FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Myths of Western Intelligence Agencies

by ROBERT FISK

They were at it again last week, the liars of our Western “intelligence” community. John Bolton, the US under-secretary of state for arms control and one of Donald Rumsfeld’s cabal of pro-Israeli neo-conservatives, was giving testimony before the decidedly pro-Israeli sponsors of the Syria Accountability Act.

Mr Bolton, who once ludicrously claimed that Cuba had a biological weapons programme, accused Syria of maintaining a stockpile of sarin and of working on VX and biological weapons. And Congressmen Eliot Engel announced that “it wouldn’t surprise me if those weapons of mass destruction that we cannot find in Iraq wound up and are today in Syria”. For Baghdad, read Damascus.

Some, indeed much, of this nonsense comes from the myth-making intelligence service of Israel, which really does have weapons of mass destruction, although Engel’s imaginative intervention probably had its roots in the claim of a US intelligence officer in Baghdad last April. He went on insisting Iraq had transferred its non-existent WMD to Syria by rail–before being shown a map that proved the only railway line from Iraq to Syria passed through Turkey.

But why, oh why, do we go on accepting this trash? Why do we even listen to the so-called intelligence services when they have so routinely–and bloodily–got it wrong? Among the last of the Hutton inquiry confrontations was the debate over whether Iraqi chemical weapons were fitted to missiles–the famous “45 minute” warning in Tony Blair’s meretricious “dossier”–or were, as the snobbish John Scarlett informed us, “battlefield” weapons. While it was perfectly clear that Mr Scarlett allowed Downing Street to fiddle with the text so that it suggested the former, the reality is that both versions were totally untrue. Not only did Iraq have no WMD–it didn’t even have a battlefield version.

Yet we let these dumbos get away with it. Nobody interrupted Mr Blair, for example, when he arrived in Iraq in the summer and said we could not say there were no WMD because we “should wait until the 1,400 US, British and Australian investigators sent in to search for Iraq’s weapons had finished work”. But why, for heaven’s sake, couldn’t he have been patient enough to let the extremely competent UN inspectors finish their work before his illegal invasion? Only now, it seems, do we have to be patient–and we’re going to have to go on being patient because the Iraq survey team in whom Mr Blair desperately placed his hopes is about to say it has found no WMD.

The liars in the intelligence services, of course, have been getting it wrong from the start. Remember all those bombs we dropped on innocent people in the hope that we might–just might–kill Saddam? This started back in 1991 when we sent a missile into a hardened air-raid shelter at Amariya in Baghdad and killed upwards of 400 civilians. The Americans were trying to assassinate Saddam but he wasn’t there–and never had been. We have never apologised for this atrocity and I wasn’t surprised that the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, chose to visit Halabja, the scene of Saddam’s massacre by chemicals of 8,000 Kurds, on his trip to Iraq this month and miss out on the Amariya shelter. In fact, the only interest the Americans have shown in this grisly shrine in Baghdad was to search it for weapons.

At the end of this year’s invasion of Iraq, the Americans announced that they had bombed a building in the Mansour district of Baghdad because Saddam may have been there. Again, he wasn’t. Sixteen civilians, including a baby under a year old, were killed. Again, we have never apologised for this outrage. Donald Rumsfeld, it has now been revealed, had to give special approval if any air strike was thought likely to result in the deaths of more than 30 civilians. In fact, more than 50 such strikes were proposed–and Mr Rumsfeld approved every one of them.

And still it goes on. Only last week, the Americans used two jets to strike–at night–a house in Fallujah and claimed they killed a gunman. In fact, it’s now clear that they killed three members of a perfectly innocent family. This happened scarcely three miles from the spot where soldiers of the supposedly elite 82nd Airborne gunned down eight of their own Iraqi policemen on a darkened roadway, an act which has still not been explained and which was only grudgingly acknowledged two days after the killings.

And all the while, the myth-making continues. Iraq is getting better, safer, more democratic. All untrue. Still the neo-cons in Washington follow the rubbish churned out by the Wall Street Journal last February, that “the path to a calmer Mideast now lies not through Jerusalem but through Baghdad”. Down at the American Enterprise Institute, one of the nastiest of the “tink thanks”–as I like to call them–where the neo-cons hang out, a former CIA covert operator, Reuel Marc, was able to announce in February that “the tougher Sharon becomes, the stronger our image will be in the Middle East”.

Fed on such fantasies, we went to war. Just as the Russians went to war in Chechnya. Now Mr Blair regularly peddles the line that the battle between Russia’s drunken and rapacious soldiers and the brutal warlords of Chechnya must be “seen in the context of the fight against international terrorism”. Back in June he even tried to smarmy up to that grand old KGB spymaster, Vladimir Putin, by saying that some of the toughest fighters against US and UK forces in Iraq “were Chechen”. This was a lie. No Chechen fighters have been found in Iraq. Indeed, Iraqis were stunned to hear that such exotic folk had turned up here–Chechens don’t even look like Arabs and would not speak Arabic. But Mr Blair got away with it.

No, I don’t think we’re going to invade Syria. For starters, it hasn’t got enough oil to make it worth invading. But we’ve been fed so much of this tosh about WMD that I don’t think anyone–other than the Blairs and Bushes and their idiotic spooks–really believes it. As for the “intelligence community”, maybe this is the moment to close it down.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail