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September 08, 2004

Excellent Targets, Really

But are the good enough? Is there a target good enough to convince the majority of people in this country that W is a lying sack of shit? We have, today, stories about all of the folks saying that W not only got his ass out of going to Vietnam by joining the National Guard, but plenty of credible witnesses saying he didn't even bother showing up for duty. And yet those Swiftboat Veterans for Bush can hurt Kerry.

And we've got Bob Graham publishing a book about how as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee was blocked by the Bush administration from investigating Saudi government ties to 9/11.

I see that little election ticker on this site and I'm amazed that the race is so close even though it's been shown that Bush lied about the two main reasons for going into Iraq--weapons of mass destruction and ties to the 9/11 attacks. That should have made it clear to any person with half a brain that Bush was a liar and a war criminal.

So why should it make a difference to anyone that Bush didn't go after those he knew to be involved but were close personal allies? It seems clearer and clearer that the Saudis were very willingly and actively providing support to al Qaeda, and yet we accept that bin Laden asking for money from Iraq, a request which was ignored, constitutes enough collusion to justify invading and occupying a country.

Graham was interviewed by Salon about his upcoming book on this very topic today. In discussing Omar al-Bayoumi, who provided assistance to the 9/11 hijackers, Graham says:

Let me say that what we know about this comes primarily from FBI and CIA reports that were in the file in San Diego. And in those files, FBI agents referred to Bayoumi as being a Saudi Arabian agent or Saudi Arabian spy. In the summer of 2002, a CIA agent filed a report that said it was "incontrovertible" that terrorists were receiving assistance, financial and otherwise, from Saudis in San Diego. No. 2: Bayoumi was supposed to be working for a firm that was a subcontractor for the Saudi civil aviation authority. Yet he never showed up for work. His boss tried to fire him, and he received a letter from the Saudi civil aviation authority demanding that he be retained on their payroll despite the fact he wasn't performing any services. And the subcontracting company that employed Bayoumi was owned by a Saudi national who, according to documents seized in Bosnia, was an early financial backer of al-Qaida. Now, that's rather suspicious.

Also suspicious is the number of telephone conversations between Bayoumi and Saudi government representatives. It was a very substantial number that remains classified. Then, the event that really raised our suspicions was that shortly after Alhazmi and Almihdhar flew from Bangkok [Thailand] to Los Angeles [after attending an al-Qaida conference in Malaysia that resulted in their being added to a CIA watch list], Bayoumi tells various persons that he was going to Los Angeles to "pick up some visitors." He drives from San Diego to Los Angeles with a friend. His first stop in Los Angeles was at the consulate of the Saudi government, where he stays for an hour and meets with a diplomat named Fahad al-Thumairy, who subsequently was deported for terrorist-related activities.

He goes on to talk about how after that meeting Bayoumi and friend went to a Middle Eastern restaurant and met with two of the 9/11 hijackers. How convenient.

If there ever was a smoking gun in this whole thing, it should be this story. Again, Graham, "there has been a long-term special relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and that relationship has probably reached a new high under the George W. Bush administration, in part because of the long and close family relationship that the Bushes have had with the Saudi royal family."

It is absolutely unbelievable to me that our Congress spent so much time, energy, and money investigating whether or not Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office and that we're not actively pursuing charges against the current president for what can, at best, be described as serious war crimes.

This is too serious not to read, so I encourage you all to go read the whole article, but if you don't have a membership and can't wait through the 30 second Verizon ad to get to whole story, continue on for some more of the interview.

Along those lines, you said that in a meeting at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., in February 2002, Gen. Tommy Franks, who was then conducting the war in Afghanistan, told you that resources were already being shifted quietly to Iraq. Additionally, you write that Franks told you that Somalia and Yemen, not Iraq, were the next logical targets in any action to combat terrorism.
Yes. I had just received a briefing on Afghanistan when Gen. Franks invited me to come into his office, just the two of us. He told me that military and intelligence resources were being redeployed from Afghanistan to Iraq. What that suggested to me was [first] that the decision to go to war in Iraq had been made at least 14 months before we actually went to Iraq, and long before there was authorization from Congress and long before the United Nations was sought out for a resolution of support. Secondly, it suggested we couldn't fight the two wars concurrently to victory, but that it would take redeployment of personnel from Afghanistan to Iraq to make that a successful invasion. Third, it suggested that somebody -- I assume the president -- had decided that Iraq was a higher priority for the United States than was completing the war in Afghanistan.

Why do you think Franks told you this?
I don't know what his motivation was, but we had just heard a report on the status of the war in Afghanistan, which was very upbeat, [saying] we were making a lot of progress. So one motivation may have been to caution me that things in reality weren't necessarily what they appeared to be.

Do you believe the White House manipulated the intelligence to persuade the public to back the invasion? "Manipulate" may be too strong a word for you. But it took a request from you and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to get the intelligence community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the danger posed by Iraq, a step that would seem an obvious one to take, considering the stakes to the nation.
I am comfortable with the word "manipulate." There was a chapter that did not become known until three or four months ago that occurred in May 2002. Various leaders of the CIA were called down to the White House and told that the White House wanted to have a public document that could be released under the CIA's label but which would make the case for going to war with Iraq. I think one of the reasons they didn't want to do a formal National Intelligence Estimate was because it would be done not by the CIA alone but by all of the members of the intelligence community, and it was likely to reach a different conclusion. At least it would contain dissenting opinions and caveats that wouldn't be in a CIA public document.

This description of the CIA is one that is under the complete control of the White House, an agency that is not independent but highly politicized.
That's right. It is the expression of the leadership of the intelligence agencies, trying to placate their masters in the administration.

A later inquiry conducted by the Senate intelligence committee under your successor as chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., looked at the quality of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and concluded that it was execrable. Yet the Republicans on the panel blocked any probe of whether the administration pressured the intelligence agencies to manufacture the conclusions it sought to justify a war that it had already decided to wage. If you had still been the top Democrat on the committee, would you have insisted that the White House and the agencies be included in that probe?
I think Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D-W.Va.], who is the vice chairman of the committee, did insist, and the effect of that was to make clear to him that there would be no investigation of anything if he persisted. I think he decided the better course was to agree to just do the first component if there was a commitment to do the rest at a reasonably close later date.

Posted by paulette at September 8, 2004 10:39 AM | TrackBack
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