February 17, 2007
Iraq and Curve Ball Carl
Count on Carl Levin to be a cynic; just don't count on him to tell the truth.
For example: his "Additional Views" from the 2004 Senate report on pre-war intelligence. He, along with Senators Durbin and Rockefeller, cites Bob Woodward:
"On January 3, 2002, Director Tenet and other CIA officials briefed the Vice President and his staff on the limitations of covert operations in bringing down Saddam Hussein and explained that only a military operation and invasion would succeed. The CIA then gave the same briefing to the President." (page 452)
What the senators didn't say is that Woodward went on (emphasis added):
"With Tenet's approval, Saul, Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin and James L. Pavitt, the deputy director for operations, worked on a new Top Secret intelligence order for regime change in Iraq that Bush signed on Feb. 16, 2002. It directed the CIA to support the U.S. military in overthrowing Hussein and granted authority to support opposition groups and conduct sabotage operations inside Iraq.
"The cost was set at $200 million a year for two years. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees were informed secretly."
Which means that early in 2002 - over a year before the Iraq war began - Congressional intelligence leaders knew the CIA and the US military intended to overthrow Saddam.
Those leaders? Senate Intelligence chairman, Democrat Bob Graham, Vice-Chairman, Republican Richard Shelby; House Intelligence Chairman, Republican Porter Goss; Ranking Member, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
More than a year before the March 19, 2003, invasion, at least these four knew what was under way. The Democratic chairman knew even more, as would have Senators Levin and Durbin if they had only taken time to attend this session or at least read the transcript.
On February 6, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and stated -over a year before war, ten months before the famous National Intelligence Estimate - that:
- 1. "Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorists"
- 2. "Let me be clear. Saddam remains a threat. He is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction, and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf War.."
- 3. "Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contacts with al-Qa'ida. Their ties may be limited by diverging ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathy towards the United States and the Saudi royal family suggest that tactical cooperation between them is possible, even though Saddam is well aware that such activity would carry serious consequences."
- 4. "Iraq continues to build and expand an infrastructure capable of producing weapons of mass destruction. Baghdad is expanding its civilian chemical industries in ways that could be diverted quickly into CW production."
- 5. "We believe that Saddam never abandoned his nuclear weapons program. Iraq maintains a significant number of nuclear scientists, program documentation, and probably some dual-use manufacturing infrastructure that could support a reinvigorated nuclear weapons program. Baghdad's access to foreign expertise could support a rejuvenated program. But our major near-term concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain access to fissile material."
Yet Intelligence Chairman, Democrat Bob Graham - not only hearing Tenet's testimony but also knowing that the CIA and US armed forces were at that moment working to end Saddam's reign - let seven months pass before a rushed National Intelligence Estimate was requested.
In typical tones, Senators Levin, Durbin, and Rockefeller scornfully wrote:
"Inexplicably, it took requests by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to the Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet in September 2002 calling for production of a National Intelligence Estimate on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - the cornerstone of the Administration's case for invading Iraq - for the Intelligence Community to be roused from its analytical slumber." (page 450)
Their own Democratic Chairman - knowing what was at stake and what was under way - had stalled for seven months: and the Intelligence Community had to be "roused from its analytic slumber"?
Irrelevant to Senator Levin; he preferred to pounce:
"The resulting classified National Intelligence Estimate, prepared in just three weeks time, was a rushed and sloppy product forwarded to members of Congress mere days before votes would be taken to authorize the use of military force against Iraq." (page 450)
The non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations noted:
"NIE drafting guidelines included in the July 9 Senate report describe three rough timeframes: a ‘fast track' of two to three weeks, a ‘normal track' of four to eight weeks, and a ‘long track' of two months or more. The vice chairman of the NIC told Senate investigators that an NIE prepared in 60 days would be considered a very fast schedule and that NIEs typically take three to six months to complete."
The Senate Intelligence Committee's own report added:
"The NIOs [National Intelligence Officers] told Committee staff that ideally they would like about three months to produce an NIE." (page 11)
The NIE was "a rushed and sloppy product forwarded to members of Congress mere days before votes would be taken to authorize the use of military force against Iraq"? But the "White House Discussion Draft" " to "authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq" had been submitted to Congress on September 19, 2002 - three weeks before votes took place. How long before that had it been being prepared with Congress' knowledge?
