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All Roads Lead to Dark Winter

By Whitney Webb | The Last American Vagabond | April 1, 2020

The leaders of two controversial pandemic simulations that took place just months before the Coronavirus crisis – Event 201 and Crimson Contagion – share a common history, the 2001 biowarfare simulation Dark Winter. Dark Winter not only predicted the 2001 anthrax attacks, but some of its participants had clear foreknowledge of those attacks.

During the presidency of George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, something disturbing unfolded at the U.S.’ top biological warfare research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Specimens of highly contagious and deadly pathogens – anthrax and ebola among them – had disappeared from the lab, at a time when lab workers and rival scientists had been accused of targeted sexual and ethnic harassment and several disgruntled researchers had left as a result.

In addition to missing samples of anthrax, ebola, hanta virus and a variant of AIDS, two of the missing specimens had been labeled “unknown” – “an Army euphemism for classified research whose subject was secret,” according to reports. The vast majority of the specimens lost were never found and an Army spokesperson would later claim that it was “likely some were simply thrown out with the trash.”

An internal Army inquiry in 1992 would reveal that one employee, Lt. Col. Philip Zack, had been caught on camera secretly entering the lab to conduct “unauthorized research, apparently involving anthrax,” the Hartford Courant would later report. Despite this, Zack would continue to do infectious disease research for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and would collaborate with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) throughout the 1990s.

The Courant had also noted that: “A numerical counter on a piece of lab equipment had been rolled back to hide work done by the mystery researcher [later revealed to be Zack], who left the misspelled label ‘antrax’ in the machine’s electronic memory.” The Courant’s report further detailed the extremely lax security controls and chaotic disorganization that then characterized the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) lab in Fort Detrick.

This same lab would, a decade later, be officially labeled as the source of the anthrax spores responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, attacks which are also officially said to have been the work of a “deranged” USAMRIID researcher, despite initially having been blamed on Saddam Hussein and Iraq by top government officials and mainstream media. Those attacks killed 5 Americans and sickened 17.

Yet, as the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks unfolded, accusations from major U.S. newspapers soon emerged that the FBI was deliberately sabotaging the probe to protect the Anthrax attacker and that the CIA and U.S. military intelligence had refused to cooperate with the investigation. The FBI did not officially close their investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, nicknamed “Amerithrax,” until 2010 and aspects of that investigation still remain classified.

More recently, this past July, the same Fort Detrick lab would be shut down by the CDC, after it was found that researchers “did not maintain an accurate or current inventory” for toxins and “failed to safeguard against unauthorized access to select agents.” The closure of the lab for its numerous breaches of biosafety protocols would be hidden from Congress and the facility would controversially be partially reopened last November before all of the identified biosafety issues were resolved.

The same day that the lab was controversially allowed to partially reopen, which was the result of heavy lobbying from the Pentagon, local news outlets reported that the lab had suffered “two breaches of containment” last year, though the nature of those breaches and the pathogens involved were redacted in the inspection findings report obtained by the Frederick News Post. Notably, USAMRIID has, since the 1980s, worked closely with virologists and virology labs in Wuhan, China, where the first epicenter of the current novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases emerged. The Chinese government has since alleged that the virus had been brought to China by members of the U.S. military, members of which attended the World Military Games in the country last October.

Such similarities among these Fort Detrick lab breaches, from the early 1990s to 2001 to the present, may be nothing more than unfortunate coincidences that are the result of a stubborn federal government and military that have repeatedly refused to enforce the necessary stringent safety precautions on the nation’s top biological warfare laboratory.

Yet, upon examining not only these biosafety incidents at Fort Detrick, but the 2001 Anthrax attacks and the current Covid-19 outbreak, another odd commonality stands out — high-level war games exercises took place in June 2001 that eerily predicted not only the Anthrax attacks, but also the initial government narrative of those attacks and much, much more.

That June 2001 exercise, known as “Dark Winter,” also predicted many aspects of government pandemic response that would later re-emerge in last October’s simulation “Event 201,” which predicted a global pandemic caused by a novel Coronavirus just months before the Covid-19 outbreak. In addition, the U.S. government would lead its own multi-part series of pandemic simulations, called “Crimson Contagion,” that would also predict aspects of the Covid-19 outbreak and government response.

Upon further investigation, key leaders of both Event 201 and Crimson Contagion, not only have deep and longstanding ties to U.S. Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense, they were all previously involved in that same June 2001 exercise, Dark Winter. Some of these same individuals would also play a role in the FBI’s “sabotaged” investigation into the subsequent Anthrax attacks and are now handling major aspects of the U.S. government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. One of those individuals, Robert Kadlec, was recently put in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) entire Covid-19 response efforts, despite the fact that he was recently and directly responsible for actions that needlessly infected Americans with Covid-19.

Other major players in Dark Winter are now key drivers behind the “biodefense” mass surveillance programs currently being promoted as a technological solution to Covid-19’s spread, despite evidence that such programs actually worsen pandemic outbreaks. Others still have close connections to the insider trading that recently occurred among a select group of U.S. Senators regarding the economic impact of Covid-19 and are set to personally profit from lucrative contracts to develop not just one, but the majority, of experimental Covid-19 treatments and vaccines currently under development by U.S. companies.

This investigative series, entitled “Engineering Contagion: Amerithrax, Coronavirus and the Rise of the Biotech-Industrial Complex,” will examine these disturbing parallels between the 2001 anthrax attacks and the current scandals and “solutions” of the Covid-19 crisis as well as the simulations that eerily preceded both events. By tracing key actors in Dark Winter from 2001 to the present, it is also possible to trace the corruption that has lurked behind U.S. “biodefense” and pandemic preparedness efforts for decades and which now is rearing its ugly head as pandemic panic distracts the American and global public from the fundamentally untrustworthy, and frankly dangerous, individuals who are in control of the U.S. government’s and corporate America’s response.

Given their involvement in Dark Winter and, more recently, Event 201 and Crimson Contagion, this series seeks to explore the possibility that, just like the 2001 anthrax attacks, government insiders had foreknowledge of the Covid-19 crisis on a scale that, thus far, has gone unreported and that those same insiders are now manipulating the government’s response and public panic in order to reap record profits and gain unprecedented power for themselves and control over people’s lives.

A Dark Winter Descends

In late June 2001, the U.S. military was preparing for a “Dark Winter.” At Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland, several Congressmen, a former CIA director, a former FBI director, government insiders and privileged members of the press met to conduct a biowarfare simulation that would precede both the September 11 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax attacks by a matter of months. It specifically simulated the deliberate introduction of smallpox to the American public by a hostile actor.

The simulation was a collaborative effort led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (part of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security) in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Analytic Services (ANSER) Institute for Homeland Security and the Oklahoma National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The concept, design and script of the simulation were created by Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center along with Randy Larsen and Mark DeMier of ANSER. The full script of the exercise can be read here.

The name for the exercise derives from a statement made by Robert Kadlec, who participated in the script created for the exercise, when he states that the lack of smallpox vaccines for the U.S. populace means that “it could be a very dark winter for America.” Kadlec, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration and a former lobbyist for military intelligence/intelligence contractors, is now leading HHS’ Covid-19 response and led the Trump administration’s 2019 “Crimson Contagion” exercises, which simulated a crippling pandemic influenza outbreak in the U.S. that had first originated in China. Kadlec’s professional history, his decades-old obsession with apocalyptic bioweapon attack scenarios and the Crimson Contagion exercises themselves are the subject of Part III of this series.

The Dark Winter exercise began with a briefing on the geopolitical context of the exercise, which included intelligence suggesting that China had intentionally introduced Foot and Mouth disease in Taiwan for economic and political advantage; that Al-Qaeda was seeking to purchase biological pathogens once weaponized by the Soviet Union; and that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had recruited former biowarfare specialists from the Soviet Union and was importing materials to create biological weapons. It further notes that a majority of Americans had opposed a planned deployment of U.S. soldiers to the Middle East, which was also opposed by Iraq, China and Russia. The script also asserts that the soldiers were being deployed to counter and potentially engage the Iraqi military. Later, as the exercise unfolds, many of those Americans once skeptical about this troop deployment soon begin calling for “revenge.”

Amid this backdrop, news suddenly breaks that smallpox, a disease long eradicated in the U.S. and globally, appears to have broken out in the state of Oklahoma. The participants in Dark Winter, representing the National Security Council, quickly deduce that smallpox has been deliberately introduced and that this is the result of a “bioterrorist attack on the United States.” The assumption is made that the attack is “related to decisions we may make to deploy troops to the Mid-East.”

Not unlike what is unfolding currently with the Covid-19 crisis, in Dark Winter, there is no means of rapid diagnosis for smallpox, no treatments available and no surge capacity in the healthcare system. The outbreak quickly spreads to numerous other U.S. states and throughout the world. Hospitals in the U.S. soon face “desperate situations” as “tens of thousands of ill or anxious persons seek care.” This is compounded by “grossly inadequate supplies” and “insufficient isolation rooms,” among other complications.

Since this exercise occurred in June 2001, the heavy hinting that Saddam Hussein-led Iraq and Al Qaeda are the main suspects is notable. Indeed, at one point in one of the fictional news reports used in the exercise, the reporter states that “Iraq might have provided the technology behind the attacks to terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.” Such claims that Iraq’s government was linked to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would re-emerge months later in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and would be heavily promoted by several Dark Winter participants such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, who would later swear under oath that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. It would, of course, later emerge that Iraq’s connections to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks were nonexistent as well as the fact that Iraq did not possess biological weapons or other “weapons of mass destruction.”

Notably, this insertion into one of the Dark Winter news clips was not the only part of the exercise that sought to link Saddam Hussein and Iraq to biological weapons. For instance, during the exercise, satellite imaging showed that a “suspected bioresearch facility” in Iraq appeared to be expanding an “exclusionary zone” in order to limit civilian activity near the facility as well as a “possible quarantine” area in the same area as this facility. Previously in the exercise, Iraq was one of three countries, along with Iran and North Korea, who were “repeatedly rumored” to have illicitly obtained Soviet smallpox cultures from defecting scientists and Iraq was alleged to have offered employment to a leading smallpox scientist who had worked on the Soviet bioweapons program.

Then, at the end of the exercise, a “prominent Iraqi defector” emerges who claims Iraq had arranged the bioweapons attack “through intermediaries,” which is deemed “highly credible” even though “there is no forensic evidence to support this claim.” Iraq officially denies the accusation, but vows to target the U.S. in “highly damaging ways” if the U.S. “takes action against Iraq.” It is thus unsurprising that, as will be shown later in this report, key participants in Dark Winter would heavily promote the narrative that Iraq was to blame for the 2001 Anthrax attacks. Other participants, including Robert Kadlec, would then become involved in the FBI’s “sabotaged” investigation once the Bureau began to focus on a domestic, as opposed to an international source.

In addition, as part of Dark Winter, mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times and others, were sent anonymous letters that threatened renewed attacks on the U.S., including anthrax attacks, if the U.S. did not withdraw its troops from the Middle East. In this simulation, those letters contained “a genetic fingerprint of the smallpox strain matching the fingerprint of the strain causing the current epidemic.” During the Anthrax attacks that would occur just a few months after Dark Winter, Judith Miller – who participated in Dark Winter – and other U.S. reporters would receive threatening letters with a white powder presumed to be Anthrax. In Miller’s case, the powder turned out to be harmless.

Other aspects of Dark Winter appear more notable now than ever, particularly in light of recent pandemic simulations that were conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (Event 201) and the Trump administration (Crimson Contagion) in 2019, as well as the federal government’s current options for responding to Covid-19.

For instance, Dark Winter warns of “dangerous misinformation” spreading online selling “unverified” cures and making similarly “unverified” claims, all of which are deemed as posing a threat to public safety. Such concerns over online misinformation/disinformation and narrative control have recently surfaced in connection with the current Covid-19 crisis. Notable, however, is the fact that the “Event 201” simulation held last October, which simulated a global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, also greatly emphasized concerns about such misinformation/disinformation and suggested increased social media censorship and “limited internet shutdowns” to combat the issue. That simulation was co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which is currently led by Dark Winter co-author Thomas Inglesby.

Dark Winter further discusses the suppression and removal of civil liberties, such as the possibility of the President to invoke “The Insurrection Act”, which would allow the military to act as law enforcement upon request by a State governor, as well as the possibility of “martial rule.” The Dark Winter script also discusses how options for martial rule “include, but are not limited to, prohibition of free assembly, national travel ban, quarantine of certain areas, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus [i.e. arrest without due process], and/or military trials in the event that the court system becomes dysfunctional.”

The exercise later includes “credible allegations” that those deemed “suspicious for smallpox” by authorities were illegally arrested or detained and that these arrests largely targeted low income individuals or ethnic minorities. In terms of current events, it is worth pointing out that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice he leads have recently requested new “emergency powers” that are allegedly related to the current Covid-19 outbreak. That request specifically references the ability to indefinitely detain Americans without right to a free trial.

Weaving a narrative

After examining Dark Winter, it then becomes important to examine the events the exercise seemingly predicted, namely the 2001 anthrax attacks. This is particularly crucial for two reasons: first, that the source of the anthrax was later traced to a domestic source, allegedly the USAMRIID lab in Fort Detrick; and second, the mode of attack and the initial narrative of those attacks were straight out of the Dark Winter playbook. Furthermore, key players in the government response to the anthrax attacks, including those with apparent foreknowledge of the attacks, as well as those who sought (falsely) to link those attacks to Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were also participants in Dark Winter.

Weeks before the first Anthrax case would be discovered, on the evening of September 11, 2001, then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff was told to start taking injections of the antibiotic Cipro in order to prevent Anthrax infection. In addition, at least one member of the press, journalist Richard Cohen – then at the Washington Post – had also been told to take Cipro soon after September 11 after receiving a tip “in a roundabout way from a high government official.” Who exactly in the Bush administration and in the Beltway began taking Cipro weeks prior to the anthrax attacks and for how long? Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains unanswered. Yet, it has since been revealed that the person who had told these officials to take Cipro was none other than Dark Winter participant Jerome Hauer, who had previously served for nearly 8 years at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), which oversees the USAMRIID lab at Fort Detrick.

Hauer, on September 11, 2001, was the managing director of Kroll Inc., a private intelligence and security company informally known as the “CIA of Wall Street,” a company that French intelligence had accused of acting as a front for the actual CIA. Kroll Inc., at the time of the attacks was responsible for security at the World Trade Center complex, yet Hauer was conveniently not present at his World Trade Center office on the day of the attacks, instead appearing on cable news. More on the series of “conveniences” that have followed Hauer throughout his career, especially over the course of 2001, and the massive amounts of money he stands to make off of the current Covid-19 epidemic will be discussed in detail in Part II of this series.

Then, on September 12, Donald Kagan of the neoconservative think tank the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose members populated key posts in the Bush administration, made an odd comment (for the time, anyway) about the September 11 attacks and anthrax. Speaking on Washington DC radio, Kagan – after suggesting that the U.S. should invade Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine in retaliation for September 11 – asks “What would have happened if they had anthrax on that plane?” That same day, James Woolsey, himself a PNAC member and also a Dark Winter participant, claimed that Iraq was to blame for September 11 during a cable news interview.

A week later, another PNAC member and advisor to the Bush White House– Richard Perle – told CNN that the next terror attack is likely to involve “chemical or biological weapons.” Soon after, Jerome Hauer re-emerges, claiming that the government now has a “new sense of urgency” regarding bioterrorist threats and asserts that “Osama Bin Laden wants to acquire these [biological] agents and we know he has links to Saddam and Saddam Hussein has them.” Of course, Saddam Hussein did not actually possess these biological weapons, although he did during the fictional Dark Winter exercise in which Hauer had actively participated. Just days after Hauer made these bold claims, ABC News reported that the alleged 9/11 hijackers may have intended to modify crop dusters to disperse Anthrax.

All of this took place several days before the first anthrax victim, photojournalist Bob Stevens, would even begin to show symptoms and over a week before doctors would even begin to suspect that his condition had been caused by anthrax poisoning.

On October 2, as Stevens’ health began to rapidly deteriorate, a new book co-written by journalist Judith Miller of the New York Times was released. Entitled “Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War,” the book asserted that the U.S. faced an unprecedented bioterrorism threat from terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. It further alleged that such groups may have teamed up with countries such as Iraq and Russia. Miller, who had participated in Dark Winter months prior, had conducted numerous interviews with senior White House officials for the book, particularly Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Libby, although he had not personally attended Dark Winter, was greatly impacted by the exercise when he learned of it, so much so that he had personally arranged for Cheney to watch the video of the entire Dark Winter exercise on September 20, 2001. Cheney took the contents of Dark Winter to the National Security Council the very next day. It would later be reported in New York magazine that, “a few days after 9/11,” the principal authors of Dark Winter – Randall Larsen, Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby – would personally meet with Cheney and members of the administration’s national security staff about the exercise.

Larsen, who worked closely with Robert Kadlec throughout the 1990s, allegedly smuggled a test tube of weaponized Bacillus globigii, “almost genetically identical to anthrax,” into the meeting, according to that report. It is unclear when this meeting took place in relation to when Cheney had watched the video of the Dark Winter exercise.

The same day that Miller’s “Germs” was released, October 2, another odd occurrence took place. A former scientist at the USAMRIID lab at Fort Detrick, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, received a call from the FBI after someone who intimately knew Assaad’s work history and career in great detail (and who also claimed to have previously worked with Assaad) had anonymously accused him of being a “potential biological terrorist” with a deep-seated hatred of the U.S. government. At the time the letter was received by the FBI, neither the public nor the FBI were aware of any anthrax cases. Assaad, who was then working for the Environmental Protection Agency, told the FBI that he believed he was being framed by former co-workers. The FBI deemed this to be credible and never contacted Assaad in connection with the case again.

It later emerged in the Hartford Courant that Assaad had been the target of extensive harassment by a clique of co-workers at the USAMRIID lab in the early 1990s. One of those co-workers who had harassed Assaad would leave the lab disgruntled as a result of the controversy over Assaad’s harassment allegations. He would later return to the lab to conduct unauthorized, late night research on anthrax and be tied to several missing specimens of anthrax and other pathogens – Lt. Col. Philip Zack.

Zack, in 2001, was working for the U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences. Though he first began working for Gilead in 1999, he was “handpicked” in 2001 to lead the establishment of “a new Project Management Department in conjunction with a complete restructure of R&D [Research and Development].” Donald Rumsfeld, another member of PNAC, became the chairman of Gilead Sciences in 1997 and he served as chairman of that company up until he became George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense in early 2001.

Rumsfeld would later announce on September 10, 2001 that $2.3 trillion had gone “missing” from the Pentagon’s budget. The Pentagon’s accounting office, whose staff was attempting to locate these missing trillions, would be destroyed on September 11, 2001. Though planes being flown into the Pentagon would later be described by government officials as “unimaginable” and “unthinkable” after the attacks, a simulation of planes being flown into the Pentagon had been conducted less than a year prior to September 11.

Terror Redux

On October 4, 2001, Bob Stevens’ anthrax poisoning diagnosis was made known to the FBI and CDC and the public was then informed via a press conference. The second anthrax case was declared soon after and was a co-worker of Stevens’, who had worked for the Florida-based newspaper, the Sun.

A day later, White House officials began to immediately pressure then-FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove that the anthrax attacks were linked to Al Qaeda, despite there being no evidence to make such a link. “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” a then-senior FBI official would later tell the New York Daily News of the meetings.

Over the next few weeks, suspicious letters containing fine, white powder were sent to well-known American journalists, including NBC’s Tom Brokaw and The New York Times’ Judith Miller, though the powder in the letter addressed to Miller was found to be harmless. Notably, Miller and other New York Times journalists wrote a total of 27 articles specifically about anthrax and its potential use as a bioweapon between September 12, 2001 and the day before Stevens was diagnosed with anthrax poisoning.

Letters containing anthrax were also received by Senators Tom Daschle, Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy, all of whom were – at the time – preventing the US Patriot Act from quickly passing through the Senate and who were resisting administration attempts to ram the legislation through with little to no debate. Several of the letters included the date “9-11-01” and the phrases “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is great” in neatly-printed block letters.

Soon after, a suspicious letter was found in the office of then-Congressman and current Vice President Mike Pence. Media Roots noted the following about Pence’s subsequent press conference in a 2018 podcast that examined the timeline of the 2001 anthrax attacks:

“… Mike Pence, who once hosted an AM talk show describing himself as ‘Rush Limbaugh on decaf,’ conducts a press conference outside the Capitol proclaiming revenge and biblical style justice to whoever conducted the anthrax attacks. His family–with news cameras in tow–gets tested for anthrax at the hospital after it is allegedly found in his office.

No news outlets questioned his grandstanding or odd performance of going to the hospital with his family, and unlike Senators Daschle and Leahy in their press appearances, Mike Pence alluded to the anthrax letters being connected to the larger ‘war on terror.’”

As public panic swelled, more letters continued to be found, not just in the United States but around the world, with anthrax and/or hoax letters being found in Japan, Kenya, Israel, China and Australia, among others. Simultaneously, efforts to link the anthrax attacks to Saddam Hussein and Iraq began to emerge and quickly grew in intensity and number.

The media push to link the attacks to Iraq began first with The Guardian and then was followed by U.S. media outlets like The Wall Street Journal. Those early reports cited unnamed “American investigators” and defense officials and largely centered on the false claim that alleged 9/11 mastermind Mohammad Atta had met with an Iraqi diplomat in Prague in late 2000 as well as similarly false allegations that members of Al Qaeda had recently obtained vials of anthrax in the Czech Republic.

A key person in disseminating that false Prague story was Dark Winter participant and PNAC member James Woolsey. It was also revealed in late October 2001 that Woolsey was serving as the personal emissary of Paul Wolfowitz, Iraq War “architect” and then-Deputy Secretary of Defense, in “investigating Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks and anthrax outbreaks.”

Beyond the Pentagon, foreign “experts” soon began to assert that there was a link between the anthrax attacks and Iraq, including former Israeli military intelligence officer Dany Shoham. Shoham recently resurfaced this past January after claiming that Covid-19 was developed by the Chinese government as a bioweapon.

These assertions were soon followed by a report from ABC News’ Brian Ross, who (again falsely) claimed that some of the anthrax used in the attacks had contained bentonite. Ross claimed that bentonite “is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program” and that “only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.” Ross asserted this information had come from three “well-placed but separate sources,” which later grew to four. Yet, no tests conducted during the Anthrax investigation ever found any bentonite at all, meaning the story was an invention from the very start. ABC and Brian Ross never retracted the story.

Glenn Greenwald, then writing at Salon, would state the following about Ross’ sources in 2008:

“Ross’ allegedly four separate sources had to have some specific knowledge of the tests conducted and, if they were really “well-placed,” one would presume that meant they had some connection to the laboratory where the tests were conducted — Ft. Detrick. That means that the same Government lab where the anthrax attacks themselves came from was the same place where the false reports originated that blamed those attacks on Iraq.

It’s extremely possible — one could say highly likely — that the same people responsible for perpetrating the attacks were the ones who fed the false reports to the public, through ABC News, that Saddam was behind them. What we know for certain — as a result of the letters accompanying the anthrax — is that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted the public to believe they were sent by foreign Muslims. Feeding claims to ABC News designed to link Saddam to those attacks would, for obvious reasons, promote the goal of the anthrax attacker(s).”

Soon, media reports began noting the contradictory messaging of the U.S. government with regards to the anthrax attacks, messaging which has striking parallels to the Trump administration’s messaging on Covid-19. In one such report, written by Matthew Engel for The Guardian, states:

“Those in charge have compounded the problems by sending out confused messages. Was the anthrax weapons-grade or not? Should Americans be alarmed or relaxed? Has President Bush himself been tested? The signals keep changing. Mr. Thompson suggested early on that Bob Stevens, the first anthrax victim, might have drunk from an infected stream.”

During the 2001 anthrax attacks, there was no shortage of contradictory actions either, such as the government’s failure to mandate that postal workers take Cipro or even take the simplest precautions even though members of the Bush administration had been taking Cipro weeks before the anthrax attacks were known to the FBI and the public. Even worse, the Bush administration waited an extremely long time to close post offices for anthrax testing, waiting until numerous postal workers had already become infected and some had already died. In addition, Ernesto Blanco – a Florida mail room worker who later recovered from Anthrax poisoning – and his family were left confused about the refusal of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to diagnose him with anthrax poisoning while he was in dire condition. Blanco’s family later claimed that his diagnosis had been kept a secret for political reasons.

BASIS for surveillance and control

The contradictory response of the Bush administration to the anthrax attacks and the panic that ensued was also paralleled by an equally contradictory sensor system, one which had been installed just a few months before the anthrax attacks in thirty cities throughout the U.S. despite a dubious record of accuracy.

Just as the fictional scenarios proposed in Dark Winter were being written, American scientists were developing a sensor system for the detection of anthrax and botulinum toxin called BASIS (Biological Aerosol Sentry and Information Systems). Months before anthrax would cause extreme panic and target American Senators, scientists from Los Alamos and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were testing the biological sensing device at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, inside the Special Programs Division of what was once the site of the U.S. biological weapons program and where anthrax samples used at Fort Detrick are often produced.

It is worth noting that Dugway, not unlike Fort Detrick, has longstanding issues with biosafety lapses that have resulted in numerous mishaps, such as their accidental shipment of live anthrax over 70 times to 86 different labs throughout the world from 2005-2015. Independent analyses conducted after the FBI closed its investigation into the attacks have suggested that Dugway may have been the source of the anthrax used in the attacks, as opposed to Fort Detrick.

Returning to BASIS, the results of the tests conducted on this new sensor system in 2001 showed that it was highly prone to generating false positives and was, therefore, worthless beyond the ability to “induce the very panic and social disruption it is intended to thwart“, according to the Livermore Laboratory, which nevertheless marketed BASIS as a tool to “guard the air we breathe.” Vice President Cheney, following his September 2001 briefing on Dark Winter, decided to install the system in the White House.

Days after Senator Tom Daschle’s press conference that revealed he had been targeted by the anthrax attacker, President Bush was in Shanghai attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit when he received a call from Dick Cheney on Airforce Two. Cheney delivered a chilling message — the President and Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, who were with Bush in China, might have been exposed to the ultra-lethal botulinum toxin at the White House.

BASIS had returned two positive results for the deadly neurotoxin and – if the tests held true – three of the U.S.’ highest ranking officials were “toast.” Yet, once again, BASIS had lived up to its reputation as a great panic-inducing mechanism when the supposed botulinum toxin hits were determined to have been false positives. Apparently, this “unintended” feature was a real selling point, as proven by George W. Bush’s subsequent deployment of the system in thirty cities throughout the country under the auspices of the newly-minted Department of Homeland Security as part of a program called Bio-Watch.

Given the events described, it is noteworthy that BASIS relies on the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN) to identify the biological agents trapped by its sensors. The 150 state and local laboratories that make up the LRN use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR-based) analysis, which is ill-equipped to detect the aforementioned botulinum toxin. In addition, the Bio-Watch program is plagued by bureaucratic and logistical problems, which further undermine any potential public health benefits.

DHS was fully aware of the program’s limitations from the start and issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for the development of autonomous sensor technology that would eliminate the need for manual sample collection. The Bioagent Autonomous Networked Detector (BAND) program was then initiated by HSARPA (Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency) in September of 2003 and, in 2008, awarded a multi-year contract for its development to MicroFluidic Systems, Inc., a company founded by Allen Northrup. Northup is also co-founder of Cepheid, a diagnostic testing company that received FDA approval for a 45-minute Covid-19 test less than two weeks ago.

In tandem with the development of BASIS shortly before 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax attacks, DARPA was sponsoring a surveillance program to collect data on U.S. citizens without their knowledge or consent by using their medical records. The ostensible purpose of that program was to develop algorithms that could detect a bioweapons attack based on real-time data input. The Bio-Event Advanced Leading Indicator Recognition Technology, or Bio-ALIRT, is at the heart of what Dark Winter co-author, Dr. Tara O’Toole, calls the “information supply chain.”

“We need to have a disciplined flow of information during epidemics that goes to the people who need to know what they need to know,” O’Toole recently told Ira Pastor in an interview. “That’s different from this cosmic surveillance system, that captures all the possible information all the time and tells us, in advance when an epidemic is coming. We need a supply chain of information to manage the epidemic.” O’Toole, who now works for the CIA’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, and her longstanding promotion of mass surveillance in the name of “public health” will be discussed in a subsequent installment of this series.

DARPA’s partners in this Orwellian endeavor were, perhaps unsurprisingly, recurring actors in the arena of biological attack simulations, from Johns Hopkins to the University of Pittsburgh – the Biosecurity centers of which were both previously run by O’Toole – and defense industry giants, General Dynamics and IBM.

Hovering over these draconian innovations floats the overarching narrative, which the 2001 anthrax attacks were supposed to activate in popular consciousness. Though the attacks would be pinned on USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins, the highly questionable investigative and prosecutorial methods employed in Ivins’ case, not to mention his timely pre-trial suicide, may instead offer clues regarding a botched false flag operation that had originally been designed to bolster the creation of a new geopolitical chessboard pitting the U.S. against its same perpetual enemies.

Covering up the real conspiracy

Dark Winter

From its earliest moments, the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks was clearly botched, sabotaged and even farcical. For instance, the letter sent to Dr. Ayaad Assaad would obviously have been a clear starting point for any honest investigation, as whoever wrote it had obvious foreknowledge of the attacks, connections to USAMRIID and was attempting to frame someone else for a crime that – at the time it was sent – had yet to be committed. Yet, The Hartford Courant noted in late 2001 that “the FBI is not tracking the source of the anonymous letter, despite its curious timing, coming a matter of days before the existence of anthrax-laced mail became known.” Why would the FBI not be interested in who wrote that letter, when it presents a clear lead on someone who, at the very least, knew a bioterrorism attack would soon take place and that the attacker’s profile would fit that of Assaad (i.e. Muslim and a former USAMRIID scientist).

In addition, in the early days of the investigation on October 12, 2001 – just one week after the attacks had claimed their first victim, the FBI called the University of Iowa and demanded that they destroy their entire database on the Ames strain of anthrax, the strain that would later be revealed to have been the very strain used in the attacks.

Both the FBI and the university officially claimed that the database’s destruction was ordered in order to prevent its potential use by terrorists in the future and was thus a “precaution,” despite greatly hampering the capacity of the investigation to determine the origins of the anthrax used in the attacks. Dr. Francis Boyle, an American law professor who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, later asserted that the FBI’s decision to order the destruction of the Ames strain database was an “obstruction of justice, a federal crime,” adding that “… That collection should have been preserved and protected as evidence. That’s the DNA, the fingerprints right there.”

Can the destruction of the Ames strain database and the decision to not pursue any leads related to the anonymous letter framing Dr. Assaad be written off as merely “missteps” made in the earliest and arguably most crucial days of the investigation? The fact that the Bush administration, as previously mentioned, was strongly pressuring then-FBI Director Robert Mueller to find a connection to “someone in the Middle East” at the same time these decision were made instead suggests that the investigation was highly politicized and manipulated by top government officials from the very beginning.

The FBI investigation continued to be marred by similarly obstructive actions. For instance, the anthrax sample that was in the envelope addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy had been found to contain traces of human DNA, a crucial finding that the FBI laboratory deliberately concealed from the agency’s own investigators. The FBI lab then declined to search for a match to this human DNA sample, despite the fact that doing so would – in all probability – lead to the actual attacker.

Due to all the obstruction and deliberate sabotage that took place, the investigation progressed slowly as crucial clues were ignored or outright discarded, apparently in order to keep FBI investigators off of the real trail. After coming under political and media pressure to at least name a suspect, the FBI began to focus on former USAMRIID researcher Stephen Hatfill.

Despite lacking any good reason to pursue Hatfill, the FBI – accompanied by TV crews – raided Hatfill’s apartment in biohazard suits and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft later publicly named him a “person of interest” in the case. The FBI pressured Hatfill’s then-employer to fire him and refused to clear his name years after the Bureau knew full well that he had no connection to the crime. Hatfill first sued the government in 2003 and the Department of Justice settled with Hatfill five years later, paying him $4.6 million in damages.

Though it was eventually settled, Hatfill’s lawsuit initially resulted in some odd claims from FBI investigators, with Richard Lambert – the FBI official in charge of the Amerithrax investigation, claiming that the lawsuit “could jeopardize the probe and expose national secrets related to U.S. bioweapons defense measures.” He also claimed it would “make public the vulnerabilities and capabilities of U.S. government installations to bioweapons attacks and expose sensitive intelligence collection sources and methods.” Lambert would later file a federal whistleblower lawsuit where he accused the Bureau’s Washington field office and FBI headquarters of having “greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation.”

The Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, would make a similar argument when Maureen Stevens, the wife of the first anthrax victim Bob Stevens, sued the federal government over the lax security measures in place at the USAMRIID lab where the anthrax used in the attacks was alleged to have originated. Stevens’ lawyer said the lawsuit was also filed due to “the government’s stonewalling tactics,” which included “taking months to turn over an autopsy report, denying them access to DNA tests and even denying them money from the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund.” Citing “national security concerns,” federal attorneys sought to delay Stevens’ lawsuit, arguing that the litigation “would pose a significant risk of disclosing classified or sensitive information relating to the acquisition, development and use of weapons of mass destruction such as anthrax.”

In 2008, soon after Hatfill was cleared and the lawsuit with him settled, the FBI began to focus on another USAMRIID researcher, Dr. Bruce E. Ivins. Ivins, who had previously helped the FBI analyze the anthrax used in the letters sent to politicians, journalists and others, was aggressively targeted by the FBI through aggressive surveillance and what can only be described as extreme harassment.

As Glenn Greenwald noted in Salon in 2008, “the FBI investigation was so heavy-handed that it actually entailed showing gruesome photographs of the anthrax victims to Ivins’ adult children, telling them that their father is the one who did that, while trying to entice them to turn on him with promises of a reward.” It was also revealed that addiction counselor Jean Duley, whose restraining order against Ivins was used by the media as “proof” that he was deranged and a likely “lone wolf” terrorist, had actually been egged on by none other than the FBI to seek that very restraining order.

The FBI, as it ramped up its targeting of Ivins, leaked much of its evidence to media outlets, which – for the most part – uncritically reported it. However, it eventually became clear that the case was shoddy and would never hold up in court as it was built on circumstantial evidence and questionable scientific analyses.

It was then announced on July 29, 2008 that Ivins, whose life and career had been left in ruins by the FBI’s aggressive tactics, had committed suicide just as the federal government was set to charge him as the sole culprit behind the Anthrax attacks. Few chose to question the suicide narrative despite there being legitimate reasons to do so, such as the lack of a suicide note at the scene and the fact that no autopsy was ever performed on Ivins’ corpse.

Former FBI agent Richard Lambert’s whistleblower lawsuit would later reveal that the FBI had intentionally withheld a “wealth” of evidence that proved Ivins’ innocence and further charged that the DOJ and FBI had “crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt” that included “press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions.”

After Ivins’ suicide, questions continued to arise regarding the FBI’s case against the deceased scientist, with several journalists and even Senator Patrick Leahy – who had been sent an Anthrax letter – insisting that the FBI’s case against Ivins, particularly the charge that he had acted alone, was implausible. A former co-worker of Ivins and one of the country’s top biowarfare experts, Richard Spertzel, asserted in The Wall Street Journal that Ivins couldn’t have been the culprit because Ivins did not know how to make anthrax of the quality used in the attacks as only 4-5 people in the entire country, Spertzel being one of them, knew how to do so. Spertzel asserted that one of those 4-5 people would have needed at least a year as well as a full lab and a staff dedicate to the task in order to produce the Anthrax used.

In an attempt to mollify mounting criticism, Mueller announced in September 2008 that a panel from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would independently review the FBI’s “smoking gun” scientific analyses that had led them to accuse Ivins. However, the FBI abruptly closed the case in 2010, well before the panel could conclude its review, and stood by its controversial assertion that Ivins had acted as a “lone wolf” and that anthrax from a flask in Ivins’ lab was “conclusively identified as the parent material to the anthrax powder used in the mailings.”

When the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) did release its review of the FBI’s scientific findings a year later in 2011, it found that the Bureau’s “smoking gun” scientific evidence against Ivins was actually very inconclusive and they also identified several still, unresolved issues with the FBI’s analyses for which the Bureau could not provide an explanation.

However, because Ivins had died before the FBI’s scientific case could go to trial, the FBI’s claims would never be challenged in court. David Relman, vice chairman of the National Academy study committee, later told ProPublica that Ivins’ trial would have been the only way the FBI’s claims “could have been weighed and challenged by experts.”

The NAS study was not the only independent report that challenged the FBI’s case against Ivins after his apparent suicide. In 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its own analysis of the FBI investigation and concluded that the FBI’s approach lacked consistency, adequate standards and precision. The GAO report ultimately supported the NAS’ conclusion that the scientific evidence did not definitely prove Ivins to be the culprit.

The conclusions of both the NAS and GAO reports show that the FBI’s “smoking gun” against Ivins – its scientific analyses – were hardly a smoking gun as they were just as circumstantial as the rest of the Bureau’s evidence against the scientist. This, of course, makes the timing of the FBI’s decision to close the case, a year before any independent analysis of its evidence against Ivins could be completed, significant.

A familiar cast of characters

Key players in Dark Winter would also end up playing a role in the FBI Amerithrax investigation and Bush administration efforts to link them to a foreign, rather than a domestic, source. For instance, as increasingly desperate efforts were made to link the anthrax attacks to Al Qaeda in early 2002, an “independent” team from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies argued that the anthrax attackers were linked to Al Qaeda, citing a diagnosis made by a Florida doctor in June 2001 that alleged 9/11 hijacker Ahmed al-Haznawi had a skin lesion that was “consistent with cutaneous anthrax.”

Yet, this team from Johns Hopkins was – in reality — far from independent, as it was led by Dark Winter co-authors Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby. However, their association with Dark Winter and their September 2001 meeting with Dick Cheney went unmentioned as media outlets ran with O’Toole and Inglesby’s assertion that al-Haznawi’s allegedly anthrax-related lesion “raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.” Other scientists and analysts as well as the FBI challenged and rejected their claims.

Another Dark Winter figure involved in the Amerithrax case was current Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Robert Kadlec, who became an adviser on biological warfare to the Rumsfeld-led Pentagon in the days after 9/11. Kadlec’s official biography states that he “contributed to the FBI investigation of the anthrax letter attacks,” though it’s unclear exactly what those contributions were, beyond having met at least once with scientists at Fort Detrick in November 2001. Whatever his contributions were, Kadlec has long been an emphatic supporter of the official narrative regarding Bruce Ivins, who he has referred to as a “deranged scientist” and the sole culprit behind the attacks. Kadlec has also used the official narrative about Ivins to assert that bioweapons have been “democratized,” which he argues means that weaponized pathogens can be wielded by essentially anyone with “a few thousand dollars” and enough time on their hands.

Notably, Kadlec isn’t the only key figure in the current U.S. government response to Covid-19 to have ties to the botched FBI investigation as current HHS Secretary Alex Azar was also involved in the FBI investigation. In addition, Azar stated at a White House press briefing in 2018 that he had been “personally involved in much of managing the response [to the anthrax attacks]” as then-General counsel to HHS.

Yet, given that the FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks and the government response to them were so disastrous and heavily criticized by independent and mainstream media alike, it is surprising that Azar and Kadlec would so proudly tout their involvement in that fiasco, especially considering that the scientific analyses used in that investigation were fatally flawed and, by all indications, led to the death of an innocent man.

While such credentials in a “normal” world would be grounds for exclusion from public service, they apparently have the opposite effect when it comes to post-2001 HHS policy and U.S. biodefense policy, which – especially following 2001 – has championed the interests and profits of corporate pharmaceutical companies and the apocalyptic vision of bioweapons held by war hawks and perpetual Cold Warriors. This latter category, of course, includes members of the now-defunct PNAC, who infamously referred to racially-targeted bioweapons as a “politically useful tool” in a now infamous 2001 document, and their ideological descendants.

As the next installment of this series will show, Dark Winter participant and 2001 anthrax attack insider Jerome Hauer epitomizes this merging of perpetual hawkishness and corporate pharmaceutical interests, as he has long held (and continues to occupy) key board positions of the very pharmaceutical company that not only sold tens of millions of anthrax vaccine doses to HHS following the 2001 anthrax attacks, but is now a partner in the development of the majority of vaccines, drugs and experimental treatments currently under development in the United States for the treatment of Covid-19.

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Neocons as a Figment of Imagination

Criticizing their thuggery is anti-Semitism?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 21, 2017

We have a president who is belligerent towards Iran, who is sending “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, who loves Israel passionately and who is increasing already bloated defense budgets. If one were a neoconservative, what is there not to like, yet neocons in the media and ensconced comfortably in their multitude of think tanks hate Donald Trump. I suspect it comes down to three reasons. First, it is because Trump knows who was sticking the knife in his back during his campaign in 2016 and he has neither forgiven nor hired them. Nor does he pay any attention to their bleating, denying them the status that they think they deserve because of their self-promoted foreign policy brilliance.

And second, Trump persists in his desire to “do business” with Russia. The predominantly Jewish neocons always imagine the thunder of hooves of approaching Cossacks preparing to engage in pogroms whenever they hear the word Russia. And this is particularly true of Vladimir Putin’s regime, which is Holy Russia revived. When not musing over how it is always 1938 and one is in Munich, neocons are nearly as unsettled when they think it is 1905 in Odessa.

The third reason, linked to number two, is that having a plausible and dangerous enemy like Russia on tap keeps the cash flowing from defense industries to the foundations and think tanks that the neocons nest in when they are not running the Pentagon and National Security Council. Follow the money. So it is all about self-interest combined with tribal memory: money, status and a visceral hatred of Russia.

The hatred of Trump runs so deep that a leading neocon Bill Kristol actually tweeted that he would prefer a country run by bureaucrats and special interests rather than the current constitutional arrangement. The neocon vendetta was as well neatly summed up in two recent articles by Max Boot. The first is entitled “Trump knows the Feds are closing in on him” and the second is “WikiLeaks has joined the Trump Administration.” In the former piece Boot asserts that “Trump’s recent tweets aren’t just conspiratorial gibberish—they’re the erratic ravings of a guilty conscience” and in the latter, that “The anti-American WikiLeaks has become the preferred intelligence service for a conspiracy-addled White House.”

Now, who is Max Boot and why should anyone care what he writes? Russian-born, Max entered the United States with his family through a special visa exemption under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish. Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg as a form of affirmative action for Russian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants, the new arrivals received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years. Max went to college at Berkeley and received an M.A. from Yale.

Boot, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, networked his way up the neocon ladder, including writing for The Weekly Standard, Commentary, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He was a member of the neocon incubator Project for a New American Century and now sits on the heavily neocon Council on Foreign Relations. Boot characteristically has never served in the U.S. military but likes war a lot. In 2012 he co-authored “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now.” He is a reliable Russia and Putin basher.

Max Boot’s articles are smears of Donald Trump from top to bottom. The “closing in” piece calls for establishment of a special counsel to investigate every aspect of the Trump Team/Russian relationship. Along the way, it makes its case to come to that conclusion by accepting every single worst case scenario regarding Trump as true. Yes, per Boot “Putin was intervening in the presidential election to help Trump.” And President Barack Obama could not possibly have “interfered with the lawful workings of the FBI.” As is always the case, not one shred of evidence is produced to demonstrate that anyone associated with Donald Trump somehow became a Russian useful idiot, but Boot assumes that the White House is now being run out of the Kremlin.

Max is certainly fun to read but on a more serious note, the National Review is working hard to make us forget about employing the expression “neocon” because it is apparently rarely understood by the people who use the term. Plus its implied meaning is anti-Semitic in nature, something that David Brooks in an article pretty much denying that neocons really exist suggested thirteen years ago when he postulated that it was shorthand for “Jewish conservative.”

National Review actually searched hard to find a gentile who could write the piece, one Kevin D. Williamson, who is described as a “roving correspondent” for the magazine. His article is entitled “Word Games: The Right Discovers the Deep State.” Williamson begins by observing that using “neocon” disparagingly in the post-9/11 context acts either “as a kind of catalyst enabling a political reaction that revived a great many stupid and ugly myths about Jewish bankers orchestrating wars for profit…” or serves as a standby expression for a “Jew with politics I don’t like.”

Interestingly, I have never heard the “Jewish bankers” theory or disparagement of Jewish “politics” from the many responsible critics who have been dismayed by the aberrant U.S. foreign policy that has evolved since 2001. I don’t know how much money Goldman Sachs has made since the World Trade Center went down and that is not really the issue, nor is the fact that Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, which is a party that I don’t particularly like. Williamson dodges the increasingly held view that America slid into the abyss when Washington declared war on the entire world and invaded Iraq based on a tissue of lies, in large part to benefit Israel, which is what matters and why the enabling role of the neocons is important.

And one might reasonably argue that U.S. policy since that time has nearly always deferred to Israeli interests, most recently declaring its prime mission at the U.N. to be protecting Israel, then acting on that premise by forcing the resignation of a senior official who had prepared a report critical of Israel’s “apartheid” regime. I recognize that relatively few American Jews are neocons and that many American Jews are in the forefront in resistance to Israel’s inhumane policies, but the reality is that nearly all neocons are Jewish. And they are in your face every time you turn on the television or pick up a newspaper. Abrasive and abusive Professor Alan Dershowitz recently proclaimed that Jews should never apologize for Jewish power, saying that it is deserved and granted by God, but I for one think it is past time for a little pushback from the rest of us to make Washington protect American interests instead of those of Israel.

The neocon cult has been behind the promotion of Israel as well as the serial foreign policy misadventures since 2001. Do the names Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Edelman, Ledeen, Senor, Libby and Nuland in and around the government as well as a host of others in think tanks and lobbies like AIPAC, AEI, WINEP, PNAC, FPI, FDD, JINSA and Hudson ring a bell? And do the loud voices in the media to include Judith Miller, Robert Kaplan, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Fred Hiatt, Bret Stephens, Bill Kristol, the Kagans and the Podhoretzes, as well as the entire Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial pages, suggest any connivance?

They are all Jews and many are connected in terms of their careers, which were heavily networked from the inside to advance them up the ladder, often to include moving between government and lucrative think tank and academic positions. They mostly self-identify as neoconservatives and all share some significant traits, notably extreme dedication to Israel and embrace of the doctrine that the U.S. should not be shy about using military force, so it is interesting to learn from Williamson that they really do not constitute a cohesive group with shared values and interests as well as excellent access to the media and the levers of power. When did you last see an “expert” on the Middle East on television who was not Jewish?

Having made his pithy comments and dismissed neoconservatism-phobes as bigots, Williamson then wanders off subject into the Deep State, which, like neoconism apparently is some kind of urban legend being propagated by the poorly informed, whom these days he identifies as Trump supporters. He argues that the entities that are frequently cited as the Deep State, including the neocons, actually have quite divergent interests and it is unlikely that those interests should become “identical or aligned” to enable running of the country in an essentially clandestine fashion.

It is perhaps inevitable that Williamson is confused as he does not recognize how the American Deep State differs from that in most other countries – it is perhaps better described as the Establishment. Unlike in places like Turkey, it operates largely out in the open and ostensibly legally along a New York-Washington axis that constantly revitalizes itself through the revolving door allowing the entry of politicians and high government officials who create and enforce the legislation that benefits Deep State interests. Its components do indeed have different motives, but they come together in preserving the status quo, which benefits all parties, while little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out, since much of the media and many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide Deep State “intellectual” credibility are also part of the same malignancy. And yes, quite a bit of today’s Establishment is Jewish, most particularly financial and legal services, the think tanks, and academia. Many of them support or are part of the neocon persuasion and frequently also of the Israel Lobby.

The existence of a Deep State means that many issues that impact on the citizenry never are discussed as part of the political process, leading to jokes that the United States has only one political party with two wings. Issues like the relationship with Israel, though hotly debated by some of the public, are never really debated and are dealt with by consensus crafted by the politicians and the media. Significant policies like those relating to war and peace, healthcare and immigration were rarely seriously challenged prior to Trump because there is a broad agreement regarding what the Establishment will allow to take place. That is how the Deep State operates.

When it comes to foreign and national security policy the neocons are most definitely an integral part of the Deep State, using money and access to politicians to influence what is taking place without anyone seriously challenging their role. They are an essential cog in a system that is completely corrupt: it exists to sell out the public interest, and includes both major political parties as well as government officials. And it is so successful because it wins no matter who is in power, by creating bipartisan-supported money pits within the system. Monetizing the completely unnecessary and hideously expensive global war on terror benefits the senior government officials, beltway industries, and financial services that feed off it. Because it is essential to keep the money flowing, the Deep State persists in promoting policies that enrich its constituencies but otherwise make no sense, to include funding the unending and unwinnable wars currently enjoying marquee status in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and the gift of $38 billion to Israel.

Max Boot spews the kind of bile that is commonly seen or heard when the neocons zero in on their enemies. The National Review meanwhile provides cover for Max and others by suggesting that only anti-Semites or the demented could possibly have it in for neoconservatives or be wary of zany concepts like a Deep State. Together they generate the fog that makes it impossible to challenge certain aspects of the status quo. Maybe, just maybe, what Donald Trump has been saying about his predecessor’s Deep State inspired machinations are true. And just possibly there is a largely Jewish cabal within that Deep State, call it what you will, that works very hard behind the scenes to favor Israel while also pushing for a state of perpetual war, from which it benefits personally. I know that thinking that we Americans are on the receiving end of a vast and very effective conspiracy makes many uneasy, but history has taught us that sometimes our worst nightmares are actually true.

March 21, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is WP’s Cohen Dumbest Columnist?

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 19, 2007

Granted it would be quite a competition, but is Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen the dumbest columnist ever?

For instance, in his June 19, 2007 op-ed, Cohen joined the neoconservative media riot over the 30-month jail sentence facing former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

From reading the column, it does appear that Cohen has the skills at least to master and recite the litany of talking points that the neocons have compiled to make their case about the injustice of Libby going into the slammer for committing perjury and obstruction of justice.

Cohen accuses special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of violating longstanding Justice Department guidelines on when to bring a case; he denounces the trial – over Libby’s lying about his role in unmasking covert CIA officer Valerie Plame – as “a mountain out of a molehill”; he asserts that there was no “underlying crime”; he even pokes fun at Americans who thought the invasion of Iraq might have been a bad idea.

“They thought – if ‘thought’ can be used in this context – that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show . . . who knows? Something,” Cohen wrote.

Yet, beyond a talent for reprising the conventional wisdom from Washington dinner parties, it is hard to tell what justifies Cohen’s long career as a political columnist. On nearly every major development over the past couple of decades, Cohen has missed the point or gotten it dead wrong.

For example, during the Florida recount battle in 2000, Cohen cared less about whom the voters wanted in the White House than the Washington insiders’ certainty that George W. Bush would be a uniter, not a divider.

“The nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse,” Cohen wrote. “That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush.”

Cohen also joined the Washington herd in the disastrous stampede for invading Iraq. After Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, Cohen mocked anyone who still dared doubt that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.

“The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations – some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail – had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them,” Cohen wrote. “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could conclude otherwise.”

Misplaced Enthusiasm

It took Cohen another three years before he recognized that his enthusiasm for the war had been misplaced.

On April 4, 2006, as the U.S. death toll reached into the thousands and the Iraqi death toll soared into the tens of thousands, Cohen wrote, “those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It’s not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration.”

In normal work settings, incompetence – especially when it is chronic and has devastating consequences – justifies dismissal or at least demotion, maybe a desk in Storage Room B where Cohen could sit with his red stapler, but without access to a word processor.

Yet, in the strange world of Washington punditry, success is measured not in being right but in keeping one’s opinion within the parameters of the capital’s respectable opinions, even if those judgments are atrociously wrong.

As for the Plame case, Cohen seems to be living in the propaganda dreamscape of the still-influential neocons, not in the real world where the disclosure of Plame’s identity caused actual damage, destroying her undercover career as a CIA officer and putting in jeopardy the lives of foreigners who worked with her investigating weapons proliferation.

Plus, the motive behind the leaking of Plame’s identity was not “gossip,” as Cohen asserts, but a White House-orchestrated campaign to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth about his 2002 fact-finding mission to Africa. Wilson’s findings helped the U.S. intelligence community debunk false claims about Iraq attempting to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa.

Despite warnings from the CIA, however, President George W. Bush cited Iraq’s supposed uranium shopping during his 2003 State of the Union Address, making it a key part of the case to invade Iraq.

When Wilson went public with his story in July 2003, the Bush administration sought to discredit him by suggesting that his Africa trip was just a junket arranged by his CIA wife. One White House official told a reporter from the Washington Post that the administration had informed at least six reporters about Plame.

The official said the disclosure was “purely and simply out of revenge.” That was a revelation that special prosecutor Fitzgerald corroborated in his investigation.

Libby’s Role

Also, contrary to Cohen’s column, Libby, as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was a central figure in this anti-Wilson smear campaign. Libby briefed two reporters – Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper – about Plame’s identity and brought press secretary Ari Fleischer into the leak operation.

Though it turned out that other senior administration officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and his friend, White House political adviser Karl Rove, were the successful ones in getting a journalist, Robert Novak, to publish Plame’s identity, it wasn’t for the lack of Libby trying to get Plame’s identity into the press.

Nor is it accurate to say that there was no underlying crime. It is illegal to willfully disclose the identity of a covert CIA officer – and the administration officials involved were well aware that her identity was classified. Leaking classified material also can be – and often is – treated as a crime. …

Rather than a wild-eyed prosecutor on a rampage, Fitzgerald actually appears to have been a very cautious prosecutor who chose not to pursue what would have been a deserving but politically disruptive case against Bush, Cheney and other government conspirators implicated in both leaking classified material and participating in a cover-up.

But all this is missed by Cohen. In his June 19, 2007 column, he does reiterate his current position that the Iraq War was a mistake. He also acknowledges that lying under oath is a bad thing to do. But – blinded by the pervasive neocon talking points – he refuses to see the larger scandal.

“I have come to hate the war and I cannot approve of lying under oath – not by Scooter, not by Bill Clinton, not by anybody,” Cohen wrote. “But the underlying crime is absent, the sentence is excessive and the investigation should not have been conducted in the first place. This is a mess. Should Libby be pardoned? Maybe. Should his sentence be commuted? Definitely.” [As it turned out, President Bush did commute Libby’s sentence so he avoided jail time.]

Cohen took a similarly tolerant view of lies told by Reagan administration officials in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and its successful cover-up by President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s when special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was pressing for long-withheld answers.

When Bush sabotaged Walsh’s probe by issuing six Iran-Contra pardons on Christmas Eve 1992, prominent U.S. journalists, including Cohen, praised Bush’s actions and brushed aside Walsh’s complaint that the move was the final act in a long-running cover-up that protected a secret history of criminal behavior and Bush’s personal role.

Cohen spoke for many of his colleagues when he defended Bush’s fatal blow against the Iran-Contra investigation. Cohen especially liked Bush’s pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted for obstruction of justice but was popular around Washington.

In a Dec. 30, 1992 column, Cohen said his view was colored by how impressed he was when he would see Weinberger in the Georgetown Safeway store, pushing his own shopping cart.

“Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy, candid and no nonsense – which is the way much of official Washington saw him,” Cohen wrote. “Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me.”

There was a time when The Washington Post aggressively pursued cover-ups of government wrongdoing, such as Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even during the Clinton administration, a favorite pearl of Washington wisdom was: “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

But that was then and this is now. Today, the Post editorial page and its prized columnists, like Cohen, eagerly join in cover-ups and happily bash anyone who won’t go with the Washington flow.

So, the question remains, is Cohen just a clueless incompetent when he berates Fitzgerald for the “train wreck” of the Libby conviction or is this columnist really a clever guy who is very skilled at knowing how to stay on the gravy train of modern Washington journalism?


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Journalists Join the Cover-ups

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | Originally published on October 18, 2005 (with minor editing to update)

As embarrassing as the Judith Miller case was for the New York Times, the fiasco underscores a more troubling development that strikes near the heart of American democracy – the press corps’ gradual retreat from the principle of skepticism on national security issues to career-boosting “patriotism.”

Miller – and many other prominent Washington journalists over the past quarter century – largely built their careers by positioning themselves as defenders of supposed “American interests.” Thus, instead of tough reporting about national security operations, these reporters often became conduits for government propaganda.

In that sense, Miller’s prominence at the Times – where she had wide latitude to report and publish whatever she wanted – was a marker for how the “patriotic” journalists had overwhelmed the competing “skeptical” journalists, who saw their duty as bringing a critical eye to all government information, including national security claims, by which the people were informed and empowered to judge what was truly in “American interests.” [For more on that broader history, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

For her part – both in the credulous reporting about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and protection of a White House source who sought to discredit a whistleblower about a key WMD lie – Miller has come to personify the notion that American journalists should tailor their reporting to what is “good for the country” as defined by government officials.

Indeed, Miller seems to have trouble distinguishing between being a journalist and being part of the government team. Note, for instance, two of her comments about her grand jury testimony regarding the White House outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, who was the wife of the WMD whistleblower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Presumably to give some deniability to one of her anti-Wilson sources – Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis Libby – Miller said she told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald “that Mr. Libby might have thought I still had security clearance, given my special embedded status in Iraq,” where she had traveled with a military unit in a fruitless search for WMD stockpiles.

In other words, Miller was saying that Libby might be forgiven for disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer to a journalist because he might have thought Miller had government authorization to hear such secrets. But the notion that a reporter would accept a security clearance – which is a legally binding commitment to give the government authority over what information can be released – is anathema to anyone who believes in a free and independent press.

It is one thing for “embedded” journalists to accept the necessity of military censorship over tactical details in exchange for access to the battlefield. It is altogether different for a journalist to have a “security clearance.” For some journalistic purists, this statement was the most shocking element of Miller’s lengthy account of her testimony as published in the Times.

Sacrificing Objectivity

Secondly, toward the end of a Times chronology on the case, written by three other reporters, Miller is quoted as saying that she hoped she would eventually return to the newsroom and resume covering “the same thing I’ve always covered – threats to our country.” [NYT, Oct. 16. 2005]

To describe one’s “beat” as covering “threats to our country” amounts to another repudiation of a core journalistic principle – objectivity – the concept of a reporter setting aside his or her personal views so the facts can be researched and presented to the reader in as fair and balanced a way as possible.

Rather than insist on a separation between government and journalism, Miller appears to see little distinction between the two. Her comments suggest that she viewed her job as defending the security interests of the United States, rather than giving the public the unvarnished facts.

What that meant in the run-up to the war in Iraq was her serving as a conveyor belt for bogus intelligence on Iraq’s WMD. Most memorably, Miller co-wrote a key article asserting that Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes was evidence that Saddam Hussein was working on a nuclear bomb.

Cheney and other administration officials then cited the Times article as validation for their case against Iraq for alleged violation of arms control commitments. Both in Miller’s article and in TV appearances, administration officials told the American people that they couldn’t wait for the “smoking gun” proof of Iraq’s WMD to be “a mushroom cloud.”

The aluminum-tube story was later debunked by U.S. Energy Department experts and State Department analysts, but it remained a terrifying argument as George W. Bush stampeded the Congress and the country to war in fall 2002 and winter 2003. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s  “Powell’s Widening Credibility Gap.”]

The aluminum-tube story, which Miller co-authored with Michael R. Gordon, was one of six articles that prompted a post-invasion Times self-criticism. Miller wrote or co-wrote five of the six articles that were deemed overly credulous of the U.S. government’s point of view. “In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged,” the Times editor’s note said. [NYT, May 26, 2004]

Source Protection

Since the Oct. 16, 2005, articles detailing Miller’s role in the Plame controversy, Miller’s image as a journalistic martyr – who went to jail rather than betray the confidence of a source – also has been tarnished.

After 85 days in jail resisting a federal subpoena, Miller finally agreed to testify about her three conversations with Libby regarding Ambassador Wilson’s criticism of another high-profile administration WMD claim, that Iraq had been seeking enriched uranium from the African nation of Niger.

In 2002, Cheney’s office expressed interest in a dubious report from Italy claiming that Iraq was trying to buy “yellowcake” uranium in Niger. Reacting to Cheney’s concern, the CIA dispatched Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador in Africa, to check out the allegations. Wilson returned believing that the claim was most likely baseless, an opinion shared by other U.S. government experts. Nevertheless, the claim ended up in Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2003.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Wilson began speaking with journalists on background about how his Niger findings had diverged from Bush’s State of the Union claim. Libby, a leading architect of the Iraq War, learned about Wilson’s criticism and began passing on negative information about Wilson to Miller.

Miller, who said she regarded Libby as “a good-faith source, who was usually straight with me,” met with him on June 23, 2003, in the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House, according to the Times chronology. At that meeting, “Ms. Miller said her notes leave open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her Mr. Wilson’s wife might work at the agency,” the Times reported.

But Libby provided clearer details at a second meeting on July 8, 2003, two days after Wilson went public in an Op-Ed piece about his criticism of Bush’s use of the Niger allegations. At a breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel near the White House, Libby told Miller that Wilson’s wife worked at a CIA unit known as Winpac, for weapons intelligence, nonproliferation and arms control, the Times reported.

Miller’s notebook, the one used for that interview, contained a reference to “Valerie Flame,” an apparent misspelling of Mrs. Wilson’s maiden name. In the Times account, Miller said she told Fitzgerald’s grand jury that she believed the name didn’t come from Libby but from another source. But Miller claimed she couldn’t recall the source’s name.

In a third conversation, by telephone on July 12, 2003, Miller and Libby returned to the Wilson topic. Miller’s notes contain a reference to a “Victoria Wilson,” another misspelled reference to Wilson’s wife, Miller said.

Two days later, on July 14, 2003, conservative columnist Robert Novak publicly outed Plame as a CIA operative in an article that cited “two administration sources” and tried to discredit Wilson’s findings on the grounds that his wife had recommended him for the Niger mission.

Miller never wrote an article about the Wilson-Plame affair although she claimed she “made a strong recommendation to my editor” for a story after Novak’s column appeared, but was rebuffed. Times managing editor (and later executive editor) Jill Abramson, who was Washington bureau chief in summer 2003, said Miller never made such a recommendation, and Miller said she wouldn’t divulge the name of the editor who supposedly said no, the Times chronology said.

A Criminal Probe

The Wilson-Plame affair took another turn in the latter half of 2003 when the CIA sought a criminal investigation of the leak of Plame’s covert identity. Because of conflicts of interest in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, Fitzgerald – the U.S. Attorney in Chicago – was named as a special prosecutor in December 2003.

Known as a hard-nosed and independent-minded prosecutor, Fitzgerald demanded testimony from Miller and several other journalists in summer 2004. Miller refused to cooperate, saying she had promised her sources confidentiality and arguing that waivers signed by Libby and other officials had been coerced.

Almost a year later, Miller was imprisoned for contempt of court. After 85 days in jail, she relented and agreed to testify, but only after she received a personal assurance from Libby that he wanted her to appear. But the details of the Miller-Libby minuet over the waiver put Miller’s refusal to testify in a different – and more troubling – light.

According to the Times account, Libby’s lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, assured Miller’s lawyer Abrams as early as summer 2004 that Miller was free to testify, but he added that Libby already had told Fitzgerald’s grand jury that Libby had not given Miller the name or undercover status of Wilson’s wife.

“That raised a potential conflict for Ms. Miller,” the Times reported. “Did the references in her notes to ‘Valerie Flame’ and ‘Victoria Wilson’ suggest that she would have to contradict Mr. Libby’s account of their conversations? Ms. Miller said in an interview that Mr. Tate was sending her a message that Libby did not want her to testify.”

According to Miller’s account, her attorney Abrams told her that Libby’s lawyer Tate “was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn’t give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, ‘Don’t go there, or, we don’t want you there.’”

Responding to a question from the New York Times, Tate called Miller’s interpretation of his position “outrageous.” After all, if Miller were telling the truth, Tate’s maneuver would border on suborning perjury and obstruction of justice.

But there is also a disturbing element for Miller’s defenders. Her subsequent actions could be interpreted as finding another means to protect Libby. By refusing to testify and going to jail, Miller helped Libby – temporarily at least – avoid a possible indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Miller’s jailing also drew the Times editorial page and many Washington journalists into a campaign aimed at pressuring Fitzgerald to back off his investigation. In effect, many members of the Washington news media were pulled, unwittingly or not, into what looks like a cover-up of a criminal conspiracy.

The Times editorialized that Miller would not reverse her refusal to testify and that additional incarceration was unjustified. But the jail time worked. When Miller realized that Fitzgerald wouldn’t relent and that she might stay in prison indefinitely, she decided to reopen negotiations with Libby about whether she should testify.

Libby sent her a friendly letter that read like an invitation to testify but also to stick with the team. “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning,” Libby wrote. “They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.”

When Miller finally appeared before the grand jury, she offered an account that seemed to twist and turn in underground directions to protect Libby. For instance, she insisted that someone else had mentioned “Valerie Flame,” but she said she couldn’t recall who. Before testifying to the grand jury, Miller also extracted an agreement from Fitzgerald that he wouldn’t ask her questions about any source other than Libby.

But the longer back story of “Plame-gate” was how the Washington media culture changed over a generation, from the skeptical days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers to an era in which leading journalists see their “roots” connecting to the national security state.

Part Two: Rise of the ‘Patriotic Journalist’

(Originally published on Oct. 20, 2005)

The apex for the “skeptical journalists” came in the mid-1970s when the press followed up disclosure of the Vietnam War’s Pentagon Papers and exposure of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal with revelations of CIA abuses, such as illegal spying on Americans and helping Chile’s army oust an elected government.

There were reasons for this new press aggressiveness. After some 58,000 U.S. soldiers had died in Vietnam during a long war fought for murky reasons, many reporters no longer gave the government the benefit of the doubt. The press corps’ new rallying cry was the public’s right to know, even when the wrongdoing occurred in the secretive world of national security.

But this journalistic skepticism represented an affront to government officials who had long enjoyed a relatively free hand in the conduct of foreign policy. The Wise Men and the Old Boys – the stewards of the post-World War II era – faced a harder time lining up public consensus behind any action. This national security elite, including then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush, viewed the post-Vietnam journalism as a threat to America’s ability to strike at its perceived enemies around the world.

Yet, it was from these ruins of distrust – the rubble of suspicion left behind by Vietnam and Watergate – that the conservative-leaning national security elite began its climb back, eventually coming full circle, gaining effective control of what a more “patriotic” press would tell the people, before stumbling into another disastrous war in Iraq.

Pike Report

One early turning point in the switch from “skeptical” journalism to “patriotic” journalism occurred in 1976 with the blocking of Rep. Otis Pike’s congressional report on CIA misdeeds. CIA Director Bush had lobbied behind the scenes to convince Congress that suppressing the report was important for national security.

But CBS news correspondent Daniel Schorr got hold of the full document and decided that he couldn’t join in keeping the facts from the public. He leaked the report to the Village Voice – and was fired by CBS amid charges of reckless journalism.

“The media’s shift in attention from the report’s charges to their premature disclosure was skillfully encouraged by the Executive Branch,” wrote Kathryn Olmstead in her book on the media battles of the 1970s, Challenging the Secret Government.

“[Mitchell] Rogovin, the CIA’s counsel, later admitted that the Executive Branch’s ‘concern’ over the report’s damage to national security was less than genuine,” Olmstead wrote. But the Schorr case had laid down an important marker. The counterattack against the “skeptical journalists” had begun.

In the late 1970s, conservative leaders began a concerted drive to finance a media infrastructure of their own along with attack groups that would target mainstream reporters who were viewed as too liberal or insufficiently patriotic.

Richard Nixon’s former Treasury Secretary Bill Simon took the lead. Simon, who headed the conservative Olin Foundation, rallied like-minded foundations – associated with Lynde and Harry Bradley, Smith Richardson, the Scaife family and the Coors family – to invest their resources in advancing the conservative cause.

Money went to fund conservative magazines taking the fight to the liberals and to finance attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, that hammered away at the supposed “liberal bias” of the national news media.

Reagan-Bush Years

This strategy gained momentum in the early 1980s with the arrival of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Spearheaded by intellectual policymakers now known as the neoconservatives, the government developed a sophisticated approach – described internally as “perception management” – that included targeting journalists who wouldn’t fall into line. [For the latest on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’sThe Victory of ‘Perception Management.’”]

So, when New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner reported from El Salvador about right-wing death squads, his accounts were criticized and his patriotism challenged. Bonner further infuriated the White House in early 1982 when he disclosed a massacre by the U.S.-backed Salvadoran army around the town of El Mozote. The story appeared just as Reagan was praising the army’s human rights progress.

Like other journalists who were viewed as overly critical of Reagan’s foreign policy, Bonner faced both public attacks on his reputation and private lobbying of his editors, seeking his removal. Bonner soon found his career sidetracked. After being pulled out of Central America, he resigned from the Times.

Bonner’s ouster was another powerful message to the national news media about the fate that awaited reporters who challenged Ronald Reagan’s White House. (Years later, after a forensic investigation confirmed the El Mozote massacre, the Times rehired Bonner.)

Though conservative activists routinely bemoaned what they called the “liberal media” at the big newspapers and TV networks, the Reagan administration actually found many willing collaborators at senior levels of U.S. news organizations.

At the New York Times, executive editor Abe Rosenthal followed a generally neoconservative line of intense anticommunism and strong support for Israel. Under owner Martin Peretz, the supposedly leftist New Republic slid into a similar set of positions, including enthusiastic backing for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

Where I worked at the Associated Press, general manager Keith Fuller – the company’s top executive – was considered a staunch supporter of Reagan’s foreign policy and a fierce critic of recent social change. In 1982, Fuller gave a speech condemning the 1960s and praising Reagan’s election.

“As we look back on the turbulent Sixties, we shudder with the memory of a time that seemed to tear at the very sinews of this country,” Fuller said during a speech in Worcester, Massachusetts, adding that Reagan’s election a year earlier had represented a nation “crying, ‘Enough.’ …

“We don’t believe that the union of Adam and Bruce is really the same as Adam and Eve in the eyes of Creation. We don’t believe that people should cash welfare checks and spend them on booze and narcotics. We don’t really believe that a simple prayer or a pledge of allegiance is against the national interest in the classroom. We’re sick of your social engineering. We’re fed up with your tolerance of crime, drugs and pornography. But most of all, we’re sick of your self-perpetuating, burdening bureaucracy weighing ever more heavily on our backs.”

Fuller’s sentiments were common in the executive suites of major news organizations, where Reagan’s reassertion of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy mostly was welcomed. Working journalists who didn’t sense the change in the air were headed for danger.

By the time of Reagan’s landslide reelection in 1984, the conservatives had come up with catchy slogans for any journalist or politician who still criticized excesses in U.S. foreign policy. They were known as the “blame America firsters” or – in the case of the Nicaragua conflict – “Sandinista sympathizers.”

The practical effect of these slurs on the patriotism of journalists was to discourage skeptical reporting on Reagan’s foreign policy and to give the administration a freer hand for conducting operations in Central America and the Middle East outside public view.

Gradually, a new generation of journalists began to fill key reporting jobs, bringing with them an understanding that too much skepticism on national security issues could be hazardous to one’s career. Intuitively, these reporters knew there was little or no upside to breaking even important stories that made Reagan’s foreign policy look bad. That would just make you a target of the expanding conservative attack machine. You would be “controversialized,” another term that Reagan operatives used to describe their anti-reporter strategies.

Iran-Contra

Often I am asked why it took so long for the U.S. news media to uncover the secret operations that later became known as the Iran-Contra Affair, clandestine arms sales to the Islamic fundamentalist government of Iran with some of the profits – and other secret funds – funneled into the Contra war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

Though the AP was not known as a leading investigative news organization – and my superiors weren’t eager supporters – we were able to get ahead on the story in 1984, 1985 and 1986 because the New York Times, the Washington Post and other top news outlets mostly looked the other way. It took two external events – the shooting down of a supply plane over Nicaragua in October 1986 and the disclosure of the Iran initiative by a Lebanese newspaper in November 1986 – to bring the scandal into focus.

In late 1986 and early 1987, there was a flurry of Iran-Contra coverage, but the Reagan administration largely succeeded in protecting top officials, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The growing conservative news media, led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times, lashed out at journalists and government investigators who dared push the edges of the envelope or closed in on Reagan and Bush.

But resistance to the Iran-Contra scandal also penetrated mainstream news outlets. At Newsweek, where I went to work in early 1987, Editor Maynard Parker was hostile to the possibility that Reagan might be implicated. During one Newsweek dinner/interview with retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft and then-Rep. Dick Cheney, Parker expressed support for the notion that Reagan’s role should be protected even if that required perjury. “Sometimes you have to do what’s good the country,” Parker said. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

When Iran-Contra conspirator Oliver North went on trial in 1989, Parker and other news executives ordered that Newsweek’s Washington bureau not even cover the trial, presumably because Parker just wanted the scandal to go away. (When the North trial became a major story anyway, I was left scrambling to arrange daily transcripts so we could keep abreast of the trial’s developments. Because of these and other differences over the Iran-Contra scandal, I left Newsweek in 1990.)

Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a Republican, also encountered press hostility when his investigation finally broke through the White House cover-up in 1991. Moon’s Washington Times routinely lambasted Walsh and his staff over minor issues, such as the elderly Walsh flying first class on airplanes or ordering room-service meals. [See Walsh’s Firewall.]

But the attacks on Walsh were not coming only from the conservative news media. Toward the end of 12 years of Republican rule, mainstream journalists also realized their careers were far better served by staying on the good side of the Reagan-Bush crowd.

So, when President George H.W. Bush sabotaged Walsh’s probe by issuing six Iran-Contra pardons on Christmas Eve 1992, prominent journalists praised Bush’s actions. They brushed aside Walsh’s complaint that the move was the final act in a long-running cover-up that protected a secret history of criminal behavior and Bush’s personal role.

“Liberal” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen spoke for many of his colleagues when he defended Bush’s fatal blow against the Iran-Contra investigation. Cohen especially liked Bush’s pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted for obstruction of justice but was popular around Washington.

In a Dec. 30, 1992, column, Cohen said his view was colored by how impressed he was when he would see Weinberger in the Georgetown Safeway store, pushing his own shopping cart.

“Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy, candid and no nonsense – which is the way much of official Washington saw him,” Cohen wrote. “Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me.”

For fighting too hard for the truth, Walsh drew derision as a kind of Captain Ahab obsessively pursuing the White Whale. Writer Marjorie Williams delivered this damning judgment against Walsh in a Washington Post magazine article, which read:

“In the utilitarian political universe of Washington, consistency like Walsh’s is distinctly suspect. It began to seem … rigid of him to care so much. So un-Washington. Hence the gathering critique of his efforts as vindictive, extreme. Ideological. … But the truth is that when Walsh finally goes home, he will leave a perceived loser.”

By the time the Reagan-Bush era ended in January 1993, the era of the “skeptical journalist” was dead, too, at least on issues of national security.

The Webb Case

Even years later, when historical facts surfaced suggesting that serious abuses had been missed around the Iran-Contra Affair, mainstream news outlets took the lead in rallying to the Reagan-Bush defense.

When a controversy over Contra-drug trafficking reemerged in 1996, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times went on the attack – against Gary Webb, the reporter who revived interest in the scandal. Even admissions of guilt by the CIA’s inspector general in 1998 didn’t shake the largely dismissive treatment of the issue by the major newspapers. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

(For Webb’s courageous reporting, he was pushed out of his job at the San Jose Mercury News, his career was ruined, his marriage collapsed and – in December 2004 – he killed himself with his father’s revolver.) [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Warning in Gary Webb’s Death.”]

When Republican rule was restored in 2001 with George W. Bush’s controversial “victory,” major news executives and many rank-and-file journalists understood that their careers could best be protected by wrapping themselves in the old red-white-and-blue. “Patriotic” journalism was in; “skeptical” journalism was definitely out.

That tendency deepened even more after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as many journalists took to wearing American flag lapels and avoided critical reporting about Bush’s sometimes shaky handling of the crisis. For instance, Bush’s seven-minute freeze in a second-grade classroom – after being told “the nation is under attack” – was hidden from the public even though it was filmed and witnessed by White House pool reporters. (Millions of Americans were shocked when they finally saw the footage two years later in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”)

In November 2001, to avoid other questions about Bush’s legitimacy, the results of a media recount of the Florida vote were misrepresented to obscure the finding that Al Gore would have carried the state – and thus the White House – if all legally cast votes were counted. [See Consortiumnews.com’sSo Bush Did Steal the White House.”]

Iraq War

In 2002, as Bush shifted focus from Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan to Saddam Hussein and Iraq, the “patriotic” journalists moved with him. Some of the few remaining “skeptical” media figures were silenced, such as MSNBC’s host Phil Donahue whose show was canceled because he invited on too many war opponents.

In most newspapers, the occasional critical articles were buried deep inside, while credulous stories accepting the administration’s claims about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction were bannered on Page One.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller was in her element as she tapped into her friendly administration sources to produce WMD stories, like the one about how Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes was proof that it was building a nuclear bomb. The article gave rise to the White House warning that Americans couldn’t risk the “smoking gun” on Iraq’s WMD being “a mushroom cloud.”

In February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin Powell made his United Nations speech accusing Iraq of possessing WMD stockpiles, the national news media swooned at his feet. The Washington Post’s op-ed page was filled with glowing tributes to his supposedly air-tight case, which would later be exposed as a mix of exaggerations and outright lies. [See Consortiumnews.com’sPowell’s Widening Credibility Gap.”]

The rout of “skeptical” journalism was so complete – driven to the fringes of the Internet and to a few brave souls in Knight-Ridder’s Washington bureau – that the “patriotic” reporters often saw no problem casting aside even the pretense of objectivity. In the rush to war, news organizations joined in ridiculing the French and other longtime allies who urged caution. Those countries became the “axis of weasels” and cable TV devoted hours of coverage to diners that renamed “French fries” as “Freedom fries.”

Once the invasion began, the coverage on MSNBC, CNN and the major networks was barely discernable from the patriotic fervor on Fox. Like Fox News, MSNBC produced promotional segments, packaging heroic footage of American soldiers, often surrounded by thankful Iraqis and underscored with stirring music. [See Neck Deep.]

“Embedded” reporters often behaved like excited advocates for the American side of the war. But objectivity also was missing back at the studios where anchors voiced outrage about Geneva Convention violations when Iraqi TV aired pictures of captured American soldiers, but the U.S. media saw nothing wrong with broadcasting images of captured Iraqis. [See Consortiumnews.com’sInternational Law a la Carte.”]

As Judith Miller would later remark unabashedly, she saw her beat as “what I’ve always covered – threats to our country.” Referring to her time “embedded” with a U.S. military unit searching for WMD, she claimed that she had received a government “security clearance.” [NYT, Oct. 16, 2005]

While Miller may have been an extreme case of mixing patriotism and journalism, she was far from alone as a member of her generation who absorbed the lessons of the 1980s, that skeptical journalism on national security issues was a fast way to put yourself in the unemployment line.

Only gradually, as Iraq’s WMD stockpiles failed to materialize but a stubborn insurgency did, the bloody consequences of “patriotic” journalism have begun to dawn on the American people. By not asking tough questions, journalists contributed to a mess (that ultimately cost the lives of almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis).

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a top military intelligence official under Ronald Reagan, predicted that the Iraq invasion “will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

Plame Case

At the core of this disaster were the cozy relationships between the “patriotic” journalists and their sources. In her Oct. 16, 2005, account of her interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, Miller gave the public an inadvertent look into that closed world of shared secrets and mutual trust.

Libby talked with Miller in two face-to-face meetings and one phone call in 2003, as the Bush administration tried to beat back post-invasion questions about how the President made his case for war, according to Miller’s story.

