Friday, November 18, 2005
Why are we in Iraq? Who stood to benefit? How was it sold? As Jerry McGuire said: SHOW ME THE MONEY!
November 17, 2005
by Evelyn Pringle
Much to the dismay of President Bush, Americans can remember all on their own, without any coaching from Democrats, that in the run up to war in Iraq it was top officials from the administration who were making the claim that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden and that he was secretly involved in 9/11.
The fact that the administration's disinformation campaign was entirely successful is evidenced by an October 2004 Harris Poll, taken three weeks before the last presidential election, which reported that 62% of all voters and 84% of those planning to vote for Bush still believed that Saddam had "strong links" to Al Qaeda, and that 41% of all voters and 52% of Bush backers believed that Saddam had "helped plan and support the hijackers" who had attacked the country on 9/11.
As we now know, the basis for these allegations were false. But the saddest part of the situation is that many Americans are just now beginning to realize that Bush knew the stories were false for more than a year when he cited them as justification for taking the country to war.
Documents recently declassified and made public show that the administration was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in February 2002 that the tale about a trip to Prague by the leader of the 9/11 highjacker, Mohammed Atta, had come from an unreliable drunk, and that the story about Iraq training members of al Qaeda on the use of chemical and biological weapons was deliberately fabricated by an Iraqi defector.
A recent poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal indicates that Americans recognize the significance of this revelation - 57% of Americans now believe that Bush misled the country about prewar intelligence; a 52% majority of those polled say the war was not worth it; and by a 58% to 38% margin, Americans believe that Bush has not given good enough reasons to keep our troops in Iraq.
The debate over who was most responsible for convincing the nation that there was a link between Saddam and 9/11 will probably continue for years, but an important piece of the puzzle can be found by zeroing in on a woman by the name of Laurie Mylroie.
Mylroie had been pushing for an all-out war against Iraq for a decade. In the run-up to the first Gulf war, Mylroie, along with the recently fired New York Times reporter Judith Miller, wrote a book titled Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf.
The original Iraq war obsession originated at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think-tank that served as a home base for the many neocons who were rendered powerless during the Clinton years such as Richard Perle, who became chairman of the Defense Policy Board under Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, who moved into the number two position at the Pentagon, as well as Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, to name just a few.
In 2000, at a time when Dick Cheney sat on the AEI board, the group's publishing arm put out a book by Mylroie titled, A Study in Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America.
In the author's acknowledgement section of the book, Mylroie thanked a familiar case of characters - including John Bolton and the staff of the AEI - for their assistance. She also wrote thanks to Scooter Libby for his "generous and timely assistance."
Mylroie noted that Paul Wolfowitz was instrumental to her in writing the book and said, "At critical times, he provided crucial support for a project that is inherently difficult." She said that Wolfowitz's wife (at the time), had "fundamentally shaped the book." Neo-con Richard Perle described the book as "splendid and wholly convincing."
If Mylroie is to be believed, Saddam was involved in every anti-American terrorist event that took place since the early 1990s, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya - which she says may have been "the work of both bin Laden and Iraq" - to the federal building in Oklahoma City.
She also accuses Saddam of involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center even though the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York, the CIA, the National Security Council, and the State Department, all determined that there was no evidence of the Iraq's involvement in the attack back in the mid-1990s.
Mylroie also claimed that TWA flight 800, which crashed into Long Island Sound, was a likely Iraqi plot even after a lengthy investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that it was an accident.
She maintains that in 2000, Saddam provided the expertise for the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, which killed 17 sailors, even though no law enforcement agency has ever made such a claim. She even blames Saddam for the anthrax sent through the mail shortly after 9/11.
Once Bush became president, the neo-cons were brought back into power as either members of the administration or members of the influential Defense Policy Board and war against Iraq became the administration's obsession, with Mylroie and the hawks working hand in hand to promote the theory that Saddam was involved in every terrorist act against the U.S. over the past decade.
After the attacks on 9/11 the race towards Iraq was on, and Mylroie's book was reissued by Harper Collins under the new title The War Against America. The foreword for the second edition was written by former CIA Director James Woolsey, who described her work as "brilliant and brave."
The book's cover displayed an endorsement from Paul Wolfowitz which stated, "Provocative and disturbing ... argues powerfully that the shadowy mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing ... was in fact an agent of Iraqi intelligence."
In the book's acknowledgment, Mylroie thanks Wolfowitz for being "kind enough to listen to this work presented orally and later to read the manuscript. At critical times, he provided crucial support for a project that is inherently difficult." She also praised the assistance of John Bolton.
Now, a nutcase like Mylroie, if left to her own devices, would probably have been harmless. But when the neo-cons made her a consultant to the Pentagon, the position granted grossly misplaced credibility to her hair-brained conspiracy theories.
There is no doubt that she was hired to convince the world that Saddam played a role in 9/11 and although I don't know how much she was paid, its plenty obvious that the Bush team got a lot of bang for the buck.
In February 2003, Mylroie was featured in an interview on Canadian television where she discussed why Bush was going to war against Iraq. At the same time she emphasized the certainty of a Saddam-9/11 link. Shortly after the interview got underway, she stated:
Listen, we're going to war because President Bush believes Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. Al Qaeda is a front for Iraqi intelligence … [the U.S.] bureaucracy made a tremendous blunder that refused to acknowledge these links … the people responsible for gathering this information, say in the C.I.A., are also the same people who contributed to the blunder on 9/11 and the deaths of 3,000 Americans, and so whenever this information emerges they move to discredit it.
Mylroie certainly doesn't make it sound like the CIA was claiming that there was a link between Saddam and bin Laden a month before the war began. Yet that is what the Bush team is saying today.
On March 12, 2003, Mylroie wrote an article in the New York Sun titled, "Blind to Saddam's 9-11 Role," in which she wrote:
Iraq, along with Al Qaeda, was most probably involved in the September 11 attacks, and President Bush understands that. Already on September 17, six days later, Mr. Bush affirmed, "I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now," as Bob Woodward's "Bush at War" discloses. ... Indeed, at Thursday's press conference, Mr. Bush said that Iraq has financed and trained Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups ... That is why Mr. Bush is willing to take the risk entailed in war against Iraq.
At one point, Mylroie attempted to convince the 9/11 Commission that "there is substantial reason to believe that these masterminds [of both the 1993 and 2001 Trade Center attacks] are Iraqi intelligence agents."
However, her testimony was apparently not persuasive because the Commission's final report states that the "Intelligence Community has no credible information that Baghdad had foreknowledge of the 11 September attacks or any other al-Qaida strike."
One of Mylroie's more recent ventures included writing a book titled, Bush vs. the Beltway: How the CIA and the State Department tried to Stop the War on Terror. This title is somewhat baffling in light of the speeches in recent days by Bush himself stating that everyone was in agreement with his assessment of the need to go to war and that it was the evidence produced by the intelligence agencies and not his White House that led to the war against Iraq.
The fact is that in the run up to war, Mylroie wore a wide variety of hats. But one of her most important jobs by far came when she testified as an expert witness in a lawsuit against a group of defendants that included the Taliban, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, al-Qaeda, bin Laden, Saddam and the Republic of Iraq.
The suit was filed by two families on behalf of the estates of 9/11 victims, George Eric Smith, a senior business analyst for Sun Gard Asset Management, and Timothy Soulas, a senior managing director and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities.
The lawsuit represents the one and only time that the truth or falsity of the Saddam-9/11 connection has ever been tested. In the end, the judge in the case delivered a verdict in favor of the families based on specific claims by Mylroie and top administration officials - that a definite link between Saddam and 9/11 did in fact exist.
U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer entered a default judgment for the plaintiffs in January 2003 because the time allowed for a response had passed and the defendants had failed to file an answer to the plaintiff's complaint.
In March 2003, Judge Baer held two days of hearings to determine the amount of damages that should be awarded to the families. The lawyers for the plaintiffs presented evidence to establish what they considered a "conclusive link" between Saddam and 9/11, which included declassified interviews with Iraqi defectors who appeared on a television news show and said that Saddam used a jet airplane in a remote area of Iraq to train hijackers.
The most convincing evidence came from testimony by former CIA Director James Woolsey, a member of the administration's Defense Policy Board, and statements made by Colin Powell and George Tenet.
On May 8, 2003, Judge Baer released his written findings in the case and awarded damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of $104 million, to be paid by the defendants: Saddam, bin Laden, al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the former Iraqi government.
In his written findings Judge Baer acknowledged that he based his decision on the statements of Woolsey, Powell, Tenet, and Mylroie, all of whom he considered experts on the Saddam-9/11 connection, and said, "The opinion testimony of the plaintiffs' experts is sufficient to meet plaintiffs' burden that Iraq collaborated in or supported bin Laden/al Qaeda's terrorist acts of September 11 ..."
"Their opinions, coupled with their qualifications as experts on this issue," Judge Baer wrote, "provide a sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to draw inferences which could lead to the conclusion that Iraq provided material support to al Qaeda and that it did so with knowledge and intent to further al Qaeda's criminal acts."
He cited some specific statements that he relied upon in formulating a believe that there was a link between Saddam and 9/11, and included the following from Tenet and Powell:
Both Director Tenet and Secretary Powell mentioned 'senior level contacts' between Iraq and al Qaeda going back to the early 1990s [although both acknowledged that part of the interactions in the early to mid-1990s pertained to achieving a mutual non-aggression understanding]; both mentioned that al Qaeda sought to acquire poison gas and training in its use from Iraq; both mentioned that al Qaeda members have been in Iraq, including Baghdad, after September 2001. ...
Director Tenet's carefully worded letter included in substance the same allegations, but with less detail, that Secretary of State Colin Powell made before the U.N. Security Counsel on Feb. 5, 2003, in his remarks about 'the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network.' ...
Baer also outlined the testimony provided by Woolsey. "[Former CIA] Director [James] Woolsey," the Judge said, "reviewed several facts that tended in his view to show Iraq's involvement in acts of terrorism against the United States in general and likely in the events of September 11 specifically."
Judge Baer discussed specific portions of Woolsey's testimony that led to his ruling against the defendants, and stated in part:
First, Director Woolsey described the existence of a highly secure military facility in Iraq where non-Iraqi fundamentalists [e.g., Egyptians and Saudis] are trained in airplane hijacking and other forms of terrorism.
Through satellite imagery and the testimony of three Iraqi defectors, [he] demonstrated the existence of this facility, called Salman Pak, which has an airplane but no runway. The defectors also stated that these fundamentalists were taught methods of hijacking using utensils or short knives.
Second, Director Woolsey mentioned a meeting that allegedly occurred in Prague in April 2001 between Mohammad Atta, the apparent leader of the hijackings, and a high-level Iraqi intelligence agent.
According to James Woolsey, the evidence indicates that this was an 'operational meeting' because Atta flew to the Czech Republic and then returned to the United States shortly afterwards.
Third, Woolsey noted that his conclusion was also based on 'contacts,' which refer to interactions between Hussein/Iraq and bin Laden/al Qaeda that are described in a letter from George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, to Senator Bob Graham on October 7, 2002.
In his findings, Judge Baer next referred to the testimony of Laurie Mylroie, on which he based his conclusion that Saddam was involved in 9/11. It is apparent that he believed her claims that Saddam was involved in all the terrorist attacks:
Dr. Mylroie described Iraq's covert involvement in acts of terrorism against the United States in the past, including the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Dr. Mylroie testified to at least four events that served as the basis for her conclusion that Iraq played a role in the September 11 tragedy. First, she claimed that Iraq provided and continues to provide support to two of the main perpetrators of the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Second, she noted bin Laden's fatwah against the United States, which was motivated by the presence of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia to fight the Gulf War against Iraq.
Third, she noted that threats by bin Laden in late 1997 and early 1998 which led up to the bombing of the U.S. embassies [on August 7, 1998] were 'in lockstep' with Hussein's threats about ousting the U.N. weapons inspectors, which he eventually did on August 5, 1998.
Judge Baer also quoted other portions of her testimony and said, "Dr. Mylroie concluded that 'Iraq, I believe, did provide support and resources for the September 11 attacks. I agree with [Iraqi defector] Captain [Sabah] Khodada when he said that ... it took a state like Iraq to carry out an attack as really sophisticated, massive and deadly as what happened on September 11.'"
After hearing the assertions of these top administration officials, Judge Baer concluded that: "Plaintiffs have shown, albeit barely, 'by evidence satisfactory to the court' that Iraq provided material support to bin Laden and al Qaeda."
The judge's decision is proof of the fact that the White House is home to the guilty parties who deliberately misled Americans. His written findings document the fraud perpetrated on this country by top administration officials in taking the country to war based on the false claim that Saddam was involved in 9/11.
For those Americans still wondering about a motive, the first and foremost goal of the neo-cons was to gain control of the world's oil supply, and the number two goal was to set up an elaborate profiteering scheme to funnel billions of tax dollars into their own bank accounts for many years to come. It really is that simple.
My advice to any disbelievers is to do a Google search on each of the top administration officials and policy makers to find out who stood to benefit off a war in Iraq, and who has benefited the most so far financially.
To make sure this advice would produce results, I Googled "Bush" "war" "profit." The first article on the top of the list was published by the Observer, a well-known newspaper in the U.K., and this is what it said:
Bush ally set to profit from the war on terror
Antony Barnett and Solomon Hughes
Sunday May 11, 2003
James Woolsey, former CIA boss and influential adviser to President George Bush, is a director of a US firm aiming to make millions of dollars from the 'war on terror', The Observer can reveal.
Further down in the article it said:
Woolsey is not alone among the members of the Pentagon's highly influential Defence Policy Board to profit from America's war on terror.
The American watchdog, the Centre for Public Integrity, showed that nine of the board's members have ties to defence contractors that won more than $76bn in defence contracts in 2001 and 2002. Woolsey's fellow neo-conservative, Richard Perle, had to resign his chairmanship of the board because of conflicts of interest, although he remains a board member.
Next I scrolled down and clicked on an article published in the December 2, 2001, San Francisco Chronicle, and this is what it said:
As America's military involvement abroad deepens, profits are increasing for the Carlyle Group - and, it turns out, for thousands of California civil servants.
The Carlyle who, you ask?
The Carlyle Group, as in a secretive Washington, D.C., investment firm managing some $14 billion in assets, including stakes in a number of defense- related companies.
Carlyle counts among its chieftains former Defense Secretary (and deputy CIA Director) Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of State James Baker and, most notably, former President George Bush.
Until October, the Carlyle Group also maintained financial ties with none other than the family of Osama bin Laden, but those links were severed when it was agreed that the relationship was becoming a tad embarrassing for all concerned.
Critics of the Carlyle Group have grown increasingly vocal in recent weeks, particularly over the perception that a private organization with unmistakable links to the White House is benefiting from America's military action in Afghanistan.
The roots of the Iraq profiteering scheme are deeply planted in the backyard of the White House, and as I demonstrated above, it requires very little effort to verify the allegation that the fruits of the scheme do not fall far from the tree.
Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.