The Vulcans Consolidate Power

Stephen Hadley is a fire-tested Vulcan–a hardliner close to Vice President Dick Cheney and to the neoconservative camp. Named by the president in mid-November 2004 to replace Condoleezza Rice as his National Security Adviser, Hadley formed part of a loosely constituted group of foreign policy advisers known as the Vulcans who advised presidential candidate Bush in 2000 and were at the core of the presidential transition team following Bush’s election victory. Among the other Vulcans who later moved into the first Bush administration were Rice, Colin Powell, Cheney, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

Starting as a policy analyst for the DOD in 1972 during the first Nixon administration, Hadley has steadily moved up the ladder in the national security community. On the corporate side of the military-industrial complex, Hadley was a partner in a major DC law firm representing major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Also, outside government, he became affiliated with two policy institutes advocating hawkish positions in U.S. policy and international relations. Before becoming Rice’s top assistant, Hadley has held a variety of positions in the defense department and national security council. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Hadley served under DOD Secretary as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy with responsibility for security policy toward NATO and Western Europe, on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defense, and arms control. In addition, Hadley oversaw U.S. policy regarding space weapons.

Introduced at the Air Force Association Convention in September 2000 as an adviser to candidate Bush, Hadley said: “Space is going to be important. It has a great feature for the military.” Hadley also told the convention that a Bush administration would be a firm supporter of missile defense systems.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, before becoming Rice’s top deputy Hadley “was as a board member of ANSER Analytic Services, an Arlington, VA-based nonprofit research group that specialized in government effectiveness and threat assessment. Its trustees include several former Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency officials as well as corporate officers from defense contractors such as Raytheon and Bellcore.”

Before joining the administration in January 2001, Hadley was a partner in the law firm of Shea & Gardner, which serves a number of major corporate clients, including the defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin. James Woolsey, the former CIA head and current member of the Defense Policy Board, has also worked for the firm.

Hadley participated in the National Institute for Public Policy’s study team that produced Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, a study that called for the development of “mini”-nuclear weapons and served as a road map for George W. Bush’s Nuclear Posture Review. The report advocated the use of bunker-busting nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear countries to rid rogue nations of any weapons of mass destruction, such as stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons. Prefiguring the preventive national security doctrine of the Bush administration, the report stated: “Under certain circumstances very severe nuclear threats may be needed to deter any of these potential adversaries.”

Hadley advocates extending the role of nuclear weapons to include deterrence against all so-called weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons. He wrote in the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, “To say that a security policy based on nuclear weapons was ‘irresponsible’ and ‘immoral’ from the outset is to accuse the United States government of pursuing a policy that was irresponsible and immoral. Such a serious and false accusation against a democratic government destroys public confidence in our institutions and our leaders. … It is often an unstated premise in the current debate that if nuclear weapons are needed at all, they are needed only to deter the nuclear weapons of others. I am not sure this unstated premise is true. As General Horner pointed out, this is not why we got into the nuclear business. In fact, one of the lessons other countries have drawn from the Gulf War is that no nation should even consider a confrontation with the United States military without having a weapon of mass destruction at its disposal, be it nuclear, chemical, or biological. They drew this lesson after observing the overwhelming conventional non-nuclear military capability that General Horner and others so visibly demonstrated on the Gulf War battlefield.” Hadley was referring to Charles A. Horner, a retired Air Force general and former head of the Air Force Space Command who was a member of the Rumsfeld Space Commission.

Like his former boss Condoleezza Rice, Hadley is an administration loyalist who faithfully supported the national security policies of the first administration–even to the extent of supporting claims that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and had ties with al-Qaida when the CIA had repeatedly warned that such charges were not backed by hard intelligence.

With his longtime personal and professional contacts with Rumsfeld and Cheney, Hadley served as one of the key points of contact with the National Security Council for the neocon-militarist network planning the war in Iraq and other hard-line policy initiatives that was based in the Pentagon and the vice president’s office.

Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice’s right-hand man in the Bush administration’s National Security Council, served as the fall guy when allegations arose regarding the national security adviser’s mishandling of information about Iraq ‘s purported effort to buy uranium from Niger . According to the Washington Post, Hadley was told by CIA Director George Tenet that the Niger allegations, which were used by Bush in various speeches (including the January 2003 State of the Union Address) and served as a key justification for invading Iraq , were probably bogus and should not be used by the president. Hadley, who claimed that Rice had been unaware of the controversy, told the newspaper, “I should have recalled … that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue.” An Associated Press report of July 22, 2003 noted that Hadley said he had suggested that the president remove a similar statement about yellowcake from his October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati, but as the State of the Union address was being prepared the two CIA memos about the shaky basis for the claim that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons had slipped his attention.

Like Cheney, Hadley did not let the facts get in the way of his own public assertions about Iraq ‘s threat to U.S. national security. A few weeks after the infamous State of the Union Address in 2003, Hadley in a Chicago Tribune op-ed repeated the allegation that “the regime has tried to acquire natural uranium from abroad,” pointing to what he said was a sustained, wide-ranging effort to acquire nuclear weapons.

Hadley also took a hit for his role in pushing the idea that Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, met with Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in the Czech Republic several months before the attack. In an effort to establish a connection between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the hijackers, Hadley–in tandem with Vice President Dick Cheney and top aide I. Lewis Libby–worked to have the allegation mentioned in speeches during the lead-up to the war, despite the Czech Republic’s admission that it could not verify the meeting took place and U.S. intelligence agencies’ inability to prove that Atta was out of the United States at the time of the alleged meeting. This effort apparently alienated several officials in the Bush administration.

According to a Sept. 29, 2003, Washington Post article: “Behind the scenes, the Atta meeting remained tantalizing to Cheney and his staff. Libby–along with Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, a longtime Cheney associate–began pushing to include the Atta claim in Powell’s appearance before the UN Security Council a week after the State of the Union speech. Powell’s presentation was aimed at convincing the world of Iraq ‘s ties to terrorists and its pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. On Jan. 25, with a stack of notebooks at his side, color-coded with the sources for the information, Libby laid out the potential case against Iraq to a packed White House situation room. ‘We read [their proposal to include Atta] and some of us said, Wow! Here we go again,’ said one official who helped draft the speech. ‘You write it. You take it out, and then it comes back again.’ … [Some] officials present said they felt that Libby’s presentation was over the top, that the wording was too aggressive, and most of the material could not be used in a public forum. Much of it, in fact, unraveled when closely examined by intelligence analysts from other agencies and, in the end, was largely discarded.”

Both Hadley and Rice were subjects of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation of the intelligence failures that led to the attacks. Even though he and Rice were shown a counterterrorism report in August 2001 warning that al-Qaida was planning an attack on the U.S. homeland, Hadley told the commission that he and Rice did not feel they had the job of coordinating domestic agencies before the attacks.

The appointment of Hadley as National Security Adviser, following the announced departure of Colin Powell and the nomination of Vulcan team leader Rice, was a clear indication that during his second administration President Bush intends to continue the hard-line global security agenda outlined by the circle of Vulcans. Furthermore, the promotions of Hadley and Rice demonstrated Bush’s determination to surround the White House with loyalists that adhere to his view that U.S. national security operations should be unencumbered by facts, dissenting opinions, or international law. All means–including the use of nuclear weapons and first-strike warfare–are justified by the ends of winning what the Vulcans describe as the “global war on terrorism.”

TOM BARRY is policy director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, online at: www.irc-online.org).


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Tom Barry directs the Transborder Program at the Center for International Policy and is a contributor to the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org.

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