Martial law predicted for Iraq
- June 19: One of the first official actions of the new, US-selected Iraqi interim government might be to impose martial law. The decision, not yet official, is prompted by the increasing number and sophistication of attacks on Iraqi civilians, US troops, and oil pipelines. "A decision to impose martial law could be taken if the attacks continue," says Hazem Shaalan, the defense minister. Iraq's national security advisor, Muwaffaq Rubaie, confirms that the idea of declaring a form of martial law is under active consideration by Iraqi ministers. Rubaie says a new law would need to be passed because the temporary constitution agreed in March as the basis of the new Iraqi state did not include provisions for emergency rule. "It [the new law] should not have sweeping powers. It should be limited in time and space," he said. "[But] the terrorists are shooting people on sight. You need to be a little bit more proactive, a little bit more robust." Such a decision will not be implemented without US approval. Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, says that Iraq is still too dangerous for the UN to return, and says he is "extremely worried" about the security situation on the ground. (Financial Times/Axis of Logic)
- June 19: A new book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, written by an anonymous senior intelligence official who headed the first CIA station devoted to tracking Osama bin Laden, accuses the Bush administration of losing the war against al-Qaeda and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands. The book takes issue with the administration's frequent assertions that bin Laden is "on the run" and that the Iraq occupation has made the world safer from terrorism: "Bin Laden, I think, and al-Qaeda and other of America's enemies in the Islamic world certainly saw the invasion of Iraq as a...Christmas gift they always wanted and never expected to get. It validated what they all said about American aggressiveness against Islam. It made us the occupiers of the second holiest place for Muslims in the world. In fact, now we are occupying, in the eyes of our opponents, we're occupying the two holiest places, Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq, and the Israelis are occupying the third, in Jerusalem. The reaction of the clerical community to our invasion of the Islamic clerical community to our invasion of Iraq was uniformly negative. ...It is, I think, a proof of his thesis that America is malignantly inclined toward Muslims, that it is willing to attack a Muslim country that dares to defy it, that it is willing to do most anything to defend Israel. It's certainly viewed as an action which is meant to assist the Israeli state. It is in every way predictably, if you will, a godsend for those Muslims who believe as bin Laden does." The CIA official describes al-Qaeda as a much more proficient and focused organization than it was in 2001, and predicts that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them. He says bin Laden is probably "comfortable" commanding his organization from the mountainous tribal lands along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The official notes that the highly touted "big success in the war against terror" claimed by Pakistan in its killing of Afghan tribal leader Nek Mohammed is merely the death of a small fish in a ever-widening pond. He notes that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf cannot advance much further into the tribal areas without endangering his rule by provoking a Pashtun revolt. "He walks a very fine line," he says. "[W]e remain in a state of denial about the size of the organization we face, the multiple allies it has, and more importantly probably than anything, the genius of bin Laden that's behind the movement and the power of religion that motivates the movement," he says.
- The author says of bin Laden's appeal to traditional Muslims, "I think we are, for various reasons, loath to talk about the role of religion in this war. And it's not to criticize one religion or another, but bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do. And until we accept that fact and stop identifying them as gangsters or terrorists or criminals, we're very much behind the curve. Their power will wax our costs in treasure, and blood will also wax. ...I think the appeal that bin Laden has across the Muslim -- I indeed think he's probably the only heroic figure, the only leadership figure that exists in the Islamic world today, and he does so because he is defending Muslims, Islamic lands, Islamic resources. From his perspective it's very much a war against someone who is oppressing or killing Muslims. And the genius that lies behind it, because he's not a man who rants against our freedoms, our liberties, our voting, our -- the fact that our women go to school. He's not the Ayatollah Khomeini; he really doesn't care about all those things. To think that he's trying to rob us of our liberties and freedom is, I think, a gross mistake. What he has done, his genius, is identify particular American foreign policies that are offensive to Muslims whether they support these martial actions or not -- our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian Peninsula, our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims, be it India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan. Bin Laden has focused the Muslim world on specific, tangible, visual American policies. And there seems to be very little opposition to him within the Muslim world, and that's why I think that our assumption that he distorts Islam is just that, it's analysis by assertion. I'm not sure it's quite accurate. ...[M]ost of the Islamic world believes they know exactly what we're up to, and that's to deny the Palestinians a country, to make sure that oil flows at prices that may seem outrageous to the American consumer, but are not market prices in the Islamist's eyes, supporting Russia against Chechnya. I think very coolly bin Laden has focused them on substance rather than rhetoric. And his rhetoric is only powerful because that is the case. He's focused them on US policies. ...[T]he same polls that show the depths of their hatred of our policies show a very strong affection for the traditional American sense of fair play, the idea of rule by law, the ability of people to educate their children. I think the mistake is made on our part to assume that they hate all those things. What they hate is the policy and the repercussions of that policy, whether it's in Israel or on the Arabian Peninsula. It's not a hatred of us as a society, it's a hatred of our policies. ...Iraq...for both Sunnis and Shias, is the second holiest place in the Islamic world. And to invade that country, on the face of it, is a great offense to Islam and an action which almost entirely validated bin Laden's assertions about what the United States intended vis-a-vis the Islamic world."
- He believes that al-Qaeda is planning another attack on the US similar in scope to the 9/11 attacks: "The one thing these people have, bin Laden and his ilk, is tremendous patience. One huge failing of the American counterterrorist community throughout its existence has been the assumption that if someone hasn't attacked us in a while, they can't attack us. And I think that's where we are, the kind of mindset that if it hasn't happened, it's because they can't. I tend to think bin Laden will attack us when he wants to. He's an individual who has been very unmoved by external events. If there's a man who marches to his own drummer in terms of timing, it's certainly bin Laden and al-Qaeda. ...The point I would make is al-Qaeda is not a terrorist group. It's more akin to an insurgent organization. It pays tremendous attention to succession, to leadership succession. Were all of those people that were killed or captured important? Absolutely. Did it hurt the organization? Of course it did. But there were successors waiting in the wings; there were understudies. The organization goes on. ...Part of the problem when we're judging success is looking at this group as if it is a gangster organization or a criminal organization or a traditional terrorist organization. It's none of those things. And just as the American army or any army in the West would have a backup to their leader in the field, so does al-Qaeda. And it's an organization that replicates itself with tremendous dexterity and speed. ...'It's a singular accomplishment on bin Laden's part to have created an organization where all those Muslims from different ethnic groups, different linguistic groups work together in a manner that's effective enough to take on the United States in a war."
- So why can't the US bring bin Laden to justice? "Part of it, I think, is again, as I wrote in the book, is the unwillingness of senior bureaucrats in the intelligence community to take the full truth, an unvarnished truth to the president, whether it's Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton. I'm not sure that it's proper to blame al-Qaeda's existence, continued existence or attacks on any elected official. I think the, the bureaucracy at the senior levels in the intelligence community is selective in what they take to the president. I think they are loath to describe the dire problem posed by bin Laden for a number of reasons. One of them is basically political correctness. It's not career-enhancing to try to engage in a, in a debate about religion and the role it plays in international affairs. And so we...address bin Laden from the perspective of law enforcement, picking them off one at a time, arresting them, killing them. And I think that's...the result of no one frankly discussing the size of the problem or the motivation behind the problem.
- "...I think the first step in understanding the problem is to try to divorce yourself from the emotions generated by bin Laden's activities and rhetoric and the activities and rhetoric of the people who agree with him, or support him. The decapitation of people, the flying into the World Trade Center, the destruction of the, of the destroyer Cole raise emotions that they must raise among Americans. But they -- when we respond to those in a law enforcement manner, in a manner that describes these men as, again, criminals or terrorists, we, we fail to understand the size of the organization that supports al-Qaeda and the size of the organization that al-Qaeda has bred for over 20 years. I think we also forget that it's a 20-year-old organization. It's an organization that has Muslims from every ethnic group in the world. It's extraordinary. It's a singular accomplishment on bin Laden's part to have created an organization where all those Muslims from different ethnic groups, different linguistic groups work together in a manner that's effective enough to take on the United States in a war. We watched the Palestinians for 50 years unable to agree amongst themselves -- and they're all Palestinians. So that's one problem. The other is an analytic problem. If you're looking at a terrorist group, you don't put together an order of battle as you would for an army or an insurgency. And so you talk about taking down three-quarters of al-Qaeda's leadership. Well, at the end of the day, what we, what we've done is take down three-quarters of the al-Qaeda leadership we knew of on 11 September 2001. And if you take that as a measurable success, it is. But you don't know, first, how big the organization was you started to work against; and second, the assumption is that it's a static, sterile organization that doesn't grow. And the one thing we can be certain of is that the attack on Afghanistan by the United States and the continued occupation of Afghanistan has caused the number of volunteers going to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the amount of money going to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, to have increased, I would say, probably dramatically.
- "...I would like to tell the president, I think, and, and it's presumptuous of me, but I genuinely think that we have underestimated the scope of the enemy, the dedication of the enemy and the threat that it poses to the United States. I think someone should have gone to the president when the, when the discussion of going to Iraq was broached and have said, Mr. President, this is something that can only help Osama bin Laden. Whatever the danger posed by Saddam, whatever weapons he had, is almost irrelevant in that the boost it would give to al-Qaeda was easily seen. And if that message wasn't delivered, then I think there was a mistake made. I also think that Mr. Lincoln's view that one war at a time is plenty is probably a good piece of guidance."
- He has a different take on the hefty amount of blame given to the CIA for the intelligence breakdowns that led to 9/11: "...I think the most important failure was in the, in the years between 1996 and 2001, the failure to correct obvious dysfunctions within the intelligence community was what led in large part to no one being able to claim that the intelligence community did the best it could before 9/11. They were failures of cooperation, failures of leadership that were brought to the attention of the senior-most members of the intelligence community and to the attention of some people at the NSC. And whether or not they ever got to the people who could actually change things, to the, to the committees in the Congress or to the president, to our elected leaders, I'm not sure. I know for, for many years we told various members of the Congress and the executive branch that there was seamless cooperation between the FBI and the CIA. And from my seat and from -- and admittedly, from a very small portion of the total relationship between those two organizations -- I cannot imagine that in any way that could have been true.
- "...From my -- over my career in the intelligence community, the CIA is an organization that produces intelligence for the rest of the government. The idea that somehow we, somehow the CIA produced information and didn't share it is a...shibboleth that, that receives wide repetition. In my experience, the flow of information out of CIA to the community is extraordinary. The people, as I understand it, the people who were placed in the terrorism components of the intelligence community from FBI or other US government agencies were put there to ensure that the CIA did not become involved with domestic US criminal prosecutions, looking at US citizens -- anything that was beyond our purview, our legal statutory responsibilities. And so they brought in officers from other agencies who, again, in my knowledge, read everything that a CIA officer would read. And their responsibility was to cull through that information and return it, as appropriate, to their own headquarters for use domestically, something that was, again, meant to ensure the rights, the privileges of American citizens. And rightly so. My biggest experience was that was not done. And I think if there is a failure in these various investigations of 9/11...it lies in the fact that many members seconded to the counterterrorist arena did not perform the intermediary job they were assigned to perform. ...My own experience in the intelligence community for the past now almost 10 years on this particular issue is that the hard, hard truth has not been delivered to the elected officials. Certainly the truth that -- as it is seen by the people who work the issue on a day-to-day basis has not been delivered -- again, with the possible exception of, of Mr. Tenet, who, to his credit, recognized this early on, perhaps did not as much as he could to drive the community to address the issue."
- Peter Bergen, the author of two books on bin Laden and al-Qaeda, says: "His views represent an amped-up version of what is emerging as a consensus among intelligence counter-terrorist professionals." The official does not try to veil his contempt for the Bush White House and its policies. His book describes the Iraq invasion as "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantage. Our choice of timing, moreover, shows an abject, even wilful failure to recognise the ideological power, lethality and growth potential of the threat personified by bin Laden, as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the US-led invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq." In his view, the US missed its biggest chance to capture the leader at Tora Bora in the Afghan mountains in December 2001. Instead of sending large numbers of his own troops, General Tommy Franks relied on surrogates who proved to be unreliable. "For my money, the game was over at Tora Bora," he says.
- Of bin Laden, he says, "I think we overestimate significantly the stress he's under. Our media and sometimes our policymakers suggest he's hiding from rock to rock and hill to hill and cave to cave. My own hunch is that he's fairly comfortable where he is." The death and arrest of experienced operatives might have set back bin Laden's plans to some degree but when it comes to his long-term capacity to threaten the US, he says, "I don't think we've laid a glove on him. ...What I think we're seeing in al-Qaeda is a change of generation. The people who are leading al-Qaeda now seem a lot more professional group. They are more bureaucratic, more management competent, certainly more literate. Certainly, this generation is more computer literate, more comfortable with the tools of modernity. I also think they're much less prone to being the Errol Flynns of al-Qaeda. They're just much more careful across the board in the way they operate." He believes it is possible that al-Qaeda will launch another devastating strike against the US before the November election, but this strike, unlike the one in Madrid, will be launched in order to ensure Bush's re-election. "I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he says. "One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president." Plans are underway from the White House to portray the author as a professionally embittered maverick. Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations at the CIA counter-terrorism centre, says the official's views, which led him to be reassigned in the late 90s due to his harsh warnings about al-Qaeda, has been vindicated by events. "He is very well respected, and looked on as a serious student of the subject." The official believes Bush is taking the US in exactly the direction bin Laden wants, towards all-out confrontation with Islam under the banner of spreading democracy. "It's going to take 10,000-15,000 dead Americans before we say to ourselves: 'What is going on'?" he says. (Guardian, MSNBC)
- June 19: The State Department says it knows nothing about reports that Russian premier Vladimir Putin warned the US shortly after 9/11 to expect an attack from Iraq. Putin said Russian intelligence had been told on several occasions that Saddam's special forces were preparing to attack US targets inside and outside the United States. "After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing 'terrorist acts' on the United States and beyond its borders," Putin recently told reporters. "This information was passed on to our American colleagues." He added, however, that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam's agents had been involved in any particular attack. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says he knows nothing about the information that Putin said Russia passed on, saying no such information was communicated from Russia through the State Department. "Everybody's scratching their heads," says one State Department official. Putin's comments seem timed to bolster the re-election chances for Bush. Putin's remarks were all the more unusual since Russia had diplomatic relations with Saddam's Iraq and sided with France and Germany in opposing the invasion. It is not the first time that Putin, who has forged a strong personal bond with Bush despite opposing him diplomatically over Iraq, has come to his defense on the issue. (Australian Broadcast Company)
- June 19: An upcoming analysis of the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11 finds that the facts the movie is based on are supported by the public record. The author of the piece, reporter Philip Shenon (who has covered the federal 9/11 commission for the past year) predicts that Moore "may face an onslaught of fact-checking" unlike any a documentary film-maker has faced before. Shenon's verdict: "It seems safe to say that central assertions of fact in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' are supported by the public record...." He also quotes Moore telling him, "without an ounce of humor," that attempts to libel him "will be met by force." He reveals that Moore has readied a "war room" to offer instant rebuttal to conservative critics; hired Democratic activist Chris Lehane; and has a team of lawyers ready to bring defamation suits. Shenon says Moore "is on firm ground" in arguing that the Bushes have profited handsomely from their relationships with the Saudis, including the bin Laden family and the Saudi rulers. He also notes that Moore is safe in charging that Bush paid too little attention to terrorism before 9/11, and suggests he is accurate when he claims that during Bush's first eight months in office he spent 42% of his time on vacation. And he predicts that perhaps more "damaging to the White House" than any statistics in the film is its unedited replaying of the seven minutes Bush spent reading the book My Pet Goat to schoolchildren in Florida after hearing the news of the second attack on the World Trade Center. But Shenon adds: "The most valid criticism of the film are likely to involve the artful way that Mr. Moore connects the facts, and whether has had left out others that might undermine his scalding attack." Shenon cites one unproven assertion that Saudis own 6 to 7 percent of the United States. Despite criticism, he reveals, Moore has left in the film dark claims that the bin Laden family was allowed to fly out of the US before air space was open to anyone else, claims that have since then been validated. (Editor and Publisher)
Florida vote analysis shows disparate number of blacks disenfranchised
- June 20: Exhaustive vote analysis by investigative reporter Greg Palast shows that of the 1.9 million "spoiled" votes not counted in the 2000 presidential election, 1 million of those were from black voters -- even though blacks make up only 12% of the electorate. He also warns that the problem could crop up again in November. Palast writes, "While investigating the 2000 ballot count in Florida for BBC Television, I saw firsthand how the spoilage game was played -- with black voters the predetermined losers. Florida's Gadsden County has the highest percentage of black voters in the state -- and the highest spoilage rate. One in 8 votes cast there in 2000 was never counted. Many voters wrote in 'Al Gore.' Optical reading machines rejected these because 'Al' is a 'stray mark.' [Florida law mandates that these votes be counted.] By contrast, in neighboring Tallahassee, the capital, vote spoilage was nearly zip; every vote counted. The difference? In Tallahassee's white-majority county, voters placed their ballots directly into optical scanners. If they added a stray mark, they received another ballot with instructions to correct it. In other words, in the white county, make a mistake and get another ballot; in the black county, make a mistake, your ballot is tossed."
- The US Civil Rights Commission has concluded that, in Florida, a black voter's vote is 10 times more likely to be discarded than a white voter. "This 'no count,' as the Civil Rights Commission calls it, is no accident," Palast writes. "In Florida, for example, I discovered that technicians had warned Gov. Jeb Bush's office well in advance of November 2000 of the racial bend in the vote- count procedures. Herein lies the problem. An apartheid vote-counting system is far from politically neutral. Given that more than 90 percent of the black electorate votes Democratic, had all the 'spoiled' votes been tallied, Gore would have taken Florida in a walk, not to mention fattening his popular vote total nationwide. It's not surprising that the First Brother's team, informed of impending rejection of black ballots, looked away and whistled." The problem is likely to recur in November, as it did in 2002, notes Palast: "Florida's Broward County grandly shifted to touch-screen voting in 2002. In white precincts, all seemed to go well. In black precincts, hundreds of African Americans showed up at polls with machines down and votes that simply disappeared. Going digital won't fix the problem. Canada and Sweden vote on paper ballots with little spoilage and without suspicious counts. In America, a simple fix based on paper balloting is resisted because, unfortunately, too many politicians who understand the racial bias in the vote-spoilage game are its beneficiaries, with little incentive to find those missing 1 million black voters' ballots." (San Francisco Chronicle)
- June 20: Vice President Cheney faces possible indictment in a French investigation of a $180 million bribery scandal that involved Cheney during his days as CEO of Halliburton. Two Halliburton senior executives, Albert Stanley and William Chaudan, were recently fired after evidence surfaced that they accepted multi-million dollar bribes involving a $4 billion gas deal in Nigeria. French investigating magistrate Renaud van Ruymbeke is examining a stream of payments surrounding the controversial project which was built during the regime of the late tyrant Sani Abacha. The judge has uncovered a $180 million web of payments channelled through offshore companies and bank accounts. The Nigerian project to build a huge gas plant was signed with an international consortium that included Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Cheney retired from the chief executive post in 2000. The French judge is considering summoning Cheney to give evidence in his probe to ascertain whether the US vice president knew about the alleged commission payments. It is not clear whether Cheney would honor the summons if given. (Guardian)
- June 20: John Agresto, the former president of St. John's College in New Mexico who came to Iraq as part of the CPA to help the country rebuild its ravaged university system, describes himself as "a neoconservative who's been mugged by reality." His efforts have been stymied by a number of obstacles, most significantly the Bush administration's reneging of promises to provide the necessary funding. Once the pride of the Middle East, Iraq's university system was ignored under Hussein, and almost destroyed by the looting that followed Hussein's overthrow: "What the looting did to the capacity to teach was incredible," he says. "The Americans don't want to talk about it because we did so little to stop the looting." Agresto is bitter about the promised funding that never materialized. "I really thought this would have been valuable money -- well spent and sorely needed," he says. "We're not buying books for the libraries. We're not buying saws and nails for the technical institutes. We're not replacing the computers that were stolen. I can't be anything but sad about it." He is also angry at the lack of cooperation from the Iraqis he has worked with: "They don't know how to be a community. They put their individual interests first. They only look out for themselves."
- Acting president Taki Moussawi of the virtually destroyed Mustansiriya University says he has stopped waiting for help from the Americans. "We've had so many promises, so many hopes," he says. "We don't believe the Americans anymore. We're just disappointed." Others blame the Bush administration's choice of Agresto as an exacerbating factor: in choosing Agresto over other scholars with greater acceptance in academic circles, many of whom had opposed the invasion, in favor of a conservative loyalist who had spent much of his career criticizing the US academic establishment, the administration made it more difficult to secure support from the academic community. "Had it been someone different than Agresto, the possibility of that would have been so much better," says Keith Watenpaugh, an assistant professor of Middle East history at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, who traveled to Baghdad last year to assess Iraq's university system. "The politics of the occupation were so divisive, and the American academy felt so disempowered by the way things were happening, that when such political creatures like Agresto came asking for things, it was too difficult to put aside those politics. If the administration had really been committed to rebuilding Iraq's education structures, they wouldn't have sent Agresto." Agresto says that part of the problem is the US's focus on restructuring Iraq's political system. "We should have been less ambitious," he says. "Our goal should have been to build a free, safe and a prosperous Iraq -- with the emphasis on safe. Democratic institutions could be developed over time. Instead, we keep talking about democratic elections. If you asked an ordinary Iraqi what they want, the first thing they would say wouldn't be democracy or elections, it would be safety. They want to be able to walk outside their homes at night. ...Will it be a free democracy? A liberal democracy? I don't think so." (Washington Post)
- June 20: The Clinton interview with 60 Minutes airs, revealing a depth of personal information and introspection rarely shared with the public. Clinton, who is interviewed in conjuction with his new biography My Life, discusses a wide range of topics with interviewer Dan Rather. Clinton says he views his economic plan as the greatest accomplishment of his presidency: "The fact that we were able to have 22 million jobs, and record home ownership, and lower interest rates of the people actually had the ability to do more things than ever before." His greatest failures? "I'm sorry on the home front that we didn't get healthcare and that we didn't reform Social Security. And international affairs, I regret that I didn't succeed in getting Osama bin Laden. And equally, I'm sorry that I wasn't able enough to convince the Israelis and the Palestinians to make peace."
- His best day as president, he says, was his daughter Chelsea's high school graduation; his worst, "probably the day in August when I had to -– before I testified for the grand jury when I had to talk to Hillary. My family had found out what had happened." Clinton had finally told his family that he had been lying about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. "That was just a simple day when I had to acknowledge to the people I loved most in the world that I had failed. I had done something bad. And I hadn't felt I could tell them about it before. ...And it was an awful, because there was no -- it wasn't about comparing what I had done or what was being done to me. It was just about facing up to my failure. It was a bad day. ...All my bad personal days in the White House were related to what I thought were shortcomings of my own." Clinton says he committed adultery for the worst possible reason: "Just because I could." He adds, "I think that's just about the most morally indefensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything -– when you do something just because you could. As I said in the book, I think that's part of the problem of the people I faced and combated with. But in that moment that's, I believe, I don't think it's much more complicated than that. I just think that that's what happened. ...I've thought about it a lot. And there are lots of more sophisticated explanations, more complicated psychological explanations. But none of them are an excuse. I have to say that over and over again, because I know that people will raise Cain about that. But only a fool does not look to explain his mistakes. People should try to understand why they did the things they did."
- In the book, Clinton makes it clear that he compounded his mistake by lying about it to his wife, child, the Cabinet, and the country. "Basically what happened at the end of 1995, I was involved in, as I try to say in the book, two great fights. A struggle with the Republicans over the future of the country, which I won. And a struggle with my old demons which I lost. And if there had been no Kenneth Starr, if we had different kind of people, I would have just said, 'Here are the facts, I'm sorry, deal with it however you please.'" Looking back, does he wish he had done that? "I'd like to say yes, but I can't. I don't know, because the moment was so crazy. It was a zoo. It was unreal. It was like living in a madhouse." Both in the book and in the interview, Clinton has harsh words for special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. He says he still believes that Starr used an investigation into the Whitewater real estate deal as a pretext to delve into the most intimate details of his personal life. It still makes him furious, he says. "starr issued his final report, there were hundreds and hundreds of references to sex, and two to Whitewater," he says. "And that there was really nothing to Whitewater. It was nothing. It was a deal I lost money on. I made a business investment and lost money."
- "He adds, "It's also true there was a vast right wing operation. I told Hillary the only thing that I kind of hated was that she used the word 'conspiracy' because most of it was right out in the open." Two days after Clinton told Hillary the truth, he gave his videotaped testimony to Starr's grand jury. The tape, which was released to the news media, showed the normally confident Clinton at his worst, humiliated and embarrassed: "When I was alone with Miss Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong." His testimony was tortured. And he used careful, legalistic language to avoid perjuring himself. He writes that he seethed at Starr's efforts to turn the videotaped testimony into a "pornographic home movie." But he also knew that Starr's videotape might cost him his presidency and be the final straw in his relationship with Hillary. Clinton says Hillary needed time with him to decide if she would stay in the marriage. "The first thing we had to do is just get through the days, a few days. We had to let some time pass and Hillary had to decide whether she wanted to stay married to me. And then when she decided she was willing to try, that's when we agreed that we would work together -- we'd take a day a week," he recalls. "And we did. A whole day a week every week for a year. Maybe a little more. And did counseling. And we did it together. We did it individually. We did family work. It was hard and interesting and I would say to people who have invested a lot of time in a relationship that before they give up on it it's worth trying."
- Clinton also credits the power of prayer, and the help of three Arkansas ministers, in preserving his marriage. Clinton explains that he eventually settled a sexual harassment suit brought by Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, not because he was guilty, he still insists, but to make it go away. And he says that Starr came up nearly empty in what he calls an "outlaw renegade investigation." Clinton says, "It cost over $70 million. And we were exonerated in Whitewater, exonerated in the Vince Foster suicide, exonerated in the campaign finance reform. Exonerated in the White House travel office deal. Exonerated in the FBI file case. The judge ruled that the Jones case had absolutely no merit. There was nothing left but my personal failing. That's what people got for over $70 million. They indicted innocent people because they wouldn't lie. And they exonerated people who committed crimes because they would lie. And they did it because it was nothing but a big political operation designed to bring down the presidency." Of the impeachment, he says, "To me, the whole battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a great stain. Because it was illegitimate. On the day I die, I'll still be glad I fought them. And I'll still be glad that I beat them. And I'll still believe that it was a bogus, phony deal."
- As a sidebar, Clinton says he was serious when he told the press that he had tried marijuana, but did not inhale. "You bet. Even though it was absolutely true. I tried it, and I really tried to inhale. I was incapable of inhaling," laughs Clinton. "That's really what I was trying to say. And it was just one of those dumb things you say, and then you have to live with for years and years afterward." (CBS, CBS, CBS)
- June 20: In the 60 Minutes interview, Clinton goes into detail about his administration's battle against terrorism. He also says that the invasion of Iraq was questionable because it detracted from the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He was in Australia when the 9/11 attack occurred. "I remember it vividly," he says. His first thought was that "Osama bin Laden did this." When reminded that the 9/11 commission is expected to be critical of both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and asked if the attacks could have been prevented, Clinton says, "I don't want to comment on what happened on President Bush's watch. That's for the 9/11 Commission to do. We not only attacked his training camp in '98 and tried to get him. I signed several authorizations to use lethal force against bin Laden and his top lieutenants. ...We broke up about 20 al Qaeda cells. We arrested some of their people. We prevented several terrorist incidents, including attempts to blow up planes flying into Los Angeles -- to blow up the Los Angeles airport over the millennium, to blow up sites in the Middle East as well as in the United States over the millennium. We worked hard, and I have thought a lot about your question, and I did my best to answer that to the 9/11 commission, and I think I will let them say whether it could have been prevented." To accusations that Clinton let slip opportunities to arrest or kill the al-Qaeda leadership, Clinton replies, "I don't believe that is true. There was a story which is factually inaccurate that the Sudanese offered bin Laden to us. As far as I know, there is not a shred of evidence of that." He denies that his decision to launch missiles against bin Laden in Afghanistan and in the Sudan was an attempt to divert attention away from the Lewinsky scandal. He also says that he launched the Afghanistan attack after the CIA told him bin Laden was in a training camp. It turns out he wasn't.
- Clinton is asked about his administration's position on Saddam Hussein and Iraqi WMDs: "When you were President, you said the same thing as President Bush, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Dan Rather says. "George Bush eventually invaded Iraq. You didn't. Did you make the right decision? And why didn't you make it?" Clinton replies, "The first President Bush, after the first Gulf War, made a decision that rather than overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the important thing was to contain his aggressive impulses. So, sanctions were imposed on Iraq and the inspections process was started. Now when I became president in '93, I inherited that system. I actually thought it made pretty good sense. We had done a lot of good with those inspections. We uncovered more chemical and biological agents and other prohibited materials in the inspections process and destroyed them than were destroyed in the Gulf War." Clinton says that the current president should have pushed harder for new inspections. "In terms of the launching of the war, I believe we made an error in not allowing the United Nations to complete the inspections process. Now, having said that, we are where we are," says Clinton. "And I think the most important thing now is for all of us to support a stable, peaceful, and pluralistic Iraq. And it looks to me like the administration is moving in that direction." Clinton refuses to directly criticize Bush's invasion of Iraq, but reiterates that al-Qaeda, not Iraq, is the bigger threat to American security: "I think the Iraqis are better off with Saddam gone, if they can have a stable government. ...There have been more terrorists move into Iraq in the aftermath of the conflict. I still believe, as I always have, that the biggest terrorist threat by far is al-Qaeda and the al-Qaeda network. And that the biggest long term destructive threat is the significant volume of chemical and biological agents all over the world that are not yet secure."
- Other mistakes he acknowledges is the 1993 raid in Somalia that resulted in 18 American deaths -- he says their death still haunt him -- and his last-minute pardon of financier Marc Rich, which he says in hindsight he probably shouldn't have done it: "Mostly because of all the grief I got that came out of it," he says. "But on the merits, nobody's yet made a case to me that it was the wrong decision."
- He regrets most of all the failure of the peace process between Israel and Palestine. "I'm sure that all the rest of us made our mistakes along the way," he says. "But this was an error of historic proportions. And the evidence of it is, that about a year after I left office, Mr. Arafat said he wanted to deal. He said, 'I'm ready to accept the parameters for final negotiation that President Clinton laid out.' So I don't think I need to say anything else, to show that it was a mistake. And by the time he said he wanted it, he had an Israeli government that wouldn't give it to him, and an Israeli public that no longer trusted him. It's tragic." (CBS)
- June 20: Rappers and hip-hop artists are becoming more and more politically involved, attempting to mobilize black voters to participate in the 2004 elections. The turnout for African Americans rose by four percentage points to 57% at the 2000 elections. "We have no African-Americans in the US Senate," says organizer Angela Woodson, "and that does not make sense to a lot of us in the hip-hop generation in this millennium. We are trying to fix this picture." Bakari Kitwana, one of the founders of the New Jersey convention held to educate and mobilize musicians, says the "hip-hop generation" includes blacks born between 1965 and 1984, although it could extend to anyone who likes hip-hop music. He says that the aims of the convention went beyond this year's election races. "The 2004 Election Day is just one piece of the puzzle." One delegate, Hashim Shomari, points to a change in attitudes: "In the 80s, the group Public Enemy would say 'Fight the Power', but we now have to 'Be the Power' to create a different set of circumstances." (BBC)
UN says US has wasted or stolen $11 billion in Iraqi oil revenues
- June 21: United Nations-mandated auditors sharply criticize the US occupation authority for the way it has spent more than $11 billion in Iraqi oil revenues and say they have faced "resistance" from coalition officials. An interim report says the Development Fund for Iraq, managed by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority and which channels oil revenue into reconstruction projects, is "open to fraudulent acts." The auditors criticize the CPA's bookkeeping and warn: "The CPA does not have effective controls over the ministries' spending of their individually allocated budgets, whether the funds are direct from the CPA or via the ministry of finance." The findings come after US complaints about the UN's administration of the oil-for-food programme under Saddam Hussein. According to the CPA, the Development Fund for Iraq has taken in $20.2 billion since last May and has disbursed $11.3 billion, with $4.6 billion left in outstanding commitments. One advisor to a member of the recently disbanded Iraqi Governing Council says the report raises the fear that no audit of the CPA's work would ever be completed. "If the auditors don't finish by June 30, they never will, because the CPA staff are going home," he says. "I lament the lack of transparency and lack of involvement by Iraqis." The KPMG auditors are answerable to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, set up by the UN Security Council in May last year to oversee coalition spending from the development fund. The account contains oil revenues, frozen assets and money left over from the UN's oil-for-food program. The watchdog comprises representatives of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development. It spent much of last year battling with occupation administrators over the watchdog's remit. Officials said they were able to begin working in earnest only in April. In their first interim report, KPMG said it had "encountered resistance from CPA staff." CPA staff told KPMG they were overworked and had given them a "low priority." The UN decided this month that responsibility for the Development Fund for Iraq will pass to the Iraqi interim government and be monitored by the the IAMB. The panel also intends to widen its scrutiny of past CPA spending by examining reports and audits by the Pentagon's inspector general and the General Accounting Office, an official says. Some of KPMG's most damning criticisms were of the State Organization for Marketing Oil, responsible for the sale of Iraq's most crucial asset. Oil sales, which go into the US-controlled fund, have topped $10 billion since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. SOMO's only record of barter transactions was "an independent database, derived from verbal confirmations gained by Somo staff," the report found. The CPA declined to address the KPMG report, saying only that it "has been and will continue to discharge its responsibilities under the Iraqi Development Fund." One Iraqi minister due to take office on June 30 says he and many colleagues felt "let down by how the CPA has controlled resources." (Financial Times)
- June 21: The 9/11 commission report shows that while the government of Saddam Hussein had no ties with al-Qaeda, the governments of Iran and Pakistan have deep and complex ties to the terrorist organization. "We believe that there were a lot more active contacts, frankly, with Iran and with Pakistan than there were with Iraq," says commission chairman Thomas Kean. "Al-Qaeda didn't like to get involved with states, unless they were living there," Kean notes. "They got involved with Sudan, they got involved where they lived, but otherwise no." Democratic senator Carl Levin says of the administration's continuing attempts to link Iraq and al-Qaeda, "I find it, frankly, shocking that the exaggerations of the administration before the war relative to that connection continue to this day." (Houston Chronicle)
- June 21: The decision to turn over putative control of Iraq to an Iraqi government has its roots in warnings of the imminent collapse of the security situation in that beleagured country as early as November 2003. That month, Bush received an urgent assessment from the CIA station chief in Baghdad warning that the security situation in Iraq was nearing collapse. The document said that "none of the postwar Iraqi political institutions and leaders have shown an ability to govern the country" or to hold elections and draft a constitution. Days later, Bush and his advisors abruptly decide to abandon their "go-it-alone" policy, and sets June 30, 2004 as the date for the handover of sovereignty to an interim government, which would allow it to bring the United Nations into the process. "November was one year before the Presidential election," says a UN consultant who worked on Iraqi issues. "They panicked and decided to share the blame with the UN and the Iraqis." The Israeli leadership is particularly discourgaged. They feel their warnings of increased insurgency and Iranian involvement in Iraq had been ignored, and the American war against the insurgency is continuing to founder. "I spent hours talking to the senior members of the Israeli political and intelligence community," recalls a former administration official. "Their concern was 'You're not going to get it right in Iraq, and shouldn't we be planning for the worst-case scenario and how to deal with it?" That November, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, a supporter of the Iraq invasion, warned Dick Cheney that American had essentially lost in Iraq. According to an American close to Barak, he said that Israel "had learned that there's no way to win an occupation." The only issue, Barak told Cheney, "was choosing the size of your humiliation." Cheney did not respond to Barak's assessment.
- By the end of 2003, Israel had concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government decided to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel's strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq's Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. Several officials depicted Sharon's decision, which involves a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq continues to grow. Since then, Israeli intelligence and military operatives have been at work in Kurdistan, training Kurdish commando units and running covert operations inside Kurdish-controlled areas of Iran and Syria. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel's clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports. The Israeli government denies any involvement with the Kurds; however, a senior CIA official acknowledges that the Israelis are indeed operating in Kurdistan -- the Israelis feel they have little other choice. "They think they have to be there," he says. Asked whether the Israelis had sought approval from Washington, the official laughs and says, "Do you know anybody who can tell the Israelis what to do? They're always going to do what is in their best interest." The Israeli decision to increase its involvement in Kurdistan, called "Plan B" by the former Israeli intelligence officer, has raised tensions between Israel and Turkey. Turkish politicians have decried Israel's involvement, and a new political alliance between Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which have significant Kurdish minorities. Former senior CIA officials Vincent Cannistraro and Philip Giraldi write in their privately circulated intelligence newsletter, "Intel Brief," "Turkish sources confidentially report that the Turks are increasingly concerned by the expanding Israeli presence in Kurdistan and alleged encouragement of Kurdish ambitions to create an independent state.... The Turks note that the large Israeli intelligence operations in Northern Iraq incorporate anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian activity, including support to Iranian and Syrian Kurds who are in opposition to their respective governments." Most Kurds believe in a greater "Kurdistan" which encompasses territories in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. All three countries outside Iraq fear that Kurdistan, despite public pledges to the contrary, will declare its independence from the interim Iraqi government if conditions don't improve after June 30th.
- Israeli involvement in Kurdistan is not new. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Israel actively supported a Kurdish rebellion against Iraq, as part of its strategic policy of seeking alliances with non-Arabs in the Middle East. In 1975, the Kurds were betrayed by the United States, when Washington went along with a decision by the Shah of Iran to stop supporting Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in Iraq. Over the next two years, treachery and violence became the norm for the Kurds. They were brutally repressed by Saddam Hussein. In 1984, Turkish Kurds initiated an insurgency against the Turkish government that resulted in the slaughter of over 30,000 people, mostly Kurds. The Kurdish separatists, once called the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and now calling themselves the Kongra-Gel, announced in April that it was ending a five-year unilateral ceasefire and would once again begin attacking Turkish citizens. The Iraqi Kurdish leadership was furious when, early this month, the United States acceded to a UN resolution on the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty that did not affirm the interim constitution that granted the minority Kurds veto power in any permanent constitution. Kurdish leaders immediately warned Bush in a letter that they would not participate in a new Shi'ite-controlled government unless they were assured that their rights under the interim constitution were preserved. "The people of Kurdistan will no longer accept second-class citizenship in Iraq," the letter said.
- Many fear that the Kurds will seize the city of Kirkuk and its adjoining oil fields; Kirkuk is heavily populated by Arab Iraqis, many relocated there in the 1970s as part of Hussein's efforts to "Arabize" the region, but the Kurds consider Kirkuk and its oil part of their historic homeland. "If Kirkuk is threatened by the Kurds, the Sunni insurgents will move in there, along with the Turkomen, and there will be a bloodbath," says an American military expert. "And, even if the Kurds do take Kirkuk, they can't transport the oil out of the country, since all of the pipelines run through the Sunni-Arab heartland." A senior German national-security official says that "an independent Kurdistan with sufficient oil would have enormous consequences for Syria, Iran, and Turkey" and would lead to continuing instability in the Middle East. There is also a widespread belief, another senior German official said, that some elements inside the Bush Administration, referring to the neocons led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, would tolerate an independent Kurdistan. This, the German argued, would be a mistake. "It would be a new Israel -- a pariah state in the middle of hostile nations." A declaration of independence would trigger a Turkish response, possibly a war, and derail what has been an important alliance for Israel. Turkey and Israel have become strong diplomatic and economic partners in the past decade. Turkish opposition to the Iraq war has strained the relationship; still, Turkey remains oriented toward the West and, despite the victory of an Islamic party in national elections in 2002, relatively secular. It is now vying for acceptance in the European Union.
- In contrast, Turkey and Syria have been at odds for years, at times coming close to open confrontation, and Turkey and Iran have long been regional rivals. One area of tension between them is the conflict between Turkey's pro-Western stand and Iran's rigid theocracy. But their mutual wariness of the Kurds has transcended these divisions. A European foreign minister says that the "blowing up" of Israel's alliance with Turkey would be a major setback for the region: "To avoid chaos, you need the neighbors to work as one common entity."
- In the Israeli's view, the entire region is hostile. It worries that Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, and that, with Syria's help, it is planning to bolster Palestinian terrorism as Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip. Iraqi Shiite militia leaders like Moqtada al-Sadr, the former American intelligence official says, are seen by the Israeli leadership as "stalking horses" for Iran -- owing much of their success in defying the American-led coalition to logistical and communications support and training provided by Iran. The former intelligence official says, "We began to see telltale signs of organizational training last summer. But the White House didn't want to hear it: 'We can't take on another problem right now. We can't afford to push Iran to the point where we've got to have a showdown.'" Last summer, the Bush administration directed the Marines to draft a detailed plan, called Operation Stuart, for the arrest and, if necessary, assassination of Sadr. But the operation was cancelled, the former intelligence official told me, after it became clear that Sadr had been tipped off about the plan. Seven months later, after Sadr spent the winter building support for his movement, the American-led coalition shut down his newspaper, provoking a crisis that Sadr survived with his status enhanced, thus insuring that he will play a major role in the political and military machinations after June 30th. "Israel's immediate goal after June 30th is to build up the Kurdish commando units to balance the Shiite militias -- especially those which would be hostile to the kind of order in southern Iraq that Israel would like to see," says the former senior intelligence official. "Of course, if a fanatic Sunni Baathist militia took control -- one as hostile to Israel as Saddam Hussein was -- Israel would unleash the Kurds on it, too."
- The Kurdish armed forces, known as the pesh merga, number an estimated 75,000 troops, a total that far exceeds the known Sunni and Shiite militias. Israel has been training the Kurdish commandos, initially intending them to penetrate, gather intelligence on, and then kill off the leaders of the Shi'ite and Sunni insurgencies in Iraq, something the Americans have been as yet unable to do. "The feeling was that this was a more effective way to get at the insurgency," says the former officer. "But the growing Kurdish-Israeli relationship began upsetting the Turks no end. Their issue is that the very same Kurdish commandos trained for Iraq could infiltrate and attack in Turkey." Israeli operatives have even begun working clandestinely with Iranian Kurds to monitor Iranian nuclear facilities. The officer says. "Look, Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way -- as balance against Saddam. It's Realpolitik." He adds, "By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. What Israel was doing with the Kurds was not so unacceptable in the Bush administration." The Israeli intelligence officer's story has been corroborated by German intelligence and national-security officials. As a senior European official says, "The critical question is 'What will the behavior of Iran be if there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel?' Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier [i.e. a military stronghold] on its border." Another senior European official adds, "The Iranians would do something positive in the south of Iraq if they get something positive in return, but Washington won't do it. The Bush administration won't ask the Iranians for help, and can't ask the Syrians. Who is going to save the United States?" He notes that, at the start of the American invasion of Iraq, several top European officials had told their counterparts in Iran, "You will be the winners in the region."
- Turkey may not be willing to be mollified. A senior Turkish official says, "Before the war, Israel was active in Kurdistan, and now it is active again. This is very dangerous for us, and for them, too. We do not want to see Iraq divided, and we will not ignore it. ...We have told the Kurds, 'We are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of us.'" A Turkish diplomatic is more direct:"We tell our Israeli and Kurdish friends that Turkey's good will lies in keeping Iraq together. We will not support alternative solutions." The Turkish official says, "If you end up with a divided Iraq, it will bring more blood, tears, and pain to the Middle East, and you will be blamed. From Mexico to Russia, everybody will claim that the United States had a secret agenda in Iraq: you came there to break up Iraq. If Iraq is divided, America cannot explain this to the world." The official compares the situation to the breakup of Yugoslavia, but adds, "In the Balkans, you did not have oil. ...The lesson of Yugoslavia is that when you give one country independence everybody will want it." If that happens, "Kirkuk will be the Sarajevo of Iraq. If something happens there, it will be impossible to contain the crisis." And another Turkish official says, If it goes out publicly what [the Israelis have] been doing, it will put your government and our government in a difficult position. We can tolerate 'Kurdistan' if Iraq is intact, but nobody knows the future -- not even the Americans."
- According to a former White House official, the Bush administration is almost desperate to install an acceptable interim government in Iraq before the June 30th deadline. Though administration officials gave the task to UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, they undermined and interfered with Brahimi, and when the US installed Iyad Allawi as the interim prime minister, Brahimi was outraged. Allawi is well known as a neurologist and anti-Saddam activist; his role as a Ba'ath party operative while Hussein struggled for control in the 1960s and 70s is much less well known. "Allawi helped Saddam get to power," says an American intelligence officer. "He was a very effective operator and a true believer." Former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht adds, Two facts stand out about Allawi. One, he likes to think of himself as a man of ideas; and, two, his strongest virtue is that he's a thug." A former medical school classmate of Allawi's, Dr. Haifa al-Azawi, published an essay earlier this year in an Arabic newspaper in London raising questions about Allawi's character and his medical bona fides. She depicted Allawi as a "big husky man...who carried a gun on his belt and frequently brandished it, terrorizing the medical students." Allawi's medical degree, she wrote, "was conferred upon him by the Ba'ath party." Allawi moved to London in 1971, ostensibly to continue his medical education; there he was in charge of the European operations of the Ba'ath Party organization and the local activities of the Mukhabarat, its intelligence agency, until 1975.
- "If you're asking me if Allawi has blood on his hands from his days in London, the answer is yes, he does," says former CIA officer Vincent Cannistraro. "He was a paid Mukhabarat agent for the Iraqis, and he was involved in dirty stuff." A cabinet-level Middle East diplomat, rankled by the US indifference to Allawi's personal history, said that Allawi was involved with a Mukhabarat "hit team" that sought out and killed Ba'ath Party dissenters throughout Europe. At some point, for reasons that are not clear, Allawi fell from favor, and the Ba'athists organized a series of attempts on his life. The third attempt, by an axe-wielding assassin who broke into his home near London in 1978, resulted in a year-long hospital stay. The Saban Center's Flynt Leverett says of the transfer of sovereignty, "If it doesn't work, there is no fallback -- nothing." The former senior American intelligence official says that "the neocons still think they can pull the rabbit out of the hat" in Iraq. "What's the plan? They say, 'We don't need it. Democracy is strong enough. We'll work it out.'" (New Yorker)
- June 21: The CIA is insisting that the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report on the failures of prewar intelligence make no specific reference to Dick Cheney. The CIA calls its insistence on the redaction of Cheney's name is for "national security" purposes. The report already excises names, using titles and positions, but the CIA wants even references to titles to be redacted to keep readers from identifying Cheney as directly involved or responsible for any of the actions and ideas chronicled in the report. A CIA official says that the redactions are to "protect intelligence sources, methods and other classified matters which, if disclosed, could be helpful to adversaries, like weapons proliferators and terrorists. It is not to stifle criticism." But committee members see it differently. "The Committee is extremely disappointed by the CIA’s excessive redactions to the report," Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, say in a joint statement, without mentioning any specific CIA-proposed edits. (Time)
Connecticut GOP governor Rowland resigns over real estate fraud scandal
- June 21: Republican governor John Rowland of Connecticut announces his resignation from office, effective July 1. Rowland, a third-term governor elected two years ago in a landslide, is resigning over a scandal surrounding his acceptance of a gift of a cottage and a fraudulent land deal involving Rowland and a New Haven businessman. In his resignation statement, he fails to mention his impending impeachment, which was certain to indict him on charges involving the scandal. Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell will become governor. She says, "The people of Connecticut have been through much in the past several months. I will focus my energies on restoring confidence and trust in state government and I look forward to leading our state with a new sense of steadiness and determination." (WTNH)
Guantanamo detainees shown to be of far less value than officials have claimed
- June 21: US officials have vastly overstated the value of the nearly 600 detainees being held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reports the New York Times, citing interviews with high level US and foreign military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials. The facts prove that Bush, Cheney, and high-level administration officials have been lying when they state, as Cheney did recently, the Guantanamo detainees are "the worst of a very bad lot" of foreign terrorists. US officials have said that information obtained in Guantanamo have halted al-Qaeda attacks and produced vital information about the network. But officials now say that Guantanamo detainees have provided only a tiny amount of intelligence of current value. None of the Guantanamo detainees are leaders or senior members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network, and only about two dozen, at most, are sworn al-Qaeda operatives or militants able to give valuable insight into the network. "When you have the overall mosaic of all the intelligence picked up all over the world, Guantanamo provided a very small piece of that mosaic," a senior US official who has reviewed the intelligence says. "It's been helpful and valuable in certain areas. Was it the mother lode of intelligence? No." Brigadier General Jay Hood, who heads the task force that runs the Guantanamo prison, says that the expectations "may have been too high at the outset. There are those who expected a flow of intelligence that would help us break the most sophisticated terror organization in a matter of months. But that hasn't happened." A secret September 2002 CIA study shows that most of the detainees are either low-level Taliban supporters or innocent bystanders caught up in the US dragnet. Some officials worry that some low-value Guantanamo detainees have since been radicalized by the prison conditions and contact with hardened militants. "Guantanamo is a huge problem for Americans," a senior Arab intelligence official familiar with its operations says. "Even those who were not hard-core extremists have now been indoctrinated by the true believers. Like any other prison, they have been taught to hate. If they let these people go, these people will make trouble," he says. Washington has classified the Guantanamo prisoners as "illegal combatants" rather than as prisoners of war, drawing worldwide criticism from governments and human rights groups. Charges have been laid against only a handful of the detainees from 42 countries being held at the base. (AFP/ChannelNewsAsia)