As Miller agreed to let Libby hide behind a misleading identification as a “former Hill staffer,” Libby unleashed a harsh attack on one whistleblower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was challenging Bush’s claims that Iraq had sought enriched uranium from the African nation of Niger. The Miller/Libby interviews included Libby’s references to Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, who was an undercover CIA officer working on proliferation issues.

While the Plame case became a major embarrassment for the Bush administration – and for the New York Times – it did not stop many of Miller’s colleagues from continuing their old roles as “patriotic” journalists opposing the disclosure of too many secrets to the American people. For instance, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen – who hailed George H.W. Bush’s pardons that destroyed the Iran-Contra investigation in 1992 – adopted a similar stance against Fitzgerald’s investigation.

“The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals,” Cohen wrote in a column entitled “Let This Leak Go.”

“As it is, all he has done so far is send Judith Miller of the New York Times to jail and repeatedly haul this or that administration high official before a grand jury, investigating a crime that probably wasn’t one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of cover-up – but again, of nothing much,” Cohen wrote. “Go home, Pat.” [Washington Post, Oct. 13, 2005]

If Fitzgerald did as Cohen wished and closed down the investigation without indictments, the result would have been the continuation of the status quo in Washington. The Bush administration would get to keep control of the secrets and reward friendly “patriotic” journalists with selective leaks – and protected careers.

It is that cozy status quo that was endangered by the Plame case. But the stakes of the case were even bigger than that, going to the future of American democracy and to two questions in particular: Will journalists return to the standard of an earlier time when disclosing important facts to the electorate was the goal, rather than Cohen’s notion of putting the comfortable relationships between Washington journalists and government officials first?

Put differently, will journalists decide that confronting the powerful with tough questions is the true patriotic test of a journalist?

(Eventually, the Plamegate investigation ended with Fitzgerald bringing no charges for the leak of a covert CIA officer but he did convict Libby of lying to investigators and he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. But Libby never did go to jail because President Bush commuted his sentence.)

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Judith Miller’s Blame-Shifting Memoir

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity | Consortium News | April 7, 2015

MEMORANDUM FOR: Americans Malnourished on the Truth About Iraq

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: A New “Miller’s Tale” (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer)

On April 3, former New York Times journalist Judith Miller published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Iraq War and Stubborn Myths: Officials Didn’t Lie, and I Wasn’t Fed a Line.” If this sounds a bit defensive, Miller has tons to be defensive about.

In the article, Miller claims, “false narratives [about what she did as a New York Times reporter] deserve, at last, to be retired.” The article appears to be the initial salvo in a major attempt at self-rehabilitation and, coincidentally, comes just as her new book, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey, is to be published today.

In reviewing Miller’s book, her “mainstream media” friends are not likely to mention the stunning conclusion reached recently by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other respected groups that the Iraq War, for which she was lead drum majorette, killed one million people. One might think that, in such circumstances – and with bedlam reigning in Iraq and the wider neighborhood – a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, so to speak, might prompt Miller to keep her head down for a while more.

In all candor, after more than a dozen years, we are tired of exposing the lies spread by Judith Miller and had thought we were finished. We have not seen her new book, but we cannot in good conscience leave her WSJ article without comment from those of us who have closely followed U.S. policy and actions in Iraq.

Miller’s Revisionist History

Miller’s Tale in the WSJ begins with a vintage Miller-style reductio ad absurdum: “I took America to war in Iraq. It was all me.” Since one of us, former UN inspector Scott Ritter, has historical experience and technical expertise that just won’t quit, we asked him to draft a few paragraphs keyed to Miller’s latest tale. He shared the following critique:

“Judith Miller did not take America to war in Iraq. Even a journalist with an ego the size of Ms. Miller’s cannot presume to usurp the war power authorities of the President of the United States, or even the now-dormant Constitutional prerogatives of Congress. What she is guilty of, however, is being a bad journalist.

“She can try to hide this fact by wrapping herself in a collective Pulitzer Prize, or citing past achievements like authoring best-selling books. But this is like former Secretary of State Colin Powell trying to remind people about his past as the National Security Advisor for President Reagan or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

“At the end of the day Mr. Powell will be judged not on his previous achievements, but rather on his biggest failure – his appearance before the United Nations Security Council touting an illusory Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction threat as being worthy of war. In this same vein, Judith Miller will be judged by her authoring stories for the ‘newspaper of record’ that were questionably sourced and very often misleading. One needs only to examine Ms. Miller’s role while embedded in U.S. Army Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, hunting for weapons of mass destruction during the 2003 invasion, for this point to be illustrated.

“Miller may not have singlehandedly taken America and the world to war, but she certainly played a pivotal role in building the public case for the attack on Iraq based upon shoddy reporting that even her editor at the New York Times has since discredited – including over reliance on a single-source of easy virtue and questionable credibility – Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. The fact that she chose to keep this ‘source’ anonymous underscores the journalistic malfeasance at play in her reporting.

“Chalabi had been discredited by the State Department and CIA as a reliable source of information on Iraq long before Judith Miller started using him to underpin her front-page ‘scoops’ for the New York Times. She knew this, and yet chose to use him nonetheless, knowing that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was fully as eager to don the swindlers’ magic suit of clothes, as was the king in Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. In Ms. Miller’s tale, the fairy-tale clothes came with a WMD label and no washing instructions.

“Ms. Miller’s self-described ‘newsworthy claims’ of pre-war weapons of mass destruction stories often were – as we now know (and many of us knew at the time) – handouts from the hawks in the Bush administration and fundamentally wrong.

“Like her early reporting on Iraq, Ms. Miller’s re-working of history to disguise her malfeasance/misfeasance as a reporter does not bear close scrutiny. Her errors of integrity are hers and hers alone, and will forever mar her reputation as a journalist, no matter how hard she tries to spin the facts and revise a history that is highly inconvenient to her. Of course, worst of all, her flaws were consequential – almost 4,500 U.S. troops and 1,000,000 Iraqis dead.”

Relying on the Mistakes of Others

In her WSJ article, Miller protests that “relying on the mistakes of others and errors of judgment are not the same as lying.” It is almost as though she is saying that if Ahmed Chalabi told her that, in Iraq, the sun rises in the west, and she duly reported it, that would not be “the same as lying.”

Miller appears to have worked out some kind of an accommodation with George W. Bush and others who planned and conducted what the post-World War II Nuremburg Tribunal called the “supreme international crime,” a war of aggression. She takes strong issue with what she calls “the enduring, pernicious accusation that the Bush administration fabricated WMD intelligence to take the country to war.”

Does she not know, even now, that there is abundant proof that this is exactly what took place? Has she not read the Downing Street Memorandum based on what CIA Director George Tenet told the head of British Intelligence at CIA headquarters on July 20, 2002; i. e., that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of making war for “regime change” in Iraq?

Does she not know, even at this late date, that the “intelligence” served up to “justify” attacking Iraq was NOT “mistaken,” but outright fraud, in which Bush had the full cooperation of Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin? Is she unaware that the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence at the time, Carl Ford, has said, on the record, that Tenet and McLaughlin were “not just wrong, they lied … they should have been shot” for their lies about WMD?

Blame Blix

Miller’s tale about Hans Blix in her WSJ article shows she has lost none of her edge for disingenuousness: “One could argue … that Hans Blix, the former chief of the international inspectors, bears some responsibility,” writes Miller. She cherry-picks what Blix said in January 2003 about “many proscribed weapons and items,” including 1,000 tons of chemical agent, were still “not accounted for.”

Yes, Blix said that on Jan. 27, 2003. But Blix also included this that same day in his written report to his UN superiors, something the New York Times, for some reason, did not include in its report:

“Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field. The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul. Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good. The environment has been workable.

“Our inspections have included universities, military bases, presidential sites and private residences. Inspections have also taken place on Fridays, the Muslim day of rest, on Christmas day and New Years day. These inspections have been conducted in the same manner as all other inspections.” [See “Steve M.” writing (appropriately) for Crooks and Liars as he corrected the record.]

Yes, there was some resistance by Iraq up to that point. Blix said so. However, on Jan. 30, 2003, Blix made it abundantly clear, in an interview published in The New York Times, that nothing he’d seen at the time justified war. (The byline was Judith Miller and Julia Preston.)

The Miller-Preston report said:

“Mr. Blix said he continued to endorse disarmament through peaceful means. ‘I think it would be terrible if this comes to an end by armed force, and I wish for this process of disarmament through the peaceful avenue of inspections,’ he said. …

“Mr. Blix took issue with what he said were Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s claims that the inspectors had found that Iraqi officials were hiding and moving illicit materials within and outside of Iraq to prevent their discovery. He said that the inspectors had reported no such incidents. …

“He further disputed the Bush administration’s allegations that his inspection agency might have been penetrated by Iraqi agents, and that sensitive information might have been leaked to Baghdad, compromising the inspections. Finally, he said, he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, which Mr. Bush also mentioned in his speech. ‘There are other states where there appear to be stronger links,’ such as Afghanistan, Mr. Blix said, noting that he had no intelligence reports on this issue.”

Although she co-authored that New York Times report of Jan. 30, 2003, Judith Miller remembers what seems convenient to remember. Her acumen at cherry picking may be an occupational hazard occasioned by spending too much time with Chalabi, Rumsfeld and other professional Pentagon pickers.

Moreover, Blix’s February 2003 report showed that, for the most part, Iraq was cooperating and the process was working well:

“Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly. In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming. …

“The inspections have taken place throughout Iraq at industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centres, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps and agricultural sites. …

“In my 27 January update to the Council, I said that it seemed from our experience that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on process, most importantly prompt access to all sites and assistance to UNMOVIC in the establishment of the necessary infrastructure. This impression remains, and we note that access to sites has so far been without problems, including those that had never been declared or inspected, as well as to Presidential sites and private residences. …

“The presentation of intelligence information by the US Secretary of State suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and removing evidence of proscribed weapons programmes.

“I would like to comment only on one case, which we are familiar with, namely, the trucks identified by analysts as being for chemical decontamination at a munitions depot. This was a declared site, and it was certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected us to inspect.

“We have noted that the two satellite images of the site were taken several weeks apart. The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection.”

Blix made it clear that he needed more time, but the Bush administration had other plans. In other words, the war wasn’t Blix’s fault, as Judy Miller suggests. The fault lay elsewhere.

When Blix retired at the end of June 2004, he politely suggested to the “prestigious” Council on Foreign Relations in New York the possibility that Baghdad had actually destroyed its weapons of mass destruction after the first Gulf War in 1991 (as Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who had been in charge of the WMD and rocket programs assured his debriefers when he defected in 1995). Blix then allowed himself an undiplomatic jibe:

“It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 per cent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty of about where they are.”

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

William Binney, former Technical Director, National Security Agency (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Daniel Ellsberg, former State and Defense Department official, associate VIPS

Frank Grevil, former Maj., Army Intelligence, Denmark, associate VIPS

Katharine Gun, former analyst, GCHQ (the NSA equivalent in the UK), associate VIPS

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan, associate VIPS

Brady Kiesling, former Political Counseler, U.S. Embassy, Athens, resigned in protest before the attack on Iraq, associate VIPS.

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003.

Annie Machon, former officer, MI5 (the CIA equivalent in the UK), associate VIPS

David MacMichael, former Capt., USMC & senior analyst, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former Capt., Army Infantry/Intelligence & CIA presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, Maj., former U.S. Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Greg Thielmann, former Office Director for Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Peter Van Buren, former diplomat, Department of State, associate VIPS

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.) & US diplomat (resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq)

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment