FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cheney Helped Cover-Up Nuclear Proliferation in 1989, So Pentagon Could Sell Pakistan Fighter Jets

When news of Pakistan’s clandestine program involving its top nuclear scientist selling rogue nations, such as Iran and North Korea, blueprints for building an atomic bomb was uncovered last month, the world’s leaders waited, with baited breath, to see what type of punishment President Bush would bestow upon Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharaff.

Bush has, after all, spent his entire term in office talking tough about countries and dictators that conceal weapons of mass destruction and even tougher on individuals who supply rogue nations and terrorists with the means to build WMDs. For all intents and purposes, Pakistan and Musharraf fit that description.

Remember, Bush accused Iraq of harboring a cache of WMDs, which was the primary reason the United States launched a preemptive strike there a year ago, and also claimed that Iraq may have given its WMDs to al-Qaeda terrorists and/or Syria, weapons that, Bush said, could be used to attack the U.S.

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and top members of the administration reacted with shock when they found out that Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, spent the past 15 years selling outlaw nations nuclear technology and equipment. So it was sort of a surprise when Bush, upon finding out about Khan’s proliferation of nuclear technology, let Pakistan off with a slap on the wrist. But it was all an act. In fact, it was actually a cover-up designed to shield Cheney because he knew about the proliferation for more than a decade and did nothing to stop it.

Like the terrorist attacks on 9-11, the Bush administration had mountains of evidence on Pakistan’s sales of nuclear technology and equipment to nations vilified by the U.S._nations that are considered much more of a threat than Iraq_but turned a blind eye to the threat and allowed it to happen.

In 1989, the year Khan first started selling nuclear secrets on the black-market; Richard Barlow, a young intelligence analyst working for the Pentagon prepared a shocking report for Cheney, who was then working as Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush administration: Pakistan built an atomic bomb and was selling its nuclear equipment to countries the U.S. said was sponsoring terrorism.

But Barlow’s findings, as reported in a January 2002 story in the magazine Mother Jones, were “politically inconvenient.”

“A finding that Pakistan possessed a nuclear bomb would have triggered a congressionally mandated cutoff of aid to the country, a key ally in the CIA’s efforts to support Afghan rebels fighting a pro-Soviet government. It also would have killed a $1.4-billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad,” Mother Jones reported.

Ironically, Pakistan, critics say, was let off the hook last month so the U.S. could use its borders to hunt for al-Qaeda leader and 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Cheney dismissed Barlow’s report because he desperately wanted to sell Pakistan the F-16 fighter planes. Several months later, a Pentagon official was told by Cheney to downplay Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities when he testified on the threat before Congress. Barlow complained to his bosses at the Pentagon and was fired.

“Three years later, in 1992, a high-ranking Pakistani official admitted that the country had developed the ability to assemble a nuclear weapon by 1987,” Mother Jones reported. “In 1998, Islamabad detonated its first bomb.”

During the time that Barlow prepared his report on Pakistan, Bryan Siebert an Energy Department analyst, was looking into Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program in Iraq. Siebert concluded that “Iraq has a major effort under way to produce nuclear weapons,” and said that the National Security Council should investigate his findings. But the Bush administration–which had been supporting Iraq as a counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran–ignored the report, the magazine reported.

“This was not a failure of intelligence,” Barlow told Mother Jones. “The intelligence was in the system.”

Cheney went to great lengths to cover-up Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry. In a New Yorker article published on March 29, 1993, <http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/?040119fr_archive0 2>, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh quoted Barlow as saying that some high-ranking members inside the CIA and the Pentagon lied to Congress about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal so as not to sacrifice the sale of the F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad, which was secretly equipped to deliver nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities and the had become so grave by the spring of 1990 that then CIA deputy director Richard Kerr said the Pakistani nuclear threat was worse than! the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s.

“It was the most dangerous nuclear situation we have ever faced since I’ve been in the U.S. government,” Kerr said in an interview with Hersh. “It may be as close as we’ve come to a nuclear exchange. It was far more frightening than the Cuban missile crisis.”

Presently, Kerr is leading the CIA’s review of prewar intelligence into the Iraqi threat cited by Bush.

Still, in l989 Cheney and others in the Pentagon and the CIA continued to hide the reality of Pakistan’s nuclear threat from members of Congress. Hersh explained in his lengthy New Yorker article that reasons behind the cover-up “revolves around the fact… that the Reagan Administration had dramatically aided Pakistan in its pursuit of the bomb.”

“President Reagan and his national-security aides saw the generals who ran Pakistan as loyal allies in the American proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan: driving the Russians out of Afghanistan was considered far more important than nagging Pakistan about its building of bombs. The Reagan Administration did more than forgo nagging, however; it looked the other way throughout the mid-nineteen-eighties as Pakistan assembled its nuclear arsenal with the aid of many millions of dollars’ worth of restricted, high-tech materials bought inside the United States. Such purchases have always been illegal, but Congress made breaking the law more costly in 198! 5, when it passed the Solarz Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (the amendment was proposed by former Representative Stephen J. Solarz, Democrat of New York), providing for the cutoff of all military and economic aid to purportedly non-nuclear nations that illegally export or attempt to export nuclear-related materials from the United States.”

“The government’s ability to keep the Pakistani nuclear-arms purchases in America secret is the more remarkable because (since 1989) the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Department (under Cheney) have been struggling with an internal account of illegal Pakistani procurement activities, given by a former <C.I.A>. intelligence officer named Richard M. Barlow,” Hersh reported. “Barlow… was dismayed to learn, at first hand, that State Department and agency officials were engaged in what he concluded was a pattern of lying to and misleading Congress about Pakistan’s nuclear-purchasing activities.”

Hersh interviewed scores of intelligence and administration officials for his March 1993 New Yorker story and many of those individuals confirmed Barlow’s claims that Pakistani nuclear purchases was deliberately withheld from Congress by Cheney and other officials, for fear of provoking a cutoff in military and economic aid that would adversely affect the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan.

It seems that today, Cheney is advising President Bush to deal with Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation much in the same way he did more than a decade ago. Give the country a pass, lie to the public about the seriousness of the matter and tell Pakistan you’ll turn the other cheek if the country agrees to allow U.S. troops to use its borders to hunt for Bin Laden before the November election.

JASON LEOPOLD may be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail