[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Washington fibs (cont.)
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Feb 11 17:30:49 GMT 2006
Los Angeles Times
Book Casts Doubt on Case for War
Believing the evidence fell short, Bush discussed with Blair the
possibility of inciting a conflict with Iraq, British author says.
By John Daniszewski
February 11, 2006
LONDON - It was the end of January 2003. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
was five days away from giving a critical speech at the U.N. Security
Council, laying out the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass
destruction and posed a danger to world peace.
But huddled with aides at the White House, President Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair were not sure there was enough evidence to convince the
Security Council. Without the council's explicit authorization, their plans
for an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein could be difficult to defend under
Bush proposed an alternative: paint a U.S. spy plane in United Nations
colors and see if that didn't tempt Hussein's forces to shoot at it. In any
case, he said, the war was "penciled in" for March 10 and the United States
would go ahead with or without a second U.N. resolution.
Blair replied that he was "solidly with" the president.
That is the gist of an account of the Jan. 31, 2003, meeting contained in
the new edition of "Lawless World," a book by British author Philippe
Sands. He has not identified the writer of the memorandum on which the
account is based, but British media reports say it was one of the aides in
attendance: Sir David Manning, then security advisor to Blair and now the
British ambassador in Washington.
A spokesman for Blair on Friday refused to address the allegations but
repeated Downing Street's insistence that there was no decision to commit
British forces to war in Iraq until after it was authorized by Parliament
on March 18, two days before the invasion was launched.
A spokesman for Manning said the ambassador would not comment.
Sands, 45, is a professor of international law and a founding member of the
Matrix law office in London, where Cherie Blair, the prime minister's wife,
also works. His book, initially published last year, is not primarily about
the decision to go to war in Iraq. Rather, it examines a range of issues in
which, he argues, the Bush administration, with Britain's complicity, has
undermined the "rules-based" international system built largely by the
United States and Britain after World War II.
Sands said there was no doubt about the authenticity of the documents he
"They have not been denied, and they cannot be denied," he told the Los
Angeles Times this week. Britain's Channel 4 News said it had seen the
document outside Britain. The channel's Jon Snow presented excerpts in a
broadcast last weekend.
The text, in Sands' view, shows that U.S. and British leaders had
determined six weeks before the invasion to launch a war to disarm Hussein,
even without explicit U.N. approval.
Brown Blames Superiors For Response to Katrina
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 11, 2006; A01
Michael D. Brown, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency director,
accused the Bush administration yesterday of setting the nation's disaster
preparedness on a "path to failure" before Hurricane Katrina by
overemphasizing the threat of terrorism, and of discounting warnings on the
day the storm hit that a worst-case flood was enveloping New Orleans.
Brown called "a little disingenuous" and "just baloney" assertions by
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other top Bush
administration officials that they were unaware of the severity of the
catastrophe for a day after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Investigators say
their inaction delayed the launch of federal emergency measures, rescue
efforts and aid to tens of thousands of stranded New Orleans residents.
Brown's highly charged testimony before a Senate investigative panel was a
striking about-face from his comments to its House counterpart in
September, when he was still on the administration payroll. At that time,
Brown leveled his harshest criticism for what President Bush has called an
"inadequate" response at Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) and
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin (D), who Brown said failed to fully evacuate
the city and to forge a unified command.
His sometimes combative exchanges with senators also offered a rare glimpse
of a former Bush official publicly criticizing the administration. He
sharpened his earlier criticism and named people whom he had previously
described only in general terms.
After the White House declined to offer Brown a legal defense of executive
privilege, which would have allowed him not to testify to lawmakers, Brown
said yesterday that Chertoff and his predecessor, Tom Ridge, paved the way
for FEMA's Katrina failures by fomenting a "cultural clash" between FEMA
and the Department of Homeland Security. DHS absorbed FEMA in 2003, and the
head of the emergency agency stopped reporting to the president.
NY Times, February 11, 2006
Ex-C.I.A. Official Says Iraq Data Was Distorted
By SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 - A C.I.A. veteran who oversaw intelligence assessments
about the Middle East from 2000 to 2005 on Friday accused the Bush
administration of ignoring or distorting the prewar evidence on a broad
range of issues related to Iraq in its effort to justify the American
invasion of 2003.
The views of Paul R. Pillar, who retired in October as national
intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, echoed previous
criticism from Democrats and from some administration officials, including
Richard A. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism adviser, and
Paul H. O'Neill, the former treasury secretary.
But Mr. Pillar is the first high-level C.I.A. insider to speak out by name
on the use of prewar intelligence. His article for the March-April issue of
Foreign Affairs, which charges the administration with the selective use of
intelligence about Iraq's unconventional weapons and the chances of postwar
chaos in Iraq, was posted Friday on the journal's Web site after it was
reported in The Washington Post.
"If the entire body of official intelligence on Iraq had a policy
implication, it was to avoid war - or, if war was going to be launched, to
prepare for a messy aftermath," Mr. Pillar wrote. "What is most remarkable
about prewar U.S. intelligence on Iraq is not that it got things wrong and
thereby misled policymakers; it is that it played so small a role in one of
the most important U.S. policy decisions in decades."
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Pillar said he recognized that his views
would become part of the highly partisan, three-year-old battle over the
administration's reasons for going to war. But he said his goal in speaking
publicly was to help repair what he called a "broken" relationship between
the intelligence produced by the nation's spies and the way it is used by
"There is ground to be replowed on Iraq," said Mr. Pillar, now a professor
at Georgetown University. "But what is more important is to look at the
whole intelligence-policy relationship and get a discussion and debate
going to make sure what happened on Iraq doesn't happen again."
President Bush and his aides have denied that the Iraq intelligence was
politicized. Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said in
November, "Our statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein were
based on the aggregation of intelligence from a number of sources, and
represented the collective view of the intelligence community. Those
judgments were shared by Republicans and Democrats alike."
Reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the presidential
commission on weapons intelligence headed by Laurence H. Silberman, a
senior federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, the former Virginia governor and
senator, found that C.I.A. analysts had not been pressed to change their
views. A second phase of the Senate committee review, on how administration
officials used intelligence, has not been completed.
Mr. Pillar alleged that the earlier studies had considered only "the
crudest attempts at politicization" and that the real pressures were far
more subtle. "Intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions that
had already been made," chiefly to topple Mr. Hussein in order to "shake up
the sclerotic power structures of the Middle East," he wrote.
According to Mr. Pillar's account, the administration shaped the answers it
got in part by repeatedly asking the same questions, about the threat posed
by Iraqi weapons and about ties between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda. When
intelligence analysts resisted, he wrote, some of the administration's
allies accused Mr. Pillar and others of "trying to sabotage the president's
In light of such accusations, he wrote, analysts began to "sugarcoat" their
Mr. Pillar called for a formal declaration by Congress and the White House
that intelligence should be clearly separated from policy. He proposed the
creation of an independent office, modeled on the Government Accountability
Office and the Congressional Budget Office, to assess the use of
intelligence at the request of members of Congress.
Mr. Pillar suggested that the root of the problem might be that top
intelligence officials serve at the pleasure of the president.
A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, said the agency had no comment.
Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at
the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that the C.I.A. had
long resisted intervention in Iraq, and that internal pressure on analysts
to resist war was greater than any external pressure.
"If the C.I.A. had spent less time leaking its opinions, throughout the
1990's, opposed to any conflict with Iraq, and more time developing assets
inside Iraq, the agency would have more credibility and better
intelligence," said Ms. Pletka, who served for a decade, until 2002, as a
Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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