‘NYT’ report uncovers Bush plot to torpedo Juan Cole, but ignores some crucial questions

Israel/Palestine
on 56 Comments

James Risen of The New York Times reports today on a former C.I.A. official’s charges that the Bush administration sought to torpedo world-renowned Middle East scholar and blogger Juan Cole, professor at the University of Michigan and author of the blog Informed Comment. The story is notable for several reasons, including at least two the Times entirely omits or severely downplays.

According to Risen, Bush people were unhappy with a prominent academic voicing — and getting a wide hearing for — deep criticism of and opposition to the Iraq war. Former C.I.A. intelligence officer Glenn Carle, “a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole.”
 
This could be a serious violation of American law; the C.I.A. is barred from domestic spying (though lets remember we have seen a lot of attacks on protections against domestic spying in recent years, including by Democrat and champion of ‘transparency, Barack Obama). Had Carle leveled his charges while Bush while still in office and if Bush himself had played a role, such actions would arguably have risen to the level of impeachable offenses (among many Bush committed).

 
I find the story interesting for points Risen effectively ignores. In 2006, Yale University’s departments of sociology and history both approved Cole for appointment. Cole’s hiring was scuttled by the Yale administration. There is ample reason to believe the Israel Lobby went to bat against Cole. Certainly, right-wingers and Israel-idealogues were railing against him. There were reports of leading, wealthy Israel-idolaters and Yale donors were threatening to pull their funding. Any skeptical about the tactics of Israel extremists should recall wealthy Israel-supporter Michael Lucas’s March 2011 threats against Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center and the center’s cancellation of a fundraiser by critics of Israeli policy . Or the Alan Dershowitz tirade against Norman Finkelstein taking a post at DePaul University. Or the campaign against the play I Am Rachel Corrie in New York. This list could go for pages (attacks on academics, cultural programs, journalists, human rights institutions, etc.)
 
The Yale connection is also interesting. I believe that the role of a very small number of very elite universities in securing American oligarchy is being downplayed (and the issue of American oligarchy is downplayed to begin with). George W. Bush went to Yale. Leading Israel fanatic Joseph Lieberman did, too. For many years, Yale was a key source for C.I.A. recruits. Dubya’s daddy, President George H. W. Bush went to Yale and was head of the C.I.A. from 1976 to 1977. It is my contention (certainly not original) that universities like Yale serve as factories of “received opinion.” That is, they provide the intellectual foundations (to the extent that the United States embraces intellect at all) for power. You need an excuse for bombing civilians in Iraq? Line someone up from Harvard. The history of leading schools barring or even ousting great minds that offered threatening views is very long. (To provide a little grist without milling, look for stories of Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis and Harvard, Chomsky and M.I.T., Gabriel Kolko, William James and Nathaniel Shaler. Several public universities developed great departments in a variety of disciplines because the faculty could and were safely booted from private schools but not could not be from public ones without Bill of Rights protections.)
 
Some questions remain unanswered (and unasked by the Times). If the Bush administration sought dope on Juan Cole, was it asking for information already in the C.I.A.’s possession, in which case the C.I.A. was already doing domestic work? Or was it directing the C.I.A. to nose about domestically? How does this fit into a larger pattern of expansion of presidential power (an expansion Obama aggressively pursues, arguably more aggressively than Bush)? Will Glenn Carle be treated as Barack Obama has treated other whistleblowers — maliciously and ruthlessly?
 
All of this will earn me a charge of “conspiracy theorist.” Have a made any such claim? No. I am describing the lines of force in American power relations.
 
Hugh Sansom is an independent scholar of economics, justice, and journalism, a Thomas Paine wannabe, and a photographer. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. This post originally appeared on his blog Apocalypse Road.

56 Responses

  1. Susie Kneedler
    June 16, 2011, 9:26 am

    Admirable, brave Juan Cole reflects:

    “Carle’s revelations come as a visceral shock. You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens….

    I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned. Like Mr. Carle, I am dismayed at how easy it seems to have been for corrupt WH officials to suborn CIA personnel into activities that had nothing to do with national security abroad and everything to do with silencing domestic critics. This effort was yet another attempt to gut the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, in this case as part of an effort to gut the First Amendment of the US Constitution….

    In 2003-2005 and after I on a few occasions was asked to speak to military and intelligence professionals…. Apparently one of the purposes of spying on me to discredit me, from the point of view of the Bush White House, was ironically to discourage Washington think tanks from inviting me to speak to the analysts, not only of the CIA but also the State Department Intelligence and Research and other officials concerned with counter-terrorism and with Iraq.

    It seemed likely to some colleagues, according to what they told me, that the Bush administration had in fact succeeded in having me blackballed, since the invitations rather dropped off, and panels of a sort I had earlier participated in were being held without my presence….It was all the same to me– I continued to provide what I believe was an important service to the Republic at my blog and I know for a fact that not only intelligence analysts but members of the Bush team continued to read some of what I wrote.

    What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively “destroyed.” It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.

    link to juancole.com

    • Kathleen
      June 16, 2011, 10:24 am

      Susie so great that you posted this here. I can not get over to Informed comment with your link, the one above in the piece or down the side of Mondoweiss’s blog selection. No getting there through google either. Odd. Must be lots of activity or shutting down access.

