Chalabigate

"Weapons of Mass Deception"

2004-12-10

Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Office of Special Plans and other Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith

Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Office of Special Plans and other Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith


Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq
Open-Content project managed by Derek Mitchell





2001-2003

The US intelligence community—most notably the intelligence gatherers working in the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith (see September 2002) —bases several of its intelligence assessments concerning Iraq on information offered by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and by Iraqi defectors provided by the INC, despite warnings from the State Department and some CIA analysts that the lobbying group cannot be trusted. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann] Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists are reportedly funneled directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney by Francis Brooke, the DC lobbyist for the group. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Brooke will later acknowedge that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Frank Gaffney, Douglas Feith, Francis Brooke, Dick Cheney
Statements
Vince Cannistraro
“The Iraqi opposition, particularly the group led by Ahmed Chalabi, whose intelligence was underwritten by the Pentagon, played a crucial role in informing the Pentagon ... with information that looks, from this vantage point, like it was fraudulent, in many cases was fabricated, and the most benign interpretation was that it was just flat wrong.” — June 2003 [ABC News, 6/16/03]
Scott Ritter
“Our guys working this area for a living all believe Chalabi and all those guys in their Bond Street suits are charlatans. To take them for a source of anything except a fantasy trip would be a real stretch. But it's an article of faith among those with no military experience that the Iraqi military is low-hanging fruit.” — October 2002 [Knight Ridder, 11/1/02]
“The UN stopped using Chalabi's information as a basis for conducting inspections once the tenuous nature of his sources and his dubious motivations became clear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mainstream US media, which give prominent coverage to sources of information that, had they not been related to Hussein's Iraq, would normally be immediately dismissed.” — January 28, 2002 [Christian Science Monitor, 1/28/02]
Commentaries
Vince Cannistraro
“The [INC's] intelligence isn't reliable at all. Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi's own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches.” — Before March 19, 2003 [Independent, 9/30/03]

September 11, 2001

Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and William Luti, head of the Pentagon's Near Eastern and South Asian desk, are “busy on unrelated missions in Europe and the Middle East.” They return to Washington the next day (see September 12, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234 Sources: William Luti, Douglas Feith]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Douglas Feith

Shortly after September 11, 2001

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and another neocon, F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. The four- to five-person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between terrorist groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, F. Michael Maloof, Harold Rhode, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle

September 12, 2001

Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” meet at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany where they are picked up by an Air Force refueling plane which brings them back to Washington. During the flight they discuss the implications of the 911 attacks for US foreign policy. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234 Sources: Douglas Feith, William Luti] “[R]ight there on the plane, we took out our laptops and sketched out for Secretary Rumsfeld where we thought we had to go, what it meant to get things on a war footing,” William Luti will tell Vanity Fair magazine. “Obviously we had Afghanistan on our minds straightaway. That was our immediate concern. But we also thought we had to learn about the terrorist networks, how they connected to he states.” They arrive at Andrews Air Force base a few minutes after five in the afternoon. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, William Luti

September 20, 2001

A top Pentagon official—thought to be Douglas Feith—pens a top-secret memo fielding the idea that the US should consider initially attacking targets outside the Middle East, like Latin America, or “non-Al Qaeda” targets like Iraq. The memo suggests that striking such a target would catch al-Qaeda off-guard. [Sources: 9/11 Commission Report] The memo's recommendation is reportedly based on research by the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group , a two-man secret intelligence team operating under Feith's office that was set up to identify possible links between al-Qaeda and other groups, including states like Iraq. [Newsweek, 8/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, F. Michael Maloof

Early January 2002

Harold Rhode, a specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi, moves into the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, “an in-house Pentagon think tank” run by Andrew Marshall. Rhode, along with Douglas Feith, whose appointment to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is not approved until July, imposes a new anti-Iraq and anti-Arab orientation on the department. The two men purge the department of career Defense officials whose worldviews are not considered sufficiently compatible with the neoconservative perspective. An intelligence analyst will tell reporter Robert Dreyfuss that Rhode appeared to be “pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us with.” The source adds: “They wanted nothing to do with the professional staff. And they wanted us the fuck out of there.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Andrew Marshall

2002

Shortly after George W. Bush is inaugurated, “[k]ey personnel, long-time civilian professionals” at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia (NESA) desk are moved or replaced with people from neoconservative think tanks. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Joe McMillan, the Office Director, is moved to a new location outside of the Pentagon, which according to Karen Kwiatkowski, who works at the NESA desk, is odd because “the whole reason for the Office Director being a permanent civilian (occasionally military) professional is to help bring the new appointee up to speed, ensure office continuity, and act as a resource relating to regional histories and policies.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Larry Hanauer, who has long been at the Israel-Syria-Lebanon desk and who is known to be “even-handed with Israel,” is replaced by David Schenker of the Washington Institute. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Other veteran NESA employees who are banished include James Russell, who has served as the country director for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and Marybeth McDevitt, the country director for Egypt. [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Larry Hanauer, David Schenker, Marybeth McDevitt, James Russell, Joe McMillan
Statements
Karen Kwiatkowski
“The director's job in the time of transition was to help bring the newly appointed deputy assistant secretary up to speed, ensure office continuity, act as a resource relating to regional histories and policies, and help identify the best ways to maintain course or to implement change. Removing such a critical continuity factor was not only unusual but also seemed like willful handicapping. It was the first signal of radical change” — March 10, 2004
Bob Kerrey
“I learned that there was indeed a preferred ideology for NESA. My first day in the office, a GS-15 career civil servant rather unhappily advised me that if I wanted to be successful here, I'd better remember not to say anything positive about the Palestinians. This belied official US policy of serving as an honest broker for resolution of Israeli and Palestinian security concerns. At that time, there was a great deal of talk about Bush's possible support for a Palestinian state. That the Pentagon could have implemented and, worse, was implementing its own foreign policy had not yet occurred to me.” — March 10, 2004 [Salon, 3/10/2004]

Early 2002

DIA reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney takes over the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney

Early 2002

Bruce Hardcastle, the Defense Intelligence Agency officer assigned to Bill Luti, provides Luti's office with intelligence briefings. But his reports are not appreciated by Luti or his colleagues, because they do not support neoconservatives' assumptions about Iraq's weapon capabilities and terrorist activities. [Salon, 3/10/2004 Sources: Paul O'Neill]
People and organizations involved: Bruce Hardcastle, William Luti

2002-2003

The Bush administration develops plans for post-war Iraq. But the process is plagued with infighting between a small, highly secretive group of planners in the Pentagon and experts at the CIA and State Department who are involved with the “Future of Iraq Project” (see April 2002-March 2003). The two opposing groups disagree on a wide range of topics, but it is the Pentagon group which exerts the strongest influence on the White House's plans (see Fall 2002) for administering post-Saddam Iraq. One State Department official complains to The Washington Post in October 2002 “that the Pentagon is seeking to dominate every aspect of Iraq's postwar reconstruction.” The group of Pentagon planners includes several noted neoconservatives who work in, or in association with, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see September 2002) and the Near East/South Asia bureau. The planners have close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), two think tanks with a shared vision of reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East in favor of US and Israeli interests. The Pentagon planning group “had a visionary strategy that it hoped would transform Iraq into an ally of Israel, remove a potential threat to the Persian Gulf oil trade and encircle Iran with US friends and allies,” Knight Ridder Newspapers will later observe. The group's objectives put it at odds with planners at the CIA and State Department whose approach and objectives are much more prudent. The Pentagon unit works independently of the CIA and State Department and pays little attention to the work of those two agencies. Critics complain that the group is working in virtual secrecy and evading the scrutiny and oversight of others involved in the post-war planning process by confining their inter-agency communications to discussions with their neoconservative colleagues working in other parts of the government. The Pentagon planners even have a direct line to the office of Dick Cheney where their fellow neoconservative, Lewis Libby, is working. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; Washington Post, 4/2/03; Associated Press, 11/12/02] In the fall of 2002, the various groups involved in planning for post-war Iraq send their recommendations to the White House's Executive Steering Committee, which reviews their work and then passes on its own recommendations to the cabinet heads (see Fall 2002). According to a July 2003 report by Knight Ridder Newspapers, the ultimate responsibility for deciding the administration's post-war transition plans lay with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] The Office of Special Plans - The civilian planners at the Pentagon believe that the UN should exert no influence over the structure, make-up, or policy of the interim Iraqi post-Saddam government. They seek to limit the UN's role to humanitarian and reconstruction projects, and possibly security. The State Department, however, believes that the US will not be able to do it alone and that UN participation in post-Saddam Iraq will be essential. [Observer, 4/6/03; Los Angeles Times, 4/2/03] The Pentagon group wants to install Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), as leader of post-Saddam Iraq. [American Prospect, 5/1/03; Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Richard Perle] The group thinks that the Iraqis will welcome Chalabi, who claims he has a secret network inside and outside the Ba'ath government which will quickly fill in the power vacuum to restore order to the country. Chalabi is a notorious figure who is considered untrustworthy by the State Department and CIA and who has a history of financial misdealings. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] But the Pentagon is said to be enamored with Chalabi “because he [advocates] normal diplomatic relations with Israel” which they believe will “‘ [take] off the board’ one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security.” Another geopolitical benefit to installing Chalabi is that he can help the US contain “the influence of Iran's radical Islamic leaders in the region, because he would ... [provide] bases in Iraq for US troops,” which would “complete Iran's encirclement by American military forces around the Persian Gulf and US friends in Russia and Central Asia.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, with close ties to the Pentagon's planning group, tells Robert Dreyfuss of American Prospect Magazine that the State Department's perception of Chalabi is wrong. “The [Defense Department] is running post-Saddam Iraq,” said Pletka, almost shouting. “The people at the State Department don't know what they are talking about! Who the hell are they? ... the simple fact is, the president is comfortable with people who are comfortable with the INC.” [American Prospect, 5/1/03] The Pentagon's planning unit believes that the Iraqis will welcome US troops as liberators and that any militant resistance will be short-lived. They do not develop a contingency plan for persistent civil unrest. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] However the State Department's “Future of Iraq” planning project is more prudent, noting that Iraqis will likely be weary of US designs on their country. [New York Times, 10/19/03] The Pentagon planners believe that Iraq's oil reserves—estimated to contain some 112 billion barrels of oil—should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Iraq. They also advocate a plan that would give the US more control over Iraq's oil. “[The Pentagon] hawks have long argued that US control of Iraq's oil would help deliver a second objective,” reports the Observer. “That is the destruction of OPEC, the oil producers' cartel, which they argue is ‘evil’—that is, incompatible with American interests.” The State Department, however, believes such aggressive policies will surely infuriate Iraqis and give credence to suspicions that the invasion is motivated by oil interests. One critic of the plan says “that only a puppet Iraqi government would acquiesce to US supervision of the oil fields and that one so slavish to US interests risks becoming untenable with Iraqis.” [Observer, 11/3/02; Insight, 12/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Project for the New American Century, Donald Rumsfeld, Ahmed Chalabi, Condoleezza Rice, Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute
Commentaries
Robert Dreyfuss, American Prospect Magazine
“By giving control to the INC, the Pentagon seems intent on creating a government modeled on South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem regime, which would require a US praetorian guard to prop it up for years to come.” — April 2003
Knight Ridder Newspapers
“In contrast, years before World War II ended, American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan, designing everything from rebuilt economies to law enforcement and democratic governments.” — July 12, 2003 [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
Kenneth Bacon
“What should be an open and well-understood operation is secretive and possibly confused.” — April 2003 [Boston Globe, 4/11/03]

(May 2002-February 2003)

Karen Kwiatkowski escorts about half a dozen Israelis, including some generals, from the first floor reception area of the Pentagon to Douglas Feith's office. “We just followed them, because they knew exactly where they were going and moving fast,” she later explains. The Israelis are not required to sign in as is required under special regulations put into effect after the Sept. 11 attacks. Kwiatkowski speculates that Feith's office may have waived this requirement for the Israelis so that there would be no record of the meeting. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]

June 26, 2002

Entifadh Qunbar, a lobbyist for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), sends a memo to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in which he provides information about a State Department-funded intelligence program, known as the “information-collection program,” run by the INC. Qunbar, who says he is the overall manager of the group, states in the memo that under the program, “defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed,” and “the results are reported through the INC newspaper (Al Mutamar), the Arabic and Western media and to appropriate governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies.” Information is also passed on to William Luti, who will later run the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002), and John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, who Qunbar describes as the “principal point of contact.” [Newsweek, 12/15/03; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo] The memo provides a description of some of the people involved in the group and their activities. It says that the analytical group includes five analysts with a background in Iraq's military, Iraq's intelligence services and human rights. One person, a consultant, monitors the Iraqi government's alleged efforts to develop banned weapons. The five analysts process information and write reports, which are sent to Al Mutamar, the INC's newspaper, as well as the US government and many mainstream news organizations. Qunbar says that the information-collection program issued 30 reports between August 2001 and June 2002, which were sent to Al Mutamar. His memo also indicates the group published 28 private reports in collaboration with the INC's headquarters in London. The memo reveals that between October 2001 and May 2002, information provided by the INC was cited in more than 100 articles published by a variety of English-language news publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, CNN, Fox News, and several others. [New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), Memo, Entifadh Qunbar, Dick Cheney

