Category Archives: intelligence failure

america’s role in iraq

The U.S.’s sledgehammer worldview is destroying countless lives and future generations.

The front page of The New York Times on June 26 featured a photo of women mourning a murdered Iraqi.

He is one of the innumerable victims of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) campaign in which the Iraqi army, armed and trained by the U.S. for many years, quickly melted away, abandoning much of Iraq to a few thousand militants, hardly a new experience in imperial history.

Right above the picture is the newspaper’s famous motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

There is a crucial omission. The front page should display the words of the Nuremberg judgment of prominent Nazis – words that must be repeated until they penetrate general consciousness: Aggression is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

And alongside these words should be the admonition of the chief prosecutor for the United States, Robert Jackson: “The record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”

The U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression. Apologists invoke noble intentions, which would be irrelevant even if the pleas were sustainable.

For the World War II tribunals, it mattered not a jot that Japanese imperialists were intent on bringing an “earthly paradise” to the Chinese they were slaughtering, or that Hitler sent troops into Poland in 1939 in self-defense against the “wild terror” of the Poles. The same holds when we sip from the poisoned chalice.

Those at the wrong end of the club have few illusions. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a Pan-Arab website, observes that “the main factor responsible for the current chaos [in Iraq] is the U.S./Western occupation and the Arab backing for it. Any other claim is misleading and aims to divert attention [away] from this truth.”

In a recent interview with Moyers & Company, Iraq specialist Raed Jarrar outlines what we in the West should know. Like many Iraqis, he is half-Shiite, half-Sunni, and in preinvasion Iraq he barely knew the religious identities of his relatives because “sect wasn’t really a part of the national consciousness.”

Jarrar reminds us that “this sectarian strife that is destroying the country … clearly began with the U.S. invasion and occupation.”

The aggressors destroyed “Iraqi national identity and replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities,” beginning immediately when the U.S. imposed a Governing Council based on sectarian identity, a novelty for Iraq.

By now, Shiites and Sunnis are the bitterest enemies, thanks to the sledgehammer wielded by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (respectively the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and vice president during the George W. Bush administration) and others like them who understand nothing beyond violence and terror and have helped to create conflicts that are now tearing the region to shreds.

Other headlines report the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Journalist Anand Gopal explains the reasons in his remarkable book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.

In 2001-02, when the U.S. sledgehammer struck Afghanistan, the al-Qaida outsiders there soon disappeared and the Taliban melted away, many choosing in traditional style to accommodate to the latest conquerors.

But Washington was desperate to find terrorists to crush. The strongmen they imposed as rulers quickly discovered that they could exploit Washington’s blind ignorance and attack their enemies, including those eagerly collaborating with the American invaders.

Soon the country was ruled by ruthless warlords, while many former Taliban who sought to join the new order recreated the insurgency.

The sledgehammer was later picked up by President Obama as he “led from behind” in smashing Libya.

In March 2011, amid an Arab Spring uprising against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973, calling for “a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians.”

The imperial triumvirate – France, England, the U.S. – instantly chose to violate the Resolution, becoming the air force of the rebels and sharply enhancing violence.

Their campaign culminated in the assault on Gadhafi’s refuge in Sirte, which they left “utterly ravaged,” “reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny, towards the end of Russia’s bloody Chechen war,” according to eyewitness reports in the British press. At a bloody cost, the triumvirate accomplished its goal of regime change in violation of pious pronouncements to the contrary.

The African Union strongly opposed the triumvirate assault. As reported by Africa specialist Alex de Waal in the British journal International Affairs, the AU established a “road map” calling for cease-fire, humanitarian assistance, protection of African migrants (who were largely slaughtered or expelled) and other foreign nationals, and political reforms to eliminate “the causes of the current crisis,” with further steps to establish “an inclusive, consensual interim government, leading to democratic elections.”

The AU framework was accepted in principle by Gadhafi but dismissed by the triumvirate, who “were uninterested in real negotiations,” de Waal observes.

The outcome is that Libya is now torn by warring militias, while jihadi terror has been unleashed in much of Africa along with a flood of weapons, reaching also to Syria.

There is plenty of evidence of the consequences of resort to the sledgehammer. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo, a huge country rich in resources – and one of the worst contemporary horror stories. It had a chance for successful development after independence in 1960, under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

But the West would have none of that. CIA head Allen Dulles determined that Lumumba’s “removal must be an urgent and prime objective” of covert action, not least because U.S. investments might have been endangered by what internal documents refer to as “radical nationalists.”

Under the supervision of Belgian officers, Lumumba was murdered, realizing President Eisenhower’s wish that he “would fall into a river full of crocodiles.” Congo was handed over to the U.S. favorite, the murderous and corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and on to today’s wreckage of Africa’s hopes.

Closer to home it is harder to ignore the consequences of U.S. state terror. There is now great concern about the flood of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.

The Washington Post reports that the surge is “mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras” – but not Nicaragua. Why? Could it be that when Washington’s sledgehammer was battering the region in the 1980s, Nicaragua was the one country that had an army to defend the population from U.S.-run terrorists, while in the other three countries the terrorists devastating the countries were the armies equipped and trained by Washington?

Obama has proposed a humanitarian response to the tragic influx: more efficient deportation. Do alternatives come to mind?

It is unfair to omit exercises of “soft power” and the role of the private sector. A good example is Chevron’s decision to abandon its widely touted renewable energy programs, because fossil fuels are far more profitable.

Exxon Mobil in turn announced “that its laserlike focus on fossil fuels is a sound strategy, regardless of climate change,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports, “because the world needs vastly more energy and the likelihood of significant carbon reductions is ‘highly unlikely.'”

It is therefore a mistake to remind readers daily of the Nuremberg judgment. Aggression is no longer the “supreme international crime.” It cannot compare with destruction of the lives of future generations to ensure bigger bonuses tomorrow.

© 2014 Noam Chomsky — Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate


cia officer lied to get job; worked in baghdad

How big a role did disgraced CIA officer have?

Prouty was assigned a sensitive post in Baghdad, NBC News has learned


By Andrea Mitchell and Robert Windrem
NBC News
updated 6:21 p.m. ET, Thurs., Nov. 15, 2007

There’s new information about the young Lebanese woman who pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges she lied about her background to get jobs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

Current and former intelligence officials tell NBC News that Nada Nadim Prouty had a much bigger role than officials at the FBI and CIA first acknowledged. In fact, Prouty was assigned to the CIA’s most sensitive post, Baghdad, and participated in the debriefings of high-ranking al-Qaida detainees.

A former colleague called Prouty “among the best and the brightest” CIA officers at the government’s most sensitive post – Baghdad. A second colleague added she was “quite highly thought of: and had received some prime assignments.

Among them: the investigation of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen and the investigation of war crimes in Rwanda, the East African nation racked by genocide.

So exceptional was her work, agree officials of both agencies, the CIA recruited her from the FBI to work for the agency’s clandestine service at Langley, Va., in June 2003. She then went to Iraq for the agency to work with the U.S. military on the debriefings.

“Early on, she was an active agent in the debriefings,” said one former intelligence official. “It was more than translation.”

On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally search FBI computers for classified information about Hezbollah and to naturalization fraud — a sham marriage to a former husband just to become a U.S. citizen. As the Justice Department noted, she needed to be a U.S. citizen to join the CIA and thus had defrauded the agency. (Prouty first came to the United States on a student visa in 1989 and after overstaying her visa paid an acquaintance in Detroit to marry her so she could get U.S. citizenship. She later divorced the man.)

Although no one claims Prouty worked for Hezbollah, her computer searches led U.S. officials to question her. She looked up files on her sister, Elfat El Aouar,  and brother-in-law, Talal Khalil Chahine, both of whom attended a Hezbollah fundraiser in Lebanon — alongside Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, designated by the United States as a terrorist.  

Chahine is currently a fugitive believed to be in Lebanon. He, along with Prouty’s sister and others, was charged in 2006 by the U.S. attorney in Detroit with tax evasion in connection with a scheme to conceal more than $20 million in cash received by La Shish restaurants in suburban Detroit and to route funds to persons in Lebanon with links to Hezbollah.

Moreover, as she was moving between agencies in 2003, Prouty accessed the FBI’s Automated Case Support system and obtained information on investigations into Hezbollah being conducted by the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

National security experts say the combination of her being at one of the CIA’s most sensitive stations, working on some of the agencies’ most sensitive cases, and having her relatives under investigation put her in a vulnerable position — and make the potential damage she could have caused far greater than either the FBI or CIA has admitted.

Roger Cressey, an NBC News analyst and former deputy director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, says it never should have happened.

“The issue is that she had access to very sensitive information regardless of where she was in the hierarchy,” said Cressey. “Because she was able to interview high-value targets, that put her in a very unique position. So if she therefore shared that information, it could have cost major damage to our nation’s security.”

Officials tell NBC News that the time she fell under investigation in 2006, she was studying Farsi, the national language of Iran.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the case says there is no evidence she was a spy and noted that the CIA and FBI have a good record in prosecuting spies, particularly in their own agencies. He says her role was limited.

“This is not John Dillinger or Reilly Ace of Spies,” said the official. “She took an illegal shortcut to the American dream, then she made some inappropriate computer searches.  At this point, there is no reason to treat this as a counterintelligence case.  There is NO allegation she had ever ties to Hezbollah.  You can’t let suspicions get ahead of the facts.”

