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Power and Corruption
  • Evil, Corruption, Greed, Inhumanity, Visions of Empire
  • THE DESTROYERS AND THE EVIL THEY DO The stench of corruption, lies, deceit, crimes, thefts, chicanery, greed, inhumanity, power-madness, and evil. {Plus a little levity now and then, spoofs to lighten up]
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    Saturday, June 30, 2007
      Exploiting 9-11 to further neocon goals By Paul Krugman

    08/16/06 "
    Tucson" -- - - Just two days after 9/11, I learned from congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. I wrote about the subject the next day, warning that "politicians who wrap themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots."
    ........................
    We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited.

    excerpted from "9/11, America Empire,...
    >>>>>>>>

    "9/11, American Empire, and the Christian Faith" by David Ray Griffin, 5.5/06 , an essay of a lecture at Trinity Episcopalian Church at Santa Barbara, Cal. http://911truth.org
    excerpt from:
    blog posted on http://aint-gonna-take-it.blogspot.com/2006/08/911-american-empire-and-christian.html

    " The Probable Motive for 9/11
    US political and military leaders, as these examples show, have been fully capable of orchestrating false flag operations that would kill innocent people, including American citizens, to achieve political goals. The political goal during the Cold War was to prevent and overthrow left-leaning governments. But what motive could US leaders have had for orchestrating the attacks of 9/11, a decade after the Cold War had ended? Actually, it was precisely the end of the Cold War that provided the likely motive: the desire to create a ,global Pax Americana.

    Whereas the world during the Cold War was bipolar, the demise of the Soviet Union created in some minds---the minds of that group known as neoconservatives, or neocons---the prospect of a unipolar worldlaying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them."18

    The most important neocon has been Dick Cheney. In 1992, the last year of his tenure as secretary of defense, he had two of his assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, write a draft of the Pentagon's "Defense Planning Guidance," which said America's "first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival."19 Andrew Bacevich, who is a conservative but not a neoconservative, has called this draft ,U."a blueprint for permanent American global hegemony
    ."20 An article in Harper's calls it an early version of Cheney's "Plan . . . to rule the world."21
    During the rest of the 1990s, while the Republicans were out of White House, the unipolar dream kept growing. In 1996, Robert Kagan said the United States should use its military strength "to maintain a world order which both supports and rests upon American hegemonyPNAC. Its members included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, and many other neocons who would become central members of the Bush administration in 2001. In September of 2000, PNAC published a document entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses. Reaffirming "the basic tenets" of the Cheney-Wolfowitz draft of 1992, this document said that "America's grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend [its present] advantageous position" and thereby "to preserve and enhance [the] 'American peace.'"23
    ]
    What would it take, according to these neocons, to preserve and enhance the Pax Americana? Basically five things. First, control of the world's oi. As Robert Dreyfuss, a critic of the neocons, says, "who[ever] controls oil controls the world."24 For the neocons, this meant bringing about regime change in several oil-rich countries, especially Iraq. Some neocons, including Cheney and Rumsfeld, had wanted the first President Bush to take out Saddam in 1990.25 They continued to advocate this policy throughout the 1990s, with PNAC even writing a letter to President Clinton in 1998, urging him to use military force to "remov[e] Saddam's regime from power."26 After the Bush-Cheney administration took office, attacking Iraq was the main item on its agenda. The only real question, reports former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, was "finding a way to do it."27
    A second necessary condition for the envisaged Pax Americana was a transformation of the military in the light of the "revolution in military affairs"---RMA for short---made possible by information technology. At the center of this RMA transformation is the military use of space.28 Although the term "missile defense" implies that this use of space is to be purely defensive, one neocon, Lawrence Kaplan, has candidly stated otherwise, saying: "Missile defense isn't really meant to protect America. It's a tool for global domination."29

    In any case, implementing this transformation will be very expensive, which brings us to a third requirement: an increase in military spending. The end of the Cold War made this requirement challenging, because most Americans assumed that, since we no longer had to defend the world against global Communism, we could drastically reduce military spending, thereby having a "peace dividend" to spend on health, education, and the environment.
    A fourth neocon requirement for a Pax Americana was a modification of the doctrine of preemptive attack. Traditionally, a country has had the right to launch a preemptive attack against another country if an attack from that country was imminent---too imminent to take the matter to the UN Security Council. But neocons wanted the United States to act to preclude threats that might arise in the more or less distant future.30
    These four developments would require a fifth thing: an event that would make the American people ready to accept these imperialistic policies. This point had been made in The Grand Chessboard, a 1997 book by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter's national security advisor. Brzezinski is not a neocon but he shares their concern with American primacy (as indicated by the subtitle of his book: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives). Portraying Central Asia, with its vast oil reserves, as the key to world power, Brzezinski argued that America must get control of this region. However, Brzezinski counseled, Americans, with their democratic instincts, are reluctant to authorize the military spending and human sacrifices necessary for "imperial mobilization," and this reluctance "limits the use of America's power, especially its capacity for military intimidation."31 But this impediment could be overcome, he added, if there were "a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."32 The American people were, for example, willing to enter World War II after "the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."33

    This same idea was suggested in PNAC's document of 2000, Rebuilding America's Defenses. Referring to the goal of transforming the military, it said that this "process of transformation . . . is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event---like a new Pearl Harbor."34

    3. Opportunities Created by the New Pearl Harbor
    When the attacks of 9/11 occurred, they were treated like a new Pearl Harbor. President Bush reportedly wrote in his diary on that night: "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today."35 Many commentators, from Robert Kagan to Henry Kissinger to a writer for Time magazine, said that America should respond to the attacks of 9/11 in the same way it had responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor.36 Rumsfeld said that 9/11 created "the kind of opportunities that World War II offered, to refashion the world." President Bush and Condoleezza Rice also spoke of 9/11 as creating opportunities.37

    And it did, in fact, create opportunities to fulfill what the neocons had considered the other necessary conditions for bringing about a Pax Americana. With regard to oil, the Bush administration had, during the summer of 2001, developed a plan to attack Afghanistan to replace the Taliban with a puppet regime, thereby allowing UNOCAL to build its proposed pipeline from the Caspian Sea and the US military to build bases in the region.
    The official story of 9/11, according to which it was carried out by members of al-Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, provided the needed pretext for this operation. In 2004, Rumsfeld told the 9/11 Commission that prior to 9/11, the president could not have convinced Congress that the United States needed to "invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban." 38

    9/11 also provided a necessary condition for the attack on Iraq. It did not provide a sufficient condition. The administration still had to wage a propaganda offensive to convince the public that Saddam was involved in 9/11, was connected to al-Qaeda, and illegally possessed weapons of mass destruction. But 9/11 was a necessary condition. As neocon Kenneth Adelman has said: "At the beginning of the administration people were talking about Iraq but it wasn't doable. . . . That changed with September 11."39 Historian Stephen Sniegoski, explaining why 9/11 made the attack on Iraq possible, says:

    The 9/11 attacks made the American people angry and fearful. Ordinary Americans wanted to strike back at the terrorist enemy, even though they weren't exactly sure who that enemy was. . . . Moreover, they were fearful of more attacks and were susceptible to the administration's propaganda that the United States had to strike Iraq before Iraq somehow struck the United States.40

    Sniegoski's view is supported by Nicholas Lemann of the New Yorker. Lemann says that he was told by a senior official of the Bush administration that, in Lemann's paraphrase,
    the reason September 11th appears to have been "a transformative moment" is not so much that it revealed the existence of a threat of which officials had previously been unaware as that it drastically reduced the American public's usual resistance to American military involvement overseas.41
    The new Pearl Harbor also opened the way for the revolution in military affairs. Prior to 9/11, Bacevich reports, "military transformation appeared to be dead in the water." But the "war on terror" after 9/11 "created an opening for RMA advocates to make their case."42
    9/11 also allowed for great increases in military spending, including spending for space weapons. On the evening of 9/11 itself, Rumsfeld held a news briefing at the Pentagon. Senator Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked:
    Senator Levin, you and other Democrats in Congress have voiced fear that you simply don't have enough money for the large increase in defense that the Pentagon is seeking, especially for missile defense. . . . Does this sort of thing convince you that an emergency exists in this country to increase defense spending?43
    Congress immediately appropriated an additional $40 billion for the Pentagon and much more later.
    The new Pearl Harbor also paved the way for the new doctrine of preemptive warfare. "The events of 9/11," observes Bacevich, "provided the tailor-made opportunity to break free of the fetters restricting the exercise of American power."44 Bush alluded to this new doctrine at West Point the following June.45 It was then fully articulated in the administration's 2002 version of the National Security Strategy. The president's covering letter said that America will "act against . . . emerging threats before they are fully formed."46 The document itself said:
    Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. . . . We cannot let our enemies strike first. . . . [T]he United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.47
    4. 9/11 as a False Flag Operation
    If 9/11 provided the "tailor-made opportunity" for enunciating this new doctrine, as Bacevich has observed, it equally provided the opportunity to realize all the other things that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and other neocons had been dreaming about during the previous decade. Should not this fact lead us to suspect that 9/11 was not simply a godsend? In any criminal investigation, the first question is always cui bono—who benefits? Why should we not apply this principle to 9/11?"

    Labels:

     
    Thursday, June 28, 2007
      Lies About Iraq's WMD -Continues
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/iraq/3451683.html

    [This is an old article but still relevant: WA]

    Iraq

    Nov. 10, 2005, 3:06PM
    Piecing together the story of the weapons that weren't there

    Editor's Note: This story contains Web links to supporting documents. This reconstruction of what happened on the road to war in Iraq is based on government inquiries, officials documents, fresh interviews and other sources.

    Beneath the giant dome of a Baghdad palace, facing his team of scientists and engineers, George Tenet sounded more like a football coach than a spymaster, a coach who didn't know the game was over.

    "Are we 85 percent done?" the CIA boss demanded. The arms hunters knew what he wanted to hear. "No!" they shouted back. "Let me hear it again!" They shouted again.

    The weapons are out there, Tenet insisted. Go find them.

    Veteran inspector Rod Barton couldn't believe his ears. "It was nonsense," the Australian biologist said of that February evening last year, when the then-chief of U.S. intelligence secretly flew to Baghdad and dropped in on the lakeside Perfume Palace, chandelier-hung home of the Iraq Survey Group.

    "It wasn't that we didn't know the major answers," recalled Barton, whose account matched that of another key participant. "Are there WMD in the country? We knew the answers."

    In fact, David Kay, quitting as chief of the U.S. hunt for WMD, or weapons of mass destruction, had just delivered the answer to the world. The inspectors were 85 percent finished, Kay said, concluding: "The weapons do not exist."

    The story of the weapons that weren't there, the prelude to war, was over, but a long post-mortem is still unfolding - of lingering questions in Washington, of revelations from investigations, leaks, first-person accounts. Some 52 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration deliberately misled them about the presence of banned arms in Iraq, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in June.

    Hans Blix, U.N. inspector, says Washington's "virtual reality" about Iraq eventually collided with "our old-fashioned ordinary reality." Now, drawing from findings of the Iraq Survey Group and other official investigations, from U.N., U.S., Iraqi and British documents, from Associated Press interviews and on-scene reporting, from books by Blix and others, it's possible to reconstruct much of the "ordinary reality" of this extraordinary story, one that has changed the course of history.



    The story could begin behind the creamy stone walls of another palace, the hilltop Hashemiyah outside Amman, Jordan, where in August 1995 a prize Iraqi defector was pouring out for interrogators whatever they wanted to know about Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction.

    Hussein Kamel, son-in-law of President Saddam Hussein, had headed Iraq's advanced arms programs during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, when Baghdad's Baathist regime unleashed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and Iraqi civilians in rebellious Kurdish areas.

    What the U.N., American and other debriefers learned from Kamel led to headline-making successes for U.N. inspectors as they tracked down banned arms-making gear inside Iraq.

    But an interrogation transcript shows he told them something else as well, something they questioned and kept to themselves: All Iraqi WMD were destroyed in 1991.

    The defector Hussein Kamel, soon to be killed by fellow clansmen as a traitor, was telling the truth.

    The U.N. experts had entered Iraq in 1991, after U.S.-led forces drove Iraq's invasion army from Kuwait in a lightning war, and the U.N. Security Council required the defeated nation to submit to inspections and destruction of its unconventional arms.

    The inspectors withdrew in late 1998, in a dispute over access to sites. By then, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams could report that Iraq's nuclear program, which never built a bomb, had been dismantled. As for chemical and biological weapons, only scattered questions remained about possible hidden stockpiles.

    In fact, as President George W. Bush took office 25 months later, the CIA was reporting, "We do not have any direct evidence" Baghdad was rebuilding its WMD programs.

    But Baghdad was on Bush's mind.

    The new president quickly called an inner Cabinet meeting to discuss Iraq as a destabilizing force in the Mideast, ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill recalls in the book "The Price of Loyalty." Tenet unrolled a grainy satellite photo of an Iraqi factory, suggested it was making banned weapons, but said his CIA didn't really know, O'Neill said.

    Washington and Baghdad had glowered at each other throughout Bill Clinton's presidency, but for a decade it was largely a cold war. Now Bush was ending this White House meeting by ordering Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to study possible military action, O'Neill said. Soon U.S. policymakers began hearing more about Iraq.

    In April 2001, Pentagon intelligence said [PDF page 218, Footnote 55] satellites spotted construction at old nuclear sites. Was Iraq resuming bomb research? That same month a CIA report [PDF page 98] told of another "indicator": Iraq was shopping for thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes, said to be useful as cores of centrifuges to enrich uranium, the stuff of atom bombs.

    Then a shipment of the tubes was intercepted in neighboring Jordan, news that annoyed Baghdad's military industry chief. Abdel Tawab Huweish needed those tubes - 3 feet long, 3 inches wide - to make standard artillery rockets. He now ordered another metal be found, one that wouldn't arouse U.S. suspicions, Huweish later told U.S. arms investigators. [PDF page 161]

    On April 11, 2001, a day after the classified CIA report was distributed, the Energy Department filed a swift dissent. [PDF page 215, footnote 32] Energy, home of U.S. centrifuge specialists, said the tubes' dimensions weren't well-suited for centrifuges, and were more likely meant for conventional weapons. The U.N. nuclear agency, the Vienna-based IAEA, told U.S. officials the same. [PDF page 72]

    Evidence now shows Iraq in 2001 had little interest in nuclear "reconstitution." In one captured document [PDF page 148] from that May, Iraqi diplomats in Kenya reported to Baghdad that a Ugandan businessman had offered uranium for sale, but they turned him away, saying U.N. sanctions forbade it.

    Meanwhile, other supposed WMD "indicators" were surfacing.

    The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for months had been receiving reports [PDF page 99] from German intelligence about an Iraqi defector, code-named "Curveball," who claimed to have worked on a project to build concealed bioweapons labs atop truck trailers.

    Around this time, in June 2001, the trailers that U.S. officials later thought confirmed his account were ordered built at the al-Kindi factory in northern Iraq, inspectors would learn. Contract No. 73/MD/RG/2001 [PDF page 212] called not for secret weapons labs, however, but for two trailer units to make hydrogen for weather balloons. By this time, too, U.S. intelligence had been had been informed [PDF page 107] that Curveball was a possible alcoholic and "out of control."

    The tubes tale, Curveball's account and other questionable stories about Iraqi WMD would survive for two more years, in presidential speeches and newspaper headlines, on the road to war.

    For now, in the summer of 2001, Iraq was back-page news. But Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser, assured an interviewer, "Saddam Hussein is on the radar screen." By summer's end, in the traumatic aftermath of Sept. 11's terror, he was in the crosshairs.

    On the day after Sept. 11, the talk in the White House Situation Room was of "getting Iraq," says former White House antiterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke. Clarke's memoir says an insistent Bush ordered him to look for "any shred" to tie Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks - even though U.S. agencies knew al-Qaida was responsible and Iraq wasn't linked to the terror group.

    The immediate target was Afghanistan, however, invaded by U.S. forces in October 2001, and as 2002 began, the WMD case also remained unimpressive. In his annual unclassified review, Tenet didn't even cite evidence of an imminent Iraqi nuclear threat. But Vice President Dick Cheney apparently thought he'd found such evidence, in a DIA report. [PDF page 37]

    It told of a deal in 2000 in which Iraq bought 500 tons of uranium concentrate from Niger in central Africa. The information came from Italian intelligence, based on what it said was an official Nigerien document. Because of Cheney's interest, the CIA dispatched a seasoned Africa hand, ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson, to Niger to check it out.

    After dozens of interviews, Wilson reported back that the story appeared unfounded. The State Department's intelligence bureau also deemed it implausible. [PDF page 46] In addition, the text of the supposed Niger document [PDF pages 213-214, footnote 214], transcribed for the Americans by the Italians, contained misspellings and mistaken titles for people that should have been easily detectable.

    It was a forgery. But "Niger uranium" had won a place in the case against Iraq.

    In Iraq itself, the government was far from resurrecting a bomb program: In April 2002 workers in the western desert were busy smelting down the last gear from a long-defunct uranium-enrichment project, U.S. inspectors later learned. [PDF page 184]

    Around this time, U.S. satellite reconnaissance was doubled over suspected Iraqi WMD sites, and analysts soon reported stepped-up activity, suggesting renewed production, at possible chemical weapons factories. What they apparently didn't realize [PDF page 183], however, was that activity was being photographed more frequently - not that there necessarily was more activity.

    The White House, meanwhile, worked on a political plan.

    Leaked British documents show that Prime Minister Tony Blair told Bush at his Texas ranch in April 2002 that London would support military action to oust Saddam. But the British set conditions: Washington should seek re-entry of U.N. inspectors - which Saddam was expected to refuse - and then Security Council authorization for war.

    Blair's Cabinet fretted. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in the secret minutes of a July 2002 meeting observed that the case for war was "thin" but Bush had made up his mind. Intelligence chief Richard Dearlove, fresh from high-level Washington talks, also told the 10 Downing St. session that war was now inevitable, and said U.S. intelligence was being "fixed" around this policy.

    Blair and U.S. officials now deny war was predetermined and intelligence "fixed" to that end. From midsummer 2002 on, however, the Bush administration sharply stepped up its anti-Iraq rhetoric, along with U.S. air attacks on Iraqi defenses, done under cover of patrols over the "no-fly zones," swaths of Iraqi airspace denied to Iraqi aircraft. It also stepped up its citing of questionable intelligence.

    As early as July 29, Rumsfeld spoke publicly of reports of Iraqi bioweapons labs "on wheels in a trailer" that can "make a lot of bad stuff."

    A second Iraqi exile source had echoed Curveball's talk of such trailers. He was judged a fabricator by the CIA [PDF pages 100-101] in early 2002, but by July his statements were back in classified U.S. reports. As for Curveball, whose veracity was never checked by the DIA, within three months his German handlers would be telling the CIA [PDF page 95] he was unreliable, a "waste of time."

    As the summer wore on, Cheney struck an urgent, unequivocal tone in public.

    "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," the vice president told veterans assembled at an Opryland hotel in Nashville.

    In an unusual move, Cheney shuttled to the CIA through mid-2002 to visit analysts - 10 times, according to Patricia Wald, a member of the presidential investigative commission headed by Judge Laurence Silberman and ex-U.S. Sen. Charles Robb. The commission concluded [PDF page 27] the analyists "worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom."

    That conventional wisdom took on more urgency on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, when the lead article in The New York Times, citing unnamed administration officials, said Iraq "has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb."

    The "tubes" story had been resurrected. Condoleezza Rice went on the TV talk circuit that morning saying the tubes were suited only for uranium centrifuges. Four days later in New York, President Bush was at the marble podium of the U.N. General Assembly, demanding the world body take action on Iraq or become "irrelevant." He, too, cited the aluminum tubes - proof of danger.

    But neither the Times story nor administration officials hinted at the background debate over whether the tubes, in reality, were meant for Huweish's rockets. In fact, a CIA officer recently suggested [PDF page 84] tracking down dimensions of an Italian rocket on which the Iraqi design was based, to compare them with the tubes. His idea was rejected.

    As U.S. officials built up the threat, Saddam handed them a surprise: Iraq would allow Hans Blix's U.N. inspectors back unconditionally.

    Bush promptly labeled the Sept. 16 announcement a "ploy." But Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, told the General Assembly his country was "totally clear'' of banned arms.

    Democratic senators, wary as war momentum built in Washington, demanded a comprehensive intelligence report on Iraq. The CIA and other agencies patched together a classified National Intelligence Estimate, made available to lawmakers in early October.

    Its unclassified version, a 25-page White Paper, was packed with "probablys," "mays" and "coulds," uncertainties that somehow led to certainties: "Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction programs," and "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons."

    It would eventually emerge that the DIA, a month before the White Paper, had reported there was "no reliable information" on Iraqi chemical weapons production, and it didn't know the nature, amounts or condition of any biological weapons.

    Across the Atlantic, Blair's government issued an assessment like the U.S. estimate, with conclusions unsupported by evidence.

    "We were told there was other intelligence that we, the experts, could not see," senior British analyst Brian Jones has since said. It later became clear such intelligence never existed, Jones said.

    The Australian biologist Barton, a 1990s weapons inspector who by 2002 was a top Blix aide, was amazed at the British report's unexplained claim that Iraq could "deploy" chemical or biological weapons "within 45 minutes" - a claim soon picked up by Bush in a radio address.

    Over an Irish-pub dinner in New York, Barton asked old friend David Kelly, a British bioweapons specialist, how he could have allowed something "so silly" in the report. "He just shook his head and said something like, `People put in what they want to put in,'" Barton recalled.

    Months later Kelly would commit suicide, caught in a political furor as a source for news reports that the WMD dossier was ``sexed up.''

    The 93-page classified U.S. report had more qualifiers than the White Paper. But Wald says her commission learned that only 17 Congress members read the lengthier estimate. On Oct. 10-11, the two houses voted overwhelmingly to authorize Bush to use military force against Iraq.

    Then the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Nov. 8 to send Blix's inspectors to Iraq with expanded powers. It denied Washington "trigger" authority, however, to attack if the Americans deemed Iraq in violation of the resolution.

    But Blix knew U.S. leaders were impatient. Meeting with Cheney at the White House, he writes, he was told inspections could not go on forever, and Washington "was ready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament" - that is, forcible disarmament.

    On Nov. 27, 2002, the U.N. teams returned to Iraq. Springing surprise inspections across the countryside, the experts soon were debunking U.S. claims. At the Fallujah II chemical plant, for example, caught in a satellite's camera lens in the October U.S. estimate, they found the production line long broken-down.

    By December, Saddam was informing senior generals [PDF page 94] in secret meetings that Iraq truly had no chemical or biological arms, U.S. investigators later learned. Baghdad's troops would have to fight without them.

    Back in Washington, WMD "indicators" were being further undercut. "The Administration will ultimately look foolish - i.e. the tubes and Niger!" an Energy Department analyst told a colleague in an e-mail [PDF page 70] later uncovered by Senate investigators.

    Preparing for Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, and sensing the weakness, Rice's national security staff asked the CIA for more. [PDF page 94] It responded with the report of a Niger uranium sale.

    That story had grown still more dubious since Wilson's Niger visit 11 months earlier.

    In October 2002, the State Department had obtained [PDF page 93] a copy of the original "Niger document." Its analysts told sister agencies they suspected forgery, and in mid-January alerted all that it "probably is a hoax." [PDF page 72] In October, too, Tenet had warned Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, against using the alleged uranium sale in a Bush speech.

    This time, however, Hadley accepted [PDF page 510] the uranium nugget - though attributed to the British - to bolster the State of the Union speech.

    The tubes story also had slipped deeper into murkiness. State Department intelligence was siding [PDF page 73] with Energy in viewing them as likely rocket casings. The CIA arranged for centrifuge-like testing of the tubes [PDF page 86] in January, and they seemed to fail, only to supposedly pass after a "correction" was made.

    On Jan. 28, 2003, with the world listening, Bush delivered his annual address.

    "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," he said. "Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

    He also claimed Iraq had mobile bioweapons labs, but this story of Curveball's would fall further apart in the coming days.

    On Feb. 3, 2003, word went up the CIA ladder [PDF page 119] that this Iraqi informant's German handlers "cannot vouch for the validity of the information." The next day, Senate investigators found, [PDF page 259] a CIA superior e-mailed a worried analyst that "this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say."

    The timing was critical - the eve of a pivotal presentation by Colin Powell.

    That next morning, at the U.N. Security Council's horseshoe table, with CIA chief Tenet behind him, the secretary of state delivered an 80-minute indictment of Iraq, complete with aluminum tubes, up to "500 tons of chemical weapons agent," and artist's conceptions of Curveball's questionable "mobile labs."

    Powell's sources went unidentified, tapes of intercepted conversation were cryptic, claims made about satellite photos were uncorroborated.

    It turned out [PDF page 434] the State Department's own analysts had warned, futilely, against saying vehicles in spy photos were chemical "decontamination trucks," since they might be simple water trucks. And a senior CIA officer has told investigators [PDF page 120] he raised the Curveball concerns with Tenet the night before the speech, something Tenet denies.

    After watching the performance on CNN in Baghdad, Amer al-Saadi, Iraqi liaison for the inspections, lamented that "the fiction goes on. It goes on and on."

    But Powell's sober authority worked in America, where support for tough action soared.

    On the ground in Iraq, meanwhile, Blix's inspectors grew frustrated at the Iraqis' failure to explain leftover discrepancies from the 1990s. The chief inspector emphasized, however, that "unaccounted for" didn't necessarily mean weapons existed.

    In one example, former Iraqi bioweapons specialists would eventually tell U.S. arms hunters [PDF page 195] they never documented destruction of one batch of their anthrax in 1991 because it was dumped near a Saddam palace. They feared the dictator's wrath.

    By January 2003, the experts from Blix's U.N. commission and Mohamed ElBaradei's IAEA had inspected 13 major "facilities of concern" from the previous fall's U.S. and British reports, many repeatedly, and found no signs of weapons-making. The IAEA publicly exposed [PDF page 94] the Niger document as a forgery, and found the aluminum tubes poor candidates for centrifuges. Checking supposed sites for manufacturing mobile labs, Blix's teams debunked [PDF page 235] Curveball's tale at the Iraq end.

    Washington was unmoved. Administration loyalists dismissed the "so-called inspections." In late February 2003, a Powell aide sternly told Blix nothing would suffice short of Iraq's unveiling its "secret hide sites." Most significantly, Bush ordered no reassessment of his government's collapsing claims.

    Blix told the Security Council he could complete the work within months. The White House wasn't interested. "More time, more inspectors, more process, in our judgment, is not going to affect the peace of the world," Bush told reporters on March 6, as the Pentagon counted down toward war.

    Cheney at one point even told a TV audience - without challenge from the host - that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons. Of ElBaradei, whose IAEA refuted the claims about uranium and tubes, Cheney said, "I think Mr. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong." But the CIA had already accepted [PDF page 80] ElBaradei's judgment on the Niger uranium document.

    On March 17, in New York, U.S. diplomats gave up trying to win Security Council backing for war. That evening, on television, Bush told the American people there was "no doubt" that Iraq had "some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

    The bombing began two days later, and as U.S. troops swept up the Tigris and Euphrates plain to easy victory, they searched for the WMD. "We know where they are," Rumsfeld claimed on March 30. But despite a flurry of false "finds" by eager troops, they weren't there.

    Finally, on April 19, U.S. weapons hunters celebrated: An equipment-packed truck trailer had been seized in northern Iraq.

    Just before the war, al-Kindi company technicians had tested the unit [PDF page 226] and it worked, its tubes spewing hydrogen for weather balloons. They could finally deliver on the 2001 contract. To empty-handed U.S. analysts, however, the vehicle and a second trailer looked like the artist's conception of Curveball's mobile labs, ready to concoct killer germs.

    The White House embraced this illusion. "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories," President Bush assured Polish television on May 29. By then, however, experts had tested a trailer [PDF page 224] and found no trace of pathogens or toxins.

    "They have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about," spokesman Ari Fleischer said on April 10. But soon the Washington line shifted to claims that Iraq had not weapons, but WMD "programs" - also untrue, inspectors later certified. Then the war was framed as one to democratize Iraq.

    Through 2003, Iraqis watched their land slip into a chaos of looting, terror bombings and anti-American insurgency. "A country was destroyed because of weapons that don't exist!" Baghdad University's president, Nihad Mohammed al-Rawi, despaired to an AP reporter.

    Month by month, David Kay and his 1,500-member Iraq Survey Group labored over documents, visited sites, interrogated detained scientists and came to recognize reality. But when he wanted to report it, Kay ran into roadblocks in Washington.

    "There was an absolutely closed mind," Kay tells the AP. "They would not look at alternative explanations in these cases," specifically the aluminum tubes and bioweapons trailers.

    In December 2003, Kay flew back to Washington and met with George Tenet and CIA deputy John McLaughlin. "I couldn't budge John, and so I couldn't budge George," he says. Kay resigned, telling the U.S. Congress there had been no WMD threat.

    Ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, speaking for Tenet, points out that Kay himself, in Senate testimony at the time, said the tubes remained an "open question," although it was "more than probable" they were rocket casings.

    The Bush administration then sent Charles Duelfer - like Kay a senior U.N. inspector from the 1990s - to take over the arms hunt. He arrived in time for Tenet's secret visit and palace pep talk on Feb. 12, 2004, but like Kay before him, Duelfer could find no sign of WMD.

    Still, the pressure continued. Barton, recruited as a Duelfer adviser, told AP the American chief inspector received an e-mail that March from John Scarlett, head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, urging that nine "nuggets," past allegations, be dropped back into an upcoming interim report by Duelfer's group.

    Those "sexy bits," as the Australian called them, are believed to have included, for example, baseless speculation that Iraq worked to weaponize smallpox. Duelfer called the nuggets "fool's gold" and left them out.

    Asked about this, the British Foreign Office said Scarlett contacted Iraq Survey Group leaders as part of his job, but that the report's content was Duelfer's responsibility alone.

    Barton said CIA officers in the Iraq Survey Group insisted its reporting should not discredit the mobile-labs story "because that contradicts what Tenet has said." They also wanted the report to suggest the tubes might have been for centrifuges, even though Duelfer's experts concluded otherwise.

    Duelfer's interim testimony to Congress in March 2004 said nothing about mobile labs and said the tubes remained under study.

    As late as Sept. 30 last year, in an election debate, President Bush stuck to his views.

    "Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming," Bush maintained.

    A week before, Duelfer had conveyed his 1,000-page final report to the CIA, saying Saddam had disarmed 13 years earlier.


    VOICES OF HOUSTON
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    strtclmn wrote:
    Clinton lied about sex and was almost forced out of office. The "shrub" has lied and gotten us into an unnecessary war. This idiot, Bush, reminds me of this qoutation, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
    5/24/2007 6:15:46 AM

    Labels:

     
      White House Subpoeneaed
    National

    June 28, 2007, 4:36AM
    Senate subpoenas White House, Cheney's office


    RESOURCES
    Video Report

    WASHINGTON — The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration's warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans.

    Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced.

    Leahy, D-Vt., raised questions about previous testimony by one of Bush's appeals court nominees and said he wouldn't let such matters pass.

    "If there have been lies told to us, we'll refer it to the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney for whatever legal action they think is appropriate," Leahy told reporters. He did just that Wednesday, referring questions about testimony by former White House aide Brett Kavanaugh, who now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    The escalation is part of the Democrats' effort to hold the administration to account for the way it has conducted the war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The subpoenas extend the investigation into the private sector, demanding among other things documents on any agreements that telecommunications companies made to cooperate with the surveillance program.

    The White House contends that its search for would-be terrorists is legal, necessary and effective — pointing out frequently that there have been no further attacks on American soil. Administration officials say they have given classified information — such as details about the eavesdropping program, which is now under court supervision — to the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress.

    Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply with the new ones.

    "We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation."

    The Judiciary Committee's three most senior Republicans — Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week to give Leahy the power to issue the subpoenas.

    The showdown between the White House and Congress could land in federal court.

    Also named in subpoenas signed by Leahy were the Justice Department and the National Security Council. The four parties — the White House, Cheney's office, the Justice Department and the National Security Council — have until July 18 to comply, Leahy said.

    He added that, like House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., he would consider pursuing contempt citations against those who refuse.

    Gonzales, in Spokane, Wash., on Wednesday to discuss gang issues with local officials, said he had not seen the subpoena documents and could not comment on them directly.

    "There are competing institutional interests," Gonzales said.

    The Judiciary committees have issued the subpoenas as part of a look at how much influence the White House exerts over the Justice Department and its chief, Gonzales.

    The probe, in its sixth month, began with an investigation into whether administration officials ordered the firings of eight federal prosecutors for political reasons. The Judiciary committees subpoenaed Miers, one-time White House legal counsel, and Taylor, a former political director, though they have yet to testify.

    Now, with senators of both parties concerned about the constitutionality of the administration's efforts to root out terrorism suspects in the United States, the committee has shifted to the broader question of Gonzales' stewardship of Justice.

    The issue concerning Kavanaugh, a former White House staff secretary, is whether he misled the Senate panel during his confirmation hearing last year about how much he was involved in crafting the administration's policy on enemy combatants.

    The Bush administration secretly launched the eavesdropping program, run by the National Security Agency, in 2001 to monitor international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people the government suspected of having terrorist links. The program, which the administration said did not require investigators to seek warrants before conducting surveillance, was revealed in December 2005.

    After the program was challenged in court, Bush put it under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established in 1978. The president still claims the power to order warrantless spying.

    The subpoenas seek a wide array of documents from the Sept. 11 attacks to the present. Among them are any that include analysis or opinions from Justice, NSA, the Defense Department, the White House, or "any entity within the executive branch" on the legality of the electronic surveillance program.

    Debate continues over whether the program violates people's civil liberties. The administration has gone to great lengths to keep it running.

    Interest was raised by vivid testimony last month by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the extent of the White House's effort to override the Justice Department's objections to the program in 2004.

    Comey told the Judiciary Committee that Gonzales, then-White House counsel, tried to persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft to reverse course and recertify the program. At the time, Ashcroft lay in intensive care, recovering form gall bladder surgery.

    Ashcroft refused, as did Comey, who temporarily held the power of the attorney general's office during his boss' illness.

    The White House recertified the program unilaterally. Ashcroft, Comey, FBI Director Robert Mueller and their staffs prepared to resign. Bush ultimately relented and made changes the Justice officials had demanded, and the agency eventually recertified it.

    Fratto defended the surveillance program as "lawful" and "limited."

    "It's specifically designed to be effective without infringing Americans' civil liberties," Fratto said. "The program is classified for a reason — its purpose is to track down and stop terrorist planning. We remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping Americans safe from an enemy determined to use any means possible — including the latest in technology — to attack us."

    Labels:

     
      Cheney - Fourth Branch of Government? http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/54992

    Is Dick Cheney Trying to Create His Own 4th Branch of Government?

    Posted by Guest Blogger at 1:45 PM on June 22, 2007.


    Naomi Seligman Steiner: Dick Cheney, is trying to create a new legal status for himself. This latest development raises serious new questions about Cheney -- and who, if anyone, has authority over his actions.
    richardcheney2005officialportrait1.content

    This post, written by Naomi Seligman, originally appeared on CREW

    The Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, is trying to create a new legal status for himself. This latest development raises serious new questions about Cheney -- and who, if anyone, has authority over his actions. In Cheney's mind, it seems no one does.

    CREW just issued this news release asking these new questions that need to be answered about Dick Cheney:

    In light of new revelations that Vice President Cheney is claiming that his office is not subject to an executive order governing the handling of classified information because as president of the Senate he has both legislative and executive duties, CREW asks if Vice President Cheney is attempting to create a fourth branch of the government?

    Under his argument, if Mr. Cheney is not subject to executive branch security requirements, surely he must be subject to Senate rules.

    To safeguard sensitive information, in 1987 the Senate created the Office of Senate Security, which is part of the Secretary of the Senate. The Security Office's standards, procedures and requirements are set out in the Senate Security Manual, which is binding on all employees of the Senate.

    So, if Mr. Cheney is a member of the Senate, he must adhere to the following:

    * a requirement that any of his staff needing access to classified information undergo a security clearance and complete written non-disclosure agreements;

    * physical security requirements, that the Security Office is empowered to implement, including any necessary inspections; and

    * investigations of suspected security violations by employees, such as the security violation committed by Scooter Libby when he unlawfully disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, then a covert CIA operative.

    In addition, Mr. Cheney and his staff would be subject to investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, which has the responsibility to investigate allegations of improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate, including violations of law and the rules and regulations of the Senate.

    Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said Mr. Cheney's arguments raise new questions:

    Since there is no fourth branch of government to which Mr. Cheney could belong, by claiming the Office of the Vice President is within the legislative branch does Mr. Cheney agree that he is subject to Senate security procedures?

    Mr. Cheney's office refused to describe its 2003 classification activities to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), but is he now willing to describe them to the Senate Security Office?

    If Mr. Cheney does not believe that NARA's Information Security Oversight Office can conduct on-sight inspection of Mr. Cheney's office to see how sensitive material is handled, does he agree that the Senate Security Office can conduct such an inspection?

    We'd really like some answers.

    Digg!

    Tagged as: cheney

    Naomi Seligman Steiner serves as CREW's Deputy Director and Communications Director.

    Labels:

     
      FOCUS ON cheney

    Bush Administration


    Vice President Cheney: Latest News and Opinions
    Bush Commutes Libby's Prison Sentence
    President Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby yesterday, sparing Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff 2 1/2 years in prison after a federal appeals court had refused to let Libby remain free while he appeals his conviction for lying to federal investigators.

    Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
    Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This series examines Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment.Read the 4-Part Series »
    Play Video
    VIDEO | Bart Gellman Discusses The Post's four-part series on Vice President Cheney on PBS's 'Charlie Rose Show' (video courtesy PBS and "Charlie Rose Show"A Decision Made Largely Alone (Post, July 3, 2007, Page A01)
    Bush Is Told to Justify Executive Privilege: (Post, June 30, 2007, Page A02)
    Bush Claims Executive Privilege on Subpoenas (Post, June 29, 2007, Page A01)
    House Rejects Bid to Withhold Cheney's Funds (Post, June 29, 2007, Page A19)
    Cheney's World (By Howard Kurtz, June 29, 2007; 9:16 AM)
    Cheney Aide Explains Stance on Classified Material (Post, June 27, 2007, Page A05)
    White House Defends Cheney's Refusal of Oversight (Post, June 23, 2007, Page A02)
    Cheney Defiant on Classified Material: Executive Order Ignored Since 2003 (Post, June 22, 2007, Page A01)
    Libby Loses Bid to Stay Out of Jail For Appeal (Post, June 15, 2007, Page A01)
    Letters Cast Light on Cheney's Inner Circle: Dozens of Prominent Figures and Insiders Praise Libby as Fundamentally Decent (Post, June 6, 2007, Page A06)
    Official: Cheney Urged Wiretaps: Stand-In for Ashcroft Alleges Interference (Post, June 7, 2007, Page A03)
    Cheney's Mystery Visitors (Post, June 4, 2007, Page A13)
    Cheney Focuses on Terror Fight: He Urges West Point Graduates to Provide Leadership in Wars (Post, May 27, 2007, Page A13)
    Cheney to Try to Ease Saudi Concerns (Post, May 11, 2007, Page A12)
    In Gulf, Cheney Pointedly Warns Iran: As He Talks Tough, U.S. Pursues Diplomacy (Post, May 12, 2007, Page A01)
    Cheney Rejects Tenet's Account of Run-Up to War (Post, May 11, 2007, Page A02)

    Opinions 'Scouting' the Hill on Iraq (By Robert D. Novak, July 9, 2007; Page A15) The Next Battle in Iraq? (By Jim Hoagland, July 8, 2007; Page B07) Getting the CIA We Need (By David Ignatius, July 8, 2007; Page B07) The Commuter in Chief (By Eugene Robinson, July 6, 2007; Page A15) Arm's-Length Leniency (By Robert D. Novak, July 4, 2007; Page A15)
    More Stories

    Labels:

     
      Cheney - Rogue Nation Update: video posted below no longer plays. To access playable video, click on highlighted url below:
    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/55050

    Dick Cheney is a "Rogue Nation" [VIDEO]

    Posted by Adam Howard at 5:00 AM on June 23, 2007.


    Dick Cheney's decision to exempt himself from the laws of America can mean only one thing, that he is a nation unto himself.
    24 COMMENTS
    Cheney is a


    In the video above, Keith Olbermann deduces that since Dick Cheney insists that he is not subject to the laws of the Executive Branch and since he is not a legislator or a judge, that he must be a "rogue nation" and we should "invade him". While this recent Cheney attempt to prove ,he is above the law is so ridiculous that it's amusing at first, until you realize that he's completely getting away with it.

    Digg!

    Tagged as: olbermann, cheney

    Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headlines/nation/4915883.html

    June 24, 2007, 12:39PM
    Cheney's decision on secrecy order riles Democrats

    Associated Press
    WASHINGTON — Democratic senators today chided Vice President Dick Cheney for declaring his office exempt from sections of a presidential order involving matters of national security. Republicans, more cautiously, said the matter deserves review

    At issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. That information is to be provided to the Information Security Oversight Office at The National Archives

    The White House contends that Cheney is complying properly. They say the presidential order was not intended to treat the vice president's office as an executive branch "agency," and therefore Cheney's office is exempt from the reporting requirement

    "The vice president is saying he's above the law, and the fact of the matter is, legal scholars are going to say this is preposterous," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called Cheney's move "the height of arrogance." She said it might not be a bad idea — as some other Democrats have suggested — that money for Cheney's office be held up until he decides whether or not he's in the executive branch.

    "I find this just amazing," she said.

    Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., countered that conflicts between the White House and Congress over jurisdictional bounds are not unusual.

    "Let the courts decide if there's something wrong here," he said

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked in January to resolve the legal dispute, but he has not yet ruled on the issue. [WA: Would anyone want to bet how he'll rule?]

    The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, is investigating the matter.

    "I don't think that the vice president, with all due respect to everyone, is saying that the law doesn't apply to him or that he's above the law," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. "I think there are some legal interpretations. We have to look at those.

    Wyden and Hutchison spoke on CNN's "Late Edition." Feinstein and Lott appeared on "Fox News Sunday."

    Labels:

     
      9/11 Cheney's Big Break to Total Power Cheney Saw 9/11 As His Big Break

    Posted by Guest Blogger at 5:34 AM on June 26, 2007.


    Faiz Shakir: 9/11 Didn’t Change Cheney, it gave him the opportunity to put his "views into action."
    9113

    This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

    The Washington Post's four-part series on the influence and power of Dick Cheney reveal the tactics of a stealthy operator who prizes secrecy, kneecaps opponents, stifles dissent, and dogmatically pursues a rigid hard-right agenda.[ Darn Right I Complain: four part series published directly below]

    Cheney has argued that his quest for war in Iraq, pursuit of torture, denial of due process to detainees, and advocacy for illegal wiretaps were all precipitated by the events of 9/11:

    CHENEY: In a sense, 9/11 changed everything for us. 9/11 forced us to think in new ways about threats to the United States, about our vulnerabilities, about who our enemies were, about what kind of military strategy we needed in order to defend ourselves. [12/23/03]
    CHENEY: I think 9/11 changed things to the point where we could no longer afford to ignore what was going on in Iraq. [2/23/07]

    This morning on Washington Post radio, Barton Gellman -- the co-author of the Cheney series -- argued that based on his research of Cheney, he found "no evidence" that "9/11 exerted a profound psychological change on the Vice President." Instead, Gellman argued, "[Cheney] has not changed his views very much over the years. What has changed is he has a greater opportunity to put them into action."

    Transcript:

    GELLMAN: It's been often speculated that 9/11 exerted a profound psychological change on the Vice President. But we did not find evidence that that's true.
    There's a moment in the story in which we've got witnesses who are watching him watch the World Trade Center collapse. Everyone else in the room is groaning. And he doesn't blink his eyes. He turns around and starts working the phones again.

    And what he's doing is he's finding that 9/11 confirms some long-held beliefs of his. And it gives him the opportunity to press through some long-desired changes. He has not changed his views very much over the years. What has changed is he has a greater opportunity to put them into action.

    Digg!

    Tagged as: foreign policy, 9/11, cheney

    Faiz Shakir is the Research Director for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress.

    >>>>

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17931.htm

    The Ignorance Of The Highly Educated

    Wealth, Empire And The Future Of America

    Video
    Click on url to view video

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17931.htm

    Prof. Peter Dale Scott presents a condensed version of the two chapters from his forthcoming book, "The Road to 9/11", that deal with the actions of Dick Cheney on the morning of 9/11, and a host of troubling contradictions on that day, in lecture form

    Posted 06/27/07

    Labels:

     
      Cheney Expose - Power Behind the Throne - Pt. 1 of 4 pt. Series

    Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency

    http://blog/washingtonpost.com/cheney

    Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This series examines Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment.

    Sunday: Part 1

    Working in the Background

    A master of bureaucracy and detail, Cheney exerts most of his influence out of public view.

    Monday: Part 2

    Wars and Interrogations

    Convinced that the "war on terror" required "robust interrogations" of captured suspects, Dick Cheney pressed the Bush administration to carve out exceptions to the Geneva Conventions.
    Sidebar: Cheney on Presidential Power

    Tuesday: Part 3

    Dominating Budget Decisions

    Working behind the scenes, Dick Cheney has made himself the dominant voice on tax and spending policy, outmaneuvering rivals for the president's ear.
    Sidebar: Expanding Authority for No. 2 Spot
    Sidebar: Taking on the Supreme Court Case

    Wednesday: Part 4

    Environmental Policy

    Dick Cheney steered some of the Bush administration's most important environmental decisions -- easing air pollution controls, opening public parks to snowmobiles and diverting river water from threatened salmon.
    Sidebar: Maintaining Connections

    Key Players
    [Photo]

    Cast of Characters

    Read about the important people in and out of government who have had an impact on Vice President Dick Cheney's career.

    Narrated Photo Gallery
    [Photo]

    Cheney's Life & Career

    Starting as a junior aide on Capitol Hill, Dick Cheney built an unmatched Washington resume as White House chief of staff, House minority whip and secretary of defense.

    Narrated Photo Gallery
    Dick and Lynne Cheney

    Cheney's Personality

    Dick Cheney's colleagues, friends, and acquaintances shared stories with Post reporter Bart Gellman.

    © 2007 The Washington Post Company

    Cheney exerts influence out of public view

    Vice president has shaped his times as no other has before

    Image: Cheney and Bush
    Alex Wong / Getty Images file
    Vice President Dick Cheney, left, with President Bush in the Oval Office in May
    View related photos

    'Angler' usually serves as the final counsel to Bush

    The remaining articles in this series:
    Monday: Convinced the war on terror required robust interrogations to extract information from suspects, Cheney pressed to carve out exceptions to the Geneva Conventions.
    Tuesday: Working behind the scenes, Cheney made himself the dominant voice on tax and spending policy, outmaneuvering rivals.
    Wednesday: Cheney has steered some of the White House's most important environmental decisions.

    [Perusing this expose reveals how Cheney is responsible for many of the events that has destroyed American credibility and respect around the the world, helped destroy our nation and robbed citizens of their rights. WA]





    WASHINGTON — Just past the Oval Office, in the private dining room overlooking the South Lawn, Vice President Dick Cheney joined President Bush at a round parquet table they shared once a week. Cheney brought a four-page text, written in strict secrecy by his lawyer. He carried it back out with him after lunch.

    In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, according to witnesses, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. When it returned to the Oval Office, in a blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal, Bush pulled a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. Almost no one else had seen the text.

    Cheney's proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court — civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed "military commissions."

    "What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.

    The episode was a defining moment in Cheney's tenure as the 46th vice president of the United States, a post the Constitution left all but devoid of formal authority.

    "Angler," as the Secret Service code-named him, has approached the levers of power obliquely, skirting orderly lines of debate he once enforced as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford. He has battled a bureaucracy he saw as hostile, using intimate knowledge of its terrain. He has empowered aides to fight above their rank, taking on roles reserved in other times for a White House counsel or national security adviser.

    And he has found a ready patron in George W. Bush for edge-of-the-envelope views on executive supremacy that previous presidents did not assert.

    Over the past six years, Cheney has shaped his times as no vice president has before. This series draws on interviews with more than 200 men and women who worked for, with and in opposition to Cheney's office. Many of those interviewed recounted events that have not been made public until now, sharing notes, e-mails, personal calendars and other records of their interaction with Cheney and his senior staff. The vice president declined to be interviewed.

    Cheney's reputation and, some say, his influence, have suffered in the past year and a half. Cheney lost his closest aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to a perjury conviction, and his onetime mentor, Donald Rumsfeld, in a Cabinet purge. A shooting accident in Texas, and increasing gaps between his rhetoric and events in Iraq, have exposed him to ridicule and approval ratings in the teens.

    Cheney expresses indifference, in public and private, to any verdict but history's, and those close to him say he means it.

    He is not, by nearly every inside account, the shadow president of popular lore. Bush has set his own course, not always in directions Cheney preferred. The president seized the helm when his No. 2 steered toward trouble, as Bush did, in time, on military commissions. Their one-on-one relationship is opaque, a vital unknown in assessing Cheney's impact on events. The two men speak of it seldom, if ever, with others. But officials who see them together often, not all of them admirers of the vice president, detect a strong sense of mutual confidence that Cheney is serving Bush's aims.

    Before the president casts the only vote that counts, the final words of counsel nearly always come from Cheney.

    Waxing or waning, Cheney holds his purchase on an unrivaled portfolio across the executive branch. Bush works most naturally, close observers said, at the level of broad objectives, broadly declared. Cheney, they said, inhabits an operational world in which means are matched with ends and some of the most important choices are made. When particulars rise to presidential notice, Cheney often steers the preparation of options and sits with Bush, in side-by-side wing chairs, as he is briefed.

    Defining a new role

    In his Park Avenue corner suite at Cerberus Global Investments, Dan Quayle recalled the moment he learned how much his old job had changed. Cheney had just taken the oath of office, and Quayle paid a visit to offer advice from one vice president to another.

    "I said, 'Dick, you know, you're going to be doing a lot of this international traveling, you're going to be doing all this political fundraising ... you'll be going to the funerals,' " Quayle said in an interview earlier this year. "I mean, this is what vice presidents do. I said, 'We've all done it.' "

    Cheney "got that little smile," Quayle said, and replied, "I have a different understanding with the president."

    "He had the understanding with President Bush that he would be — I'm just going to use the word 'surrogate chief of staff,' " Quayle said, whose membership on the Defense Policy Board gave him regular occasion to see Cheney privately over the following four years.

    Cheney, 66, grew up in Lincoln, Neb., and Casper, Wyo., acquiring a Westerner's passion for hunting and fishing but not for the Democratic politics of his parents. He wed his high school sweetheart, Lynne Vincent, beginning what friends describe as a lifelong love affair. Cheney flunked out of Yale but became a highly regarded PhD candidate in political science at the University of Wyoming — avoiding the Vietnam War draft with five deferments along the way — before abandoning the doctoral program and heading to Washington as a junior congressional aide.

    He went on to build an unmatched Washington resume as White House chief of staff, House minority whip and secretary of defense. An aversion to political glad-handing and a series of chronic health problems, including four heart attacks, helped derail his presidential ambitions and shifted his focus to a lucrative stint as chairman of Halliburton, an oil services company. His controlled demeanor, ranging mainly from a tight-lipped gaze to the trademark half-smile, conceals what associates call an impish sense of humor and unusual kindness to subordinates.

    Cheney's influence in the Bush administration is widely presumed but hard to illustrate. Many of the men and women who know him best said an explanation of his influence begins with the way he defined his role.

    As the Bush administration prepared to take office, "I remember at the outset, during the transition, thinking, 'What do vice presidents do?' " said White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, who was then the Bush team's policy director. Bolten joined Libby, his counterpart in Cheney's office, to compile a list of "portfolios we thought might be appropriate." Their models, Bolten said, were Quayle's Council on Competitiveness and Al Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government.

    "The vice president didn't particularly warm to that," Bolten recalled dryly.

    Cheney preferred, and Bush approved, a mandate that gave him access to "every table and every meeting," making his voice heard in "whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in," Bolten said.

    Cheney has used that mandate with singular force of will. Other recent vice presidents have enjoyed a standing invitation to join the president at "policy time." But Cheney's interventions have also come in the president's absence, at Cabinet and sub-Cabinet levels where his predecessors were seldom seen. He found pressure points and changed the course of events by "reaching down," a phrase that recurs often in interviews with current and former aides.

    Mary Matalin, who was counselor to the vice president until 2003 and remains an informal adviser, described Cheney's portfolio as "the iron issues" — a list that, as she defined it, comprises most of the core concerns of every recent president. Cheney took on "the economic issues, the security issues ... the energy issues" — and the White House legislative agenda, Matalin said, because he became "the go-to guy on the Hill." Other close aides noted, as well, a major role for Cheney in nominations and appointments.

    As constitutional understudy, with no direct authority in the executive branch, Cheney has often worked through surrogates. Many of them owed their jobs to him.

    While lawyers fought over the 2000 Florida ballot recount, with the presidential election in the balance, Cheney was already populating a prospective Bush administration. Brian McCormack, then his 26-year-old personal aide, said Cheney worked three cellphones from the round kitchen table of his townhouse in McLean, Va.,"making up lists" of nominees beginning with the secretaries of state, defense and the Treasury.

    "His focus was that we need to prepare for the event that (the recount) comes out in our favor, because we will have a limited time frame," McCormack recalled.

    Close allies found positions as chief and deputy chief of the Office of Management and Budget, deputy national security adviser, undersecretary of state, and assistant or deputy assistant secretary in numerous Cabinet departments. Other loyalists — including McCormack, who progressed to assignments in Iraq's occupation authority and then on Bush's staff — turned up in less senior, but still significant, posts.

    In the years that followed, crossing Cheney would cost some of the same officials their jobs. David Gribben, a friend from graduate school who became the vice president's chief of legislative affairs, said Cheney believes in the "educational use of power." Firing a disloyal or poorly performing official, he said, sometimes "sends a signal crisply." Cheney believes he is "using his authority to serve the American people, and he's obviously not afraid to be a rough opponent," Gribben said.

    A prodigious appetite for work, officials said, prepares Cheney to shape the president's conversations with others. His Secret Service detail sometimes reports that he is awake and reading at 4:30 a.m. He receives a private intelligence briefing between 6:30 and 7 a.m., often identifying issues to be called to Bush's attention, and then sits in on the president's daily briefing an hour later. Aides said that Cheney insists on joining Bush by secure video link, no matter how many time zones divide them.

    Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools. Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI." Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to "sensitive compartmented information," the most closely guarded category of government secrets. By adding the words "treated as," they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security."

    Across the board, the vice president's office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency. Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs. His general counsel has asserted that "the vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch," and is therefore exempt from rules governing either. Cheney is refusing to observe an executive order on the handling of national security secrets, and he proposed to abolish a federal office that insisted on auditing his compliance.

    In the usual business of interagency consultation, proposals and information flow into the vice president's office from around the government, but high-ranking White House officials said in interviews that almost nothing flows out. Close aides to Cheney describe a similar one-way valve inside the office, with information flowing up to the vice president but little or no reaction flowing down.

    All those methods would be on clear display when the "war on terror" began for Cheney after eight months in office.

    Assembling his team

    In a bunker beneath the East Wing of the White House, Cheney locked his eyes on CNN, chin resting on interlaced fingers. He was about to watch, in real time, as thousands were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Previous accounts have described Cheney's adrenaline-charged evacuation to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center that morning, a Secret Service agent on each arm. They have not detailed his reaction, 22 minutes later, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

    "There was a groan in the room that I won't forget, ever," one witness said. "It seemed like one groan from everyone" — among them Rice; her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey; counselor Matalin; Cheney's chief of staff, Libby; and the vice president's wife.

    Cheney made no sound. "I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed," said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.

    Three people who were present, not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney. What they saw, they said, was extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power. While others assessed casualties and the work of "first responders," Cheney began planning for a conflict that would call upon lawyers as often as soldiers and spies.

    In the months to come, Cheney supplied the rationale and political muscle to drive far-reaching legal changes through the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon. More than any one man in the months to come, Cheney freed Bush to fight the "war on terror" as he saw fit, animated by their shared belief that al-Qaida's destruction would require what the vice president called "robust interrogation" to extract intelligence from captured suspects. With a small coterie of allies, Cheney supplied the rationale and political muscle to drive far-reaching legal changes through the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon.

    The way he did it — adhering steadfastly to principle, freezing out dissent and discounting the risks of blow-back — turned tactical victory into strategic defeat. By late last year, the Supreme Court had dealt three consecutive rebuffs to his claim of nearly unchecked authority for the commander in chief, setting precedents that will bind Bush's successors.

    Yet even as Bush was forced into public retreats, an examination of subsequent events suggests that Cheney has quietly held his ground. Most of his operational agenda, in practice if not in principle, remains in place.

    In expanding presidential power, Cheney's foremost agent was David Addington, his formidable general counsel and legal adviser of many years. On the morning of Sept. 11, Addington was evacuated from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House and began to make his way toward his Virginia home on foot. As he neared the Arlington Memorial Bridge, someone in the White House reached him with a message: Turn around. The vice president needs you.

    Down in the bunker, according to a colleague with firsthand knowledge, Cheney and Addington began contemplating the founding question of the legal revolution to come: What extraordinary powers will the president need for his response?

    Before the day ended, Cheney's lawyer joined forces with Timothy Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, linked by secure video from the Situation Room. Flanigan patched in John Yoo at the Justice Department's fourth-floor command center. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales joined later.

    Thus formed the core legal team that Cheney oversaw, directly and indirectly, after the terrorist attacks.

    Yoo, a Berkeley professor-turned-deputy chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, became the theorist of an insurrection against legal limits on the commander in chief. Addington, backed by Flanigan, found levers of government policy and wrote the words that moved them.

    "Addington, Flanigan and Gonzales were really a triumvirate," recalled Bradford Berenson, then an associate White House counsel. Yoo, he said, "was a supporting player."

    Gonzales, a former Texas judge, had the seniority and the relationship with Bush. But Addington — a man of imposing demeanor, intellect and experience — dominated the group. Gonzales "was not a law-of-war expert and didn't have very developed views," Yoo recalled, echoing blunter observations by the Texan's White House colleagues.

    The point man for intelligence matters

    Flanigan, with advice from Yoo, drafted the authorization for use of military force that Congress approved on Sept. 18. Yoo said they used the broadest possible language because "this war was so different, you can't predict what might come up."

    In fact, the triumvirate knew very well what would come next: the interception — without a warrant — of communications to and from the United States. Forbidden by federal law since 1978, the surveillance would soon be justified, in secret, as "incident to" the authority Congress had just granted. Yoo was already working on that memo, completing it on Sept. 25.

    It was an extraordinary step, bypassing Congress and the courts, and its authors kept it secret from officials who were likely to object. Among the excluded was John B. Bellinger III, a man for whom Cheney's attorney had "open contempt," according to a senior government lawyer who saw them often. The eavesdropping program was directly within Bellinger's purview as ranking national security lawyer in the White House, reporting to Rice. Addington had no line responsibility. But he had Cheney's proxy, and more than once he accused Bellinger, to his face, of selling out presidential authority for good "public relations" or bureaucratic consensus.

    Addington, who seldom speaks to reporters, declined to be interviewed.

    "David is extremely principled and dedicated to doing what he feels is right, and can be a very tough customer when he perceives others as obstacles to achieving those goals," Berenson said. "But it's not personal in the sense that 'I don't like you.' It's all about the underlying principle."

    Bryan Cunningham, Bellinger's former deputy, said: "Bellinger didn't know. That was a mistake." Cunningham said Rice's lawyer would have recommended vetting the surveillance program with the secret court that governs intelligence intercepts — a step the Bush administration was forced to take five years later.

    On Oct. 25, 2001, the chairmen and ranking minority members of the intelligence committees were summoned to the White House for their first briefing on the eavesdropping and were told that it was one of the government's most closely compartmented secrets. Under Presidents George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton, officials said, a conversation of that gravity would involve the commander in chief. But when the four lawmakers arrived in the West Wing lobby, an aide led them through the door on the right, away from the Oval Office.

    "We met in the vice president's office," recalled former senator Bob Graham, D-Fla. Bush had told Graham already, when the senator assumed the intelligence panel chairmanship, that "the vice president should be your point of contact in the White House." Cheney, the president said, "has the portfolio for intelligence activities."

    'Be an honest broker'

    By late October, the vice president and his allies were losing patience with the Bush administration's review of a critical question facing U.S. forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere: What should be done with captured fighters from al-Qaida and the Taliban? Federal trials? Courts-martial? Military commissions like the ones used for Nazis under President Franklin Roosevelt?

    Cheney's staff did not reply to invitations to join the interagency working group led by Pierre Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes. But Addington, the vice president's lawyer, knew what his client wanted, Berenson said. And Prosper's group was still debating details. "Once you start diving into it, and history has proven us right, these are complicated questions," one regular participant said.

    The vice president saw it differently. "The interagency was just constipated," said one Cheney ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Flanigan recalled a conversation with Addington at the time in which the two discussed the salutary effect of showing bureaucrats that the president could act "without their blessing — and without the interminable process that goes along with getting that blessing."

    Throughout his long government career, Cheney had counseled against that kind of policy surprise, insisting that unvetted decisions lead presidents to costly mistakes.

    When James A. Baker III was tapped to be White House chief of staff in 1980, he interviewed most of his living predecessors. Advice from Cheney filled four pages of a yellow legal pad. Only once, to signify Cheney's greatest emphasis, did Baker write in all capital letters:

    BE AN HONEST BROKER

    DON'T USE THE PROCESS TO IMPOSE YOUR POLICY VIEWS ON PRES.

    Cheney told Baker, according to the notes, that an "orderly paper flow is way you protect the Pres.," ensuring that any proposal has been tested against other views. Cheney added:

    "It's not in anyone's interest to get an 'oh by the way decision' — & all have to understand that. Can hurt the Pres. Bring it up at a Cab. mtg. Make sure everyone understands this."

    In 1999, not long before he became Bush's running mate, Cheney warned again about "'oh, by the way' decisions" at a conference of White House historians. According to a transcript, he added: "The process of moving paper in and out of the Oval Office, who gets involved in the meetings, who does the president listen to, who gets a chance to talk to him before he makes a decision, is absolutely critical. It has to be managed in such a way that it has integrity."

    Two years later, at his Nov. 13 lunch with Bush, Cheney brought the president the ultimate "oh, by the way" choice — a far-reaching military order that most of Bush's top advisers had not seen.

    According to Flanigan, Addington was not the first to think of military commissions but was the "best scholar of the FDR-era order" among their small group of trusted allies. "He gained a pre-eminent role by virtue of his sheer ability to turn out a draft of something in quick time."

    That draft, said one of the few lawyers apprised of it, "was very closely held because it was coming right from the top."

    Ashcroft stunned

    To pave the way for the military commissions, Yoo wrote an opinion on Nov. 6, 2001, declaring that Bush did not need approval from Congress or federal courts. Yoo said in an interview that he saw no need to inform the State Department, which hosts the archives of the Geneva Conventions and the government's leading experts on the law of war. "The issue we dealt with was: Can the president do it constitutionally?" Yoo said. "State — they wouldn't have views on that."

    Attorney General John Ashcroft was astonished to learn that the draft gave the Justice Department no role in choosing which alleged terrorists would be tried in military commissions. Over Veterans Day weekend, on Nov. 10, he took his objections to the White House.

    The attorney general found Cheney, not Bush, at the broad conference table in the Roosevelt Room. According to participants, Ashcroft said that he was the president's senior law enforcement officer, supervised the FBI and oversaw terrorism prosecutions nationwide. The Justice Department, he said, had to have a voice in the tribunal process. He was enraged to discover that Yoo, his subordinate, had recommended otherwise — as part of a strategy to deny jurisdiction to U.S. courts.

    Raising his voice, participants said, Ashcroft talked over Addington and brushed aside interjections from Cheney. "The thing I remember about it is how rude, there's no other word for it, the attorney general was to the vice president," said one of those in the room. Asked recently about the confrontation, Ashcroft replied curtly: "I'm just not prepared to comment on that."

    According to Yoo and three other officials, Ashcroft did not persuade Cheney and got no audience with Bush. Bolten, in an October 2006 interview after becoming Bush's chief of staff, did not deny that account. He signaled an intention to operate differently in the second term.

    "In my six months' experience it would not fall to the vice president to referee that kind of thing," Bolten added. "If it is a presidential decision, the president will make it. ... I think the vice president appreciates that — that his role is in support of the president, and not as a second-tier substitute."

    Three days after the Ashcroft meeting, Cheney brought the order for military commissions to Bush. No one told Bellinger, Rice or Powell, who continued to think that Prosper's working group was at the helm.

    After leaving Bush's private dining room, the vice president took no chances on a last-minute objection. He sent the order on a swift path to execution that left no sign of his role. After Addington and Flanigan, the text passed to Berenson, the associate White House counsel. Cheney's link to the document broke there: Berenson was not told of its provenance.

    Berenson rushed the order to deputy staff secretary Stuart W. Bowen Jr., bearing instructions to prepare it for signature immediately — without advance distribution to the president's top advisers. Bowen objected, he told colleagues later, saying he had handled thousands of presidential documents without ever bypassing strict procedures of coordination and review. He relented, one White House official said, only after "rapid, urgent persuasion" that Bush was standing by to sign and that the order was too sensitive to delay.

    In an interview, Berenson said it was his understanding that "someone had briefed" the president "and gone over it" already. He added: "I don't know who that was."

    'Quaint' Geneva Conventions

    On Nov. 14, 2001, the day after Bush signed the commissions order, Cheney took the next big step. He told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that terrorists do not "deserve to be treated as prisoners of war."

    The president had not yet made that decision. Ten weeks passed, and the Bush administration fought one of its fiercest internal brawls, before Bush ratified the policy that Cheney had declared: The Geneva Conventions would not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban fighters captured on the battlefield.

    Since 1949, Geneva had accorded protections to civilians and combatants in a war zone. Those protections varied with status, but the prevailing U.S. and international view was that anyone under military control — even an alleged war criminal — has some rights. Rumsfeld, elaborating on the position Cheney staked out, cast that interpretation aside. All captured fighters in Afghanistan, he said at a news briefing, are "unlawful combatants" who "do not have any rights" under Geneva.

    At the White House, Bellinger sent Rice a blunt — and, he thought, private — legal warning. The Cheney-Rumsfeld position would place the president indisputably in breach of international law and would undermine cooperation from allied governments. Faxes had been pouring in at the State Department since the order for military commissions was signed, with even British authorities warning that they could not hand over suspects if the U.S. government withdrew from accepted legal norms.

    One lawyer in his office said that Bellinger was chagrined to learn, indirectly, that Cheney had read the confidential memo and "was concerned" about his advice. Thus Bellinger discovered an unannounced standing order: Documents prepared for the national security adviser, another White House official said, were "routed outside the formal process" to Cheney, too. The reverse did not apply.

    Powell asked for a meeting with Bush. The same day, Jan. 25, 2002, Cheney's office struck a pre-emptive blow. It appeared to come from Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant whom the president nicknamed "Fredo." Hours after Powell made his request, Gonzales signed his name to a memo that anticipated and undermined the State Department's talking points. The true author has long been a subject of speculation, for reasons including its unorthodox format and a subtly mocking tone that is not a Gonzales hallmark.

    A White House lawyer with direct knowledge said Cheney's lawyer, Addington, wrote the memo. Flanigan passed it to Gonzales, and Gonzales sent it as "my judgment" to Bush. If Bush consulted Cheney after that, the vice president became a sounding board for advice he originated himself.

    Addington, under Gonzales's name, appealed to the president by quoting Bush's own declaration that "the war against terrorism is a new kind of war." Addington described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint," casting Powell as a defender of "obsolete" rules devised for another time. If Bush followed Powell's lead, Addington suggested, U.S. forces would be obliged to provide athletic gear and commissary privileges to captured terrorists.

    According to David Bowker, a State Department lawyer, Powell did not in fact argue that al-Qaida and Taliban forces deserved the privileges of prisoners of war. Powell said Geneva rules entitled each detainee to a status review, but he predicted that few, if any, would qualify as POWs, because they did not wear uniforms on the battlefield or obey a lawful chain of command. "We said, 'If you give legal process and you follow the rules, you're going to reach substantially the same result and the courts will defer to you,' " Bowker said.

    Late that afternoon, as the "Gonzales memo" began to circulate around the government, Addington turned to Flanigan.

    "It'll leak in 10 minutes," he predicted, according to a witness.

    The next morning's Washington Times carried a front-page article in which administration sources accused Powell of "bowing to pressure from the political left" and advocating that terrorists be given "all sorts of amenities, including exercise rooms and canteens."

    Though the report portrayed Powell as soft on enemies, two senior government lawyers said, Addington blamed the State Department for leaking it. The breach of secrecy, Addington said, proved that William H. Taft IV, Powell's legal adviser, could not be trusted. Taft joined Bellinger on a growing — and explicit — blacklist, excluded from consultation. "I was off the team," Taft said in an interview. The vice president's lawyer had marked him an enemy, but Taft did not know he was at war.

    "Which, of course, is why you're ripe for the taking, isn't it?" he added, laughing briefly.

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