White House Leaked Classified Intelligence to Make Its Case for War



A new report looks into instances in which the Bush Administration leaked classified information to support its case that Iraq was a threat to the United States.

While that case was, of course, ridiculous and the information falsified, the leaking of it was illegal. And the leaks appear to have been part of a coordinated effort. Immediately following important leaks, top administration officials appeared on talk shows to discuss information that they could not have legally discussed had it not appeared in a newspaper that morning.

Congressman John Conyers has just released an extensive report titled “The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War.” Pages 73–81 address the Bush Administration’s claims regarding aluminum tubes allegedly acquired by Iraq for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons.

On page 78, the report notes:

“Our investigation has also found that classified intelligence information supporting the Bush Administration’s position regarding the aluminum tubes was leaked to the press. For example, on Sunday, September 8, 2002, the lead story in The New York Times, written by Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon, quotes ‘anonymous’ Administration officials as stating that ‘Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb.'”

The headline of that article was “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts.”

Conyers’ report continues:

“The article goes on to source ‘administration officials’ for the proposition that ‘[i]n the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium’ and that ‘[t]he diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program.'”

So, someone in the Administration was leaking classified information. Of course, it was false information, but that made it all the more damaging. But who was the leaker(s)?

According to Conyers’ report, “Subsequent media accounts have traced the story, at least in part, to Paul Wolfowitz:

“‘In the summer of 2002, [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz convened a secret meeting [concerning the tubes] in his office with Francis Brooke, the I.N.C. adviser, and Khidir Hamza, a former chief of Saddam’s nuclear program, who had defected to America in 1994 . . . Wolfowitz circulated his conclusions to his administration allies. A few days later, the story of the “nuclear” tubes was leaked to The New York Times, where it landed on the front page.’

“On the CNN Documentary, Dead Wrong, an anonymous source characterized the dissemination of this biased and slanted information to Miller and Gordon as ‘official leaking’: ‘I would call it official leaking because I think these were authorized conversations between the press and members of the intelligence community that further misreported the nature of the intelligence community’s disagreement on this issue.’

Of course, a front page story in the New York Times gets everyone’s attention, and–if the lies are glaring enough–can lead to a reporter resigning in disgrace. But the Bush Administration has often promoted stories into the “mainstream” media by first establishing them in the super-right-wing outlets.

“The Constitution in Crisis” continues: “Our investigation has also learned that administration officials appear to have leaked classified information to the press well before the New York Times article. A July 29, 2002, article in the Washington Times, titled ‘Iraq Seeks Steel for Nukes’ reported:

“‘Procurement agents from Iraq’s covert nuclear-arms program were detected as they tried to purchase stainless-steel tubing, uniquely used in gas centrifuges and a key component in making the material for nuclear bombs, from an unknown supplier, said administration officials familiar with intelligence reports . . . U.S. intelligence agencies believe the tubing is an essential component of Iraq’s plans to enrich radioactive uranium to the point where it could be used to fashion a nuclear bomb.'”

With impeccable timing, on the eve of the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks, top Bush officials appeared on the Sunday talk shows to discuss the aluminum tube story that someone among them had just planted in the New York Times.

Knight Ridder explained how this worked: “[the leaks] appearance in the nation’s most influential paper also gave Cheney and Rice an opportunity to discuss the matter the same day on the Sunday television talk shows. They could discuss the article, but otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to talk about classified intelligence in public.” (“CIA leak illustrates selective use of intelligence on Iraq [The Aluminum Tubes],” by Jonathan S. Landay, Knight Ridder Newspapers.)

And who can forget the horrifying comments that the Bush Administration made?

Condoleezza Rice: “[Iraq has obtained] high quality aluminum tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs” and “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

— CNN Late Edition (CNN television broadcast, Sept. 8, 2002).

Vice President Dick Cheney: “I do know with absolutely certainty that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon”

— Meet the Press (NBC television broadcast, Sept. 8, 2002).

Donald Rumsfeld: “Imagine a September 11 with weapons of mass destruction.”

— Face the Nation (CBS television broadcast, Sept. 8, 2002).

DAVID SWANSON can be reached at: david@davidswanson.org



David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book isWar No More: The Case for Abolition.

November 26, 2015
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration