Monday, April 30, 2007

Tenet: You should have resigned
Open Letter from former CIA Officers

Blog editor's note: Six former CIA officers write an open letter to George Tenet in which they argue (a) that there was no strong consensus among intelligence professionals that Iraq had WMDs, and (b) that Tenet was just as much at fault as the rest of the Bush administration for transforming shaky intelligence into an air-tight case for war. It is moments such as these, when important people such as Tenet begin covering their respective backsides, that the general public finally gets a glimpse into the halls of power.

Dear Mr. Tenet:
We write to you on the occasion of the release of your book, At the
Center of the Storm. You are on the record complaining about the
“damage to your reputation”. In our view the damage to your
reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have
caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the
national security of the United States. We believe you have a moral
obligation to return the Medal of Freedom you received from President
George Bush. We also call for you to dedicate a significant percentage
of the royalties from your book to the U.S. soldiers and their families
who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.

We agree with you that Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush
administration officials took the United States to war for flimsy
reasons. We agree that the war of choice in Iraq was ill-advised and
wrong headed. But your lament that you are a victim in a process you
helped direct is self-serving, misleading and, as head of the
intelligence community, an admission of failed leadership. You were
not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered
policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick
Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq.

To read the rest of this letter, see

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Iraq a mistake - ex-Army big

The Associated Press
Sunday, April 29th 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush is "squandering" American lives in Iraq and should sign legislation to begin pulling out U.S. troops on Oct. 1, retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom said yesterday.

"I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill Congress has sent him," Odom said, delivering the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Odom, an outspoken critic of the war who served as the Army's top intelligence officer and headed the National Security Agency during the Ronald Reagan administration, delivered the address at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He said he has never been a Democrat or a Republican.

The general accused Bush of helping Iran and Al Qaeda by invading Iraq.

"The challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq; it is how to recover from a strategic mistake: invading Iraq in the first place," he said.

"He [Bush] lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'Your Iraq plan?' is a pointless question
Candidates should acknowledge that Bush's war is a failure and look beyond Iraq.

By Andrew J. Bacevich
Los Angeles Times
April 9, 2007

Blog Editor's note: In this opinion piece, Bacevich gives a crystal clear view of what journalists should be asking presidential candidates about American foreign policy. He is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He is the author of "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War."

For today's presidential candidates, the question is unavoidable: What is your plan for Iraq?

In interviews and town hall meetings, on talk shows and at fundraisers, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani and all the others aspiring to succeed President Bush confront a battery of Iraq questions: Are you for the surge or against it? If the surge fails, what's your Plan B? How will you help the troops win? How will you get the troops out?

However sincere, such questions are also pointless. To pose them is to invite dissembling. The truth is that next to nothing can be done to salvage Iraq. It no longer lies within the capacity of the United States to determine the outcome of events there. Iraqis will decide their own fate. We are spectators, witnesses, bystanders caught in a conflagration that we ourselves, in an act of monumental folly, touched off.

The questions that ought to be asked now — but so far have not been — are of a different order.

To read the full text, see Los Angeles

Friday, April 06, 2007

Levin Releases Newly Declassified Pentagon Inspector General Report on Intelligence Assessment Activities of the Office of Under Secretary of Defense Doug Feith

Press Office
Sen. Carl Levin, Senate Armed Services Committee
April 5, 2007

Blog editor's note: More evidence of how the Bush administration ignored the intelligence community's consensus and substituted its own view of things to justify a war with Iraq comes in this report that was declassified yesterday. For an account of another dimension of the Administration's "faith based" intelligence, see an excerpt in the Washington Post on Monday from the newly published book, "The Italian Letter: How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq." The book is authored by two veteran investigative journalists, Peter Eisner and Knut Royce. See see Washington

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the newly declassified report [PDF] of the Department of Defense Inspector General on its "Review of the Pre-Iraqi War Activities of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy." The report was declassified at Levin's request.

In releasing the report, Levin said: "It is important for the public to see why the Pentagon's Inspector General concluded that Secretary Feith's office 'developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaeda relationship,' which included 'conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community,' and why the Inspector General concluded that these actions were 'inappropriate.' Until today, those details were classified and outside the public's view."

The Feith office alternative intelligence assessments concluded that Iraq and al Qaeda were cooperating and had a "mature, symbiotic" relationship, a view that was not supported by the available intelligence, and was contrary to the consensus view of the Intelligence Community. These alternative assessments were used by the Administration to support its public arguments in its case for war. As the DOD IG report confirms, the Intelligence Community never found an operational relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda; the report specifically states that,"the CIA and DIA disavowed any 'mature, symbiotic' relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida."

To read the full text, see Levin Press Office

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Being A Superpower Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

by David Isenberg | March 27th, 2007
Partnership for a Secure America

Blog editor's note: Here's an interesting perspective (and uncommonly heard one in the mainstream press) on the nuclear confrontation with Iran.

Well, now that the United Nations Security Council last week passed its latest sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program let us take a moment to ponder the wonderfully wacky world of nuclear proliferation. In this world the letter of the law matters less than the power of the sheriff enforcing it.
Consider the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in 1970, which both the United States and Iran constantly refer to in the back and forth over Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States says is cover for a program to acquire nuclear weapons.
The NPT obligates the five acknowledged nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, and China) not to transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non-nuclear-weapon state. Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties undertake not to acquire or produce nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. They are required also to accept safeguards to detect diversions of nuclear materials from peaceful activities, such as power generation, to the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

To read the full text, see

Terrorized by 'War on Terror'
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America

By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Washington Post
Sunday, March 25, 2007; B01

The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound -- is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare -- political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections was also mobilized in part by the notion that "a nation at war" does not change its commander in chief in midstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger was thus channeled in a politically expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal of being "at war."

To read the full text, see Washington Post

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dems abandon war authority provision

By DAVID ESPO and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writers
Tue Mar 13, 2007

Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.

The developments occurred as Democrats pointed toward an initial test vote in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday on the overall bill, which would require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, if not earlier. The measure provides nearly $100 billion to pay for fighting in two wars, and includes more money than the president requested for operations in Afghanistan and what Democrats called training and equipment shortages.

To read the full text, see