on the deck of playing cards of former Saddam officials to be hunted down, a tacit acknowledgment of his covert relationship with the CIA. Today, Sabri lives in Qatar.
"They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House."
"In 2005, the Silberman-Robb commission investigating intelligence in the Iraq war failed to interview the case officer directly involved with Sabri; instead its report blamed the entire WMD fiasco on 'groupthink' at the CIA. 'They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House,' said the officer.

"On Feb. 5, 2004, Tenet delivered a speech at Georgetown University that alluded to Sabri and defended his position on the existence of WMD, which, even then, he contended would still be found. 'Several sensitive reports crossed my desk from two sources characterized by our foreign partners as established and reliable,' he said. 'The first from a source who had direct access to Saddam and his inner circle' — Naji Sabri — 'said Iraq was not in the possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a weapon.'

"Then Tenet claimed with assurance, 'The same source said that Iraq was stockpiling chemical weapons.' He explained that this intelligence had been central to his belief in the reason for war. 'As this information and other sensitive information came across my desk, it solidified and reinforced the judgments that we had reached in my own view of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and I conveyed this view to our nation’s leaders.' (Tenet doesn’t mention Sabri in his recently published memoir, 'At the Center of the Storm.')

"But where were the WMD? 'Now, I’m sure you’re all asking, "Why haven’t we found the weapons?" I’ve told you the search must continue and it will be difficult.'

"On Sept. 8, 2006, three Republican senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — Orrin Hatch, Saxby Chambliss and Pat Roberts — signed a letter attempting to counter Drumheller’s revelation about Sabri on '60 Minutes': 'All of the information about this case so far indicates that the information from this source was that Iraq did have WMD programs.' The Republicans also quoted Tenet, who had testified before the committee in July 2006 that Drumheller had 'mischaracterized' the intelligence. Still, Drumheller stuck to his guns, telling Reuters, 'We have differing interpretations, and I think mine’s right.'

"One of the former senior CIA officers told me that despite the certitude of the three Republican senators, the Senate committee never had the original memo on Sabri. 'The committee never got that report,' he said. 'The material was hidden or lost, and because it was a restricted case, a lot of it was done in hard copy. The whole thing was fogged up, like Curveball.'
"The fact is there was nothing there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear."
"While one Iraqi source told the CIA that there were no WMD, information that was true but distorted to prove the opposite, another Iraqi source was a fabricator whose lies were eagerly embraced. 'The real tragedy is that they had a good source that they misused,' said one of the former CIA officers. 'The fact is there was nothing there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear.'"


Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton, did a credible job explaining the rush to invade from the perspective of the intelligence community, but doesn't explain why Bush made the mad rush.  A description of the neocon's Project For The New American Century (PNAC) tells us the underlying cause of the invasion, as we see just from the Wikipedia entry with the pertinent section reprinted in toto:

"Calls for regime change in Iraq during Clinton years

"The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC throughout the 1997-2000 Iraq disarmament crisis.[6][7]

"Richard Perle, who later became a core member of PNAC, was involved in similar activities to those pursued by PNAC after its formal organization. For instance, in 1996 Perle composed a report that proposed regime changes in order to restructure power in the Middle East. The report was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm and called for removing Saddam Hussein from power, as well as other ideas to bring change to the region. The report was delivered to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[8] Two years later, in 1998, Perle and other core members of the PNAC - Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, and John Bolton - 'were among the signatories of a letter to President Clinton calling for the removal of Hussein.'[8]Clinton did seek regime change in Iraq, and this position was sanctioned by the United Nations. These UN sanctions were considered ineffective by the neoconservative forces driving the PNAC.[9]

"The PNAC core members followed up these early efforts with a letter to Republican members of the U.S. Congress Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott,[10] urging Congress to act. The PNAC also supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (H.R.4655), which President Clinton had signed into law.[11]

"On January 16, 1998, following perceived Iraqi unwillingness to co-operate with UN weapons inspections, members of the PNAC, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellickdrafted an open letter to President Bill Clinton, posted on its website, urging President Clinton to remove Saddam Hussein from power using U.S. diplomatic, political, and military power. The signers argue that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region, if he succeeded in maintaining what they asserted was a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. They also state: 'we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections' and 'American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.' They argue that an Iraq war would be justified by Hussein's defiance of UN 'containment' policy and his persistent threat to U.S. interests.[12]

"On November 16, 1998, citing Iraq's demand for the expulsion of UN weapons inspectors and the removal of Richard Butler as head of the inspections regime, Kristol called again for regime change in an editorial in his online magazine, The Weekly Standard: '...any sustained bombing and missile campaign against Iraq should be part of any overall political-military strategy aimed at removing Saddam from power.'[13] Kristol states that Paul Wolfowitz and others believed that the goal was to create 'a "liberated zone" in southern Iraq that would provide a safe haven where opponents of Saddam could rally and organize a credible alternative to the present regime ... The liberated zone would have to be protected by U.S. military might, both from the air and, if necessary, on the ground.'

"In January 1999, the PNAC circulated a memo that criticized the December 1998 bombing of Iraq in Operation Desert Fox as ineffective, questioned the viability of Iraqi democratic opposition which the U.S. was supporting through the Iraq Liberation Act, and referred to any 'containment' policy as an illusion.[14]

"Rebuilding America's Defenses

"In September 2000, the PNAC published a controversial 90-page report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century. The report, which lists as Project Chairmen Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt and as Principal Authors. Thomas Donnelly, quotes from the PNAC's June 1997 'Statement of Principles' and proceeds 'from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces.'[15][16]

"The report argues:
"The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable. It has, over the past decade, provided the geopolitical framework for widespread economic growth and the spread of American principles of liberty and democracy. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself.[15]
After its title page, the report features a page entitled "About the Project for the New American Century", quoting key passages from its 1997 "Statement of Principles":
"[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities. Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership of the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.[15]
"In its 'Preface', in highlighted boxes, Rebuilding America's Defenses states that it aims to:
defend the American homeland;
fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;
transform U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs;
"and that
"To carry out these core missions, we need to provide sufficient force and budgetary allocations. In particular, the United States must:
MAINTAIN NUCLEAR STRATEGIC SUPERIORITY, basing the U.S. deterrent upon a global, nuclear net assessment that weighs the full range of current and emerging threats, not merely the U.S.-Russia balance.
RESTORE THE PERSONNEL STRENGTH of today’s force to roughly the levels anticipated in the “Base Force” outlined by the Bush Administration, an increase in active-duty strength from 1.4 million to 1.6 million.
REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting permanently based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia. (iv)
"It specifies the following goals:
'MODERNIZE CURRENT U.S. FORCES SELECTIVELY, proceeding with the F-22 program while increasing purchases of lift, electronic support and other aircraft; expanding submarine and surface combatant fleets; purchasing Comanche helicopters and medium-weight ground vehicles for the Army, and the V-22 Ospreytilt-rotor” aircraft for the Marine Corps.
CANCEL “ROADBLOCK” PROGRAMS such as the Joint Strike Fighter, CVX aircraft carrier,[17] and Crusader howitzer system that would absorb exorbitant amounts of Pentagon funding while providing limited improvements to current capabilities. Savings from these canceled programs should be used to spur the process of military transformation.
DEVELOP AND DEPLOY GLOBAL MISSILE DEFENSES to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.[18]CONTROL THE NEW “INTERNATIONAL COMMONS” OF SPACE AND “CYBERSPACE”, and pave the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of space control.
EXPLOIT THE “REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS” to insure the long-term superiority of U.S. conventional forces. Establish a two-stage transformation process which
• maximizes the value of current weapons systems through the application of advanced technologies, and,
• produces more profound improvements in military capabilities, encourages competition between single services and joint-service experimentation efforts.
INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING gradually to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually. (v)
"The report emphasizes:
"Fulfilling these requirements is essential if America is to retain its militarily dominant status for the coming decades. Conversely, the failure to meet any of these needs must result in some form of strategic retreat. At current levels of defense spending, the only option is to try ineffectually to “manage” increasingly large risks: paying for today’s needs by shortchanging tomorrow’s; withdrawing from constabulary missions to retain strength for large-scale wars; “choosing” between presence in Europe or presence in Asia; and so on. These are bad choices. They are also false economies. The “savings” from withdrawing from the Balkans, for example, will not free up anywhere near the magnitude of funds needed for military modernization or transformation. But these are false economies in other, more profound ways as well. The true cost of not meeting our defense requirements will be a lessened capacity for American global leadership and, ultimately, the loss of a global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity. (v-vi)
"In relation to the Persian Gulf, citing particularly Iraq and Iran, Rebuilding America's Defenses states that 'while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein' and 'Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the [Persian] Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.'[15]

"One of the core missions outlined in the 2000 report Rebuilding America's Defenses is 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.'[4][19]
Post-9/11 call for regime change in Iraq[edit source | editbeta]

"On September 20, 2001 (nine days after the September 11, 2001 attacks), the PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush, advocating 'a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq', or regime change:
"...even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.[4][20]

"From 2001 through 2002, the co-founders and other members of the PNAC published articles supporting the United States' invasion of Iraq.[21] On its website, the PNAC promoted its point of view that leaving Saddam Hussein in power would be 'surrender to terrorism.'"[22][23][24][25]


The Iraq Invasion was promulgated by the Conservative neocons, and a president with limited smarts and a lot of meanness was the tool to murder hundreds of thousands of innocents, displace millions more, at a cost upward of 6 trillion dollars to the American taxpayer.  The GOP still hasn't fully recovered from the actions of the "smirking rich kid," as we see by the absence of any mention of him in public or in print by any Conservative after two terms in office - Iraq hasn't recovered either, as demonstrated by the continual bombings throughout the country today.

The Bush Administration, its premptive invasion in Iraq, and the judicial coup de etat that installed Bush in the White House, are the paramount exhibits in the trial of Conservatism in America, a trial that should only lead to the Criminalization of Conservatism.


“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will
be fought with sticks and stones.”

Albert Einstein


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