Prouty has agreed to submit to lie detector tests as the CIA assesses the damage. 

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive

how long have we known?

biden challenges and faults Petraeus’ findings

Biden Faults Petraeus’ Assessment

First, his statements from Meet the Press:  9/9/07

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE):  Well, what I saw, heard, learned is a little bit what you heard from a general just a moment ago.  There was a big disconnect between the truth of the matter and the reality.  I mean, the truth of the matter is that, that the—America’s—this administration’s policy and the surge are a failure, and that the surge, which was supposed to stop sectarian violence and—long enough to give political reconciliation, there’s been no political reconciliation.  The reality is that we’re supposed to, as you said, stand up American—or stand up the Iraqis so the Americans could stand down. We’ve been hearing that for five years.  We’re nowhere near being able to do that.

The reality is that, although there has been some mild progress on the security front, there is, in fact, no, no real security in Baghdad and/or in Anbar province, where I was, dealing with the most serious problem, sectarian violence.  Sectarian violence is as strong and as solid and as serious a problem as it was before the surge started.

SEN. BIDEN:  Tim, I think it was on your program about a year ago I said, when you asked me about Rumsfeld and Cheney, I said they’re smart.  You said, how can they think things are working, and I said, “They’re smart guys.  I’ll tell you what their plan is.  Their plan is to keep this stitched together for the next 20 months in order to hand this problem off to the next president because they don’t know what to do.  They’re unwilling to make the kind of changes necessary in strategy to be able to bring our troops home without leaving chaos behind.” I would argue Draper’s reference there.  Reinforce is the point I’ve been making.  This president has no plan how to win and/or how to leave.  All he’s doing is putting American forces in the middle of a civil war to maintain the status quo.  That is unconscionable, and he’s wrong.

In this photograph provided by the office of Sen. Joseph Biden, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. talks with soldiers Thursday, Sept. 2, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq during a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle demonstration and briefing. President Bush's war strategy is failing and the top military commander in Iraq is 'dead flat wrong' for warning against major changes, Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday. (AP Photo/Office of Sen. Joseph Biden)

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

September 9, 2007

WASHINGTON – President Bush’s war strategy is failing and the top military commander in Iraq is “dead flat wrong” for warning against major changes, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.

Ahead of two days of crucial testimony by Bush’s leading military and political advisers on Iraq, Sen. Joseph Biden indicated that he and other Democrats would persist in efforts to set target dates for bringing troops home.

“The reality is that although there’s been some mild security progress, there is in fact no security in Baghdad or Anbar province where I was dealing with the most serious problem, sectarian violence,” said Biden, a 2008 presidential candidate who recently returned from Iraq.

Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were scheduled to testify before four congressional committees, including Biden’s, on Monday and Tuesday. Lawmakers will hear how the commander and the diplomat assess progress in Iraq and offer recommendations about the course of war strategy.

Officials familiar with their thinking told The Associated Press over the weekend that the advisers would urge Congress not to make significant changes. Their report will note that while national political progress has been disappointing, security gains in local areas have shown promise, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.

Petraeus and Crocker will say the buildup of 30,000 troops, which bring the current U.S. total to nearly 170,000, is working better than any previous effort to quell the insurgency and restore stability. The officials also disputed suggestions that Petraeus and Crocker would recommend anything more than a symbolic reduction in troop levels and then only in the spring.

The testimony sets the stage for an announcement by Bush later in the week about he will proceed in the face of widespread public unhappiness and growing congressional discomfort with the war.

Biden, signaling that tough questioning awaits the pair from majority Democrats and moderate Republicans, said Petraeus’ assessment missed the point. Biden, D-Del., said focusing on a political solution, such as by creating more local control, was the only way to foster national reconciliation among warring factions.

“I really respect him, but I think he’s dead flat wrong,” Biden said.

Biden contended that Bush’s main strategy was to buy time and extend the troop presence in Iraq long enough to push the burden onto the next president, who takes office in January 2009, to fix the sectarian strife.

“This president has no plan — how to win and how to leave,” Biden said.

Stressing that a political solution was the key, he said, “I will insist on a firm beginning to withdraw the troops and I will insist on a target date to get American combat forces out,” except for those necessary to protect U.S. civilians and fight al-Qaida.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., agreed. “The problem is, if you don’t have a deadline and you don’t require something of the Iraqis, they’re simply going to use our presence as cover for their willingness to delay, which is what they have done month after month after month,” he said.

“I think the general will present the facts with respect to the statistics and the tactical successes or situations as he sees them,” Kerry said. “But none of us should be fooled — not the American people, not you in the media, not us in Congress — we should not be fooled into this tactical success debate.”

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he respects the judgment of Petraeus but will not blindly follow his assessment.

“We’re going to look behind the generalizations that General Petraeus or anybody gives us and probe the very hard facts to see exactly what the situation is,” Specter said. “As I’ve said in the past, unless we see some light at the end of the tunnel here, very closely examining what General Petraeus and others have to say, I think there’s a general sense that there needs to be a new policy.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it would be foolish for Congress to try and second-guess commanders on the ground.

In the end, Graham said, the U.S. cannot afford to withdraw prematurely if it is military unwise and risks plunging the region into more chaos.

“If the general tells me down the road we can withdraw troops because of military success, we should all celebrate it,” Graham said. “But if politicians in Washington pick an arbitrary date, an arbitrary number to withdraw, it’s not going to push Baghdad politicians.

“It’s going to re-energize an enemy that’s on the mat,” he said.

Biden spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kerry appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” Graham was on “Fox News Sunday” and Specter was on “Late Edition” on CNN.



Amid the continued political fallout over the faulty intelligence case for going to war in Iraq, the Bush administration is newly cautious about the specific intelligence it plans to present to the public to back up its claims that Iran is fighting a kind of proxy war with the United States in Iraq.

At least twice in the past month, the White House has delayed a PowerPoint presentation initially prepared by the military to detail evidence of suspected Iranian materiel and financial support for militants in Iraq. The presentation was to have been made at a press conference in Baghdad in the first week of February. Officials have set no new date, but they say it could be any day.

Even as U.S. officials in Baghdad were ready to make the case, administration principals in Washington who were charged with vetting the PowerPoint dossier bowed to pressure from the intelligence community and ordered that it be scrubbed again. The officials understand that the press will scrutinize the information intensely, that the intelligence “dots” that the administration has assembled about Iran in Iraq can be connected multiple ways, and that the public is wary of any possible intervention in Iran. “The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated, and we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts,” National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times on February 2.

A White House official who declined to be named told National Journal that the presentation was sent “back into the interagency process … with all the usual agencies involved, both in Washington and Baghdad.” ….


….Led by Feith, the group’s members also included Larry Franklin, who pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents regarding Iran to a Washington-based Israeli lobby in 2005; prominent neoconservative and Iran-Contra intermediary Michael Ledeen; and Middle East expert Harold Rhode, who purportedly sought to purge the Pentagon of anyone opposing the group’s hawkish Iraq agenda…..

While the US intelligence community struggled to check a hawkish Executive Branch set on going to war, the OSP funneled questionable information directly to the White House, bypassing standard channels and operational procedures and deploying its own “off book teams” into the region without notifying special forces already on the ground.



Chris Wallace: Now a followup to our interview last Sunday with former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith. Many of you wrote in asking us to check out Feith’s claim that he’s being unfairly accused of hyping the threat from Saddam Hussein. First, here’s what he said to us.

Douglas Feith: Nobody in my office ever said there was an operational relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. It’s just not correct. I mean, words matter.

Wallace: But it turns out he did make that case in a memo he sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee in October of ’03. The Weekly Standard, who saw the Feith memo, described it this way: ‘Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda.’ Later, Vice President Cheney said the article was the best source of information on the Iraq-al Qaeda connection.


BAGHDAD, Feb 4 (KUNA) — Iraqi President Jalal Al-Talabani on Sunday said that Iranians expressed readiness to cooperate with the Iraqi authorities and the local American military command to implement a new security plan in the country….“I’ve sensed on their part understanding of the conditions in Iraq and I believe that they have exerted tremendous and successful efforts with the armed militias accused of involvement in terrorist acts,” the president said. “The Iranians have stood on our side since the first days of the liberation as they have backed the liberation and the ruling council and the elections and the Iraqi constitution,” he said.


….The U.S. government’s data, however, show that Sunni insurgents, not Shiite militias supported by Iran, have been responsible for most American combat deaths….“The vast majority of Americans who are being killed are still being killed by IEDs [improvised explosive devices] set by Sunnis,” said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA and White House expert on Persian Gulf affairs.

“The administration is between a rock and a hard place here,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking anonymously because the intelligence on Iran is highly classified. “On one hand, they have to convince people here and abroad that this time they’re telling the truth and they’ve got the goods, which won’t be easy. And a lot of our friends in the region, like the Saudis and the Israelis and the Lebanese, are nervous and want us to get tough with Iran.”

….Intelligence officials said they have strong evidence of Iranian support for Iraqi Shiite militias, especially the Mahdi Army. The question is how great a role they’re playing in the conflict….weapons include shaped-charge explosives capable of breaching advanced armor, armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenades and Katyusha rockets, the senior U.S. intelligence official said….Iran’s motives remain murky, he said.

“Are the Iranians mucking around in Iraq? You bet,” he said. “Do they want to make sure they’ve got a government in Baghdad that’s simpatico instead of another war? Yep. But are they fighting a secret war against the Americans in Iraq? We have no evidence of that.”