Saturday, October 29, 2005

Vice President Cheney vs. the C.I.A.

Eric Leser, Washington correpondent for Le Monde paints an interesting backdrop to Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation and subsequent indictment of Scooter Libby. Blogger Nur al-Cubicle (basking in the spotlight of the Washington Post for her translation of a three-part piece of investigative reporting from Iraly) scores again translating this piece from Le Monde.

The backdrop to the affair of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose identity was unveiled to the press by members of the US Administration, is the years-long war fought between the Vice President, Dick Cheney, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Dick Cheney is long-time adversary of the CIA. As Secretary of Defense during the administration of Bush père and as Vice President since 2001, he has never missed a chance to denounce the failings and shortcomings of the Agency. Cheney's criticism began at the end of the 1980s, when the CIA failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union. When Saddam invades Kuwait in August 1990, Mr. Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, notices with stupefaction the lack of intelligence available to the United States on the Iraqi arsenal. Lewis Libby, who was already working with Cheney, is charged with the mission of investigating the biological warfare capabilities of the Iraqi army.

Just after the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, Mr. Cheney created a powerful intelligence center inside Vice President’s office—a parallel national security council. Mr. Cheney not only received the daily presidential briefings issued by the CIA but he attended nearly every meeting on national security at which the President was present.
In his war on the CIA, the Vice President had powerful allies, including Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, both long-standing enemies of the CIA. Paul Wolfowitz was a member of the B-Team, created to monitor the work of experts considered “too soft” on the USSR during the 1970s during George Bush Sr.'s term as CIA director. The alarmist reports published by the B-Team were behind President Ronald Reagan’s rearmament and Star Wars programs.

As to Don Rumsfeld, he headed a 1998 Congressional commission on “rogue states”. The commission concluded that the CIA was incapable of gathering intelligence on these new threats. On the day following 9-11, the Office of Special Plans was created inside the Pentagon. This back-office, placed under the authority of Paul Wolfowitz and managed by his Under Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith, was to analyze data supplied by the CIA and military intelligence and to report its conclusions to the White House. Working from assertions by Iraqi exiles close to the Iraqi National Congress and its chairman, Ahmed Chalabi, the bureau inflated the Iraqi WMD threat. The office has since been shut down.

Trees, meet forest.

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