- Summer: The US creates a plan, dubbed "Operation Stuart," to arrest and perhaps assassinate Iraq's popular Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr. The plan is scrubbed when it becomes clear that al-Sadr has been tipped off. Seven months later, when the US shuts down al-Sadr's newspaper, he emerges from that crisis with a stronger power base, ensuring that he will play a strong, and to the US unwelcome, role in the creation of a new Iraqi government. (Seymour Hersh)
- Summer: The Bush administration ponders how to control the mass media in Iraq. With the Hussein regime gone, everyone seems to have obtained the formerly-forbidden satellite dishes, and the US is finding its message drowned out by the Arabic news and entertainment broadcasts. Defense contractor SAIC had been given an $82 million no-bid contract to build up Iraqi television and radio networks, but with initial poor results, a skeptical Condoleezza Rice sends a team to check it out. Eventually the US does get a government-sponsored broadcast network up and running. Without enough programming to fill a broadcast day, it fills out its daily schedule with Arab-language shows from other nations, prompting Iraqis to call it the "Lebanese Cooking Channel." The US-sponsored network is hard to take seriously, when on one channel Al-Jazeera is covering major news events live and on the US channel viewers get to see how to cook a rabbit. Some US consultants decide that Iraqis might like a homegrown version of the Oprah Winfrey show. Bush suggests to Rice, "[W]e could go to Hollywood. I know people in Hollywood. We can go to Disney. We can get people involved who can do this kind of thing." By the summer, Bush is so disgusted by the whole thing that he says sarcastically to Britain's Tony Blair, "We're doing a lousy job here. If I haven't solved this by December, I'm going to just give this to the UK." (Bob Woodward)
US learns of Hussein's plans for post-war insurgency
- June: Ahmad Sadik, a former Iraqi brigadier general who worked in the 1990s with the United Nations inspectors, is interrogated by three US intelligence officers. Unlike many of his colleagues, he is not jailed and rendered incommunicado. Sadik provides disturbing information about the Iraqi insurgency. He says that when Bush was elected in 2001, Hussein, alarmed that Bush was bringing back many of the senior officials who had planned and executed the 1991 Gulf War, began planning for a massive insurgency to counter what he saw as an inevitable US invasion. (Though after the March 2003 invasion, many government offices were ransacked and sensitive documents taken or destroyed, Sadik's story is bolstered by the publication of some of these documents in the Arabic press.) Over the years, Hussein mandated that thousands of stockpiles of armaments, mostly small arms, RPGs, and explosives, be cached around Iraq for use by insurgents. In January 2003, when invasion seemed imminent, Hussein directed the members of the Mukhabarat, his secret police, to respond to an invasion by immediately breaking into key government offices and ministries, destroying documents, and setting buildings afire. Secret police agents were also assigned to penetrate the various Iraqi exile groups that would be brought into Iraq, with US assistance, after the invasion.
- A key date for the insurgency was April 7, 2003, as American troops were moving virtually unhindered into the outskirts of Baghdad. Instead of fighting the Americans for every foot of ground in the capital, as American planners had feared, Hussein ordered his troops, including members of the Ba'ath party hierarchy, the Special Republican Guard, the Special Security Organization, and the Mukhabarat, to return to their homes and initiate the resistance from there. "In my neighborhood," recalls Sadik, "there were roadblocks on every street corner, guarded by well-armed forces. They were there by 6 pm on April 7th and gone by six the next morning. Fighting the US Army head-to-head is useless." US planners do not realize until the night of the 7th that no organized resistance to fight for Baghdad will be made, after Saddam loyalists stop communicating over satellite phones and other devices, and simply melt away."
- Hussein ordered the creation of three separate insurgency divisions, each operating underground under the direction of a handpicked Iraqi official. The divisions were made up of two to four thousan members, organized in small cells of three or four. The first division, commanded by Hussein's deputy Izzat al-Douri, "was composed of Ba'athists not publicly known at the time," according to Sadik. They would operate in small cells while hiding in safe houses. The second division, commanded by Taha Yassin Ramadan, is composed of Ba'ath Party members who would back up the first division by providing operating instructions through a series of carefully screened dead drops. Ramadan will be captured by Kurdish troops in Mosul in August 2003, but his capture does little to stymie the operations of his division, for by the very nature of the organizational structure, he does not know what cells are operating where. The third division is made up of technocrats -- "doctors, lawyers, engineers, administrators," says Sadik, "and the people who run the country -- the power plants, the water, the sewage, in the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance." The technocrats had left Baghdad by April 7, under orders "never to come forward at the same time."
- Sadik says Hussein patterned his insurgency on the model used by Iran's Al Dawa Shi'ite organization, a bitter enemy of the Hussein regime. "The Dawa party used dead drops and operated via courier," says Sadik. "There was no real communication between the cells, and the Iraqi security people had no idea what to do. They had never seen this before." Dawa members captured by Iraqi security forces knew little of use, and proved highly resistant to torture. "They did not know anything," says Sadik. "It was so effective."
- According to Sadik, Hussein's planning is only one of many factors in the insurgency. Thousands of Iraqi nationalists and religious leaders, many who opposed Hussein, chose within days to oppose the American invasion. The biggest problem, Sadik says, is the Americans' failure to try to understand the Iraqis, and the increasingly harsh tactics of the troops as they sought to quell the escalating violence. "People reacted to what they saw before them," he says. Even American charitable acts often backfired, or created confusion instead of good will. For example, on the night before Thanksgiving in November 2003, American soldiers appear in Sadik's neighborhood, knocking on doors and flinging cooked turkeys into each home. The intent was benevolent, but "no one explained anything about the holiday. Everybody came outside and asked, 'What's this? Why are we getting this?' The authorities had done nothing to prepare us." He says, exasperatedly, "That's how they do everything in Baghdad. They don't explain anything." (Seymour Hersh)
- June: The second meeting of a group of American neoconservatives and foreign dignitaries plotting how best to press the US into advocating regime change in Iran takes place in Rome (see the December 2001 page for more on the first meeting). According to Iranian arms merchant and con artist Manucher Ghorbanifar, he arranged the second meeting after a flurry of faxes between himself and Defense Department official Harold Rhode, who had attended the first meeting. Others at the meeting besides Ghorbanifar and Rhode include officials from Egypt, Iraq, and a high-ranking American official, none of whom Ghorbanifar is willing to identify. (It must be pointed out that Ghorbanifar is not particularly reliable, and the CIA has long viewed him as untrustworthy.) The Egyptian and Iraqi officials brief the American on the general situation in Iraq and the Middle East, with particular focus on what will happen in the Middle East after the US invades Iraq, and, according to Ghorbanifar, "It's happened word for word since." Apparently, the Defense Department knows little or nothing, at least officially, about the meeting. Although NSC deputy Stephen Hadley issued numerous orders forbidding further meetings, those orders were roundly ignored, with a follow-up meeting between Ghorbanifar and Rhode taking place in June 2003. Ghorbanifar says, "In those meetings we met, we gave him the scenario, what would happen in the coming days in Iraq. And everything has happened word for word as we told him." Rhode did not meet just with Ghorbanifar and the officials he brought along, says the arms dealer. "Rhode met several other people -- he didn't only meet me."
- Interestingly, after word of the meetings finally hits the press -- first exposed by Newsday in the late summer of 2003 after the Senate committee investigating prewar intelligence lapses learned of them -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledges that they took place, but dismisses them as unimportant. "The information has moved around the interagency process to all the departments and agencies," Rumsfeld will tell reporters after conferring with Bush. "As I understand it, there wasn't anything there that was of substance or of value that needed to be pursued further." That same afternoon, another senior DOD official acknowledges the June 2003 meeting, but calls it nothing more than a "chance encounter" between Ghorbanifar and a Pentagon official. The administration will persist in the "chance encounter" story. Ghorbanifar, however, says of the characterization, "Run into each other? We had a prior arrangement. It involved a lot of discussion and a lot of people." (Senate Republicans will block serious inquiry into the content of the meetings.) (Washington Monthly)
- June: The nonpartisan General Accounting Office issues a report warning that the Bush administration's withdrawal from the US-Russian antiballistic missile treaty, and the administration's focus on developing a new missile defense system (a revival of the Reagan-era "star Wars" system) puts America "in danger of getting off track early and introducing more risk into the missile defense effort over the long term." The proposed system contains components "that have not been demonstrated as mature and ready" for incorporation with other elements, with testing that "has provided only limited data for determining whether the system will work." Instead of heeding the GAO warnings, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld tries to convince Congress to exempt the system from the law requiring all weapons systems to undergo operational testing before being deployed in the firld. Program director General Ronald Kadish admits he has no idea whether the system will work, or if it will have to be replaced after deployment: "The final architecture is not knowable today because we have a lot more research and development to do."
- A July study by the American Physical Society proves that just one phase of the program, the "boost-phase" hit, is beyond current technological capacities, and that even if the system works when deployed, will prove completely ineffective against solid-fuel missiles such as are likely to be sent up by countries such as North Korea and Iran. Finally, in August, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency indefinitely suspends the program, saying the technology is "not mature enough" to fund. The entire program ignores the fact that since 1959, only two countries, Russia and China, have ever had missiles capable of reaching American shores, and that due to arms control agreements, the threat of such a strike has been physically reduced by over 60%. Russia's missile cache is expected to fall by another 60% over the next few years due to reasons of expense, while China is not expected to add many missiles to its small stable of perhaps twenty ICBMs. In contrast, the deployment of an American missile defense system is expected to trigger a new arms race for intermediate-range missiles by such countries as China, India, Pakistan, and Russia, leading to greater instability and the increased likelihood of a truly devastating war. Meanwhile, American policy in this area seems to be led by officials like assistant secretary of defense for forces Keith Payne, who made his reputation twenty years ago with a now-notorious article entitled "Victory is Possible;" the article, co-written with Colin Gray, argued that the US could win a nuclear exchange, suffering at most an "acceptable" level of about 20 million casualties. More recently, Payne has written approvingly of "multiple nuclear strikes" in a conventional war such as Iraq. It was this last paper that won Payne his job from Donald Rumsfeld.
- The system does absolutely nothing to deter low-tech strikes such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the system drains critical dollars from security measures that could shore up American defenses against such attacks.
- So why bother? Defense contractors heavily invested in missile defense development stand to make billions on the system; almost without exception, these same contractors are heavy Republican donors. Christian ideologues believe the system is part of America's so-called divine right to be protected from missile attacks, and could care less about the technological hurdles yet to be solved. And, partly because of a steady stream of misinformation and propaganda, the vast majority of the American public believes the nation is already fully protected from missile attack. In addition, Bush is able to use the issue to portray himself as a strong leader, concerned about the safety of the American citizenry. Eric Alterman and Mark Green write, "Indeed, the issue is almost a perfect one from the standpoint of its political consequences. How many people would blame the president in the event of a successful nuclear attack against the United States for trying to protect the nation? In the far more likely event of no attack, how could Bush be proved wrong?" And perhaps most importantly, such a missile shield would enable the US military to engage in almost any sort of military action without fear of counterattack. China's ambassador predicts that the system, if it works, will give the US "absolute freedom in using or threatening to use force in international relations." And a RAND study concludes, "[B]allistic missile defense is not simply a shield but an enabler of US action." (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- June: Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, whose group has publicly challenged the Bush administration's assertion that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to "enemy combatants" detained in Guantanamo Bay, is invited to meet with National Security Director Condoleezza Rice and NSC lawyer John Bellinger. According to Roth's notes of the meeting, Rice denies that the US is using torture in its interrogations of the prisoners, but says that Bush will use the upcoming UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to reaffirm the US's commitment to federal law and the UN Conventions Against Torture not to use cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in its interrogations. Bush will indeed make such a statement, but Roth is dismayed to find that the Bush administration's own definition of torture and cruel treatment differs starkly from the accepted federal and international norms, providing such narrow definitions as to allow interrogators wide leeway in their treatment of prisoners. Roth recalls, "I told Rice and Bellinger, in essence, that if you can't do it at your local precinct, you can't do it at Guantanamo." By the time of the meeting, the secret SAP team of the Pentagon has spent three years snatching suspected terrorists and sending them undercover to places like Singapore, Thailand, and Pakistan, where they were routinely being tortured and abused. (Seymour Hersh)
- June: Several eminent historians have issued sharp criticisms of Bush's foreign policies. "Looking back over the forty years of the Cold War," writes Arthur Schlesinger Jr, "we can be everlastingly grateful that the loonies on both sides were powerless. In 2003, however, they run the Pentagon, and preventative war -- the Bush doctrine -- is now official policy." Eric Hobsbawm writes, "The sudden emergence of an extraordinary, ruthless, antagonistic flaunting of US power is hard to understand, all the more so since it fits neither with long-tested imperial policies developed during the Cold War, nor the interests of the US economy. The policies that have recently prevailed in Washington seem to all outsiders so mad that it is difficult to understand what is going on. ...[The] frivolity of US decision making" weakens the network of international treaties and agreements that are in place to maintain order; the danger, says Hobsbawm, in in "destabilizing the world." Hobsbawm either does not understand, or cannot imagine, that destabilization of the world seems to be perfectly fine with this administration as long as it continues to profit their corporate clients and maintains its power. (Le Monde Diplomatique/Frances Fox Piven)
- June: The Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft comes under increasing criticism for refusing to release information it holds on the case of Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese-American nuclear physicist accused of spying during the Clinton administration. Many Asian-Americans believe Lee was targeted solely because of his Asian extraction; others believe the entire incident was puffed up to embarrass Clinton. Lee will eventually be exonerated of all charges. Ashcroft tells the House Judiciary Committee that he decides what information is and is not in the national interest to be made available to anyone, including investigative committees and the judiciary. (Stephen Pizzo/Daily Misleader)
- June: The Houston, Texas school system, touted as the "laboratory" for the national No Child Left Behind educational program and hailed as the leader of the so-called "Texas miracle" in public school reform, is revealed to have rigged its statistics to show its schools are performing better than they actually are. Thousands of high school dropouts have been wiped off the records, and the state audit that discovers this and other statistical frauds recommends lowering the ranking of 14 of Houston's 16 secondary schools from "best" to "worst." The audit also recommends that Houston's entire school system be labeled "unacceptable." The statistical fraud indicates that the "Texas miracle" is little more than, in the words of the New York Times, "smoke and mirrors." The Times adds, "...Houston is a model for how the focus on school accountability can sometimes go wrong, driving administrators to alter data or push students likely to mar a school's profile -- through poor attendance or low test scores -- out the back door." Rod Paige, currently the head of Bush's Education Department and the former superintendent of the Houston schools from 1994 through 2000, refuses to comment on the dropout undercounting. (David Corn)
- June: Army Reserve General Janis Karpinski is placed in command of the US prison facility at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Abu Ghraib is a notorious compound that, under Saddam Hussein, had housed perhaps 50,000 prisoners in vile conditions. After the looting that followed the toppling of the Hussein regime, Abu Ghraib was stripped virtually to the bare walls. CPA authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, toilets and showers installed, and a new medical center built, and began housing Iraqi prisoners there itself, heedless of the horrific reputation the prison has among ordinary Iraqis. By the time Karpinski assumes command, several thousand Iraqis are being detained at Abu Ghraib, mostly common criminals and "suspects" picked up almost at random at military checkpoints and during sweeps. The prisoners were segregated into three loosely defined categories: common criminals, security detainees suspected of "crimes against the Coalition," and a small number of "high-value" prisoners suspected of being leaders of the insurgency. Karpinski, an experienced Special Forces and intelligence officer who served honorably in the Gulf War, has no experience running a military prison. Most of the soldiers under her command have no experience with prisons themselves. In a December 2003 interview, she tells the media that "living conditions [at Abu Ghraib] are better in prison than at home" for many of the inmates. "At one point we were concerned that they wouldn't want to leave." In January 2004 Karpinsky will be reprimanded and quietly suspended from her duties, and a classified report of the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, intelligence agents, and civilian "contractors" will be ordered by the CPA's senior commander, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. The report, compiled by Major General Antonio Taguba, will report "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib. Detailed witness statements and horrifying pictures and videos shot by US soldiers documenting the abuse are part of Taguba's report, which is supposed to stay out of the public, and parts of which remain classified. (Seymour Hersh)
Classified 2002 DIA report reveals no WMDs in Iraq
- Early June: US News and World Report reveals the existence of a September 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency briefing that concludes "no reliable evidence" of Iraqi WMDs exists. The report asserts that no evidence exists to point to any reestablishment of the means to even begin production of such weapons. Press secretary Ari Fleischer blandly retorts, "We continue to have confidence about Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons. ...[T]he fact they had it was never in doubt, based on a reading of the intelligence." Fleischer simply asserts that the DIA report says the precise opposite of what it truly says. Calls for inquiries into the CIA's and the administration's prewar assertions mount, but congressional Republicans continue to stonewall, grudgingly agreeing to review -- behind closed doors, and among themselves -- the intelligence findings. On June 5, Bush tells US troops in Doha, Qatar, "We'll reveal the truth" about Iraq's weapons, and then asserts, "One thing is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the Iraqi regime is no more." In the days that follow, Bush subtly shifts his rhetoric, no longer asserting that Iraq had weapons, but instead had weapons programs -- a seemingly small but vital shift. A program could be as little as a research effort or one scientist making notes. But, as David Corn notes, "Bush had promised his war would net weapons, not programs." In a private meeting with his top Iraqi commanders in Doha, Bush demands to know who is in charge of finding Iraq's WMDs. "Are you in charge of finding WMDs?" he asks Paul Bremer, the Iraqi civilian administrator. Bremer says no. Bush asks General Tommy Franks, the head of CENTCOM, and Franks says no. Then someone points to undersecretary of defense Stephen Cambone; Bush replies, "Who?" Corn asks, "Was Bush really unaware of who was managing what was supposedly his top priority in Iraq?" (See the related item for June 6.)
- David Kay, the former IAEA and UN weapons inspector, is asked to review the progress the US has made in finding Iraqi WMDs. Kay tells the CIA's John McLaughlin that he has never seen such a screwed-up operation. The MET teams charged with finding the weapons were poorly equipped for the task, Kay notes. Their members were not trained in biological, chemical, or nuclear matters. They were using an old list of suspected WMD sites that looks like a roster of dead ends. They had been relying far too much on fabricated information from Ahmad Chalabi and the INC. McLaughlin brings Kay in to talk with CIA director George Tenet, who asks Kay what he would do if he were in charge. Kay says the first thing to do is to stop looking under rocks and start talking to the Iraqis who worked the programs -- not just the scientists and engineers, but the clerks, truck drivers, and janitors. Find these people, says Kay, and you find the WMDs. Also, he notes, too many Iraqis are trying to peddle Hussein-era government documents on the black market. These documents need to be secured and examined.
- Days later, during the second weekend in June, Tenet tracks Kay down while Kay is celebrating his wedding anniversary and asks if Kay will take over the search. (David Corn, Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
British intelligence reveals they were pressured by Bush officials to make false claims about Iraqi WMDs
- Early June: Senior British intelligence officials claim that they have hard evidence that proves they were pressured by the Blair administration to make false or misleading claims about Iraq's possession of WMDs. This comes on the heels of accusations by Leader of the Commons John Reid that "rogue elements" in the security services may be held accountable for the intelligence problems that prompted erroneous public reports of Iraq's WMD capability. Reid also alleged that unnamed intelligence officials are trying to "undermine" the government. Blair defends the false intelligence claims, saying that now the focus should be on bringing security and humanitarian aid to Iraq, and not concentrating on whether or not the claims of Iraqi WMDs were valid. Many members of Parliament are outraged at the apparent deliberate deception practiced on them by the Blair administration; the situation may escalate if Blair refuses to provide requested evidence to a committee of MPs about the intelligence situation. (Independent/Global Policy Forum)
- June 1: The US announces that it will handpick 30 Iraqis to serve on an interim council that will advise the US officials running the country. Shortly afterwards, US administrator Paul Bremer cancels a scheduled municipal election in Najaf, organized by the local US military commander, which would have been the first election in the new Iraq. Following Bremer's decision, commanders throughout Iraq cancel local elections. Bremer explains that Ba'athists or Islamic fundamentalists might win some of the elections, and that would be unacceptable to the US. (David Corn)
- June 1: While in Poland, Bush says, "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited." He is referring to the now-infamous mobile trailer labs, which have long since been verified by the British to be exactly what Iraq said they were: facilities to fill weather balloons, sold to them by the British themselves. (Shepherd-Express)
- June 1: A made-for-TV movie, "D.C. 9/11," which portrays Bush as a steely-eyed, take-charge leader during the hours after the 9/11 attacks has been completed in Canada and will be aired in the US later in 2003 on Showtime. Timothy Bottoms, who played Bush in the Comedy Central show "That's My Bush!," portrays the President. The film's writer and producer, Lionel Chetwynd, is a solid Bush supporter, and has served on a Bush administration arts commission. Chetwynd has Bush yelling at the pilot of Air Force One, "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me! I'll be at home! Waiting for the bastard!" (As we all know, Bush was not flown to Washington, but to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and later to Offutt AFB in Oklahoma.) In researching his film, Chetwynd reportedly had "lengthy" interviews with Bush and top officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Andrew Card and Karl Rove. This generous access contrasts with the almost total lack of access the administration has given to attempts to investigate 9/11, including efforts by a joint Congressional inquiry, which was denied access to top officials. The White House is currently blocking publication of most of the inquiry's 800-page report. It is also putting roadblocks in the path of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, which Bush initially resisted establishing, but agreed to establish under pressure from 9/11 families. Chetwynd defends the accurary of the film, saying: "There's nothing here that Bob Woodward would disagree with." Commentator Jim Hightower says the film portrays Bush as "a combination of Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ...Instead of the doe-eyed, uncertain, worried figure that he was that day, Bush-on-film is transformed into an infallible, John Wayne-ish, Patton-type leader, barking orders to the Secret Service and demanding that the pilots return him immediately to the White House." (Toronto Star/Common Dreams, Washington Post, MSNBC)
Evidence found that Iraq had no current nuclear weapons program
- June 2: Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi turns over parts of a centrifuge that could have served as ingredients in a revivified Iraqi nuclear weapons program to US officials. Obeidi, the former head of an Iraqi program to build centrifuges to enrich uranium, had buried the parts in his rose garden in 1991. The Bush administration claims the parts are proof of Iraq's intent to build nuclear weapons; the IAEA says that the parts are not "evidence of a smoking gun." An IAEA spokesman says, "The findings refer to material and documents of the pre-1991 Iraqi nuclear weapons program that have been well-known to the agency." David Kay, a former UN arms inspector who heads the CIA-led search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, said the disclosure indicated that Iraq's nuclear program was "in hibernation and that the order to restart the program had not ever been given to Obeidi." Experts later confirm that it would have been "virtually impossible" for Iraq to restart its nuclear program with the materials hidden by Obeidi. The IAEA notes that Obeidi's account tends to undercut the White House's contention that Saddam's government had secretly resumed its nuclear program in recent years. The story of Obeidi's testimony is illuminating in more ways than one. On May 17, after repeated requests to speak to American authorities, Obeidi spoke with CIA agents, who seemed uninformed and uninterested in the centrifuge program and unwilling to grant him asylum in the US. On June 2, inspectors visit Obeidi, who turns over the materials he has buried in his garden; the next day, against instructions, US forces burst into Obeidi's home and arrest him. He is released on June 17. Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration releases the news of the find, and characterizes it as proof that Hussein had an ongoing nuclear program. Obeidi will be interviewed by an unnamed American engineer who is insistent that the controversial aluminum tubes previously found were intended for use in a nuclear weapons program. Obeidi sticks to his story that Iraq had not worked on a nuclear program since the 1991 Gulf War and that he had buried the material to prepare for a resumption of the program which never took place; the engineer accuses Obeidi of lying. Obeidi and his family are moved to a safe house in Kuwait, where they remain for months while various US experts argue about the significance of the find in his rose garden. At the end of the summer, Obeidi will be relocated to an undisclosed location on the US East Coast. (CNN, CNN, AFP/Prolog, New York Times, Washington Post)
Bush policy of pre-emption made public
- June 2: In a speech to the US Military Academy, Bush states that the Cold War doctrines of containment and deterrence are irrelevant in a world where the only strategy for defeating America's new enemies was to strike them first. Here, for the first time, Bush introduces the idea of a US policy of pre-emption as laid out by the 1992 Wolfowitz report (see above). (Reuters/New York Times/American Assembler)
- June 2: About 1,000 ex-soldiers from the disbanded Iraqi army gather to protest the disbanding outside the CPA's Baghdad headquarters. An internal CPA memo documents the event, focusing on the coverage the protest garners from the Arab television news networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. "There have been some public statements by some former MOD (Ministry of Defense) members that they will resolve to suicide attacks if their grievances are not addressed," the memo reads. "Other protesters have continued to state that they will organize armed units to fight against the CPA and occupation." "The entire Iraqi people is a time bomb that will blow up in the Americans' face if they don't end their occupation," says one protest leader after meeting with CPA officials. Another protester declares, "All of us will become suicide bombers. I will turn my six daughters into bombs to kill the Americans." Paul Bremer responds, "We're not going to be blackmailed into producing programs because of threats of terrorism." He further notes that the protests are the first time in decades anyone has dared to do such outside of Hussein's presidential palace. Isn't that a sign of progress? he asks. (Bob Woodward)
- June 2: The Office of the Inspector General releases two scathing reports, one written by Inspector General Glenn Fine, on the Justice Department's handling of immigrant detainees after 9/11. The DoJ completely violates the law by what it calls "preventative detention," the jailing of imprisoning immigrants without evidence of criminal activity or charges, purportedly in the interest of foiling future terror attacks. In the eleven months following the attacks, 762 "aliens" were subjected to preventative detention. Not one has had one single connection to terrorism or terrorist groups proven. Many were detained simply because someone else suspected them, as in cases where landlords phoned in suspicions of their Middle Eastern tenants; others were arrested simply because they were roommates or coworker of someone eise under suspicion. Three Middle Eastern men were detained for months because they had blueprints for a local public school in their car; even after their employer proved that they were working on a construction project at the school and had a valid reason for having the blueprints, they were not released. In Fine's words, Attorney General Ashcroft replaced "ordinary rules" with "no rules or perverse ones," thus perpetrating a huge violation of Constitutional and Geneva Convention guarantees. The average detainee was held 80 days without charges being filed. Many were not released even after FBI investigation cleared them of any wrongdoing or suspicious associations. None were allowed to post bond or bail. Most of them were detained under boilerplate affidavits affirming "national security" concerns as the reason for their arrest and detention. Even the "high interest" designation, so often used for dramatic effect by media pundits, means little; an FBI agent can make such a designation on his or her own, without any evidence or even guidance.
- Many of these "high interest" detainees were held without bond, without legal counsel, and without being allowed to contact their families, at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, where some were physically abused. Some attorneys hired by the families of individual detainees were told by MDC staff that their clients were not being held at the facility when, in fact, they were so being held. The Justice Department says that it will "alter" some of its procedures, but Attorney General John Ashcroft says, through a spokeswoman, "We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks." "They shouldn't have been in maximum security, shouldn't have been in leg shackles," said Jeanne Butterfield, executive director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "In normal circumstances, they wouldn't even be imprisoned."
- In addition to the prisoners at Guantanamo, the US is holding prisoners in secret detention in CIA holding facilities in Afghanistan, and at the US military base on the island of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean. No one outside of the military system has been allowed any contact with these prisoners, but interviews with national security officials have indicated that those prisoners are being subject to interrogative procedures that could well be seen as torture. Some of the "techniques" used on the prisoners include beatings to "soften [them] up," hours spent tied in what are called "stress and duress" positions, being bound, blindfolded, and gagged for hours, sleep deprivation, and, in the case of wounded prisoners, having pain medications and medical attention selectively withheld. Some prisoners have been turned over to governments who will actively torture prisoners without restraint. One national security officer tells the Washington Post, "We don't kick the sh*t out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the sh*t out of them." Many times, including a March 2003 report released by Secretary of State Colin Powell, other countries have been harshly reprimanded by the US for just such tactics used against their prisoners. Practices decried by countries such as Jordan and Azerbaijan are now part of the US routine of interrogations. In at least one case, a prisoner has been turned over to the Syrian government, which has long been criticized as being one of the worst human rights violators on the planet. The Bush administration response has been to ignore the outcries of its citizens and human rights observers, and deny that any such tortures are taking place. (AP/Detroit News [cached Google copy], FindLaw/Karen Balkin, Peter Singer, Mark Crispin Miller)
- June 3: No US weapons hunters or intelligence officials have as yet visited the state-owned al-Fatah company in Baghdad, the firm that designed all the rockets Saddam Hussein's troops fired in 1991 and again this year, nor do they have any plans to do so. "We have the most sensitive documents here," says Marouf al-Chalabi, director-general of al-Fatah. "We were sure the Americans would target us but they haven't even dropped by." The firm's building has been well ransacked by looters; documents and blueprints of rockets, guidance systems, rocket design plans and test results, even missile warheads, lay strewn about the building and grounds. Although UN inspectors were well aware of al-Fatah, visited the site regularly, and found numerous violations of the arms agreements, the US claims to have been unaware of the plant's existence. The plant director, Marouf al-Chalabi, says that no weapons will be found that violate the agreements. He says that he was ordered by Hussein not to violate UN resolutions. "We don't have those weapons. I think they must know this by now," he said. "I even signed a paper that said I would be executed if I violated the range fixed by the UN resolutions." (Guardian)
- June 3: Condoleezza Rice says on CNBC, "But let's remember what we've already found. Secretary Powell on February 5th talked about a mobile, biological weapons capability. That has now been found and this is a weapons laboratory trailers [sic] capable of making a lot of agents that -- dry agents, dry biological agents that can kill a lot of people. So we are finding these pieces that were described." Rice is well aware that she is lying. (Frank Rich [PDF file])
"Let the House [of Representatives] be brought to order. Gavel the members to attention, and let the evidence be brought forth. Let there be justice for the living and the dead. Let this man Bush be impeached and cleansed from office for the lies he has told. These are not innocent lies. The dead remember." -- William Rivers Pitt, June 3, 2003 (Truthout)
Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap to peace"
- June 4: Bush presses Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to agree to a specific timetable for Palestinian independence, the so-called "roadmap to peace." It is apparent during the meeting with Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas that Bush knows little or nothing about the intricacies of the conflict, according to experienced diplomats involved in the meeting, "[n]or does he show any sign of wanting to learn." They feel that Bush "has stumbled into one of the world's most intractable problems in a superficial way which holds out little hope of success." (Guardian)
- June 4: Bush administration officials testify to Congress that the administration's "rollback policy" on WMDs not only justifies the invasion of Iraq, but the possible invasions of other countries, most likely Iran and/or North Korea. (NewsMax)
- June 4: Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan observes, "For its [the Bush administration's] crucial argument as to why it had no choice but to launch the first preventive war in American history is collapsing like a sand castle in a rising surf. ...Did the intelligence agencies fail us, or did someone 'cook the books' to meet the recipe for an imperial war?" (Washington Dispatch)
- June 4: Conservative columnist Thomas Friedman tells the real reason for invading Iraq: "because we could." He writes, "The 'real reason' for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. ...Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world."
- June 5: While speaking to US troops in Qatar, Bush says, "We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents." The statement is a careful backing-away from his earlier assertions that "We found the weapons of mass destruction." Four days before, Bush, in the company of Russian premier Vladimir Putin, told reporters, "Here's what -- we've discovered a weapons system, biological labs, that Iraq denied she had, and labs that were prohibited under the UN resolutions." Bush knows full well, or should know, that US intelligence is highly doubtful that the facilities were used for production of biological weapons; within days, analysis determines that the trailers were used for producing hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. Instead of correcting the error, Bush, like his vice president, will continue making the assertion until it becomes too much for even the compliant press to bear -- and will then deny ever making such claims. But for the rest of the year, Bush and his officials will continue to charge that the trailers are, indeed, biological weapons laboratories. Why? As Frank Rich writes in 2006, "They didn't have any other WMDs, theoretical or otherwise, to point to."
- Bush had asked both Paul Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld who is in charge of finding Iraq's WMDs. Bremer points to Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld points to Bremer. Bush loses his temper and says that he will put someone else in charge. (Time reports it a bit differently: Bush is disconcerted when he asks Bremer and General Tommy Franks if they were in charge of finding the WMDs, and both deny it. When Bush is finally told who is actually in charge -- Pentagon factotum Stephen Cambone -- Bush asks, "Who?") Since the CIA had been the source of the intelligence about Iraq's possession of WMDs, he says he will put the agency in charge. Reporter Bob Woodward writes, "So finally, two and a half months into the war, the administration was going to give some focus to the hunt." CIA director Tenet asks David Kay, one of the world's premier experts on nuclear weapons inspections, to take charge of the search. Kay had been the US's chief weapons inspector inside Iraq after the 1991 war, and was responsible for finding and supervising the dismantling of Hussein's nuclear program, which he judged was then six to eighteen months away from being able to produce an actual weapon. Kay was now working with the CIA to review North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Kay had just returned from a stint in Iraq as an expert analyst for NBC News, and had even gone on a search of an old chicken farm that was listed as the site of possible WMDs. The search had found nothing. Kay tells Tenet that the search lacks organization, equipment, and leadership. The 75th Exploitation Task Force, currently working Iraq for WMDs, has none of the equipment or expertise needed to get the job done. The military doesn't view the hunt for WMDs as a priority. The WMD Master Site List is worthless, Kay tells Tenet; it is a catchall for rumors and half-hearted intelligence; he himself had inspected a number of sites on the list in 1991 and found nothing. Kay later recalls, "I told George, I'm taking on your moral hazard. Your agency said there were WMDs there."
- "You simply cannot find weapons of mass destruction using a list," Kay tells Tenet. "You have to treat this like an intelligence operation. You go after people. You don't go after physical assets. You don't have enough people in the country. It's too big a country. You can't dig up the whole country. So you treat it by going after the expertise, the security guards that would have been there, the movers, the generals that would have seen it, the Special Republican Guard." Find the scientists who would have worked on the programs, Kay says, and they can find the WMDs for you. Kay believes that the general in charge of the WMD hunt, James Marks, is too wedded to the Master Site List. And the new task force in charge, General Keith Dayton's Iraq Survey Group (ISG), is no better. Why are they working out of Qatar? Why are they working terrorism and war crimes as well as WMDs? "F*cking military can never get anything organized," Tenet says. "We need to find them. We don't want this job. The military should have done it. But we're going to be stuck with it. I know we're going to be stuck with it. The president's unhappy with what's happening. ...The military has screwed this up so much. I don't want it now." Tenet doesn't mention that the "slam dunk" intelligence on Iraq's WMDs had come from the CIA.
- Kay agrees to take over the search, and takes over the ISG. Working the intelligence before going to Baghdad, he is shocked at the information that isn't there. "It was nothing new," he later recalls. Most of the intelligence the CIA has is pre-1998, when the UN inspectors had left. "Everything after that came from a defector or came through a foreign intelligence service in an opaque sort of way." He notes that much of the intelligence about the mobile biological weapons labs that Powell had touted in his famous February speech to the UN had come from a single source, an Iraqi defector nicknamed "Curveball." The defector had been located and interrogated by German intelligence. Powell had told the UN, and the world, that the information had come from four separate sources, but three of those sources had merely provided information about Curveball. None of them knew anything concrete, Kay determines. He is aghast to realize that the CIA had never interviewed the defector for themselves, but merely relied on German reports. And, the CIA had blown off reports from the Germans that Curveball was an alcoholic. He can't help thinking of that old Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There Is?"
- All of the intelligence about Hussein's supposed nuclear weapons program comes from one item of intelligence, Kay finds, the "high-specification aluminum tubes" Powell had touted for the UN. Kay is fairly sure that the tubes are for nothing more than conventional artillery. "The more you look at it, the less is there," he recalls concluding. "It was an eye-opening experience. But realize, (a) I still believed they were there. And (b) I thought the answer was not going to be found in Washington or [Qatar]. It was going to be found in Baghdad, in Iraq. So I was anxious to get out in the field and see what I can do."
- Tenet suggests that he and Rumsfeld share responsibility for Kay, and have Kay report to the both of them. "Absolutely not," Rumsfeld says. Kay is Tenet's responsibility. Kay had great respect for Rumsfeld's bureaucratic infighting skills. It was a lose-lose situation for Rumsfeld. If Kay found WMDs, it would validate the CIA's estimates. If he didn't find them, no good could come to anyone associated with the search. Rumsfeld wanted nothing to do with it. (Bush on Iraq, Bob Woodward, Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Frank Rich p.96)
- June 5: Eminent national security reporter Walter Pincus, writing for the Washington Post, publishes, with his colleague Dana Priest, a front-page article that reveals Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, have "made multiple trips to the CIA" over the past year to question analysts about Iraq. Two days later, Pincus and Priest publish an article comparing Bush's prewar public statements about Iraq's WMDs with the recently disclosed DIA report from the fall of 2002 that warned there was "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons."
- Pincus is also chasing the story of the supposed Iraqi attempt to purchase uranium from Niger. He quickly determines that Joseph Wilson is the ambassador who traveled to Niger to find out the truth, and interviews Wilson, who agrees to be a background (unnamed) source on the entire Iraq-Niger debacle. Pincus is also pressing Catherine Martin, Cheney's communications director, for information about Wilson's trip to Niger. How had it come about? he wants to know. What had Cheney been told of Wilson's findings? Finally, Martin arranges for Pincus to meet with Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby.
- Libby, too, has been investigating Wilson and the Niger trip. Libby has heard from undersecretary of state Marc Grossman, who identified Wilson as the ambassador involved. On June 9, the CIA faxed a number of classified documents to Cheney's office, directing them to the personal attention of Libby and another staff member. The faxed documents refer to Wilson's trip to Niger without naming him. Wilson writes "Wilson" and "Joe Wilson" on the documents. And on June 10, Grossman brings the matter of Wilson's wife, covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, to Libby's attention, in a State Department memo placed on Libby's desk.
- The State Department's intelligence bureau, INR, had provided Grossman with a dossier on the Niger trip at Grossman's request after Libby began quizzing Grossman for information. The INR was happy to do so, and in the process remind their bosses at State that they had tried to warn the administration away from the Niger claims. "We thought it was a travesty that anybody would have believed any of this stuff," INR chief Carl Ford recalls later. Since the two INR analysts most familiar with the Niger issue were unavailable, a less-informed analyst, Neil Silver, wrote Grossman's memo. Silver uses as a source the memo written by another INR analyst, Douglas Rohn, who himself wrote, erroneously, that Plame had set up Wilson's trip to Niger. Silver passes that charge along, dropping the word "apparently" from Rohn's own wording and erroneously stating as absolute fact that Plame orchestrated the trip. The rest of Silver's memo recaps the INR's contention that the entire Iraq-Niger issue is a farrago of errors, forged documents, and lies. Rohn's own documents identify Plame as "a CIA WMD managerial type." Rohn's uninformed impressions of Plame's actions have now taken on the aspect of hard-and-fast truth. (White House spinners will soon transform it again into a political depth charge.) Grossman uses the memo to inform Libby about the Wilson trip -- and to inform Libby of Plame's identity as a CIA agent.
- Libby is very circumspect with Pincus, refusing to be identified as anything except a nondescript "government official," and spinning Pincus with a few snippets of information and one small dollop of misinformation -- Libby insists that a Cheney aide, and not Cheney himself, had sparked Wilson's trip to Niger with a round of questioning CIA analysts about the Iran-Niger uranium deal, a statement that is not true. Such a set of questions would not be judged improper, but Libby doesn't want the press reporting that Cheney's personal interest in the uranium deal had prompted Wilson to visit Niger. Pincus has no reason to doubt Libby's lie, and publishes a June 12 story about "a CIA-directed mission to [Niger] in early 2002" that barely mentions Cheney. Much of the story is based on Wilson's recollections; Wilson later acknowledges to a Senate investigative committee that he may have "misspoken" to Pincus about his familiarity with the forged documents. Though Wilson knew the documents were forged, he himself had never seen them and could not pass judgment on them. Pincus's story doesn't mention Cheney's office until the very end, only noting in passing that an "aide" to Cheney had requested the information. The story passes with hardly a murmur. "Nobody picked up on it," Pincus recalls later. "The Times never wrote a f*cking word about it after the Kristof column, and they never wrote about it after my piece." Once again, the media, with exceptions, is being compliantly silent about the entire Iraq-Niger fiasco. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- June 5: Democratic representative and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich leads 30 US House members in introducing a resolution demanding that the Bush administration turn over all intelligence used to justify the Iraqi invasion. "The President led the nation to war, and spent at least $63 billion on that war, on the basis of these unfounded assertions. ...It is long past time that the President and this Administration show its evidence." Kucinich used the same procedure in March to force the administration to release the 12,000-page weapon report Iraq submitted to the United Nations. (Dennis Kucinich)
- June 5: A probe by the Justice Department's inspector general reveals that hundreds, possibly thousands of American citizens and foreign nationals detained after 9/11 were held without legal grounds, with little or no evidence of their involvement in any anti-American activities. Wendy Patten, the US policy director for Human Rights Watch in Washington, says, "The report is a superb expose of how the Justice Department circumvented peoples' basic rights after September 11th. It's a detailed, 198-page report that confirms the abuses that we at Human Rights Watch found in our own investigation into the mistreatment of the September 11th detainees." The problems cited in the report include a failure to promptly tell detainees why they were being held; hindering their ability to secure legal counsel and bond hearings; a denial of bail for many detainees; physical and verbal abuse; and sometimes harsh conditions of detainment. Among thousands of others, Malek Zeidan, a Syrian immigrant who drives an ice cream truck in Paterson, New Jersey, was picked up when officials came to his apartment to question his roommate. When they found that Zeidan had overstayed his tourist visa, he was incarcerated without charge, apparently solely because of his ethnicity. Zeidan's lawyer, Regis Fernandez, says that his client was labeled a "national security threat" by US prosecutors apparently due to his race, which matched that of the Arab hijackers. Zeidan almost fainted during a court hearing when prosecutors told the judge he was being held as part of their investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Usually US immigration officials don't arrest someone for overstaying their visa, though they can and sometimes do face deportation after a court hearing. But after 9/11, the Justice Department changed its procedures due to what it called "extraordinary circumstances." Attorney General John Ashcroft defends the detentions and the secrecy surrounding them as necessary to prevent future attacks. As immigrants languished in jail, sometimes for months, human rights groups complained that the Justice Department was violating basic civil rights by not providing evidence for their continued detention. None of the detained immigrants was ever convicted of terror-related offenses, and almost all of them were eventually deported. A few, like Zeidan, still face a possible forced return to homelands they left long ago for better lives in America.
- Israeli citizen Uzi Bouhadana may not be so "lucky" as Zeidan. Bouhadana was picked up five days after the attacks for working without a permit. His sister, Smadar Bouhadana, says officials suspected her Jewish brother because of his "Arabic-sounding" name and the fact that some of the hijackers had lived in the same area of Florida. Uzi was deported after just three weeks, but according to his sister, not before jail officials let it be known that Uzi was a "terrorist" and allowed other prisoners to beat him, breaking his jaw in several places. His sister says, "Everybody thought, 'He's a terrorist.' Uzi told me that the guards over there were whispering something to the other guys and, a few minutes after that, the guard outside just disappeared, and they started to beat him. They beat him for two hours, and they didn't let him go to the front door to call for help or something. Six hours later, the guard apparently showed up." Solail Mohammed, a New Jersey attorney, says the detentions were tragic for many like Bouhadana. Mohammed represented 29 detainees. He says some were behind bars for eight months, despite accepting orders to be deported after just a few days in jail.
- The report makes 21 recommendations for the Justice Department to follow in improving its handling of such cases in the future. Ashcroft's office has said little about the report, stating only that it did not conclude that any of the department's actions were illegal. Some of its officials have been quoted as saying the department will adopt at least some of the report's recommendations. The report deals only with those held on immigration charges in the U.S. after 9/11. It does not take into consideration other controversial cases of US detainees, such as prisoners captured during the war in Afghanistan and held at a US military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some activists have accused the U.S. government of failing to respect the rights of those captured in Afghanistan, as well. Mohammed, the immigration lawyer, says that these cases are bad publicity for Washington as it seeks to lobby for human rights improvements in other states, especially in the Middle East. "The lesson that comes out is: We don't respect our own laws. We don't respect our own constitution. How can we expect others to follow a fair and democratic way of life when we ourselves, who are supposed to be the champions of freedom and respect for the law, go out and behave in this manner?" he says. Patten of Human Rights Watch agrees. Of the Guantanamo Bay and the US immigration detainees, Patten says, "I think the two cases do raise a similar question, and that is: will the United States, as well as other governments around the world, pursue their legitimate objectives of countering terrorism in a way that upholds basic human rights?" (Radio Free Europe/Global Security)
GOP blames Bill Clinton for poor intelligence on Iraq
- June 5: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay blames any false or misleading intelligence reports from the Bush administration on Bill Clinton, who he claims is responsible for "devastating" the country's intelligence capabilities. No American intelligence official has stepped up to confirm DeLay's far-fetched claim. (Modesto Bee)
- June 5: Bush again declares "mission accomplished" in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld dismisses the loss of American lives as " militarily insignificant," and refuses to admit that guerrilla fighters are attacking allied troops; he characterizes the attackers as "criminals." Regardless of Rumsfeld's position, guerrilla warfare is being waged, and waged effectively, against American and British occupying forces. Remnants of the Ba'ath Party and elements of the military are waging an organized guerrilla war, and foreign Islamists are joining the fight, similar to guerrilla wars in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. Iraqi civilians are joining in ever-increasing numbers.
(USA Today, Intervention Magazine)
- June 5: Attorney General John Ashcroft tells Congress, "In the event that [the detention of an American] was thought to be abusive or a mistake, I'm sure the president has the power to correct it...and I'm quite confident that he would if he thought he had made a mistake." Ashcroft is referring to the detentions of two American citizens suspected of aiding terrorist organizations, Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi. Hamdi and Padilla have been incarcerated without being charged with a crime or being allowed contact with family members or a lawyer. Padilla has been in custody since May 2002, when he was arrested at O'Hare Airport and accused of involvement in a plot to explode a nuclear bomb. No evidence of Padilla's guilt has ever been made public. In June 2002, Padilla was reclassified as an "enemy combatant" and transferred to a South Carolina prison where he remains incommunicado. The government contends that it can jail Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" without charges in any forum, civilian or military, until the terrorist threat from al-Qaeda has ended. Hamdi was captured during the fighting in Afghanistan and taken to military prison in the US. He, too, has been classified as an "enemy combatant," though he claims to have been in Afghanistan as a relief worker, and has not allowed to see family members or a lawyer. He has yet to be charged with a crime and is not considered a prisoner of war. (Village Voice, NYCLU)
- June 6: UN nuclear experts begin combing through Iraq's largest nuclear facility, Tuwaitha. The inspectors are closely monitored by US observers and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and are under severe limitations imposed by the US. The main task for the experts is to assess how much damage was done by looters; for two weeks after Iraqi forces fled the area, the US military left the facility unguarded. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of barrels were emptied of radioactive materials and used for storing drinking water and foodstuffs by local residents. One US official says that perhaps 20% of the radioactive material stored at Tuwaitha remains unaccounted for. (AP/Guardian)
- June 6: After a rousing Bush speech to an assemblage of carefully selected, enthusiastic soldiers in Qatar, White House political advisor Karl Rove begins clowning around with the soldiers, whipping out a camera and offering the soldiers the opportunity to have their photos taken with any of several senior White House officials. "Step right up," he says mockingly. "Get your photo with Ari Fleischer -- get 'em while they're hot. Get your Condi Rice." On the Air Force One flight after the visit, the aircraft circles Baghdad, prompting reporters to call the maneuver Bush's "victory lap." But everything is not peaches and cream for Bush. During the flight, a snappish Bush demands to know if a line in a new speech is true. It has, he is told, it has been vetted. "Oh yeah, just like the WMD we found?" Bush snaps. And while he is still in Qatar, he demands to know who exactly is in charge of finding Iraq's WMDs. CPA administrator Paul Bremer denies it is his responsibility, as does General Tommy Franks. Then who? an exasperated Bush demands. Someone mentions Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who has conducted numerous briefings for Bush and other senior White House officials. Who's that? Bush demands. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- June 6: John Dean, former counsel to Richard Nixon during Watergate, writes that if Bush did distort intelligence information to make a case for war, a case for impeachment could be made. Dean compares Bush's actions to Lyndon Johnson's lies over Vietnam, which forced him to stand down from running for re-election in 1968, and Richard Nixon's lies over Watergate, which led to his impeachment and resignation. (FindLaw)
- June 6-7: Retired intelligence official Greg Thielmann claims that the Bush administration "distorted intelligence and presented conjecture as evidence to justify a US invasion of Iraq." Thielmann, who retired in September 2002, was director of the strategic, proliferation and military issues office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His office was privy to classified intelligence gathered by the CIA and other agencies about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs. The Bush administration presented evidence that Iraq possessed a multitude of WMDs and had forged close ties with al-Qaeda; Thielmann asserts that no reliable evidence of either assertion had ever crossed his desk. Suspicions were presented as fact and contrary arguments ignored, he said, and went on to say, "When the administration did talk about specific evidence -— it was basically declassified, sensitive information —- it did it in a way that was also not entirely honest." Other intelligence officials in the CIA claim that Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, pressured them into making their intelligence assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives. Additionally, Colin Powell was pressured to use unsubstantiated information when he made the Bush team's pitch for war to the United Nations in February 2003. (AP/Twin Cities, Sydney Morning Herald)
Blair administration admits WMD evidence "flawed"
- June 6-8: The Blair administration will express "regret" that one dossier used to "prove" that Iraq possessed WMDs was "fundamentally flawed." The dossier, largely compiled from a 13-year old graduate thesis found on the Internet along with a "mish-mash" of intelligence reports and publicly available documents from Jane's Intelligence Review, was made public in February 2002 and used to prove that Iraq did indeed possess chemical and biological weapons, and had the makings of nuclear weapons as well. The Blair administration will acknowledge that "mistakes were made;" the British Intelligence and Committee is expected to say that the fraudulent dossier "undermined public trust in government information." One government official admitted that it was used to fill a "political vacuum" ahead of US Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation on the weapons to the United Nations Security Council. The Blair government hopes that an admission of error on this dossier will strengthen its case for another dossier that was also made public to "prove" Iraq's possession of WMDs. This other dossier was earlier alleged to have been "sexed up" to make a stronger case for war, including claims that Iraq was receiving nuclear materials from Niger that have now been proven to be based on "crudely forged documents." Regardless of the forgeries, the Blair administration insists that security analysis of the information in this dossier proved that Iraq did indeed possess WMDs. Ian Duncan Smith, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, said, "The truth is that nobody believes a word now that the Prime Minister is saying." (Guardian, CBS News)
- June 7: Experts debunk the administration's claims that two mobile trailers found near Baghdad were used to produce chemical weapons. One expert said that the administration's white paper on the trailers was "a rush job and looks political." (Working for Change)
- June 7: The British Ministry of Defence refuses a Blair administration request to send more troops to Iraq, stating that they have no intention of getting caught up in a "quagmire." The Ministry does not wish for more British troops to be involved in a "rising tide of anti-American violence." Privately, Blair administration officials acknowledge that they may end up bowing to American pressure to send more troops. A promised May withdrawal of 6500 British troops has been indefinitely delayed due to increasing levels of violence against American and British forces. (Independent)