Part Two: The Office of Special Plans
“WHIG, and its intention to sell an unnecessary war to a shell-shocked public, is only half the story. The other half of the manipulative sales team could be found in the neighborhood occupied by the Department of Defense. The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in Iraq. Think of it like baseball: the OSP pitched, and WHIG caught.
The OSP was on no government payroll and suffered no Congressional oversight. Their tainted information and interpretations overtopped the Iraq data being provided by the State Department and CIA. The OSP was able to accomplish this thanks to devoted patronage from high-ranking members of the administration, most prominently Vice-President Cheney.
The highest levels of the OSP were staffed by heavy-hitters like Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and William Luti, a former Navy officer who worked for Cheney before joining the Pentagon. When the OSP wanted to intimidate analysts into shaping conclusions to fit the already-made war decision, Cheney went to CIA headquarters on unprecedented visits. Once there, he demanded "forward-leaning" interpretations of the evidence. When Cheney was unable to go to the CIA, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, went in his place.
That's it, right there. Mr. Libby may be a target of Mr. Fitzgerald, but no one should forget the trips Cheney personally made to Langley in order to wring war-supporting evidence out of the analysts. He went himself. His fingerprints are all over the scene”.
-William Rivers Pitt http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101705I.shtml
The catching part of Mr. Pitt’s baseball analogy, WHIG, was set up by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in August of 2002 and chaired by Karl Rove in the wake of what has come to be known as the Downing Street Memo. Weeks earlier on July 23, George W. Bush perceptibly shifted in London by wanting to remove Saddam through military action justified by terror links and WMD. With the formation of WHIG, Bush could publicly proclaim his commitment to diplomatic solutions to Iraq through the UN, while WHIG would highlight his real intentions through the justifications set on Downing Street, couched in “smoking gun” and “mushroom cloud” metaphors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Iraq_Group
While these scare tactics easily cowed a Congress still shaken by the events of September 11 only one year earlier into giving Bush authority to attack Iraq if he felt it was warranted, the UN looked for proof. The IAEA found the opposite on March 7, 2003, when Dr. Mohammed El Baradei told the UN the documents of the purported sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq were forgeries. The following day, as Joseph Wilson describes in pages 325-327 of his book The Politics of Truth, a “workup” was done for the Office of the Vice President, the objective of which was to figure out how to discredit Wilson, who had already reported how phony the story in the Niger Forgeries was to the CIA the previous year.
So where exactly did the OSP get their “forward-leaning” intelligence on Iraq to pitch to WHIG? Certainly Doug Feith, who General Tommy Franks referred to as the “fucking stupidest guy on the planet”, couldn’t have interpreted it all. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1020-01.htm
Instead, Feith allowed OSP to become an open, unfiltered conduit to the White House in some very provocative ways. One colorful example is that they forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize. It is believed they were responsible for reports in mid 2003 that the reason why the fictional WMD were missing was because they had been moved to Syria. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0, ... 37,00.html
But prior to the war in 2001, Feith needed people he could trust to sift through raw intelligence to shape the story that the inquisitive Cheney and OSP creators Rumsfeld and his deputy secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to hear.
The answer was to delegate the task to a loyal pair called the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (CTEG), or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. Feith didn’t create this group all by himself; he had help recruiting one member by a Middle East specialist named Harold Rhode. This member was David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the neo-conservative organization American Enterprise Institute. Together with F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, they head a secret intelligence unit, though neither are intelligence professionals. This four- to five- person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, use powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/enti ... 46767-2682
Perhaps Wurmser’s best qualification for this job, in the eyes of his neo-con associates, was the paper he wrote in 1996 titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm". It advised then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back" regional threats, help overthrow Saddam Hussein, and strike "Syrian military targets in Lebanon" and possibly in Syria proper. Coauthors of the report included his wife Meyrav Wurmser, Richard Perle and Doug Feith. In addition, Wurmser worked on a strategy document in 2000 published by Daniel Pipe's Middle East Forum and Ziad Abdelnour's U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon that advocated a wider U.S. role in Lebanon. The study, "Ending Syria's Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role?" called for the United States to force Syria from Lebanon and to disarm it of its alleged weapons of mass destruction. It also argued that "Syrian rule in Lebanon stands in direct opposition to American ideals" and criticized the United States for engaging rather than confronting the regime. Among the documents signers were several soon-to-be Bush administration figures, including Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, Michael Rubin, and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky. Other signers included Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and Frank Gaffney. http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M. ... -syria.htm
Finally, there was the paper he wrote in 2001 titled ‘Middle East "War:" How Did It Come to This?’ To quote Wurmser, "Israel and the United States should adopt a coordinated strategy to regain the initiative and reverse their regionwide strategic retreat. They should broaden the conflict to strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region—the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza. That would reestablish the recognition that fighting with either the United States or Israel is suicidal." Wurmser was moved into the State Department, and then became Middle East advisor to Dick Cheney. http://zfacts.com/p/771.html
Maloof, a former journalist, has had a hard time hanging on to a security clearance; a necessity if one is to analyze classified documents. He was stripped of his security clearance in November of 2003 for being associated with a Lebanese-American businessman under federal investigation for possible involvement in a gun-running scheme to Liberia, the West African nation embroiled in civil war. The businessman, Imad El Haje, approached Maloof on behalf of Syria to seek help in arranging a communications channel between Syria and the Defense Department. http://www.informationclearinghouse.inf ... le5165.htm
He was also reportedly involved in a bizarre scheme to broker contacts between Iraqi officials and the Pentagon, channeled through Richard Perle, in what one report called a 'rogue operation' outside official CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency channels. http://www.sw-asia.com/People/Bio955.htm
But what is even more intriguing, in light of Patrick Fitzgerald’s grand jury investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity, is the previous occasion Maloof had his security clearance revoked in December 2001. The following April, James Risen reported in The New York Times, “Several intelligence professionals say he came under scrutiny because of suspicions that he had leaked classified information in the past to the news media, a charge that Mr. Maloof denies.” His connections with the news media is significant in light of this quote from Frank Foer of New York Magazine on Judy Miller: “In particular, Miller is said to have depended on a controversial neocon in Feith’s office named Michael Maloof.” http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/07-13- ... cgi.8.html
This is the same Judy Miller that Fitzgerald charged with contempt of court who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify that Scooter Libby revealed Plame’s identity to her. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?ti ... ith_Miller
Yet in spite of all these shenanigans, Maloof remained on "special detail" to Feith until August 2004, three years after his security clearance was revoked. http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/07-13- ... cgi.8.html
The result is that the OSP got what Cheney called “forward-leaning” interpretations of intelligence, or what others have called cooking the books. James Risen of the New York Times wrote that Wurmser, Feith and Maloof culled classified material, often uncorroborated CIA data, uncovering what Maloof calls 'tons of raw intelligence' that two were 'stunned' to find was not mentioned in CIA's finished reports. The CTEG saw new alliances among Islamic terrorists such as Shiites and Sunnis and secular Arab regimes and gave senior Bush administration figures conclusions connecting Iraq and al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Some intelligence experts charge the CTEG had a secret agenda to justify war and was staffed with people handpicked by conservatives like Richard Perle to justify preordained conclusions. Patrick Lang says those brought in were not analysts but people who would deliver desired opinions; chart showing links between Feith, Maloof, Wurmser and Richard Perle, head of DoD intelligence Stephen Cambone, leader of Iraqi National Congress (INC) Ahmad Chalabi and top officials briefed by unit: Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Dir George Tenet, national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Scooter Libby. http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M. ... -syria.htm
But above all, Dick Cheney was CTEG’s patron. He had the group present its material at the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the National Security Council. He made frequent public remarks, drawing on CTEG conclusions, alleging an al-Qaeda/Saddam connection. Even after the 9/11 Commission delivered its verdict that there was no collaborative relationship between the two sides, Cheney announced that the evidence of the Bin Laden-Baghdad ties was “overwhelming”. John Hannah, a Cheney aide who became the Vice President’s national security adviser after Libby’s resignation, recycled some of the material into a draft of the speech Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give at the United Nations in February 2003 – a draft that Powell threw out, calling it “bullshit”. http://www.slate.com/id/2129686/
The link between OVP and OSP is William Luti. He had come to run the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia Affairs section (NESA) directly from the office of Vice President Cheney. According to Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was working at NESA in 2002, she recalls one meeting in which Luti, pressed to finish a report, told the staff, "I've got to get this over to 'Scooter' right away." She later found out that "Scooter" was none other than Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. According to Kwiatkowski, Cheney had direct ties through Luti into NESA/OSP, a connection that was highly unorthodox. "Never, ever, ever would a deputy undersecretary of Defense work directly on a project for the vice president," she says. "It was a little clue that we had an informal network into Vice President Cheney's office." http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature ... lcome=true