      Hope other folks try. Just sent article as well as what you posted above to the Diane Rehm show too. The Rehm show has had Cole on. Thought it was so odd that so many media outlets would not have Cole on. This explains it.

      You know the Bush administration and the I lobby went after former weapons Inspector Scott Ritter. Look deep into your personal life..try to destroy you. As Prof Cole pointed out..they went after Plame and husband. Plame who had put her own life on the line for her country, accessing intelligence having to do with countries and WMD. Sure made it clear they wanted to shut Wilson up as well as Plame’s investigations into who was doing what with sales and development of WMD’s Who, what, where, why..shut it down

      • Susie Kneedler
        June 16, 2011, 1:18 pm

        Thanks, Kathleen (and for all your great work)! I had trouble, too–waiting about 15 minutes for the connection–and assumed that the delay was caused by traffic, which must now be even greater.

  2. Les
    June 16, 2011, 9:47 am

    After the fact the Times is happy to publish this. Who believes that the Times was NOT informed of such spying on Americans while it was happening?

  3. Gellian
    June 16, 2011, 9:58 am

    “The Yale connection is also interesting. I believe that the role of a very small number of very elite universities in securing American oligarchy is being downplayed (and the issue of American oligarchy is downplayed to begin with). George W. Bush went to Yale. Leading Israel fanatic Joseph Lieberman did, too. For many years, Yale was a key source for C.I.A. recruits. ”

    This is kind of dumb. Yes, it does earn you an accusation of conspiracy theory-ism. What exactly are you getting at? That Yale as an institution is somehow complicit? Gimme a break.

    The reason the Yale connection seems like it’s worthwhile is because Yale has always been one of the best places to go in the country. It’s a combination of meritocracy and ethnocracy/legacy-ism. The CIA guys in the 50s were all recruited from Yale because they were WASPs and it was a mark of noblesse oblige that, if you basically already owned most of the real estate in the country, it was your patriotic duty to give back to it. At the same time the tip of the iceberg was shifting from WASPs pure and simple, as it probably had been for a couple hundred years, to Jews on the way up, who had to be damn smart if they wanted to break the barrier. Hence you find Liebermann that at the same time that the Bushs, Kerry, etc., etc., etc., and the CIA guys are being recruited there.

    No matter how smart Yale students were in the 1950s/60s, and they may have been really, really smart, there is no way that there are many dumb students at Yale or similar universities now. I know; I’ve seen it. Competition to get into these places is so off the charts that even low-end Ivies are turning away 5 out of 6 applicants, and even many of those rejected have perfect S.A.T.s, valedictorian status, national merit finalist, you name it. These are students who have never made a mistake.

    I don’t know about you, but if I were running any organization, from a country to a corporation, I’d want to hire these kids if I could get them. I wouldn’t bother recruiting anywhere else unless I had to. It’s simply a matter of playing the numbers. You might pluck a genius out of a regular university, but if you have limited time, are you going to go searching for one? Or are you going to figure that the system has already filtered a nice batch of really promising students for you to skim?

    That’s why it’s not a conspiracy that Goldman, etc., hires Harvard kids. It’s just the smart thing to do.

    • Madrid
      June 16, 2011, 10:39 am

      I messed up– partly because when you log into this website , I don’t think it puts your comment where you want it to be, if you are responding to an individual poster. Therefore, I stupidly wrote this comment 3 times. Gellian’s is the post I intended to respond to:

      Sorry, but you’re wrong. I don’t don’t have the time to explain why in detail, however. Just briefly, Samson’s account of how Yale and Harvard function as factories of conventional wisdom is exactly correct. I am very familiar with Yale– most elite departments in fields such as Poly Sci function more like Priest-cults than purveyors of knowledge.

      I am sure that Cole was kept out of Yale because people made comments like he “was too political” etc., without acknowledging the obvious, that donors were at stake. Yale is not some bastion of unconventional or leftist thought, unless your idea of the left something out of the Victorian period. It’s very conservative, very supportive of the status quo, which is after all what catapulted the current faculty into their current elite positions.

      • Gellian
        June 16, 2011, 11:36 am

        Huh?

        “I am sure that Cole was kept out of Yale because people made comments like he “was too political” etc., ”

        Umm… Cole’s nomination was actually accepted by both of the two departments he was to join. It was the higher ups that killed it. Your comment is a total non sequitur.

        Besides, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got some affiliation with the Yale political science department or not. That’s not the point I was making, which is that students who go to these places end up succeeding largely because decision makers realize that most of the decision making has been done for them just in their having been admitted to Yale.

        I guess you could say that’s conservative in outlook, although having spent way too much time around fancy colleges and universities in my life, I don’t think ivy leaguers are any less creative or even political than other university or college students. More conservative than you’d see at a San Francisco gay pride parade? Sure. But then again, most of the country is like that. Less conservative than the contractors who do work on my house? Absolutely.

  4. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:00 am

    Informed Comment is a daily stop for me. So appreciate Prof Cole’s insights. Was unable to get to Informed Comment through the links above. Unable to get through via google right now. Must be lots of activity or something.

    Spread this around. Let’s get Cole on Chris Matthews , BBC. He has been on Rachel Maddows. Hope this brings him more attention in a positive way. More readers on more MSM outlets.

    Anyone else having trouble getting over there?

    • hophmi
      June 16, 2011, 10:32 am

      Cole is on TV all the time. Unfortunately, he’s got a habit of referring to everyone who disagree with him on Israel as a “Likudnik,” censoring all commenters on his blog except the fellow travelers, and not be honest when called on the carpet by others. Like a few years ago when he claimed that MEMRI had a $60 million budget and then refused to give any sources when I asked about them.

      Academics who want plum assignments should stick to scholarship rather than polemics.

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 10:56 am

        What TV outlets are you using? Links? Proof? backing up what you claims? No? Nothing new with you

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        June 16, 2011, 11:09 am

        >> Academics who want plum assignments should stick to scholarship rather than polemics.

        Like Dersch?

      • Robert Werdine
        June 16, 2011, 3:12 pm

        I can see it now: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove in a late night emergency meeting in the Oval, scheming and strategizing, and all fidgeting nervously under the strain of the Great Danger to the Bush presidency: Juan Cole.

        Why not? What could be more plausible? Who could doubt that Bush’s presidency could ever be safe while Juan Cole is on the loose?

        Oh, please.

        Well, it looks like the left has another Plame-Wilson/Niger on its hands. I trust they will milk this for all its worth, just as they did with the Plame/Wilson fraud.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 16, 2011, 4:16 pm

        “Why not? What could be more plausible? Who could doubt that Bush’s presidency could ever be safe while Juan Cole is on the loose?”

        Why not? These are the same morons who saw a threat to the USA from Saddam Hussein. Those dumbasses and people like them will believe anything.

      • Shingo
        June 16, 2011, 6:34 pm

        Well, it looks like the left has another Plame-Wilson/Niger on its hands.

        Yes, the war party are trying their best with BS about Iran.

        I trust they will milk this for all its worth, just as they did with the Plame/Wilson fraud.

        Yes Robert,

        Libby went to prison to expand his horizons no doubt, not to over anything up.

        BTW. The Niger documents were fake.

      • Chaos4700
        June 16, 2011, 6:46 pm

        Hey, hophmi and Werdine? Have you found those nukes in Iraq yet? We’re still waiting.

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 6:58 pm

        They just simply wanted to take him down. Thought it would be an easy task. Sure Dennis Ross would have been in on that one.

        Cole has influenced hundreds of thousands if not millions of peoples thinking.

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 6:59 pm

        Robert hope you came on over after I posted this over at Chris Matthews place.

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 7:07 pm

        Robert Juan Cole would agree with you to some degree
        ” I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned.

        He concludes by telling readers “what alarms [him] most”: “I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House.”

      • ToivoS
        June 16, 2011, 8:52 pm

        werdine says:

        Well, it looks like the left has another Plame-Wilson/Niger on its hands. I trust they will milk this for all its worth, just as they did with the Plame/Wilson fraud.

        Fraud? This is something I haven’t seen before. Perhaps you could provide a link where this case is made.

      • LeaNder
        June 17, 2011, 9:42 am

        I agree ToivoS,
        that’s a really interesting statement.

      • Robert Werdine
        June 17, 2011, 12:54 pm

        “Fraud? This is something I haven’t seen before. Perhaps you could provide a link where this case is made.”

        I have made the case in a previous post, and shall do so again here:

        The matter of former ambassador Joe Wilson and the entire Niger/Uranium documents has been a point of controversy ever since it erupted in 2003. Yet, I would have thought that the release of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee report of 2004 would have indicated how thoroughly this whole Niger documents/Bush lied charge has been discredited once and for all.

        The report recounts how, Joe Wilson’s denial notwithstanding, his wife did recommend him to investigate what he could concerning whether Saddam was seeking uranium from Africa for the CIA. When Wilson returned and gave his report, he told the agency absolutely nothing that they did not already know, and nothing about any forged documents or anything else the CIA was unaware of.

        The CIA did, however, did take note of Wilson’s description of a meeting with the former prime minister of Niger, where the leader recounted a meeting with Iraqi businessmen, where they expressed a desire to expand commercial relations, which the leader took to mean to acquire uranium. But nothing, apparently, came from the conversation. The CIA, however, considered that this incident actually strengthened their belief that Saddam was pursuing enriched uranium at the time. That was the extent of Wilson’s discovery. The conclusions of the bipartisan Senate Report are unequivocal: With the exception of the aforementioned incident, Joe Wilson shed absolutely no light whatsoever on whether Saddam was attempting to acquire enriched uranium from Africa. He therefore did not “expose” anything.

        The CIA may have been through with Wilson, but Wilson was far from through with them. A vociferous critic of the Iraq war and a shrewd self-promoter, Wilson, in a series of off-the-record interviews with The New York Times (Nicholas Kristoff, May 6, 2003), The Washington Post (Walter Pincus, June 12, 2003), and The New Republic (John Judis and Spencer Ackerman, June 30, 2003) constructed an alternative, more dramatic version of his trip to Africa, one that cast him in a prophetic and heroic light, and put him front and center as the man who blew the whistle on the Bush Administration’s Iraq war “deceptions.”

        The new narrative went something like this: Upon request from Vice President Cheney’s office, the CIA (with no words of encouragement from Wilson’s wife, mind you) dispatched Wilson to investigate the claim of whether Saddam was seeking to acquire uranium from Niger. Wilson reports back that the claims are untrue, and that the documents upon which the claims were based are obvious forgeries, adding that the names and dates are wrong and that, in fact, a Niger minister whose name appears on one of the documents had been out of office for more than a decade. Furthermore, according to Wilson, he reported that the uranium mining program was structured so that any diversion of uranium would have been impossible. Yet, despite this “debunking,” President Bush and the administration go on citing it anyway, knowing all along that it was, in Wilson’s telling, “a flat out lie,” and it is upon such “lies” that the President brazenly and fecklessly misleads America into a costly and unnecessary war. The President and his minions’ efforts to deceive the American people might have continued, but for the efforts of one brave former ambassador.

        A staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence read these three articles with great interest and no small bewilderment. She asked Wilson to submit to an interview. When asked how he could have seen the documents purporting to prove the Niger/uranium claim in February 2002 when the documents had not even been delivered to American custody until October 2002, Wilson claimed he “may have misspoken” and had been “confused in his recollection.” A look at all three articles shows a remarkable consistency to all this “confusion” and “misspeaking.” In each article, Wilson repeats verbatim his claims about the forged documents, what he saw on them, and his assertions about the administration’s continuing duplicity despite his allegedly setting them straight on the matter.

        As Stephen Hayes has written, “not surprisingly, Wilson changed his story after being confronted by the Senate’s investigators. In the New York Times on July 6 he acknowledged that he “never saw” the forgeries, and he later conceded the same point in a television interview. It should have been a crucial admission, giving pause to the editorialists and politicians who had relied on Wilson to support their claims about the administration’s mendacity. Wilson had been a compelling source precisely because he presented himself as a fact witness regarding the forged documents. His evolving narrative apparently escaped the notice of his editors at the New York Times. The same editorial pages that had published Nicholas Kristof’s columns, including the former ambassador’s claim that he had debunked the forged documents, now carried his admission that he had never seen them.”

        It was indeed a remarkable admission. The SSCI report has Wilson’s debriefers at the CIA testifying that there was absolutely no mention of any documents, forged or otherwise, mentioned by Wilson in their debriefing of him after his trip back in March 2002. All that business about the false names and dates on the documents and warning the administration about them? Wilson fabricated that whole scenario out of thin air. He had never seen any such documents and never reported seeing any following his trip. Yet he repeated that he had on at least three separate occasions in interviews with three separate news publications within a two month period. Is it really plausible that he “misspoke” identically on exactly the same points on all three separate occasions? And about that “confused recollection.” Is it really plausible that Wilson had been innocently mistaken about his seeing the documents, the contents of which he had described in elaborate detail, when he had not? Could he really have been similarly mistaken about whether or not he had informed the CIA, and hence the Bush administration, about those documents and their contents? In a word: no. He either saw the documents and warned the administration about them following his trip in March of 2002 or he did not. And he did not. Wilson, proud possessor of the Nation magazine’s “truth teller” award, also admitted to the committee that he had no evidence that President Bush knew the Niger/uranium claim was false and said that he based his subsequent accusations that he had on what he read and heard in the media.

        These facts do not merely tarnish Wilson’s credibility; they demolish it completely, utterly. As Stephen Hayes has pointed out, it was exactly because Wilson had claimed to have seen the documents and to have warned the CIA about them that his assertions about the alleged duplicity of the administration’s pre-war intelligence claims had carried such weight. The report exposes the full extent of Wilson’s deception, acquits the White House of any deliberate deception on WMD, and faults the CIA for a massive, indeed remarkable, intelligence failure. These conclusions have been corroborated by the bipartisan Robb-Silberman investigation into pre-war intelligence, the report of the Iraq Survey Group, and similar investigations into the Blair government’s handling of pre-war intelligence by Lord Hutton and Lord Butler.

        It would thus be difficult to think of a subject that has been more thoroughly investigated than the matter of pre-Iraq war intelligence. The whole “Bush lied, people died” canard should by rights have died the death it deserved. But it lives on. Why? Because Wilson’s accusations were the answer to the most fervent prayers of the liberal-democrat anti-war left and, of course, the mainstream media, who were only too happy to toss aside the mask of impartiality about a war they had never really supported and a president they had never much liked. Why bother exposing the falsehoods of a nobody former ambassador when the opportunity to tag a president–make that a Republican–president, with having lied the nation into a war beckoned?

        Criticism of the Bush administration’s decision to go to war, the pre-war intelligence failures, and their mishandling of the subsequent occupation are, of course, completely legitimate and will continue to be debated and argued, and this is as it should be. But the continued willingness, indeed the eagerness, to smear President Bush with this slander and the failure to expose Wilson’s self-serving falsehoods in scores of reports, articles, columns, and interviews with him (too numerous to count) when the facts were there for all to see constitutes an act of journalistic malpractice of the first magnitude. The press (with a few, lonely exceptions) has failed in one of its most basic tasks: to inflict accountability on one who has successfully eluded it on an issue of national importance.

        Instead they opted to pursue the romance of the Wilson-Plame scandal in all its opulent preposterousness. Once Wilson had gone public with his accusations, the exposure of his wife’s identity would only have been a matter of time. Even if the Bush White House had, by some miracle of restraint, not commented on or off the record on Wilson’s charges, his wife’s identity and her involvement in arranging his trip would have leaked in the glare of the bright media spotlight brought to bear on Wilson, his explosive accusations, not to mention how and why he was selected by the CIA for his Africa trip. All would have pointed to his wife. As the Washington Post editorialized, no one did more to expose Valerie Plame’s identity than Joe Wilson and his own big mouth, attended and reinforced by his insatiable appetite for publicity and shameless self-promotion. Joe Wilson spun gold out of whole falsehood and was, and has been aided and abetted by a mainstream media too corrupted by its opportunism and seduced by its own biases.

        Well, I guess what matters is that the Wilsons finally landed their film, a plush vanity piece portraying them as lonely, maligned patriots pursuing truth, dignity and tender family life amidst a hailstorm of invective and abuse from a brutal, war-mongering leviathan-like administration scheming in dark corridors and crushing its truth-telling enemies like so many swatted flies. The truth is that the Wilsons have been the much-fawned-over darlings of the media from the moment this whole mess hit the fan. They have milked their celebrity to quite extraordinary lengths and have profited handsomely in the bargain. To portray them otherwise is a shameless mockery of the truth, extreme even by Hollywood’s standards.

        In any event, the contention that Bush lied us into war, or invaded Iraq knowing that there were no WMD, are both bereft of any factual basis, and is, in fact, nonsensical. Two things are in order here. First, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, how did he know this? How did he know what his own CIA–who overwhelmingly believed that Saddam had already possessed Chem&Bio WMD and was aggressively pursuing nuclear WMD–did not know? This consensus of the CIA was supported by the intelligence services of more than a dozen nations, including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Even bitter opponents of the war like France, Germany, Russia, and China never argued that Saddam did not have WMD; indeed, the German intelligence stated their belief that Saddam was within 1-3 years of obtaining a nuclear device–more than several years ahead of the CIA’s estimate. France and the others merely argued, for their own self-interested reasons, that war was the wrong way to disarm Saddam, not that he had no WMD.

        Secondly, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, is it really plausible that he would lead the nation into war knowing that his claims on Saddam’s WMD would be thoroughly discredited when Saddam was removed? The failure to find WMD in Iraq was one of the worst embarrassments that any president or administration has ever endured. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell all declared that Saddam had WMD in the most absolute and unequivocal terms. Would they all really do so if they didn’t believe it to be true and knowingly lead the nation into war in the full knowledge that their claims would be discredited? Please. Anyone who would believe that will believe anything.

        Few subjects have been more thoroughly and exhaustively investigated than the matter of pre-Iraq war intelligence. The reports of the Iraq Survey Group, the two-phase bipartisan Senate-Select Committee on Intelligence, and the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report have all cleared the Bush Administration of any deliberate deception or manipulation concerning the pre-Iraq war intelligence.

        President Bush, in short, did not “lie” us into war, and Joe Wilson, in short, is a self-serving, partisan fraud who never “exposed” any falsehood, anywhere except in his fevered imagination. Here are some of the unredacted conclusions of the first bipartisan Senate Select Committee Intelligence report on the Niger/Uranium matter:

        “Conclusion: The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador’s wife, a CIA employee. The former ambassador’s wife suggested her husband for the trip to Niger in February 2002. The former ambassador had traveled previously to Niger on behalf of the CIA, also at the suggestion of his wife, to look into another matter not related to Iraq. On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both
        of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” This was just one day before the same Directorate of Operations division sent a cable to one of its overseas stations requesting concurrence with the division’s idea to send the former ambassador to Niger.

        Conclusion: Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided.

        At the time the former ambassador traveled to Niger, the Intelligence Community did not have in its possession any actual documents on the alleged Niger-Iraq uranium deal, only second hand reporting of the deal. The former ambassador’s comments to reporters that the Niger-Iraq uranium documents “may have been forged because ‘the dates were wrong and the names were wrong,'” could not have been based on the former ambassador’s actual experiences because the Intelligence Community did not have the documents at the time of the ambassador’s trip. In addition, nothing in the report from the former ambassador’s trip said anything about documents having been forged or the names or dates in the reports having been incorrect.

        The former ambassador told Committee staff that he, in fact, did not have access to any of the names and dates in the CIA’s reports and said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct. Of note, the names and dates in the documents that the IAEA found to be incorrect were not names or dates included in the CIA reports. Following the Vice President’s review of an intelligence report regarding a possible uranium deal, he asked his briefer for the CIA’s analysis of the issue. It was this request which generated Mr. Wilson’s trip to Niger. The former ambassador’s public comments suggesting that the Vice President had been briefed on the information gathered during his trip is not correct, however. While the CIA responded to the Vice President’s request for the Agency’s analysis, they never provided the information gathered by the former Ambassador.

        The former ambassador, in an NBC Meet the Press interview on July 6, 2003, said, “The office of the Vice President, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there.” The former ambassador was speaking on the basis of what he believed should have happened based on his former government experience, but he had no knowledge that this did happen. These and other public comments from the former ambassador, such as comments that his report “debunked” the Niger-Iraq uranium story, were incorrect and have led to a distortion in the press and in the public’s understanding of the facts surrounding the Niger-Iraq uranium story. The Committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador’s report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger-
        Iraq uranium deal.

        During Mr. Wilson’s media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President
        had lied, and that he had “debunked” the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. As discussed in the Niger section of the report, not only did he NOT “debunk” the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true. I believed very strongly that it was important for the Committee to conclude publicly that many of the statements made by Ambassador Wilson were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact.

        In an interview with Committee staff, Mr. Wilson was asked how he knew some of the things he was stating publicly with such confidence. On at least two occasions he admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was
        drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all. For example, when asked how he “knew” that the Intelligence Community had rejected the possibility of a
        Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told Committee staff that his assertion may have involved “a little literary flair.”

        Conclusion. Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence.

        Conclusion. The report on the former ambassador’s trip to Niger, disseminated in March 2002, did not change any analysts’ assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal, but State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts believed that the report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq.

        Conclusion. The Central Intelligence Agency should have told the Vice President and other senior policymakers that it had sent someone to Niger to look into the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal and should have briefed the Vice President on the former ambassador’s findings.

        Conclusion. When documents regarding the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting became available to the Intelligence Community in October 2002, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts and operations officers should have made an effort to obtain copies. As a result of not obtaining the documents, CIA Iraq nuclear analysts continued to report on Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from Africa and continued to approve the use of such language in Administration publications and speeches.

        Conclusion. Even after obtaining the forged documents and being alerted by a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analyst about problems with them, analysts at both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) did not examine them carefully enough to see the obvious problems with the documents. Both agencies continued to publish assessments that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa. In addition, CIA continued to approve the use of similar language in Administration publications and speeches, including the State of the Union.

        Conclusion. The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) comments and assessments about the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting were inconsistent and, at times contradictory. These inconsistencies were based in part on a misunderstanding of a CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) Iraq analyst’s assessment of the reporting. The CIA should have had a mechanism in place to ensure that agency assessments and information passed to policymakers were consistent.

        Conclusion. When coordinating the State of the Union, no Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts or officials told the National Security Council (NSC) to remove the “16 words” or that there were concerns about the credibility of the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting. A CIA official’s original testimony to the Committee that he told an NSC official to remove the words “Niger” and “500 tons” from the speech, is incorrect.

        Conclusion. The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) should have taken the time to read the State of the Union speech and fact check it himself. Had he done so, he would have been able to alert the National Security Council (NSC) if he still had concerns about the use of the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting in a Presidential speech.

        Conclusion. In responding to a letter from Senator Carl Levin on behalf of the Intelligence Community in February 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) should not have said that of reporting suggest Iraq had “attempted to acquire uranium from Niger,” without indicating that State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) believed the reporting was based on forged documents, or that the CIA was reviewing the Niger reporting.

        Conclusion. The Niger reporting was never in any of the drafts of Secretary Powell’s United Nations (UN) speech and the Committee has not uncovered any information that showed anyone tried to insert the information into the speech.

        Conclusion. To date, the Intelligence Community has not published an assessment to clarify or correct its position on whether or not Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Africa as stated in the National Intelligence Estimate (ME). Likewise, neither the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) nor the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which both published assessments on possible Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium, have ever published assessments outside of their agencies which correct their previous positions.”

      • ToivoS
        June 17, 2011, 9:22 pm

        Thanks werdine for so much bull. The case you make here is that Wilson was unable to prove a negative. It is logically impossible to prove a negative.

        What we do know is that there is no evidence that Iraq was purchasing yellow cake from Niger.

        What we do know is that the documentary evidence in support of this was fabricated.

        What we do know is that Wilson’s efforts to find any evidence to support those allegations failed.

        Zero evidence was uncovered. Was Wilson able to prove that no evidence existed, somewhere, some place. No he could not prove that. All the blather in your post simply points out that obvious point.

        So werdine, you fail miserably — there is no evidence that Wilson engaged in fraud.

        The fact that you have at your fingertips all of this testimony does show one thing though — you my friend are a neocon, likely a Zionist, that is continuing to support your efforts that resulted in the US going into what all rational folks see as a disasterous war for the US. I think the Zionist like you would want to back away from responsibility for your mistakes. Take credit if you wish. It just helps make the point Israel is not in America’s best interest.

      • Robert Werdine
        June 19, 2011, 12:15 pm

        TovioS,

        Said you: “Thanks Werdine for so much bull. The case you make here is that Wilson was unable to prove a negative. It is logically impossible to prove a negative. What we do know is that there is no evidence that Iraq was purchasing yellow cake from Niger.”

        It is certainly true that there is no evidence that Iraq was purchasing yellow cake from Niger; I never said there was. I was arguing that Joe Wilson never uncovered any evidence that the Bush White House deliberately deceived the public about the Niger/Uranium matter, or any other WMD related matter, as he said he had. Wilson simply lied about what he had found on his trip to Africa to reporters, and smeared the Bush Administration with accusations of “misleading” the nation into war. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report of 2004 found these accusations to be utterly without foundation, found that Bush did not mislead the public, and found that Wilson indisputably did.

        Said you: “What we do know is that the documentary evidence in support of this was fabricated.”

        No, we do not. We know it was mistaken. The reports of the Iraq Survey Group, the two-phase bipartisan Senate-Select Committee on Intelligence, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report, along with the British House of Commons investigations chaired by Lord Hutton and Lord Butler, have all cleared the Bush Administration and the Blair Government of any deliberate deception or manipulation concerning the pre-Iraq war intelligence.

        Said you: “What we do know is that Wilson’s efforts to find any evidence to support those allegations failed. Zero evidence was uncovered. Was Wilson able to prove that no evidence existed, somewhere, some place. No he could not prove that. All the blather in your post simply points out that obvious point. So Werdine, you fail miserably — there is no evidence that Wilson engaged in fraud.”

        You are correct that Wilson found no evidence to support his allegations, but he lied publicly and prolifically, and in elaborate detail, about what he had discovered and what he had told the WH. He smeared the WH with allegations that were disproved and discredited in a bipartisan investigation. He therefore engaged in fraud, and on an epic scale.

        Said you: “The fact that you have at your fingertips all of this testimony does show one thing though — you my friend are a neocon, likely a Zionist, that is continuing to support your efforts that resulted in the US going into what all rational folks see as a disasterous war for the US. I think the Zionist like you would want to back away from responsibility for your mistakes. Take credit if you wish. It just helps make the point Israel is not in America’s best interest.”

        I am a neoconservative, and thank you very much for noticing. I should have thought this was not exactly a secret around here. If being a Zionist means that I recognize Israel’s right to exist, and support a 2ss for the Palestinians along the lines of the Clinton Parameters of 2000, then I am indeed both a Zionist and a Neocon, and am so without apology. I fully supported the Iraq war, and still do. The world is a much, much better place without Saddam Hussein around, and he was a threat with or without WMD stockpiles. Whether it benefits Israel or not is a matter of indifference to me; Saddam had to go, and that’s that.

  5. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:02 am

    Unable to get over to Informed Comment by going down Mondoweiss’s blog choices

    • Les
      June 16, 2011, 10:19 am

      Informed Comment has been down for a while. I hope it’s because of people wanting to learn about him. In my case, it is my home page, which was working earlier this morning.

    • kapok
      June 16, 2011, 11:09 am

      up here, 9AM Mtn. Time

  6. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:12 am

    Just sent this off to Emptywheel over at Firedoglake, Huffington Post, Chris Matthews (who I have been pushing to have Juan Cole on his program for years). Still having trouble getting to his site. Anyone else trying to get on over there?

  7. stevieb
    June 16, 2011, 10:24 am

    I’ve heard some whispers about Cole. Some ‘affectionately’ referring to him as ‘Langley’ Cole….

  8. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:25 am

    Just got through

  9. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:51 am

    The Rehm show has had Juan Cole on 2 times . Don’t think they had him on before the invasion. I believe she had Scott Ritter on before the invasion
    link to thedianerehmshow.org
    link to thedianerehmshow.org

    Rachel Maddow had Cole on
    link to msnbc.msn.com

    More interviews with Prof Cole
    link to videosurf.com

    Not many MSM outlets had Cole on before the invasion when he, Scott Ritter and others were putting out very substantive reasons for questioning the validity of the WMD intelligence..”pack of lies”

    Our MSM was busy having Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Feith, Ledeen, Reul Marc Gerect, Micheal Rubin, Chertoff…repeating all of the deadly false WMD intelligence on their programs. How often did you see or hear Cole, Hersh, Ritter, El Baradei on any of these news outlets

    • lysias
      June 16, 2011, 2:44 pm

      In the runop to the Iraq war, Charlie Warren’s show on WMAL radio in D.C. had on people like Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern.

      Shortly thereafter, Warren got the boot from WMAL.

  10. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 10:57 am

    “It seemed likely to some colleagues, according to what they told me, that the Bush administration had in fact succeeded in having me blackballed, since the invitations rather dropped off, and panels of a sort I had earlier participated in were being held without my presence. I do not know if smear tactics were used to produce this result, behind the scenes and within the government. It was all the same to me– I continued to provide what I believe was an important service to the Republic at my blog and I know for a fact that not only intelligence analysts but members of the Bush team continued to read some of what I wrote.

    What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively “destroyed.” It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.”

    CALL, CONTACT YOUR REPS…DEMAND AN INVESTIGATION

  11. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 11:01 am

    NPR just announced Weiner stepping down

  12. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 11:23 am

    Folks get this story out there. Sent to Emptywheel at Firedoglake, Huffington Post, Diane Rehm,Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, Dylan Ratigan, BBC. Get this story out there even more than the Bloody times. Who we know promoted the Bush administrations lies. Now they think they can redeem themselves by these stories.

    The way they can redeem themselves is by reporting the truth about the facts on the ground in Iran and not promoting Israel and the I lobbies Iran agenda. They can report about the facts on the ground in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Only way to redeem themselves from Judy “I was fucking right” Millers deadly and full of lies reporting

  13. peeesss
    June 16, 2011, 11:32 am

    Profeesor Cole has done admirable work in the past, in particular on US/Israeli machinations and oppression of the Palestinians. However his support of US policies in the past, in particular, Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s, Yugoslavia in the 90’s, , and now Libya should be disturbing to anyone not indifferent to US imperialism.

    • Miura
      June 16, 2011, 1:38 pm

      Yes, Cole remains fascinated by the use of ‘Air Power’ against those who require ‘attitude adjustment’ when it comes to Washington’s plans for their respective part of the world. A more critical academic described Yale as an “Imperial University”.

  14. Mndwss
    June 16, 2011, 11:43 am

    Did they make a Weiner trap for Ritter?

    • Kathleen
      June 16, 2011, 12:13 pm

      They sure did. Does not confirm in anyway that his role as a former weapons inspector and what he said about no WMD’s in Iraq were wrong. Or his amazing work nailing the the I lobby etc about their consistent lies about Iran

      • Mndwss
        June 16, 2011, 1:15 pm

        It just made him shut up.

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 2:56 pm

        Not totally. Hope he comes back swinging.

    • lysias
      June 16, 2011, 2:39 pm

      If “they” was the CIA, that would have been equally illegal.

  15. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 11:46 am

    Story up at Huffington post

  16. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Up at Firedoglake was not up there just 45 minutes ago.
    link to emptywheel.firedoglake.com

  17. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 12:18 pm

    link to michiganmessenger.com

    15 minutes ago
    U-M professor calls for investigation of alleged CIA spying against him
    By Eartha Jane Melzer | 06.16.11 | 11:57 am

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    University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole, author of the influential Middle Eastern politics blog Informed Comment, is calling for an investigation of reports that the Bush White House directed the Central Intelligence Agency to dig up information that could be used to discredit him.

    Former CIA counter terrorism official Glenn Carle told the New York Times that on at least two occasions members of the Bush administration asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Cole, whose blog was seen as critical of the U.S. war effort.

    The CIA is prohibited from collecting information about Americans in the U.S. and Carle said that he refused to investigate Cole, but he indicated that others within the agency did compile a report containing derogatory information about him.

    Cole said that the revelations come as a “visceral shock.”

    “It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq War, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success,” he said on his blog today.

    “You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.”

    Cole said that his colleagues have suggested that blackballing by the Bush administration may be the reason for a decline in offers to participate in panel discussions.

    “I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned.”

  18. Kathleen
    June 16, 2011, 12:50 pm

    Story up at Huff Po, Salon, Washington Note, Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake here at Mondoweiss

    Have a question….Why would Risen feed this critical story through the bloody New York Times. You remember the very msm outlet that allowed Judy “I was fucking right” Miller to use false intelligen­ce about WMD’s in Iraq stories to fill their front pages. Is Risen trying to help the NYT redeem themselves­?

    Why not feed this story through blogs and individual­s who were questionin­g the validity of the WMD intelligen­ce? Why choose the NYT to release this story through. The NYT is drowning in the Iraqi people and American soldiers blood. Feed it to reliable blogs.

    The only way for the NYT to redeem itself if to dig deep into the situation with Iran, focus on the NIE’s on Iran. Tell the truth about the I/P conflict and stop repeating what Israel and the I lobby tell them to report. Their only way to redeem themselves for the false WMD reporting
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    • Mndwss
      June 16, 2011, 1:50 pm

      The only way for the NYT to redeem itself?

      They would have to transfer ownership from the hophmi’s to the Kathleen’s

      • lysias
        June 16, 2011, 2:13 pm

        The New York Times has been owned for over a century by the Sulzberger family, who at least used to be anti-Zionist.

        It would be interesting to learn how and why that changed.

      • Mndwss
        June 16, 2011, 3:56 pm

        i argee. It would be interesting.

      • DICKERSON3870
        June 17, 2011, 12:01 am

        I have read that some of these changes are a consequence of control having shifted at some point to a different part of the Sulzberger family.

    • lysias
      June 16, 2011, 2:38 pm

      Isn’t Risen a staff reporter for the New York Times?

      • Kathleen
        June 16, 2011, 2:54 pm

        Yep..that explains it. He is trying to redeem his employer

  19. lysias
    June 16, 2011, 1:20 pm

    Although Henry Kissinger is an alumnus (B.A. summa cum laude, M.A., and Ph.D.) and former faculty member of Harvard, he has just donated his papers to Yale. Kissinger papers donated to University.

  20. DICKERSON3870
    June 16, 2011, 11:54 pm

    I am so angry about this! The word ‘livid’ comes to mind. And “seeing red.”
    We must get to the bottom of this, no matter high up it goes.
    P.S. I can’t help but wonder whether “Pricky Dick” Cheney and his trusty Scooter might have been involved in this.
    P.P.S. I’m really confused. Why would anyone care about grist without the mill. It’s quite the conundrum. Might it have something to do with Phil’s counting compulsion?
    I’ll probably be up all night trying to figure this one out. Oh well, at least I don’t have to count every dadgum thing in sight! I guess that’s some consolation.

  21. DICKERSON3870
    June 17, 2011, 12:29 am

    RE: “It is my contention (certainly not original) that universities like Yale serve as factories of ‘received opinion’…You need an excuse for bombing civilians in Iraq? Line someone up from Harvard.” – Sansom

    IN THIS REGARD, SEE: Inside Job (2010) PG-13, 108 minutes
    From filmmaker Charles Ferguson comes this sobering, Oscar-winning documentary that presents in comprehensive yet cogent detail the pervasive and deep-rooted corruption that led to the global economic meltdown of 2008. Through unflinching interviews with key financial insiders, politicos, journalists and academics, Ferguson paints a galling portrait of an unfettered financial system run amok — without accountability. Actor Matt Damon narrates.
    Availability: DVD and Blu-ray
    NETFLIX LISTING – link to movies.netflix.com
    YouTube (8 parts)link to youtube.com
    Inside Job Trailer (02:21) – link to youtube.com

  22. DICKERSON3870
    June 17, 2011, 12:41 am

    RE: “wealthy Israel-supporter Michael Lucas’s March 2011 threats against Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center and the center’s cancellation of a fundraiser by critics of Israeli policy” – Sansom

    MY COMMENT: This petition appears to still be active: “Save New York’s LGBT Center! Don’t Let Wealthy Bigots Shut Down Free Speech ”
    TO READ/SIGN THE PETITION – link to ipetitions.com

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