Holding Leaders Accountable for Lies

by RAY McGOVERN

While the pot continues to boil in Washington and London over the manipulated evidence used to ”justify” attacking Iraq, an equally passionate debate has been taking place in Australia, where former Australian intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie resigned before the war and immediately went public about the lying.

That the Australian Senate saw fit, in a rare move on Oct. 7, formally to censure Prime Minister John Howard for misleading the public shows that truth can win out even in a country with a largely apathetic populace and a mainstream press all too eager to parrot the official line. There are lessons for us, of course, but Americans cannot be accused of apathy in this particular instance because the U.S. media have largely ignored the story.

The Australian Senate censured Howard for producing no evidence to support his claims last March that Iraq had stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and for suppressing Australian intelligence warnings that war with Iraq would increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. One senator accused Howard of "unprecedented deceit.”

The Senates action came just six weeks after Wilkie testified before a parliamentary committee about the abuse of intelligence in the run-up to war and found himself embroiled in a highly publicized one-on-one debate with the prime minister. A senior analyst in Australia’s (CIA-equivalent) Office of National Assessments, Wilkie is still the only intelligence analyst, of all those in Washington and London with direct experience of the flim-flam marketing of the war, to resign in protest.

His testimony included the following accusations against the government:

"Australia’s tiny agencies needed to rely on the sometimes weak and skewed views contained in the assessments prepared in Washington. . . . Intelligence gaps were sometimes back-filled with disinformation. Worst-case sometimes took primacy over most-likely. The threat was sometimes overestimated as a result of the fairy tales coming out of the U.S.”

"Most often the government deliberately skewed the truth by taking the ambiguity out of the issue. . . . Qualifications like `probably,’ ‘could’ and ‘uncorroborated evidence suggests’ were frequently dropped. Much more useful words like ‘massive’ and ‘mammoth’ were included, even though such words had not been offered to the government by the intelligence agencies. Before we knew it, the government had created a mythical Iraq, one where every factory was up to no good and weaponization was continuing apace.”

Australia’s government, for its part, has done everything it can to smear and discredit Wilkie. Sound familiar?

The Australian press found it impossible to ignore the Howard-Wilkie controversy, and now much of the populace understands that the ostensible reasons for attacking Iraq were cooked in Washington and served up by Australian leaders all too willing to march in lockstep with the Bush administration. Those Australian leaders are now being held accountable.

Wilkie’s Aug. 22 testimony to parliament was devastating and holds up particularly well in the wake of special CIA advisor David Kay’s fools errand in search of "weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

In his testimony, Wilkie addressed the question that keeps cropping up not only in Australia but in the United States and the United Kingdom as well: If the casus belli was neither WMD nor support for al Qaeda, then what was it? He reminded Australian lawmakers that ONA had made it ”very clear” to the government that "the U.S. was intent on invading Iraq for more-important reasons.”

To find the ”more-important reasons,” Wilkie’s former ONA colleagues needed no spies to ferret out the answer. They could, and did, simply read the ideological and strategic rationale for conquering Iraq by clicking on the Project for a New American Century, a think-tank created in 1977 by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others now in charge of U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

A PNAC White Paper of September 2000, ”Rebuilding Americas Defenses,” laid out two central requirements for U.S. military forces: (1) ”Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;” and (2) "perform the `constabulary duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions.”

The tragedy of 9/11 made it possible for Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, with help from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, to morph that White Paper into a new military strategy. On Sept. 20, 2001, the White House proclaimed its new preemptive war strategy in ”National Security Strategy of the United States of America” — the ideological twin of "Rebuilding Americas Defenses.”

If Wilkie’s colleagues could discern the implications, so can intelligence analysts in Syria, Iran and North Korea. What is truly remarkable is the way that the U.S. press remains clueless. We are being fed the line that, because the United States has its hands full with its ”constabulary duties” in Iraq, the likelihood of further adventures is slight.

I want to believe it. But a year ago, despite the escalating rhetoric, I wanted to believe that U.S. leaders would realize the folly of attacking and trying to occupy Iraq. Given what they said then about Iraq, it is far from reassuring to hear senior administration officials now say that, although the Syrians have WMD, President Bush ”has no plans” to attack Syria.

It is all the more essential, then, that the Andrew Wilkies of U.S. and British intelligence come out of hiding and tell their fellow citizens of the curious change that Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have introduced into the intelligence cycle — first decide on war, and then cook up the ”intelligence” to justify it.

RAY McGOVERN is a 27-year veteran of the CIA and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is currently Co-Director of the Servant Leadership School, an inner-city outreach ministry in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: RRMcGovern@aol.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington