FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Putin’s Helpful Remarks

by GARY LEUPP

Friday, June 18, 2004. About 1:00 p.m.

Now this is really interesting. Vladimir Putin, in response to a journalist’s question during a visit to Kazakhstan, casually confirms an Interfax report, citing an unnamed Russian intelligence officer, that Russia passed on intelligence to the U,S., during the interval between 9-11 and the U.S. invasion, relating to an Iraqi attack threat. “I can confirm,” states the Russian president (and, by the way, former KGB chief), according to CNN, “that after the events of September 11, 2001, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received … information that official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations.”

Wow. Another blockbuster, maybe the biggest yet. Just when the Bushites seem in a corner, their claims of Iraq-al-Qaeda ties effectively discredited by journalists and the 9-11 Commission report, from an unlikely corner comes such welcome succor. And it’s so much better than mere evidence for Saddam-bin Laden cooperation. “Official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States…!”

Voilà! Instant validation for the war; regardless of the true nature of Iraq-al Qaeda relations and the embarrassing WMDs issue. None further needed.

But, some preliminary questions:

Why didn’t Bush or Cheney mention this earlier, given the extraordinary utility of the report, especially in the face of doubts about the Iraqi threat mounting since the first several months of the invasion?

Did the Kremlin find the “information” credible, or was it just passing on “several” reports it might have suspected originated from doubtful sources anxious to encourage U.S. war plans?
Where did the information come from, and will we ever be able to find out if it originated with (say) Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, now on the outs with the Bush administration and suspected of collaborating with Iran?

Did the Russian government tell Washington, “We believe that the Iraqi government plans to attack you, but even so, we oppose your invasion of Iraq”?

Why does Mr. Putin, a very shrewd operator (repeat: former KGB chief), announce this to a journalist in Kazakhstan (following a security meeting with in Tashkent with Chinese, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajiki leaders designed in part to counter U.S. inroads into Central Asia) at this time?

The CNN story contains an ellipsis: “Russian intelligence several times received … information.” What’s left out of the Putin statement?

Why on earth would Baghdad, after 9-11, while the U.S. was planning to invade and occupy, and while in desperation Baghdad sought to avoid war by offering unprecedented concessions to the U.S., have been planning terrorist attacks on U.S. soil?

How much help does Putin’s statement lend Bush?

What help might Putin, in turn, receive?

Friday, about 5:30 p.m.

The plot thickens. Reuters reports: “Putin’s remarks looked certain to help President Bush, but officials at the State Department expressed bafflement, saying they knew of no such information from Russia.”

“‘Everybody’s scratching their heads,’ said one State Department official, who asked not to be named.”

One possible take on this (just thinking aloud here) is that Putin is trying to help Bush, as Reuters implies, but administration officials lack the alacrity to just fake it and say, “Oh, yeah, we had that information, but because of our bilateral intelligence agreements with Russia were unable to reveal it to the public until the Russians did” or some such nonsense sufficiently plausible to diehard Bush supporters.

As it is, whatever the Bushites do, Putin might be able to say, “Hey, I tried to help you” and thus strive to continue to curry favor as he undertakes controversial actions in Chechnya, and throughout the Russian Federation, which under other circumstances might invite U.S. criticism. He seems politically stronger than Bush right now, and like so many Russians, is a capable chess player. Bush perhaps does not understand chess, and may himself be scratching his head wondering how next to move.

 

 


Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
Leslie Scott
Trump in the Middle East: New Ideas, Old Politics
George Wuerthner
Environmental Groups as Climate Deniers
Pauline Murphy
The Irish Dead: Fighting Fascism in Spain, 1937
Brian Trautman
Veterans on the March
Eric Sommer
Trumps Attack on Social Spending Escalates Long-term Massive Robbery of American Work
Binoy Kampmark
Twenty-Seven Hours: Donald Trump in Israel
Christian Hillegas
Trump’s Islamophobia: the Persistence of Orientalism in Western Rhetoric and Media
Michael J. Sainato
Russiagate: Clintonites Spread the Weiner Conspiracy
Walter Clemens
What the President Could Learn from Our Shih-Tzu Eddie
May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail