The Insiders Are Coming Out
By William 0aRivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 08 July 2003
For many, many months now, we have endured what is known in the 0acommon political lexicon as an 'Imperial Presidency.' The term denotes an 0aadministration that keeps its secrets, says nothing to the press worth 0areporting, lies with impunity beneath the veil of those secrets, and threatens 0aretaliation against anyone who might stand in the way. When done properly, an 0aImperial Presidency becomes a powerful, unstoppable force. When an Imperial 0aPresidency is guarded in Congress by political allies who hold the majority, it 0abecomes almost completely unassailable.
Think about it. When was the last time we got a straight answer 0aout of the Bush administration? When was the last time anyone with real power 0ademanded answers from the folks in the White House? In the vacuum, we wind up 0agetting answers like the one Don Rumsfeld delivered on February 12, 2002 when 0afaced with pointed press questions about terrorism:
"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we 0aknow. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are 0asome things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we 0adon't know we don't know."
These boys could give lessons to Orwell. Without anyone in 0aCongress slinging subpoenas, and with a press cowed by the threat of removal 0afrom the White House beat, there is no way to take an Imperial Presidency to 0atask for its actions when deliberate gibberish is the rule of the news day.
There is no way.unless the White House insiders come out and 0astart talking. Suddenly, that is exactly what is happening.
On June 26, I conducted an interview with 0a27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern. McGovern served every President from Kennedy 0ato Bush Sr., and delivered a wide spectrum of insight and data regarding both 0athe September 11 attack and the second Iraq war. One key question McGovern 0aanswered dealt with the rapidly expanding scandal surrounding Bush 0aadministration tampering with evidence of Iraqi weapons.
The story has been taking a slow boil for months now, ever since 0athe end of the war. The justification for attacking Iraq, as presented by the 0aadministration, was that Saddam Hussein had thousands of tons of deadly weapons 0apractically falling out of his ears. Day after day came the dire reports from 0aBush, from Cheney, from Rumsfeld, from Rice, from Powell before the UN, from 0adozens of hired administration guns who saturated the airwaves with stories of 0alooming doom in the shadow of September 11.
The weapons never showed up. Stories began to swirl about Vice 0aPresident Cheney taking unprecedented trips to CIA headquarters for the purpose 0aof leaning on the intelligence analysts so he would get the damning Iraq weapons 0areports the administration needed to justify combat. Stories began to swirl 0aabout obviously forged evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program that was 0adeliberately used by Bush to justify war, despite the fact that everyone in the 0aWhite House knew the evidence had been crudely faked. To counteract these 0astories, the Imperial Presidency laid blame for all of this on the CIA.
When I questioned McGovern on the impact these developments were 0ahaving on the American intelligence community, McGovern made a prescient 0aprediction:
"To the degree that esprit de corps exists, and I know it does 0aamong the folks we talk to, there is great, great turmoil there. In the coming 0aweeks, we're going to be seeing folks coming out and coming forth with what they 0aknow, and it is going to be very embarrassing for the Bush administration."
A New York Times article from Sunday July 6 quoted former US 0aambassador Joseph Wilson as saying, "Based on my experience with the 0aadministration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to 0aconclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program 0awas twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Wilson was the man sent to Niger in 0aFebruary of 2002 to assess the validity of documentary evidence that claimed to 0adescribe an attempt by Iraq to procure materials for the development of a 0anuclear weapons platform. "It did not take long to conclude that it was highly 0adoubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place," said Wilson in the 0aTimes.
Wilson certainly reported his findings to the White House, 0abecause he was asked to make the Niger trip by none other than Dick Cheney. 0aDespite this fact, the faked Niger evidence was used dramatically by George W. 0aBush in a speech that directly connected September 11 to the alleged Iraqi 0aweapons:
"We have experienced the horror of September 11. We have seen 0athat those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full 0aof innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing -- in fact they would 0abe eager -- to use a biological, or chemical, or a nuclear weapon. Knowing these 0arealities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear 0aevidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that 0acould come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
The "mushroom cloud" comment was appalling to another 0aadministration insider. Greg Thielmann, Director of the Office of Strategic, 0aProliferation, and Military Issues in the State Department, told Newsweek at the 0abeginning of June 2003 that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and 0aResearch had concluded the documents were "garbage."
"When I saw that, it really blew me away," Thielmann told 0aNewsweek. When Thielmann found out that Bush had used the faked Niger evidence 0ato justify war to the American people, he said, "Not that stupid piece of 0agarbage. My thought was, how did that get into the speech?"
Another White House insider has come out in spectacular fashion. 0aRand Beers served the Bush administration on the National Security Council at 0athe White House as a special assistant to the President for combating terrorism. 0aMr. Beers served in government for more than 30 years working in international 0anarcotics and law enforcement affairs, intelligence, and counter-terrorism. He 0aworked for the National Security Council under presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., 0aClinton. Beer's service to his country began with two tours in Vietnam with the 0aMarine Corps.
In a June 25 2003 interview with Ted Koppel on Nightline, Beers 0areported that the administration was failing dramatically to defend the United 0aStates against terrorism. According to Beers, al Qaeda presented a far greater 0athreat to America than Hussein and Iraq, and that the Iraq war was a terrible 0aand unnecessary distraction from what was truly needed to keep the nation 0asafe.
In his Nightline interview, Beers said, "Well, I think, firstly, 0athere is an inadequate amount of funding. There was a report about the House 0apassing the fiscal year 2004 budget, yesterday. And the main point of the 0aarticle is that most everybody, expect for the Administration, believes that 0athere was an inadequate funding level in that budget. People voted for it 0abecause the alternative was not acceptable, to have no budget. That has been, to 0amy knowledge, a continuous perspective that the Administration has had. They've 0abeen unable or unwilling to ask for sufficient funds to actually do the job. And 0athen, they haven't followed through with the programs that actually would turn 0athat money into activities in as rapid and forceful a fashion as I think that it 0ashould. One of the phrases that is used often within Washington is 'business as 0ausual.' And I'm really concerned that this Administration, despite its rhetoric, 0ahas given the homeland security function a 'business as usual' mantra."
Beers' position as special assistant to the President for 0acombating terrorism meant he saw everything and knew everything. He was on 0aNightline for one reason: He quit his job, walked out the door, and joined the 0aJohn Kerry for President campaign as National Security Advisor.
Today, everything Beers knows about the manner in which the 0aadministration acted towards Iraq, towards Afghanistan, towards September 11, is 0aalso known by a Senator from Massachusetts who is running for President on a 0avery large and public stage.
Ray McGovern was right. The insiders are coming out, and the 0atrickle has become a flood.