(Cross posted on Dailykos.com)http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/7/11/193753/615

Any defense Rove may be contemplating that there was some sort of inadvertent “slip of the tongue” involved in his mention of Plame to Cooper (and Lord knows who else) should fall short of the mark when one takes into account the bigger picture here – the runup to war, and the single-minded plan the administration had to bully and threaten the intelligence community into sticking by the official story about those oh so elusive WMD’s.

It all goes back to lying – and not just listening to “flawed intelligence” – but actually manipulating and planting FAKE intelligence.  If that ain’t a crime, I don’t know what is.

As has been diaried here in the recent past, pure “vindictiveness” against Wilson probably was not be the sole reason Rove outed Plame.  Wilson was too close to the truth…but so were many in the CIA. Including, probably, Plame herself.  And in order to keep the truth from getting out to the public, the entire intelligence community had to be castrated, or, silenced by force or threat.

(more below)
Kafka couldn’t have written this any more strangely. In trying to connect some of the Downing Memo dots for myself about this angle of the story, I found this link (thanks to the awesome folks at EPluribus Media).  

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/21704/

Who Forged the Niger Documents?

By Ian Masters, AlterNet. Posted April 7, 2005.

A former counterterrorism chief claims that the now discredited documents that showed Iraq trying to purchase uranium were fabricated right here in the United States.

In this excellent and revealing transcript of a radio broadcast, Masters interviews a remarkably candid Vincent Cannistaro, the former CIA head of counterterrorism operations and intelligence director at the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan.  Cannistaro describes the intense pressure on the intelligence community to find the evidence and make the precise case that the WH wanted made, and the even more intense pressure on those (and it sounds like more than a few) inside the intelligence community who THEMSELVES were refuting those magic “16 words.”

“…the point is that it’s being taken as conventional wisdom that there really wasn’t any pressure by policy makers on the analytical process itself. And that’s just simply not true. It’s simply not true because analysts, generally, are like anyone else. They are concerned about their careers, their futures. Many of them are ambitious. If they understand that a dissenting opinion against the conventional policy wisdom is heard, that it’s going to affect their careers. There was a chilled environment in which to express any kind of opposite opinion.

Not only that, there wasn’t very much of a receptiveness at the senior levels of the CIA — at George Tenet’s level, for example, because he was a very political director. And he was very concerned about getting along with the administration. He was formerly a Democrat, appointed by a Democratic President and he had to stay on in a Republican administration. And he had to compete with a secretary of defense, Rumsfeld, who really didn’t want the CIA playing a large role in the intelligence community, and wanted to supplant that role. So, George had a more political bent. He wanted to get along, and therefore he had to play along. And “playing along” really meant to sustain the conceptions of the policy makers — particularly at the Pentagon and the vice president’s office — that Saddam Hussein was a real and imminent danger.

To do that, you had to accept some of these alarming reports that kept coming in, being fed by Ahmed Chalabi and his INC group. In many cases, the information was fabricated. Information, for example, about an alleged attempt by Saddam Hussein to acquire nuclear material, uranium, from Niger. This, we know now, was all based on fabricated documents. But it’s not clear yet — either from this report, or from any other report — who fabricated the documents.

The documents were fabricated by supporters of the policy in the United States. The policy being that you had to invade Iraq in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and you had to do it soon to avoid the catastrophe that would be produced by Saddam Hussein’s use of alleged weapons of mass destruction.”

Cannistaro states straight out that those “forged documents” – the bad “Italian intelligence” (Yeah, blame the Italians!)- that so fooled our folks were actually manufactured right here in the good old US of A.  A rather sloppy break-in preceded it – sounds like something a Nixonian (or, a Rovian?) would mastermind.  Or would, at least, approve of.

Cannistaro doesn’t say who was responsible for planting the forgeries, but when Masters guesses Michale Ledeen, he says, “Close.”

I found this next bit to be the most interesting – and the most closely related to the DSM timeline:

Q: “So,do you believe that, you know, that this process — whether it was the intention or not — it’s certainly worked out in such a way to exonerate the White House and to lay the blame with the wrong . . .”

A: “I think that’s certainly the objective. To lay it off to the intelligence community. But, it’s very disingenuous. It’s like saying, OK, the intelligence community that we whipped into a frenzy in order to provide information to sustain our policy conclusions that Saddam had a WMD program and that he was an imminent danger — that intelligence community provided information that now turns out not to be correct. And that’s why we were misled into saying what we did say, and doing what we did do. That’s very disingenuous, because that’s not the case at all.

The case was that this was not a fact-based policy that the U.S. government adopted. It was a policy-based decision that drove the intelligence, and not the other way around. And that’s, of course, the reverse of the process. You had a lot of people who played along to get along, and they understood that in that kind of administration, you couldn’t say exactly what it is that you really believed.”

Cannistaro goes on to say he can’t really exonerate the Intel community because there were huge gaps – gaps that the WH obviously played to their advantage, and which made the manufacturing of intelligence under all our noses possible.

Again, as has been diaried here previously, it’s likely that Plame, as highly placed in the CIA as she was, and as deep (twenty years!) into the undercover monitoring of WMD’s around the world, was one of the voices of reason, who knew full well that the intel was full of holes.  Sending a career-ending and potentially life-endangering message to an agent as highly placed as Plame would surely put a chill on anyone else out there willing to veer from the official playbook.

To me this is heinous and, if considered a reasonable interpretation, needs to be analyzed for the DSM timeline that Conyers is putting together.  I don’t think it’s tinfoil hat territory any more to accuse this admin of, at the very least, supporting the manufacturing and planting FALSE EVIDENCE in the justification for war.  Not just cherry-picking intel — but manufacturing intel.

(Oh yeah, but WMD’s aren’t why we went in there anymore, are they?  No, it’s 2) to take out bad Saddam 3) to spread Democracy and Freedom throughout the Middle East and/or 4) (as Scotty reminded us today) to “take the war on terrorism abroad so we don’t have to fight it at home.”  Yikes.  Did Scotty really SAY THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE?  Today?

If they get away with this, what’s the point of democracy at all?

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