The Senate's own report stated that Senator Richard Durbin requested an NIE on September 9, 2002. Three days later, "the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs had received official guidance from the DCI to begin work on the NIE" (page 12).
During that 107th Congress, the Senate Intelligence Committee "held a total of 117 on-the-record meetings, briefings, and hearings, as well as over 300 off-the-record briefings." Over 400 meetings, many, if not most, before the Iraq vote - and no NIE request until 9/9/02 - almost a year to the date after 9/11?
Senator Levin also decries the
"environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when policy officials had already forcefully stated their own conclusions in public" (page 449)
when the bi-partisan Silberman-Robb Commission declared,
"we closely examined the possibility that intelligence analysts were pressured by policymakers to change their judgments about Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."
Undeterred by facts, Senator Levin went on:
"The Intelligence Community's failure to collect accurate intelligence against Iraq after 1998 and how this failure deprived its analytical experts of the information needed to draw supportable conclusions tells only part of what went awry in the fall of 2002." (page 450)
But his very own Committee, in Conclusion 110 stated (emphasis added),
"Between 1991 and 2003 analysis of Saddam Hussein's human rights record was limited in volume, but provided an accurate depiction of the scope of abuses under his regime. The limited body of analysis was reasonable, given the difficulty of intelligence collection inside Iraq" (page 402)
A limited analysis of human rights abuse in Iraq was "reasonable" because of "the difficulty of intelligence collection inside Iraq" - so WMD intelligence gathering should have been quick and easy? In Iraq? Under Saddam? With a three-week deadline?
Senator Levin also got carried away on terrorism:
"The Estimate and related analytical papers assessing Iraqi links to terrorism were produced by the Intelligence Community in a highly-pressurized climate wherein senior Administration officials were making the case for military action against Iraq through public and often definitive pronouncements." (page 451)
But once again, his own Committee concluded differently:
Conclusion 92 The Central Intelligence Agency's examination of contacts, training, safehaven and operational cooperation as indicators of a possible Iraq-al-Qaida relationship was a reasonable and objective approach to the question. (Page 345)
Conclusion 93. The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably assessed that there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida throughout the 1990s, but that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship. (Page 346)
Conclusion 94. The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons. (Page 346)
Conclusion 95. The Central Intelligence Agency's assessment on safehaven - that al-Qaida or associated operatives were present in Baghdad and in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control - was reasonable. (page 347)
Conclusion 97. The Central Intelligence Agency's judgment that Saddam Hussein, if sufficiently desperate, might employ terrorists with a global reach - al-Qaida - to conduct terrorist attacks in the event of war, was reasonable. No information has emerged thus far to suggest that Saddam did try to employ al-Qaida in conducting terrorist attacks. (Page 348)
Senator Levin could also have noted what the 9/11 Commission said about terrorism - three weeks before Senate report and the Levin comments:
- 1. "Al Qaeda had an ambitious biological weapons program and was making advances in its ability to produce anthrax prior to September 11";
- 2. "Bin Ladin called on Muslims worldwide to put aside their differences and join in deadly attacks against U.S. forces to compel their withdrawal from the Arabian Peninsula";
- 3. "two disrupted Millennium plots demonstrate that Bin Ladin remained willing to provide support to attacks initiated by more independent actors";
- 4. "Bin Ladin portrayed ‘martyrdom' in the service of jihad as a highly desirable fate, and many recruits were eager to go on suicide missions";
- 5. "Al Qaeda remains interested in carrying out chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks against the United States";
- 6. "it remains interested in using a radiological dispersal device or ‘dirty bomb,' a conventional explosive designed to spread radioactive material";
- 7. "al Qaeda is actively striving to attack the United States and inflict mass casualties";
- 8. "al Qaeda continues to pursue its strategic objective of obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Repeat point five:
"Al Qaeda remains interested in carrying out chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks against the United States."
Repeat George Tenet from a year-and-a-half before:
"Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contacts with al-Qa'ida."
Charles Duelfer and the Iraq Study Group - after interviewing Iraqi scientists after Saddam fell - confirmed George Tenet saying that:
- "Saddam remains a threat. He is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions"
- "Baghdad is expanding its civilian chemical industries in ways that could be diverted quickly into CW production."
- "We believe that Saddam never abandoned his nuclear weapons program."
No, Saddam didn't stockpile weapons; he did worse. He stockpiled scientists who could rapidly rev up weapons once sanctions were gone. They almost were.
But facts don't fit the Levin style. Bombast does.
Flip to his Additional Views, page 453, and you'll find, precisely as he printed it, ellipses included:
"But we know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons... Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon." (Vice President Cheney, Speech to the VFW's 103rd National Convention, August 26, 2002)
Then read the Vice President's full comment - without ellipses and in context:
"But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we've gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors -- including Saddam's own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam's direction. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon."Just how soon, we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances. This is especially the case when you are dealing with a totalitarian regime that has made a science out of deceiving the international community." (Vice President Cheney, Speech to the VFW's 103rd National Convention, August 26, 2002)
Not content with distorting Vice President's Cheney's words, Senator Levin continued:
"Another form of pressure on the Intelligence Community during 2002 came from policymakers repetitively tasking analysts to review, reconsider, and revise their analytical judgments." (page 455)
But, yet again, his own Senate Committee doesn't concur:
Conclusion 11. Several of the allegations of pressure on Intelligence Community (IC) analysts involved repeated questioning. The Committee believes that IC analysts should expect difficult and repeated questions regarding threat information. Just as the post 9/11 environment lowered the Intelligence Community's reporting threshold, it has also affected the intensity with which policymakers will review and question threat information." (Senate Report, page 34)
Yet the Senator Don Quixote-d on:
"The qualifications the Intelligence Community placed on what it assessed about Iraq's links to terrorism and alleged weapons of mass destruction programs were spurned by top Bush Administration officials, early casualties in the war with Iraq." (page 459)
Spurned? Not according to the official full Committee Report:
"The Committee found that this process - the policymakers probing questions - actually improved the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) products. The review revealed that the CIA analysts who prepared Iraqi Support for Terrorism made careful, measured assessments which did not overstate or mischaracterize the intelligence reporting upon which it was based." (Report, page 34)
Since the Senator ignored his own Committee, he of course dismissed official British findings:
"The charge levied in the President's State of the Union Address in late January 2003 that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa is the most notable example of how the Intelligence Community's [sic] agreed to let the Administration be a fact witness to an intelligence report the CIA considered ‘weak' and ‘not credible.'" (page 461)
"the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that ‘The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."
And then there's the celebrated "Curve Ball." Senators Levin, Durbin, and Rockefeller purport to quote an e-mail concerning him. But they don't quote: they doctor.
The e-mail, according to the Senators Three:
"As I said last night, let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what [the source] said or didn't say, and the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether [the source] knows what he's talking about. However, in the interest of Truth, we owe somebody a sentence or two of warning, if you honestly have reservations." (page 462)
But that's not what the actual e-mail said. Turn to the Senate Report page 249 and this is what you'll find:
"Greetings. Come on over (or I'll come over there) and we can hash this out. As I said last night, let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say, and that the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about. However, in the interest of Truth, we owe somebody a sentence of two of warning, if you honestly have reservations."
Instead of "the source" - twice - there's "Curve Ball - twice. Which is also what you'll find in Senator Feinstein's Additional Views (page 482). No doctoring for her.
But that's what Curve Ball Carl does repeatedly - in almost every statement he makes. Is he so used to campaigning he can no longer tell truth from lie?
"The day before the February 5th United Nations speech, a CIA official involved with intelligence reporting on Iraq sent an email to another agency official responding to concerns about the use of one particular source at the center of the assertion that Iraq had constructed numerous mobile biological weapons laboratories." (page 451)
But the e-mail author wasn't "a CIA official": he was a Department of Defense detailee (Senate Report, pages 154,-157). And the other "agency official" wasn't just any official - he was a CIA Deputy Chief (page 155).
Yet that didn't stop Senator Levin from still seeing red:
"Despite these and other misgivings at the time about the information received from this all-important source, the Intelligence Community only recently officially declared him to be a fabricator." (page 462)
"Misgivings at the time": no one else thought so - including the Deputy Chief the e-mail was sent to. He commented (Senate Report, pages 249-251):
- 1. "he did not believe that the detailee's e-mail contained any new information that had not already been raised previously by the detailee many times";
- 2. "I was not privy to any particular information indicating war plans or anything";
- 3. "My level was too low for that";
- 4. "My source of information was the Washington Post";
- 5. "We were never pressured, no. Quite the opposite";
- 6. "underlying it all was what kinds of weapons might the Iraqis bring to bear against our troops, and there was a lot of pressure for that - a lot of it, frankly, self-imposed pressure."
- 7. "he thought the CIA BW analysts and his superiors were already well aware of the detailee's concerns";
- 8. "there was nothing new to his concerns"
- 9. "he believed that the CIA's BW analysts would not have gone forward with the information concerning Iraq's mobile BW program in the Powell speech if they had not already resolved the detailee's concerns."
Worth stressing: "if they had not already resolved the detailee's concerns."
Then there's that "the Intelligence Community only recently officially declared him to be a fabricator" bit.
According to the Silberman-Robb Commission, Curve Ball had been designated a fabricator in May of 2004 - two months before the Senate Report was released. Why, then, didn't other Committee members know?
Senator Olympia Snowe obviously didn't. Why else would she have written:
"most of the intelligence regarding Iraq's mobile biological warfare program came from one source with questionable credibility nor did anyone alert Secretary Powell to the fact one of the sources cited in his speech was deemed to be a fabricator-something known by IC analysts since the May 2002 issuance of a ‘fabrication notice'" (Senate Report, page 472)?
That fabricator was an Iraqi major - not Curve Ball.
Senator Dianne Feinstein didn't know.
"Secretary Powell, in his speech before the United Nations on February 5, 2003, used four sources to make the case about BW mobile labs: ‘Curveball,' an Iraqi civil engineer, a third source, and an Iraqi National Congress (INC) fabricator. Secretary Powell laid out a graphic, detailed, and powerful case for Iraq's possession of a number of mobile biological production labs before the Untied Nations and the world based on four sources-all of which have proven to be false." (page 482)
But only one was an official fabricator, as far as Senator Feinstein knew. What kind of curve ball was Senator Levin pitching?
Pathetically, it was the NIE itself: rushed in three weeks, when his own Democratic chairman had had seven months after hearing George Tenet testify Saddam remained a threat, seven months after Senator Graham and Speaker-to-be Pelosi knew the CIA and US military were working to overthrow Saddam.
A report rushed, when the Committee report itself said intelligence officers needed three months - which would have been June of 2002: four months after Chairman Graham and Speaker-to-be Pelosi knew about the top-secret CIA plan to overthrow Saddam, three months before the White House submitted its force authorization draft..
With war at hand, and thousands of US troops' lives at stake, Senator Levin still proclaimed on the senate floor on October 4, 2002 - a week before the senate vote on authorizing force:
"What my alternative resolution does is as follows:1) It urges the U.N. Security Council to adopt promptly a resolution that:* demands unconditional access for U.N. inspectors so that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missiles may be destroyed""Iraq's weapons of mass destruction": the senator's resolution was rejected. So he rejected the authorization resolution. And has spent four vindictive years - in speech after speech - attacking the Bush administration when he could have been attacking Saddamists, Shia fanatics, and Al Qaeda. Had it been Bill Clinton instead of George Bush, Levin would have led the parade.
As recent as February 7 of this year, Curve Ball Carl said of the nomination of General George Casey to be Army Chief of staff:
"It is not fair that General Casey be held responsible for massive failures that were caused by the wrong policies, the deceptions, the ignorance, the arrogance, and the cockiness of civilian leaders in this administration." [....]
"There is not a commander I know of who does not acknowledge his mistakes. Every commander worth his or her salt acknowledges mistakes." [....]
"Every commander worth his or her salt acknowledges mistakes": it's not Intelligence that the senator lacked. It's integrity.
Everyone agrees: Iraq needs a political solution. Thank God it won't come from politicians.