ZGram - 7/16/2004 - "Is the Reckoning at Hand?"
zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
Fri Jul 16 09:38:53 EDT 2004
ZGram - Where Truth is Destiny: Now more than ever!
July 16, 2004
Good Morning from the Zundelsite:
This just came in - I thought I should share it with Neocon-Watchers ASAP:
Fury over Pentagon cell that briefed White House
on Iraq's 'imaginary' al-Qaeda links
"According to dramatic testimony contained in the [Senate intelligence
committee's review], Douglas Feith's cell undermined the credibility of CIA
judgments on Iraq's alleged al-Qa'eda links within the highest levels
of the Bush
administration." The cell appears to have been set up by Mr Feith as
an adjunct to
the Office of Special Plans, a Pentagon intelligence-gathering operation
established in the wake of 9/11 with the authority of Paul Wolfowitz. Its focus
quickly became the al-Qa'eda-Saddam link."
By Julian Coman in Washington
A Senior Pentagon policy maker created an unofficial "Iraqi intelligence
cell" in the summer of 2002 to circumvent the CIA and secretly brief the White
House on links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'eda, according to the Senate
The allegations about Douglas Feith, the number three at the Department of
Defence, are made in a supplementary annexe of the committee's review of the
intelligence leading to war in Iraq, released on Friday.
According to dramatic testimony contained in the annexe, Mr Feith's cell
undermined the credibility of CIA judgments on Iraq's alleged al-Qa'eda links
within the highest levels of the Bush administration.
The cell appears to have been set up by Mr Feith as an adjunct to the Office
of Special Plans, a Pentagon intelligence-gathering operation established in
the wake of 9/11 with the authority of Paul Wolfowitz. Its focus quickly became
the al-Qa'eda-Saddam link.
On occasion, without informing the then head of the CIA, George Tenet, the
group gave counter-briefings in the White House. Sen Jay Rockefeller, the most
senior Democrat on the committee, said that Mr Feith's cell may even have
undertaken "unlawful" intelligence-gathering initiatives.
The claims will lead to calls by Democrats for the resignation of Mr Feith,
the third-ranking civilian at the Department of Defence and a leading "neo-con"
hawk. "Tenet fell on his sword," said one Democrat official, "even though
it's clear that he was placed under tremendous pressure to come up with the
'right' intelligence product for the administration on Iraq.
"The testimony to the committee on Feith and other Pentagon officials shows
just what kind of pressure was being exerted. And when that didn't work, the
Pentagon was just coming up with its own answers and feeding them to the White
House. And on al-Qa'eda they got it all wrong."
Last night a senior Pentagon adviser confirmed that Mr Feith was being
targeted by senators unhappy that the administration has so far
escaped censure for
its use of intelligence.
"There are senators who are clearly gunning for Douglas Feith now. This is
turning into a classic conspiracy investigation. They want to get Feith and see
if, through Feith, they can go up the ladder to even bigger fish."
Mr Feith's role is to be examined further in the second phase of the Senate
committee's investigations, which will deal with the Bush administration's use
of the intelligence it received. The report by the Republican-dominated
committee lambasted the CIA for intelligence failures while
concluding that there
was no evidence that the Bush administration tried to coerce officials to adapt
Yet the annexe - written by three leading Democratic senators - contains the
strongest evidence yet that Pentagon hardliners sought to sideline the CIA
during a drive to talk up a connection between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.
After the September 11 attacks, tension had grown between Pentagon officials
and CIA agents, who suspected the Department of Defence of relying too heavily
on dubious testimony from Iraqi defectors in order to justify a war against
The CIA's investigation of links between Iraq and al-Qa'eda was almost the
only aspect of the agency's intelligence-gathering to escape severe censure in
the 511-page report. Sen Rockefeller, the senator for West Virginia, said: "Our
report found that the intelligence community's judgments were right on Iraq's
ties to terrorists. There was no evidence of the formal relationship, however
you want to describe it, between Iraq and al-Qa'eda, and no evidence that
existed of Iraq's complicity or assistance in al-Qa'eda's terrorist attacks."
Pentagon officials who appeared before the Senate committee testified that Mr
Feith and others believed that the CIA was not sufficiently aggressive in its
investigation of links between Saddam and al-Qa'eda. During the summer of
2002, administration hardliners believed that evidence of a connection between
Iraq and the terrorist organisation would provide a clinching argument for war.
After the publication in June 2002 of a cautious report by the CIA entitled
Iraq and al-Qa'eda: A Murky Relationship, Mr Feith passed on a written verdict
to the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, that the report should be read "for
content only - and CIA's interpretation should be ignored".
In August 2002, Mr Feith's cell gave a briefing to Mr Rumsfeld and his
deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, which included a stinging condemnation of the CIA's
intelligence assessment techniques.
In sharp contrast to the Senate intelligence committee's criticisms of
"over-reaching" and "exaggeration" by CIA agents, the Pentagon
the agency for requiring "juridical evidence" for its findings and for the
"consistent underestimation" of the possibility that Iraq and al-Qa'eda were
attempting to conceal their collaboration.
In another incident, Mr Feith's Pentagon cell postponed the publication of a
CIA assessment of Iraq's links to terrorism after a visit to CIA headquarters
at which "numerous objections" were made to a final draft.
In particular, Pentagon officials insisted that more should be made of an
alleged meeting between the September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi
official in Prague in April 2001. The CIA judged reports of the
meeting not to be
credible, a verdict vindicated on Friday by the Senate committee report.
Most remarkably, on September 16, 2002, two days before the CIA was to
produce its postponed assessment, Mr Feith's cell went directly to
the White House
and gave an alternative briefing to Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of
staff, and to the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's deputy.
The briefing contained the section alleging "fundamental problems" with CIA
intelligence-gathering. It also gave a detailed breakdown of the alleged
meeting between Atta and an Iraqi agent.
The following week, senior Bush officials made confident statements on the
existence of a link between Saddam and al-Qa'eda. Mr Tenet would learn of the
secret briefing only in March 2004.
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