The evidence now on the public record is overwhelming and, if we could have a jury, Vice President Dick Cheney would be found guilty of cooking the intelligence and lying us into war. Three remarkable and compelling pieces of evidence have hit the streets within the last two weeks. Let’s start with today and work backwards. The Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on the pre-war intelligence. Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina, who requested to attend today’s Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing — asked (click to watch) Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret’d) how neoconservatives in the Administration gained so much power, and why no one spoke out against their efforts to shape policy toward Iraq in the run-up to war. Col. Wilkerson responded, “The Vice President”.
Most of the men who appeared today before Senator Dorgan and Congressman Jones are Republicans. None are partisans. Their words are horrifying when you realize that over 2500 American men and women have died in Iraq based on a lie.
You can read their statements at this link.
If you have visited this blog before you have probably seen several pieces by me describing how the Administration ignored the intelligence community warnings to not use the claim that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium yellowcake in West Africa and that there was no operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. On both issues Vice President Cheney, President Bush, National Security Advisor Rice, and Secretary of Defense deliberately ignored the intelligence community.
Bush, and others in his administration, have denied they were trying to persuade Americans that Iraq was somehow behind 9-11. That too is a lie. A bald faced lie. How can I be so confident? We now have public testimony that the Administration repeatedly tried to link the 9-11 attacks to Iraq and willfully ignored the analysis of the intelligence community and the evidence from the law enforcement community. Vice President Cheney and Stephen Hadley, the current National Security Advisor, pressured and bullied the intelligence community to confirm that Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence officers in the Czech Republic prior to the 9-11 attack.
First, we have the testimony of Col. Wikerson. According to the Colonel:
In the rehearsal and discussion sessions at Langley, the give and take was mostly the Secretary of State trying to eliminate unsubstantiated and/or unhelpful material and others from the White House trying to keep that material in, or add more. One such incident occurred several times and the final time it occurred provided an example of the Secretary’s growing frustration.
Repeatedly, the OVP or NCS staff personnel tried to insert into the presentation the alleged meeting in Prague between al-Qaeda operative and 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence personnel. Repeatedly, Secretary Powell eliminated it based on the DCI’s refusal to corroborate it.
Finally, at one of the last Langley rehearsals, Secretary Powell was stopped in mid-presentation by deputy national security advisor Steve Hadley and asked what had happened to the paragraph describing the meeting in Prague. Secretary Powell fixed Hadley with a firm stare and said with some pique, “We took it out, Steve — and it’s staying out.”
Second, there is the Frontline piece, The Dark Side, which was first broadcast on June 20, 2006. That documentary, buttressed by the testimony of intelligence and policy officials with first hand knowledge, describe how Cheney actively tried to subvert the intelligence process and, despite being told no evidence, continued to appear in public and boldly lie that Atta had met the Iraqis in Prague.
Third, there is the new book by Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine. On pages 189-191 Suskind provides an account consistent with Col. Wilkerson’s.
Cheney’s office claimed to have sources. And Rumsfeld’s too. They kept throwing them at [Deputy Director for Intelligence Jami Miscik] and CIA. The same information, five different ways. They’d omit that a key piece that had been discounted, that the source had recanted. Sorry, our mistake. Then it would reappear, again, in a memo the next week. The CIA held firm: the meeting in Prague between Atta and the Iraqi agent didn’t occur.
Miscik was no fool. She understood what was going on. It wasn’t about what was true, or verifiable. It was about a defensible position, or at least one that would hold up until the troops were marching through Baghdad, welcomed as liberators.
A few days before, when she had sent the final draft [of a report about connections between Saddam and al-qaeda] over to Libby and Hadley, she told them, emphatically, This is it. There would be no more drafts, no more meetings where her analysts sat across from Hadley, or Feith, or the guys in Feith’s office, while the opposing team tied to slip something by them. The report was not what they wanted. She knew that. No evidence meant no evidence.
“I’m not going back there, again, George,” Miscik said. “If I have to go back to hear their crap and rewrite this [expletive] report…I’m resigning, right now.”
She fought back tears of rage.
Tenet picked up the phone to call Hadley.
“She is not coming over,” he shouted into the phone. “We are not rewriting this [expletive] report one more time. It is [expletive] over. Do you hear me! And don’t you ever [expletive] treat my people this way again. Ever!”
They did not re-write the report.
To call someone a liar, particularly the President and Vice President, is considered stepping over the line of public decorum. However, given the facts on the record, there is no other logical conclusion. Bush and Cheney are liars and because of their lies, Americans are dead and grievously wounded.
Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder
of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm
that helps corporations and governments manage threats posed by
terrorism and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously
with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s
Office of Counter Terrorism (as a Deputy Director), is a recognized
expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk
management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety
of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio,
ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News,
and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for
publications, including Security Management Magazine, the New York
Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and
aviation security around the world. Further bio