Aka: “DoD IG Clears OSP, but AP Still Holds SSCI PR”
The Department of Defense Inspector General’s office has determined that the 2002 Office of Special Plans was not an illegal operation despite 5 years of claims from Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the Associated Press is still trying to carry the line that the Bush Administration used the Office of Special Plans to manipulate the intelligence provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Ok, what this means for your average Joe is this:
Back in 2002, none of the 16 different intelligence agencies was willing to do a detailed report on the question of ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Queda. The CIA-after much prodding-finally put out a small report, but it was vague because the United States didn’t have a single spy in Iraq for the previous four years (1998-2002). Having just been attacked by Al Queda, the Bush Administration and components of it wanted to know if there was a serious relationship between Iraq and Al Queda, but no one wanted to give them one. So, in 2002 the Pentagon (where even their own intelligence agencies were refusing to investigate the matter) put together a group called the Office of Special Plans.
This office went around to the different intelligence agencies, looked at whatever intelligence reporting they had on the subject (remember, all 16 intelligence agencies worked alone at this point in American history. They did not normally share information). Then this Office of Special Plans found a bunch of reports that seemed scary. They presented these scary reports to the CIA and others, who refused to stand by any assessment because so little intelligence had been gathered.
In the end, the question of war with Iraq oriented around two things: the WMD that the UN could not account for, and the depth of ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Queda.
The WMD issue as presented by the Bush Administration was mostly just a parroting of the UN inspectors claims, but while the UN had to maintain ambivalence, the US Govt had to say, look, we can’t just sit around and wait forever for this matter to be resolved, and he’s hidden WMD in the future, so either prove there’s no WMD, or the US will make sure.
The issue of regime ties to Al Queda was left almost completely open to speculation by all of the intelligence agencies. Now, these intelligence agencies are supposed to have Congressional “oversight” from special, classified, bi-partisan committees in the House and Senate. Specifically, it was up to the members on these committees to make sure that when-for example-the head of the CIA comes to them and says, “We’re about to be attacked by a worldwide organization of suicidal Jihadis, and we’ve only got enough people to put 4 on the job of watching out for this impending attack that’s already in motion! We need more money and people!” Well, when that happens, the Congressional committees are supposed to make sure that the CIA gets the money and people it needs.
In fact this did happen-repeatedly-throughout the Clinton Administration years when Democrats controlled the Senate Intelligence Committee. And when the CIA or any of the 15 other intelligence agencies said they needed new satellites, or more aggressive leaders, or when these agencies with no other charge than to gather information had no information to provide Congress…the Congress did nothing. Even with a budget surplus they did not give the agencies more money or provide for more people. When calls for more aggressive leaders were made, Congress only appointed bureaucrats. There is no doubt at all whatsoever that the committees charged with intelligence oversight did not do their jobs, and those failures lead directly to the African Embassy Bombings, the USS Cole, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the intelligence failures that lead up to the invasion of Iraq.
Many of the people on the Senate Intelligence Committee were-in 2002-on the eve of becoming Presidential candidates. Others are career politicians, and only people who believe in sprites and fairies believe in the mythical honest career politician. In a 2002 atmosphere of:
- 22 different Investigations searching for blame regarding the 911 attacks
- War brewing with Iraq based on almost 4 years of no intelligence gathering
- Every intelligence agency openly and freely refusing to do a substantive investigation into the question of regime ties to Al Queda
- Midterm elections literally weeks away
- And the 2004 Presidential campaigns of almost a dozen candidates about to begin
It’s in that atmosphere that Washington DC collectively folded its arms, started looking around at the sky, and when attention was brought to someone who had failed their country individuals followed the second rule of politics: when something goes bad, point a finger at someone who will get more press. Anyone who doubts this need only ask how many people lost their jobs as a result of the 911 attacks, or the intelligence failures that lead to the Iraq War.
Since Congressional intelligence committees and the White House had virtually no input from the intelligence agencies on the question of regime ties, they had to rely on the Office of Special Plans findings. This office was part of the Department of Defense and not subject to oversight from the Congressional intelligence committees, but they needed to point fingers. The members of those committees had successfully dodged the “who to blame for the decrepit, handicapped, under-funded intelligence agencies” question as it related to the cause of the 911 attacks, but when it came to the invasion of Iraq, when gigantic warehouses of WMD weren’t found, and with an anti-war movement determining Democratic nominations and elections the leaders on those committees needed to point fingers for the latest lack of oversight. Senator Rockefeller, Senator Levin, Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, and other Democrats quickly tried to market the idea that they had been deliberately misled by the Bush Administration. That sold well with those who opposed the invasion, but it wasn’t true.
