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

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail