Sat Nov 15 01:00:39 2003

Searched the web for IRAQ WMD "David Kelly" "JOSEPH WILSON" CIA LEAK. Results 1 - 10 of about 173

By Jim Rarey
November 12, 2003

Al-Ahram Weekly | Opinion | From David Kelly to Valerie Plame
... 22 days of hearings, the inquiry into David Kelly's tragic suicide ... You get information,
not only about Iraq but also ... deploy his alleged arsenal of WMD had been ...

With Bush and Blair gearing up for upcoming elections in their respective countries, Middle East watchers are giving serious consideration to the possibility that neither man will be reelected. In addition to the growing belief among their constituents that they overstated the immediacy of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to justify their preemptive war on Iraq, both men are now embroiled in scandals. The Bush administration is accused of illegally leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent, while the Blair government is accused of hounding weapons expert David Kelly to death. It is of course too early to predict the results of the forthcoming elections, but opinion polls indicate a growing scepticism in both America and Britain about the justification for going to war, and that many believe their decision-makers involved them in an unnecessary war in search of weapons that did not exist.

As recently as last April, Bush seemed invincible. But his bid for a second term in office is already running into difficulties. The much-touted "leadership qualities" he was credited with showing in the wake of 9/11 are no longer sufficient to shield him from any criticism, and both his domestic and foreign policies are coming increasingly under attack. His handling of the economy, which is blamed for the high unemployment rate, has eroded confidence in his leadership abilities, as has his involvement in a war that has turned out to be costlier than Americans were led to believe. Bush's popularity rating, which stood at 70 per cent at the time the war against Iraq was launched, has slid down to 50 per cent.

National security is no longer a taboo subject. Democratic presidential candidates are now openly criticising Bush's foreign policy. His recent request for 87 billion dollars to finance military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted them to accuse the Republican administration of not having planning properly for the post-war situation. Two of these candidates have called for the resignation of Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.

Traditionally, American voters are less interested in foreign policy issues than in domestic problems, particularly the economy. However, the Iraqi dossier could have an unexpected impact, at least as far as the president's integrity and ability to lead are concerned. These qualities are now being challenged by the Democrats, who accuse his administration of ethical misconduct in the Valerie Plame affair. Plame, the wife of former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson, has been named as an undercover CIA operative. Divulging such highly classified information is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a wide majority of American take it as a very serious offence.

Prominent members of the Democratic Party have called for an independent inquiry into the exposure of Plame as a CIA operative. The source of the leak is said to be a top advisor to the president, in an apparent effort to punish Plame's husband for discrediting the administration's arguments for going to war against Iraq. According to well- informed media sources in Washington, the opponents of the American president believe this is a serious political indiscretion that could seriously tarnish the image of the White House. Howard Dean and Wolsey Clark, both Democratic candidates for the presidency, are demanding that a special prosecutor, and not the Justice Department, be placed in charge of the investigation into the news leak. The White House had no choice but to declare its readiness to cooperate in the inquiry and to release all the necessary documents. However, it has denied that any of Bush's aides are involved in the affair, and presidential Spokesman Scott McClellan told journalists that there are no plans to launch a separate inquiry and that the Justice Department is the proper body to deal with the issue.

The story begins with the decision by US intelligence to send Joseph Wilson to Africa in February 2002 to investigate whether Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Although Wilson reported back that there was no evidence to support the allegation, Bush cited the alleged Niger deal as justifying the war on Iraq in his State of the Union address last January. In an article in the New York Times, Wilson accused the White House of ignoring his report and asked it to recognise its mistake. Shortly after Wilson's article appeared, Robert Novak wrote an article in the Washington Post reporting that members of Bush's inner circle had disclosed Victoria Plame's CIA connection in order to discredit her husband's vocal criticism of the Iraq war.

Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in an even tighter corner. After 22 days of hearings, the inquiry into David Kelly's tragic suicide has come to an end. Seventy-five witnesses were heard during the independent inquiry, which stretched over six weeks this summer. Although this extended exercise in transparency, which included many of Britain's most prominent political figures, including the prime minister himself, cast light on the more shadowy aspects of British political life, it is a tribute to British democracy. But it will have a lasting effect on the collective memory of the British people.

Over the last six months, Blair has invoked the English saying, "wait and see", in response to charges that his government doctored intelligence to win support for an unpopular war, charges that are gaining ground in the light of the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Blair's credibility has been dealt an even more severe blow with the recent publication of a book entitled "Point of Departure", based on the diaries of his former foreign secretary, Robin Cook.

One year ago, Blair based his case for war in the House of Commons on an intelligence report claiming that Saddam Hussein was continuing to produce chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and that these could be deployed within 45 minutes. He also declared that Saddam was furnishing all possible efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. According to Cook, the prime minister told him two weeks before combat began that Iraq did not have quickly deployable WMDs, and that he did not believe Saddam posed a "real and present danger" to Britain. Cook's account, excerpts of which were published in The Sunday Times, is sure to adversely affect Blair's popularity, which has already slumped to its lowest point since he took office in 1997. At any rate, Blair no longer claims that Saddam was capable of producing, let alone deploying, WMDs. He now justifies the war as necessary because Saddam violated UN resolutions! Despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered, Blair still believes that his intervention in Iraq was justified, at least from the viewpoint of international law.

But such legal arguments have not convinced the majority of the British people that his decision to go to war was sound. According to a poll published by the Guardian a few days ago, 53 per cent of Britons consider the war against Iraq unjustified, while only 38 per cent consider it justified. In another poll published by The Times, 61 per cent of the British electorate do not trust their prime minister.

Actually, Tony Blair stands to lose more than Bush. Unlike the American president, whose grand objective in going to war was to bring about "regime change" and "liberate the Iraqi people", the British prime minister has all along maintained that his only aim in going to war was to destroy Saddam's arsenal of banned weapons, not to topple his regime. At last month's Labour Party Conference in Bournmouth, Blair adopted a defensive posture, telling furious anti-war members of his party who objected to his decision to keep Iraq off the agenda of the conference, to "Imagine yourselves in the position of the prime minister. You get information, not only about Iraq but also about the illegal trade in weapons of mass destruction. What do you do? I get this information. Can I discard it on the grounds that it is false?"

Blair is implying that the mistake is not his, but that of some of his subordinates. According to Kelly's family lawyer, the government used him as a tool in its battle with the BBC. Kelly was interrogated twice and, until the end, was not told he would be considered responsible for informing the BBC that the danger that Saddam represented and his ability to rapidly deploy his alleged arsenal of WMD had been exaggerated. It could be argued that Blair dealt with Kelly in a more humane manner than others did. But, in the final analysis, the prime minister is politically responsible for the entire operation, including its more cloudy aspects.
Bush, Blair To Whistleblowers: We Will Destroy You
by Steve Young

How many times do we hear Prime Minister Blair speak and think to ourselves, "I wish he were our President?" In the least, how I wish our president spoke as eloquently. But eloquence of speech does not hide that fact that Blair may have been a conduit to death in Iraq, and most recently, in his own nation with the death of British Ministry of Defense scientist Dr. David Kelly.

This past week the Blair administration leaked the name of a "senior official" who was linked to the BBC story reporting that a government intelligence document stating alleged Iraqi nuclear intentions was "sexed up," including the insistence that Saddam Hussein could ready WMD with 45 minutes.

How absolutely British.

How indecently improper.

How utterly homicidal.

Now don't get me wrong. David Kelly's death seems to be a clear cut case of suicide. But it may also be a clear-cut case of suicide by government. As surely as if Kelly had shot himself in the back, say, ten times, this would a crime of murder be. A political murder to be sure, but murder all the same.

The messenger took the bullet for the message. The "leak" did not categorize the "sexing" as untrue. This wasn't the British government's intent in outing Dr. Kelly. This was his punishment for exposing the truth to the public; his punishment for undercutting what many seem to think of as politics as usual, a form of politics where it is quite acceptable to take selective information and pass it off as total. They don't say that's what they do, but they do it just the same.

The U.S. of A. showed that it doesn't take a back seat to their former colonizers when two senior Bush administration officials slipped to conservative comb-over, Bob Novak, the identity of the undercover CIA officer whose husband, retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, revealed a problem with those controversial 15-17 words about Iraq/Niger uranium connection (or lack of connection).

Valerie Plame, AKA Mrs. Joseph Wilson, works on weapons of mass destruction issues in a supposedly undercover (oops, formerly undercover) capacity. Mr. Wilson believes that the information of Plame's relationship to him that was fed to Novak was an attempt to intimidate others like him from talking about Bush administration intelligence failures. Though "Bush" and "intelligence failures" ring in at number one on this week's redundancy list, the leaking of her job and name violates the law, puts a wrench in her career and possibly endangers the lives of her contacts in foreign countries. Hey, it's just politics as normal.

But at this White House, politics as normal ain't good enough as they ratcheted up the smell factor and really shoved killing the messenger out of the closet when ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman did a story on the network's "World News Tonight" concerning the withering morale of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

A day after the report, someone in the White House alerted the Right's answer to Edward Murrow, Matt Drudge, that Kofman is gay.

And worse yet, he's a Canadian.

Perhaps this was a "mistake." Perhaps they "misspoke" The White House seems to "mis-" a lot of things.

The rationale that the Bush administration gave for his "16 Words" is that while it may not be true, it has not yet been proven that it isn't.

Isn't that just the way we want our kids to learn how to tell the truth? Until I am proven wrong, I am right. I can just see my eight-year old son salivating to use this one on his teacher.

"My dog ate my homework. You can't prove he didn't."

Like an attorney pleading his case to the jury, the President and the administration give only the side of the information that proves their case, even though they know there is information out there that might make their case weaker -- selective evidence. It's the reason so many hate lawyers. But the President isn't our lawyer, he's our President. He's supposed to give us ALL the truth so that we can make proper decisions on the facts, not only the part of the facts that prove his case.

Isn't it the truth that should be proven before it is thrust on a nation, on a world, as canon fodder?

Shouldn't a president or a prime minister or their aides to be responsible for checking out the validity of what they say, especially when there is evidence to the contrary sitting an office or two away? The blame here was taken by CIA chief George Tenet. As a loyal-to-the-boss employee, Tenet has taken responsibility for what the President won't. Though his career seems to be in danger of being served up for blame's dinner, I don't expect Tenet to commit suicide. After all, he gets paid for keeping secrets. He was trained for it. That's his job definition.

But then again, there are CIA personnel who are speaking out. Raymond McGovern, a former CIA analyst and supervisor, said, "Never before in my 40 years of experience in this town has intelligence been used in so cynical and so orchestrated a way." McGovern said that he is speaking out for those in the CIA who can't: "The Agency analysts that we are in touch with are disheartened, dispirited, angry. They are outraged."

David Kelly left an ominous note that spoke of "many dark actors playing games." I figure he wasn't referring to the Hussein boys. Not anymore. And anyway, the very late Uday and Qusay were never this subtle. These are entire governments who are so threatened by citizens willing to speak out that they must adjust the comfort level just enough to silence them. Sometimes forever.

As Voltaire said: "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." Whistle blowing is always a risky deal. But even so, some are still willing. For that, and for the David Kellys willing to jeopardize their career and their lives to expose the truths -- and the lies -- we thank you.

Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (Tallfellow Press) and a regular column for Jewish World Review


Main Page - Monday, 11/17/03

Message Board by American Patriot Friends Network [APFN]


messageboard.gif (4314 bytes)