(August 2002)

Pentagon officials working in the Office of Special Plans visit George Tenet at CIA headquarters under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith to voice their objections to the final draft of a CIA assessment on Iraq's supposed links to terrorism. The officials disputed the report's conclusion that intelligence suggesting an alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (see 1999) was not credible. As a result of Pentagon officials' objections, the CIA's assessment is postponed until September 18. Tenet will later say he “didn't think much of” the briefing. [Telegraph, 7/11/2004; Newsweek, 7/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet

August 2002

The Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also know as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project, which had been formed shortly after the September 11 attacks (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), is disbanded. [Reuters, 2/19/04]

August 2002

Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith give two presentations on Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda to the CIA at the agency's Langley headquarters. CIA analysts are not impressed, having seen much of the information before and having already determined that it was not credible. Some of the information will nevertheless be included in speeches by Bush and in testimony by Tenet to Congress. The information is also put into a classified memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Feith, which is later leaked to The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney, Douglas Feith

September 2002

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, A Pentagon adviser, Greg Thielmann] They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Telegraph, 7/11/2004; CNN, 7/11/2004 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/2004 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are: The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] One defector in particular, code-named “Curve Ball,” provides as much as 98% of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/2004] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Newsweek, 12/15/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/2004 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Ellen Tauscher, Unnamed former intelligence official] The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann] The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03 Sources: David Obey, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war] Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Kenneth Adelman, James Woolsey, Colonel Bruner, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Stephen Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, Elliott Abrams, Elizabeth Cheney, David Wurmser, Karen Kwiatkowski
Statements
Karen Kwiatkowski
“I came to share with many NESA colleagues a kind of unease, a sense that something was awry. What seemed out of place was the strong and open pro-Israel and anti-Arab orientation in an ostensibly apolitical policy-generation staff within the Pentagon. There was a sense that politics like these might play better at the State Department or the National Security Council, not the Pentagon, where we considered ourselves objective and hard boiled.” — December 1, 2003 [American Conservative, 12/1/03]
“It [Office of Special Plans] was organized like a machine. The people working on the neocon agenda had a narrow, well-defined political agenda. They had a sense of mission.” — Late 2003 [Mother Jones, 1/04]
“Inter-agency discussions, Feith and the two offices communicated almost exclusively with like-minded allies in other agencies, rather than with their official counterparts, including even the DIA in the Pentagon.” — Summer 2003 [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03]
“I had observed that many of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon not only had limited military experience, if any at all, but they also advocated theories of war that struck me as rejections of classical liberalism, natural law, and constitutional strictures. More than that, the pressure of the intelligence community to conform, the rejection of it when it failed to produce intelligence suitable for supporting the ‘Iraq is an imminent threat to the United States’ agenda, and the amazing things I was hearing in both Bush and Cheney speeches told me that not only do neoconservatives hold a theory based on ideas not embraced by the American mainstream, but they also have a collective contempt for fact.” — December 1, 2003 [American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People in the Office of Special Plans “would draw up ‘talking points’ they would use and distribute to their friends. But the talking points would be changed continually, not because of new intel (intelligence), but because the press was poking holes in what was in the memos.” — Summer 2003 [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03]
Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war
“No one from the military staff heard, saw or discussed anything with” the people at the Office of Special Plans — July 2003 [Guardian, 7/17/03]
Melvin A. Goodman
“People were being pulled aside [and being told], ‘We saw your last piece and it's not what we're looking for,’ ” he says. “It was pretty blatant.” — Late 2003 [Mother Jones, 1/04]
David Obey
“That office was charged with collecting, vetting and disseminating intelligence completely outside of the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the national security council and the president without having been vetted with anyone other than political appointees.” — July 2003 [Guardian, 7/17/03]
Unnamed former intelligence official
“One of the reasons I left was my sense that they were using the intelligence from the CIA and other agencies only when it fit their agenda. They didn't like the intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so far out and so difficult to reason with—to the point of being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission from God. If it doesn't fit their theory, they don't want to accept it.” — May 2003 [New Yorker, 5/5/03]
Richard Clarke
“The people in Rumsfeld's office and in Wolfowitz's operation cherry-picked intelligence to select the intelligence to support their views. They never did the due diligence on the intelligence that professional intelligence analysts are trained to do. [The OSP] would go through the intelligence reports including the ones that the CIA was throwing out. They stitched it together they would send it out, send it over to Cheney. All the stuff that a professional would have thrown out. As soon as 9/11 happened people like Rumsfeld saw it was opportunity. During that first week after September 11, the decision was made.” — March 23, 2004 [The Guardian, 3/23/04]
Unnamed senior official
A senior official told Newsday that the Office of Special Plans' immediate objective was seemingly to “antagonize Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them.” — August 2003 [Newsday, 8/9/03]
Greg Thielmann
People working in the Office of Special Plans “surveyed data and picked out what they liked. The whole thing was bizarre. The secretary of defense had this huge defense intelligence agency, and he went around it.” — July 2003 [Guardian, 7/17/03]
“There's a formal, well-established intelligence process in Washington, which Rumsfeld apparently wanted to circumvent. ... Their operation was virtually invisible to us; I don't remember seeing any of their intelligence information.” He added that the Office of Special Plans “had no status in the intelligence community.” — July 2003 [Salon, 7/16/03]
“They [people involved with the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans] were a pretty shadowy presence. Normally when you compile an intelligence document, all the agencies get together to discuss it. The OSP was never present at any of the meetings I attended.” — July 2003 [Guardian, 7/17/03]
Commentaries
Vince Cannistraro
“The [INC's] intelligence isn't reliable at all. Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi's own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches.” — Before March 19, 2003 [Independent, 9/30/03]
Seymour Hersh
“[The OSP] brought about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community. These advisers and analysts, who began their work in the days after September 11, 2001, have produced a skein of intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward Iraq. ... By last fall [2002], the operation rivaled both the CIA and the Pentagon's own Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA, as President Bush's main source of intelligence regarding Iraq's possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with al-Qaeda.” — May 5, 2003 [New Yorker, 5/5/03]
Ellen Tauscher
“The concern is they were in the cherry-picking business—cherry-picking half-truths and rumors and only highlighting pieces of information that bolstered the administration's case for war.” — July 2003 [Salon, 7/16/03]
Steve Aftergood
“It was not a neutral, transparent link in the intelligence chain. It was staffed by people with a distinct perspective on events, so it was logical to assume that perspective would be reflected in the work.” — July 2003 [Salon, 7/16/03]
Greg Thielmann
“Do they [staffers in the Office of Special Plans] have expertise in Iraqi culture? Are they missile experts? Nuclear engineers? There's no logical explanation for the office's creation except that they wanted people to find evidence to support their answers [about war].” — July 2003 [Salon, 7/16/03]

September 16, 2002

Two days before the CIA is to issue an assessment (see (August 2002)) on Iraq's supposed links to terrorism, Pentagon officials working in the Office of Special Plans give a briefing directly to the White House; Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby; and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley. The briefing says that there were “fundamental problems” with CIA intelligence-gathering methods and includes a detailed breakdown of the alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. [Telegraph, 7/11/2004; Newsweek, 7/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: Lewis Libby, Stephen Hadley

Mid-December 2003

The existence of a June 2002 memo—revealing that intelligence from the INC was being sent directly to the offices of Dick Cheney and William Luti—is reported in the December 15 issue of Newsweek magazine, which also reports that Francis Brooke, a DC lobbyist for the INC, admits having supplied Cheney's office with information pertaining to Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Francis Brooke] Furthermore, he acknowedges that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] However, an unnamed Cheney aid interviewed by the same magazine flatly denies that his boss' office had received raw intelligence on Iraq. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Unnamed staff aid of Dick Cheney's office]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Francis Brooke, Dick Cheney

June 2003

The Pentagon Office of Special Plans sends two Defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to Paris where they secretly meet with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader who had been a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair. Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute is said to have arranged the meeting, which is not authorized by the White House. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03 Sources: A senior official interviewed by Newsday] It appears that the purpose of the meeting is to undermine a pending deal that the White House is negotiating with the Iranian government. Iran is considering turning over five al-Qaeda operatives in exchange for Washington dropping its support for Mujahadeen Khalq, an Iraq-based rebel Iranian group listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. The Office of Special Plans is reportedly interested in using this group to help destabilize Iran's government. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03] When Secretary of State Colin Powell gets wind of its activities, he complains directly to the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying that Feith's missions are against US policy. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Manucher Ghorbanifar, Michael Ledeen, Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin

July 2003

The Pentagon announces that the Office of Special Plans will revert to its previous name, the “Northern Gulf Affairs Office,” explaining that this name more accurately reflects the activities and mission of that office. [Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03]

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