A Battle in Cheney's War on the CIA
Le Monde's Washington correspondent Eric Leser directs our attention to backdrop: Dick Cheney's decades-old war on the CIA. The bleeding, staggering CIA thrust one last dagger into Cheney by deploying Wilson to write a NYT editorial revealing the false intelligence on which the war on Iraq was waged.
But we are now in a situation of fait accompli, both on the ground in Iraq and in Langley. Iraq is occupied by US forces and Langley is being put to the sack by Bush's henchman, Porter Goss. A new agency, the National Clandestine Service, is being built from the ground up by a Bush field marshall, John Negroponte, at last realizing Cheney's long-dreamed goal: to finish off the CIA once and for all. The sacrifice of a general, Scooter Libby, was a small price to pay.
The Iraqi conflict, the stakes of a long secret war on the CIA led by the Vice President and the hawks of the Bush Administration.
The backdrop to the affair of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose identity was unveiled to the press by members of the US Administration, is the years-long war fought between the Vice President, Dick Cheney, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In March 2003, Cheney attempted to force the CIA into inflating the size of Saddam Hussein’s arsenal of WMD to justify the invasion of Iraq. In the end, blame was pinned on the Agency when it was revealed that Saddam’s WMD were non-existent. For Vice Presidential Chief-of-Staff I. Lewis Libby, the attacks launched by ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson (husband of Valerie Plame) in the New York Times on July 6, 2003, denouncing the use of false intelligence of uranium purchases from Niger by Saddam Hussein, bore hallmark of the CIA.
The agency had sought to defend itself and to extract revenge. The fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent and that it was she who suggested that her husband be dispatched to Niger to verify the intelligence claim was sufficient in the eyes of Scooter Libby to demonstrate that the CIA was behind Joe Wilson’s attacks. According to the statements of Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times made to the grand jury, which will issue indictments in the affair, Lewis Libby was in a rage against the CIA, holding it responsible for erroneous estimates of Iraq’s WMD and for the inaccuracies included in George W. Bush's speeches before the invasion. [The infamous Sixteen Words--Nur].
Dick Cheney is long-time adversary of the CIA. As Secretary of Defense during the administration of Bush père and as Vice President since 2001, he has never missed a chance to denounce the failings and shortcomings of the Agency. Cheney's criticism began at the end of the 1980s, when the CIA failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union. When Saddam invades Kuwait in August 1990, Mr. Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, notices with stupefaction the lack of intelligence available to the United States on the Iraqi arsenal. Lewis Libby, who was already working with Cheney, is charged with the mission of investigating the biological warfare capabilities of the Iraqi army.
Just after the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, Mr. Cheney created a powerful intelligence center inside Vice President’s office—a parallel national security council. Mr. Cheney not only received the daily presidential briefings issued by the CIA but he attended nearly every meeting on national security at which the President was present.
During preparations for the invasion of Iraq, Dick Cheney made dozens of visits to the CIA headquarters in Langley (Virginia). No Vice President had done such a thing in the past. He continually posed the same questions to the experts on weapons of mass destruction and on links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda intending, when the reply was unsatisfactory, to get answers elsewhere. There is no doubt that Saddam is amassing weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he intends to use them against our friends, our allies and on us, declared Dick Cheney in an August 2002 speech to Korean War veterans.
In his war on the CIA, the Vice President had powerful allies, including Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, both long-standing enemies of the CIA. Paul Wolfowitz was a member of the B-Team, created to monitor the work of experts considered “too soft” on the USSR during the 1970s during George Bush Sr.'s term as CIA director. The alarmist reports published by the B-Team were behind President Ronald Reagan’s rearmament and Star Wars programs.
As to Don Rumsfeld, he headed a 1998 Congressional commission on “rogue states”. The commission concluded that the CIA was incapable of gathering intelligence on these new threats. On the day following 9-11, the Office of Special Plans was created inside the Pentagon. This back-office, placed under the authority of Paul Wolfowitz and managed by his Under Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith, was to analyze data supplied by the CIA and military intelligence and to report its conclusions to the White House. Working from assertions by Iraqi exiles close to the Iraqi National Congress and its chairman, Ahmed Chalabi, the bureau inflated the Iraqi WMD threat. The office has since been shut down.
Beginning in 2003, after US troops in Iraq were unsuccessful in finding the slightest proof of recent WMD programs, fear began to overpower the Administration. The CIA was about to reveal to the public the pressure to which it had been subjected. The attacks on Joseph Wilson were just a start. It became necessary at all costs to destroy Wilson's credibility in order to discourage further criticism.