Michael F. Scheuer former chief of the Al Qaeda analytic station, just slammed John Brennan, George Tenet, and Sandy Berger on CNN (12:50 Eastern time). He stated that among those who died in Afghanistan recently was the officer who devised a workable plan for eliminating Osama Bin Laden, a plan that was cancelled by Brennan, Tenet, and Burger, all saying we should leave the problem to Saudi Arabia.
Their reluctance is consistent with decades of policy forbidding unilateral clandestine operations within the territories of the despotic regimes that are consider our “best pals” in “higher ends” that favor the state over the people.
Brennan is best known for his mis-handling of the massive watchlist that still does not work; Tenet is best known for “slam dunk” fraud in support of Dick Cheney, and for declaring war on Bin Laden in a whisper; Berger is best known for leaving the Kurds hanging, a story told by Robert Baur in one of his books, and for stealing documents from the national archives. He has not produced a book of note.
From where we sit, the honest case officers and analysts are finally being heard, and the “politicals” are finally being held accountable, even if only in isolated public denouncements, for their decades of dishonest intelligence management, dishonest mismanagement that continues today.
Phi Beta Iota: We started thinking about religious counterintelligence in 2003, after readingRobert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul, at which point we concluded that we not only needed an FBI division for commercial counter-espionage, but a religious division as well, one able to track not just Islamic support to terrorism, but Jewish, Catholic, Mormon and other penetrations of the U.S. Government working against the public interest. This all has to be understood in the context of a government that has sold out deliberately at the political level to 42 or 44 dictators and particularly to Israel and Saudi Arabia–regardless of which party is in power, they are not being held accountable for their broad betrayals of the public trust, hence, if the FBI won’t do it, this needs to be a public intelligence initiative, with a special focus on dual citizens of Israel and USA (see below the fold).
We were looking at Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. They had a list of individuals in the Pentagon broken down by access to certain types of information. Some of them would be policy related, some of them would be weapons-technology related, some of them would be nuclear-related. Perle and Feith would provide the names of those Americans, officials in the Pentagon, to Grossman, together with highly sensitive personal information: this person is a closet gay; this person has a chronic gambling issue; this person is an alcoholic. The files on the American targets would contain things like the size of their mortgages or whether they were going through divorces. One Air Force major I remember was going through a really nasty divorce and a child custody fight. They detailed all different kinds of vulnerabilities.
The epicenter of a lot of the foreign espionage activity was Chicago.
Professor Loch Johnson is one of two people who have served on both the Church Committee and the Aspin-Brown Commission. The other is Britt Snider, Esquire.
Today he examines the lack of integrity on the Hill, or totthless, inattentive oversight. He does not address two factors that we comment on below the fold:
1. There are five CIAs, and as long as the Wall Street and White House CIAs are doing what they are told to do, no one really cares about the integrity or the pathos of the other three.
2. Leon Panetta could have been the greatest Director in history, just as Barack Obama could have been the George Washington of this century, but both sacrificed their integrity for partisan gain, deliberately ignoring the urgent calls for both reform at CIA and non-partisan reality-based policy-making in the White House. Phi Beta Iota
By Loch K. Johnson
Sunday, August 30, 2009
skip sad story . . . . . . .
The Church Committee discovered that intelligence abuses ran far deeper than initially reported. The CIA had indeed spied on Vietnam War dissenters at home, but the FBI had gone further, disrupting the lives of antiwar protesters and civil rights activists. It was “a road map to the destruction of American democracy,” committee member Walter Mondale said during a public hearing.
Church was equally appalled by the overseas excesses of the CIA, including covert actions against democratic regimes — such as Chile’s — and assassination plots. He blasted the agency for “the fantasy that it lay within our power to control other countries through the covert manipulation of their affairs.”
This is a very good book. There are some extremely important nuggets in here that essentially put the final nail in Dick Cheney’s coffin while certifying the importance of holding Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Cambone accountable for their high crimes and misdemeanors. Condi Rice continues to be depicted, in this book and others, as a zero in the sense of having been ignored, sidelined, or run over by Dick Cheney and his minions.
The book loses one star for a lack of prior context. George Tenet was Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for many years, and then Intelligence Director for Bill Clinton. He avoids any mention of his long-standing role in helping dismantle the very IC he ended up leading, and he is terribly deceptive when he says he asked for more funding for anti-terrorism, but fails to mention his inability to redirect funds within the $35-40 billon he had at the time. Today the IC has $60-70B and we are no safer–these clowns cannot even put together a consolidated accurate terrorist watchlist five years after 9/11.
The bottom line on the author is that he is a big-hearted staffer, not a leader and not a strategic thinker. He was a place-holder in a job that two presidents saw fit to relegate to losers–a mouse, a pit-bull, and a turtle.
He takes credit for months of redesign dialog but fails to point out that there was no substantive contact with iconoclasts, published author-practitioners. I am especially angry that he placed Buzzy Krongard in as Executive Director. In my view, Krongard was there to look out for Wall Street interests and ensure Brown and Root did not get caught smuggling drugs into the USA through New Orleans and heavy equipment being returned to the USA “for repairs.” I’ve come to the conclusion, after thirty years in this business, that there are four CIA’s: 1) White House sychophants; 2) Wall Street support via Carlyle Group and a small network of retired intermediaries; 3) the “front” of earnest people working out of official installations, incapable of actually doing serious spying (I was part of this group); and finally, a multinational “dirty deeds” arm that does terribly immoral and illegal things with Saudi money, Egyptian sodomy of children (photographed so as to force them to spy on their fathers), and so on.
In many ways, this book is a capstone account of the death of US secret intelligence. It’s gone. The DNI, DCI and USDI are earnest men, but they will fail because they simply do not comprehend the “paradigms of failure” (essay online) and are not willing to contemplate a clean-sheet fresh-start. On page 26 the author confirms that “time and technology [have] passed us by.”
As fascinating as his claims are of ramping up on Bin Laden, I go with Michael Sheuer’s damnation as published by the Washington Post. Condi Rice blew off warnings, Dick Cheney focused on energy conspiracies with Enron and Exxon, and the plain truth is that the CIA refused to read the book by Yossef Bodansky or view the PBS broadcast in 1994 by Steve Emerson. They closed themselves off from open sources (called “Open Sores” within the now near-moronic secret world).
The middle of the book is sensational. Chapter Thirteen on “The Threat Matrix” and the succeeding chapters in Part II of the book are superb and contain many nuggets that restored much of my respect for the author.
The author damns Cheney on page 138 for taking over the National Security Council and it is clear that if there is one person to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, it is not the President, but rather the Vice President.
On page 317 he tells us that “Policy makers have a right to their own opinions but not their own set of facts.”
He slams Rumsfeld for blocking several 737’s full of State people and language-qualified individuals specifically trained and organized to get the post-war reconstruction off to a good start. He does not mention Rumsfeld’s idiocy in allowing Pakistan to evacuate 3,000 Taliban and Al Qaeda people from Tora Bora, but he does mention that General Tommy Franks refused to put the Rangers in Bin Laden’s path, claiming he needed weeks to set it up (this is of course baloney, they could have been air-dropped in 24 hours with a 3-day resupply 24 hours after arrival).
He defends himself on the “slam dunk” as applying to the presentation plan for the UN, not the intelligence. I want to believe this, but the fact that he took imagery and other materials to the first NSC meeting, significantly on Iraq rather than terrorism, gives me pause. I certainly do believe that Dick Cheney hijacked the White House and closed out the entire policy process, but George Tenet, Colin Powell, and our generals all failed us by not resigning and screaming out at the top of their lungs against the high crimes and misdemeanors they witnessed Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Steve Cambone commit, day after day.
He lays bare Cheney’s misbehavior in stating on 26 August 2002 that “there is no doubt” on Iraq’s having weapons of mass deception but very strangely does not mention that both Hussein’s son-in-law who defected to the US, and every one of the 25+ line crossers that Charlie Allen sent in, all said the same thing: kept the cook books, destroyed the stocks, bluffing for regional ego’s sake.
He slams Paul Bremer for de-Bathification and confirms that “Iraq came at exactly the right time for Al Qaeda.”
The author avoids major criticism of Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, but he reveals the DoD operations against Iran. He tells us about Chalabi hoaxing DIA for millions, and that President Bush ordered Chalabi off the payroll.
He confirms Paul William’s view on Al Qaeda having nuclear capabilities.
Pre 9/11 air travelers believed “be calm, see Cuba” when hijacked. Pre 9-11, and today still, our senior government executives are still confusing loyalty with integrity. We can do better. We need, right now, a “Smart Nation.”