Several bi-partisan, independent, and even international investigations were conducted to see if the Bush Administration had lied to take the nation to war, and none of those investigations found evidence of that. As political cover evaporated, many of these politicians tried to say that the Department of Defense’ Office of Special Plans had tricked these intelligence committee veterans. They lied. There had been claims of regime ties to Al Queda all throughout the Clinton Administration. TIME, US News, Newsweek, LA Times, New York Times, and the Associated Press had all made the claims for 4-6 years before the invasion, yet these politicians tried to convince us that these claims of ties were new.
Consistent with their strategy of calling for investigation after investigation with the intent of misleading people into believing that there had to be some truth to all these allegations (ie, repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it), some of these politicians called for a criminal investigation of the Office of Special Plans. This time, they claimed that the Department of Defense acted illegally in examining intelligence from other agencies (including the Department of Defense’ own intelligence agencies apparently). Well (conveniently just a few weeks after the recent midterm elections) the inspector general of the Department of Defense has determined that the Office of Special Plans didn’t act illegally as claimed by senators who are covering their tracks, trying to escape culpability for their failures, AND pandering to their base that prefers to believe the invasion of Iraq was somehow all President Bush’s fault.
Enter the Associated Press (leading member of the mass media mujahedeen). In their effort to report on this, AP writer Robert Burns does a great job of carrying the excuse/accusation from Senator Levin regarding the Office of Special Plans. Burns writes, “The 2004 report from the Sept. 11 commission found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror organization before the U.S. invasion.” This is the mantra theme from those in Congress who would have us believe that the question of regime ties was thoroughly investigated and somehow determined; the issue is closed.
Report Says Pentagon Manipulated Intel
Since 2004, Sec. Lehman, Sen. Kerry, and other members of the 911 Commission have said that the matter of regime ties should be investigated further-closed. It should be left open because the 911 Commission comments were based on a lack of intelligence evidence gathered-not lack of evidence in existence.
The Senate Intelligence Committee 2004 report that you cite says the same thing-that their comments were based on a lack of evidence gathered-not lack of evidence, and that the matter should investigated-not closed.
The Senate Intelligence Committee Phase II report specifically says that the comments re "no evidence" in the phase I report were deliberately left vague so that people could draw their own conclusions (ie, to be political rather than substantive), and while the Senate Intelligence Committee phase II report is often described as a defacto closure of the matter (particularly by AP), that phase II report ALSO says that there was a lack of evidence gathered and so the matter should be left open (see also conclusion 9 on the matter).
Moreover, the Senate Intelligence Committee phase II report says in the very first conclusion section that the CIA has not even started an investigation into the question of regime ties to Al Queda, and so the phase II report was based-per its own admission-on one particular Defense Intelligence Agency leader, interrogations with Saddam (ie, his "word"), and analysis only of 18% or less of the captured intelligence tapes, videos and documents-most of which were dismissed by the Senate Intelligence Committee because no one would take the time to validate them.
The AP article ignored or missed the fact that the claimed reason that the Office of Special Plans was formed-according to the Bush Admin-was because the CIA and even Defense Intelligence Agency were not providing any detailed analysis reports on the question of regime/AQ ties. This is confirmed in that same 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report in the section on the Office of Special Plans and throughout the report in which there are repeated shortcomings in the CIA’s Iraqi Support for Terrorism reports (pamphlets). So the Office of Special Plans was formed to see if the intel agencies were overlooking anything as they had in the prelude to the 911 attacks. The Senate Intelligence Committee did the exact same thing in their phase II report where NO ONE was presenting any investigation or reports on the question.
The only post-invasion investigation into the question of regime ties to Al Queda was in the “Iraqi Perspectives Project report,” and that report-again, the ONLY one that looked into the matter post after the invasion-found that there was indeed a relationship, that Iraq was supporting, training, and sending out terrorists (including Al Queda), and that the “Blessed July” operation was to have been waged with terrorists trained, funded, equipped, and otherwise supported by the regime, Al Queda, and Al Queda affiliates.
The Associated Press seems to have chosen to deliberately mislead people again:
- to get them to believe there was enough evidence gathered pre-war to determine that no ties existed
- to get readers to believe that the Office of Special Plans was in fact forming its own intelligence per an agenda while ignoring the hypocrisy of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s identical effort in Phase II
- to continue the myth that there has been a post-war investigation into regime ties, and that such an investigation is based on something more credible than 18% of the captured intelligence assets and "Saddam’s Word"
For a deeper exposure of the effort to sustain the Bush Lied/Politicians cover their backsides matter, read: