FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Humility or More Hyperbole?

by RAY McGOVERN

Iraqi chickens are coming to roost as President Bush’s advisors attempt to draft a State of the Union Message without the embarrassing flaws of their last try. With last year’s hyperbole — replete with the knee-slapper about Baghdad’s seeking uranium in Africa — forming part of the backdrop, they have their work cut out for them.

And the facts are not cooperating. Administration claims originally adduced to justify war could not withstand close scrutiny, and even the likes of columnist George Will have disdainfully rejected ”retroactive” justifications. The gap between earlier claims about the Iraqi threat and last year’s experience on the ground has become a chasm too wide to be bridged by rhetorical finesse.

Damaging information

Consider these events and revelations earlier this month:

* The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released an exhaustive study, which concluded: “Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

* On the same day, State Secretary Colin Powell finally conceded that there never had been any ”concrete evidence” of Iraqi ties to al Qaeda, contradicting himself on the ”sinister nexus” that he conjured up for the U.N. Security Council last February.

* Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has said that during his two years in the president’s cabinet, “I never saw anything I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction.”

* But the most damaging revelation came from an internal Iraqi document — this time, happily, not a forged one — confirming that a high-level order to destroy all chemical and biological weapons was carried out in the summer of 1991 (there were no nuclear weapons). U.S. officials learned of this in mid-1995 from what intelligence officers would call ”a reliable source with excellent access.” Everything else he told us has checked out.

Defector par excellence

That source was none other than the person in charge of Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs: Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law Hussein Kamel — the one who gave the order to destroy those weapons. Kamel defected in August 1995.

Documentary corroboration that Kamel’s order was carried out surfaced this month in a handwritten letter obtained by Barton Gelman of The Washington Post. The letter was written by Hossam Amin, director of the Iraqi office overseeing U.N. inspectors, five days after Kamel’s defection. It confirms that Iraq had in fact destroyed its entire inventory of biological weapons during the summer of 1991, before U.N. inspectors even knew of their existence.

Does this mean that Kamel’s testimony had been known in Washington and London more than seven years before Bush’s address last January, and that during that entire period no evidence had come to light poking holes in the information he provided? Yes.

Well, maybe they didn’t tell the president. If that is true, ”they” should be fired.

There is, I suppose, a chance that Bush’s advisors missed the information from Kamel’s debriefing — or forgot it. But Newsweek on Feb. 24, 2003, reported Kamel’s assertion that the weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed. That was more than three weeks before our troops were sent into Iraq, ostensibly to ”disarm” Iraq of those same weapons.

Both Bush and Vice President Cheney have accorded Kamel fulsome praise as defector par excellence, emphasizing his revelations about the Iraqi biological and chemical weapons but not mentioning that Kamel also said that those same weapons were destroyed at his order in 1991. This brings the practice of ”cherry-picking” intelligence information to new heights — or lows.

To his credit, Bush did ask the head of his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, to investigate how the canard about Iraq’s seeking uranium in Africa got into last year’s speech. According to press reports, Scowcroft has concluded that it was the work of overzealous functionaries eager to ”find something affirmative” to support claims like those of Cheney that Saddam Hussein had ”reconstituted” Iraq’s nuclear program.

Why not ask Scowcroft to lead an inquiry into which government officials and members of Congress were briefed on the full story provided by Kamel, and when? With 500 of our sons and daughters already killed in Iraq, we are due no less.

RAY McGOVERN, a 27-year veteran CIA analyst, is on the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity’s Steering Group. He is co-director of the Servant Leadership School, an inner-city outreach ministry in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: RRMcGovern@aol.com

 

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@gmail.com. A version of this article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail