America's Quiet Counter-Coup

A number of political observers have taken note of a momentous event in the U.S. government ”“ a counter-coup that overthrew the Dick Cheney/neocon cabal that has been running U.S. foreign policy (if not the entire U.S. government). Juan Cole has cited Admiral William Fallon, head of Centcom, and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as two key players who stymied efforts earlier this year by Dick Cheney to accelerate the military build-up off the coast of Iran. Andrew Sullivan in a blog entry called The System is Working credits Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for restoring some sanity to the Defense Department, though he also notes that without the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections Bush would never have been forced to jettison Rumsfeld.

In Juan Cole’s piece, he cites a quote from Admiral Fallon supposedly made to a friend at the time Fallon was up for Senate approval to head Centcom:

‘A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”. Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.” ‘

The latest handiwork of these coup leaders is this week’s National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which asserted Iran had ceased its nuclear weapons development program in 2003. All 16 of the intelligence services which contribute to this NIE, and this would include the CIA, Department of State, Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense, concurred strongly with this conclusion. This NIE is a flat-out contradiction to everything the President and Vice President have been saying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions (WWIII is on our doorstep if we don’t stop Iran now). The unanimity of opinion, especially coming from the Department of Defense, is especially embarrassing to the White House.

The conclusion many people reach from this development is that it will be nearly impossible for Bush and Cheney to launch air attacks on Iran. But for this to be true, it means that the White House has lost control of the levers of power over the Executive Branch, at least in this important area. George Bush could just order the Department of Defense to commence bombing, but he would not be obeyed.

But let’s be even more specific: Dick Cheney has lost control over the government and is increasingly isolated in the White House. Without his minions like Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Scooter Libby, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, and most importantly Donald Rumsfeld, the Vice President has been neutered and put ”œback in the box”.

What this points to as well was that there never really existed a Bush administration, only a Cheney administration. Bush never had loyalists and minions in key cabinet posts; Cheney did. Bush’s loyalists on the White House staff have been resigning steadily, and the only old hand he has around him is Condoleezza Rice, who is in many respects as empty a vessel as Bush himself.

This puts new light on Bush’s frequent assertion that he is ”œthe Decider”. While this seems to mean on the surface that Bush views himself as some sort of dictator, in practice it means that he doesn’t manage his administration, he doesn’t direct anybody or any process, and he isn’t curious about what goes on under him. He sits in the Oval Office waiting for his staff to work up policy issues that require a decision. He insists that these be no more than two pages in length and usually framed as a choice between item A and Item B. Then he decides.

White House power, therefore, rested with the Chief of Staff who controlled access to the President, and with those officials savvy enough to bypass the federal government bureaucracy so that they themselves could frame foreign policy issues and point the President to certain conclusions. Dick Cheney had all these skills, direct access to the President along with a compliant Chief of Staff in Andrew Card, and command of all the key elements of the foreign policy and defense apparatus.

Dick Cheney’s command structure has been dismantled, and now it appears, notwithstanding his continued ability to influence if not mold George Bush’s thinking, that the federal government has struck back at him and effectively boxed in his ability to tell anyone to do anything. Which means that on the use of unilateral, preemptive military force, President George Bush, never a puppet of Dick Cheney but certainly passive in his presence, has been boxed up as well for the remainder of his term.

While the two admirals certainly seemed to have played a role in this counter-coup, ultimately the force for change here is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and directly behind him Old 41 ”“ Poppy Bush. If this is true, George H.W. Bush was not so much taking action against his son (Lord knows he’s probably already given up on Dubya ever being an effective president), but against Dick Cheney, America’s first true l’eminence grise in the most sinister meaning of the phrase.

Let’s consider it Old 41’s Christmas gift to the nation.

Now if he could only get his wealthy media mogul friends to banish William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Ledeen, John Bolton, and all the other neocon crazies from the nation’s airwaves and major newspapers, that would really be something worth celebrating.

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Numerian is a devoted author and poster on The Agonist, specializing in business, finance, the global economy, and politics. In real life he goes by the non-nom de plume of Garrett Glass and hides out in Oak Park, IL, where he spends time writing novels on early Christianity (and an occasional tract on God and religion). You can follow his writing career on his website,

50 CommentsLeave a comment

  • and I agree completely.

    Everyone has been in anguish that Congress has done so little (and I had irrational hopes for them, too, until sometime last summer). Unlike most, I always had hope that careerists would start pushing back, and some did. It started a while ago, but the 2006 elections gave courage to more of them, and momentum builds.

    Sometime the media will have to rebuild itself, as even they are forced to recognize all their credibility is gone. Expect a year or so of maudlin self-examination pieces which decry the state of the media without actually accepting any responsibility (you know, “if I’d only been a saint” type stuff).

  • with one tiny quibble.

    I don’t think Cheney et al see themselves in the role of “coup” – I believe they see their own actions as “counter-coup”, a blow against the imposition of what they clearly believe to be an original coup d’etat – the imposition of what they see as un-American values – the Church Commission, FOIA, the 60’s, the Iran-Contra exposures and trials, executive constraint and accountability.

    Incredible when expressed like that, of course. But I believe that’s clearly their frame – you can watch them in all of those historical fights dragging their heels and fighting until the bitter end. What we call “progress” and “accountability” and “transparency” they view as the imposition of an alien value system, producing obstruction and constraint.

    Of course, what that says about them is obvious.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Maudlin self-examination pieces by the press would be better than nothing. But accountability would be best of all, and that would mean firing people who were dead wrong about Iraq (and now Iran). These people should not be given prominent soapboxes to espouse discredited and dangerous views.

  • I suspect this is one of those cases where the White House felt all along he had been persecuted and mistreated by his enemies, so they give him a sinecure on an advisory board. It sends a signal that they take care of their own. But notice he’s on a board whose membership the White House controls; they didn’t foist him on DOD or some other department that would likely object.

  • there’s danger down the path of permitting the military to overrule the civilian government. That’s turf you have to watch very carefully. And this is absolutely true. The counterargument of course is that the Nuremburg trials demonstrate that in the case of illegal orders, disobedience of those orders is expected – in fact demanded – of all military personnel of all nations, at pain of bearing the consequences for obeying that order.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • or have seen re-runs of Rockie and His Friends, a very popular cartoon filled with great humor and some satire from the ’60’s might remember Captain Peter “Wrongway” Peachfuzz. Here is his story. Ring any bells?

  • Who would’ve thought Rocky and Bullwinkle were predicting the Bush/Cheney administration, 40 years ahead of their time. I especially like sinister Uncle Chumley playing the role of avuncular Dick Cheney.

  • I heard retired Gen John Abizaid speak to a Middle East Institute student-attended lecture last month. Without prompting, as a part of his talk, he suddenly and vehemently announced that the US would not bomb Iran. His remarks were also notable for his offering the statement that he would always uphold his oath, and he wouldn’t criticize the current president. Then he went on to speak exactly to what his preferences were relative to Iraq, and they contradicted the WH right down the line. I, too, think that the Navy and Gates have effected a military contre coup, and not a moment too soon.

    That doesn’t help with diplomacy, but if the war mongers are at least neutered, the barking may not be perceived as being as dangerous.

  • Superb piece Numi!!

    I have to wonder whether W.’s de-facto pardon (i.e., “commutation”) of Scooter Libby was the last straw, insofar as the Intelligence Community was concerned? Is there a Battle Royale being fought behind the scenes with the Neocons, AIPAC and Israeli Intelligence on one side, versus the Washington Defense and Intelligence Establishment on the other? The latter seems to view itself as used, abused – and dying -for what they see as clearly not in the US of A’s best interests.

    And, what about this Sibel Edmonds woman? It seems that she has been subject to Bush Justice Dept. GAG orders for years! Will she ever be free to spill the beans on the Neocons and their interactions with both Israeli and Turkish intelligence?

  • that about the time certain newspapers and magazines start to go insolvent because Gen Xers and Millenials consider them fish wrapping that the media will get some religion. Blogs are already eating their lunches in credibility already (look at Glenn Greenwald – guy is on fire), only a matter of time before the money starts to leave the old media as a result.

    It’s like when I hear about McDonalds closing locations: it’s been so long since I ate there and the quality was so low why should I care if they survive or not? They did it to themselves whether they know it or not. Welcome to reality…

  • respect and standing, loss of non reelected allied leaders and the need for a legacy drives Bush. The fact that this report is out makes me think there is something much bigger coming.

  • I’m glad they walked this one. That’s what conscience and common sense are for, letting us know the difference between a bold risk taken for a just reward and a bridge too far.

  • We want our military to be loyal. Loyal to the Constitution above all. We need them to be lawful, willing to take the tough stance in the face of great political force. I puff with pride when I read about how our men and women in uniform stand up for those values. Not to go all Capra on the subject, but that’s what it is all about. If not, then all that came before was for naught.

    My first inkling that the dynamics were reversing was before the 2006 elections. July 2005 is when the Hamdan decision came down, delivering a major set back to the neocon’s plans for a clean sweep of governmental and political power. I see this as vitally important because of what I noted above. We need our military to be lawful. But the quality of their service to our Republic then depends on the laws that are written and the interpretation of application. Germany used the courts to justify many of their most heinous crimes.

    Ultimately though I think good ol’ national will has emboldened those who still know what it means to be American. Despite a virtual lock on media messaging, the country writ large has rejected Bush, Cheney, and the Neocon doctrine en mass.

    It’s heartening for sure to witness these efforts to get us back on track. It needs not saying though that we are a long, long way from home. The crazies will not go quietly and like a shoplifter on PCP, simply will not give up their booty without a bloody fight. They too are legion, deeply entrenched, and severely insane.

  • Praising Condoleeza Rice

    I think Mark hits it:

    You may be right but as I see

    it she still has the Kool Aid on her breath and she has finally been given the OK by Cheney to use her talents in a desperate attempt to salvage for her beloved Dubya the ability to claim a foreign policy win somewhere. It’s a personality cult thing and none of them want to see Dubya & Co. leave as complete, unmitigated losers on all fronts. Nothing else has worked so far, so now it’s Condi’s turn to try.

    “I despise idealogues masquerading as objective journalists.” – Bill O’Reilly, March 30, 2007
    Mark June 5, 2007 – 9:31pm

  • I think she is Cheney’s tool but that she is the hail mary pass for this administration. If good things happen it will be rah rah Condi and if not she gets the blame.

  • but they never ever forgive you for being right.

    “Is not our first thought to go on the road? The road is our source, our vault of treasures, our wealth. Only on the road does the ‘traveller’ feel like himself, at home.”
    Ryszard Kapuscinski

  • They still have many key Congressmen on both sides of the aisle happy to tow the AIPAC line, even if it is really the Likudnik line that is rejected by a substantial number of Israelis. The only thing that can change this around is public opinion, and that starts with the press looking more searchingly at whether current U.S. policy in the Middle East is really in AIPAC’s interest rather than America’s interest.

  • as I was putting this up, I was thinking who would have the nerdy kid who was watching this clip so many years ago would have a computer, putting this very video clip on a thing called the internet so potentially hundreds of people could watch it and laugh. But even more, who would have thought that this little clip would describe our current president. Sheesh!!

  • A well written and well informed piece. Totally spot on and the best thing on Agonist this year. You are ready for the big time and should consider cross-posting on the blogs with a larger audience like TPM and Huffington Post.

    “I despise ideologues masquerading as objective journalists.” – Bill O’Reilly, March 30, 2007

  • This would probably be an opportune moment to point out that a while ago, i purchased and I’ve decided to launch an anti-neocon, anti-war party, anti-antisemitism website by the time the espionage trial starts in January.
    Anyone who is cool enough to be on this thread can have pretty much whatever angle they want, if interested!
    I bought a bunch of other sites too… Surprisingly, the * area of domains was really under-bought. Just going to put up some Drupal here and see what happens. Eh comrades?
    Sibel Edmonds figures big into all of this. Time to snag as many moths in the Web as possible. Eh!?

  • Remember that Cheney, Rumsfeld et al went in deep cover when the good ship Watergate went down 34 years ago. You don’t think they haven’t seeded the whole Federal bureaucracy with their clones who are vowing revenge on the hippies in the DOD at this very moment?
    We will need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission starting in 2009. Also, I believe that just another hole in the crazy box has been shut. I’m certain they have a whole pack gnawing away at another hole.
    There are all sorts of straw man scenarios where Fallon would have no choice but to bomb Iran.
    The Bush legacy to the next prez is, after all, a hopeless war.
    Somalia was Daddy Bush’s present to Clinton.
    And the press reform itself? Huh? We have a press like the old Soviet press where you have to read between the lies to figure out what is going on. The only difference is our press filler is blood and guts and T&A instead of agricultural production figures from the Central Asian republics.
    Whoah…I feel a rant coming on…better stop now.

  • was watching Stephen Colbert deliver the WH press corp dinner address. I mean if they booked Colbert and didn’t see that spanking coming, how scary could they be? Didn’t hurt to watch a finely tuned comedian make Jr and Mrs. Stepford squirm in their seats for 20 mins.

    Ah, good times.

  • You wouldn’t expect a stabbing victim to jump up and dance a jig in the hospital once they had staunched the bleeding, but stopping the bleeding is still a good thing.

    The guys in Guantanemo aren’t getting out tomorrow, but at least they’ve stopped building the new Iranian wing. The tide is turning but the tide is slow (and we’re fighting the last 30 years of conservative brainwashing.)

  • speaking of tides and pendulums, ive seen a bit of a wave of optimism that i think might be a little early, that or this is nothing and when things really start improving people are gonna be foaming at the mouth in exultant joy.

    they still are in iraq and Afghanistan and both will be nothing but disasters for the dem that gets in. they are set up to fail, i seem to recall that being theorized as a strategy by the neo cons, win win for them.

    they still have all their pretty laws and policies in place and their buddies are still getting richer and richer at the cost of the American standard of living and the lives of the third world. the Corportocracy is stronger than ever, even if they dont have a mindless puppet in the white house, the dems (beyond a few exceptions)dont seem to keen on actually changing a damd thing when in power.

    Global warming is still a problem and nobody is doing anything significant to stop it, just meager compromises too little and likely too late. Peak oil is still a coming and we are already starting to see the crunch, even if somebody did do something big it might not be in time.
    sure there is some investment and development in alternative energies but none can fully replace our growing need, nothing can yet replace gas for vehicals and shit all has been done to implement the technologies that could be used now(sure here and there but in the grand scale its nothing)

    the us economy it still shakey and chances are if it dosent collapse itself some global event will do it anyway.
    im sure there is much more.

    this is good news, the military and intel might have just prevented suicide but they went along with everything till now, and i dont know about you but just stopping outright crazy actions isnt good enough.

  • CNN has been talking about Huckabee and Dumond. Lots of talk about the NIE and Bush’s persistence in demonizing Iran. A fair amount of talk about Romney’s embarassments. Not as much about Guiliani, but it’s beginning to leak through. Certainly more than the last 4 years would lead one to expect from the media, though.

    Today, Rox Populi excerpts a “true” conservatives sentiments about the GOP. Many, many signs that no one will be able to put Frankenstien’s Monster Humpty Dumpty Rove’s coalition back together again.

    Yes, the next Dem president has a lot to deal with. But if, in 4 years, they can make visible progress on health care and global warming, they’ll get another shot. It will be at least 10 years before the GOP can (a) reconstitute itself, and (b) start tricking people into thinking everything wrong is the fault of the Dems. Ironically, the sooner things get better, the sooner people get complacent, the sooner the GOP BS starts working again.

  • small fry always get fried, and romney wont get anywhere just because hes a mormon.
    i gotta see the stats, what are the current polls for dems/reps nation wide, not the candidate numbers(which if i recall but guilliani and clinton in the lead) but between the parties. they are not out yet, and even if the likely winner clinton is the next prez, what exactly will change? her husband created the conditions that gave the neo-cons such power in addition to other bad policies( the 777 law repeal brought us fox news watched by the majority and this site is full of examples where cnn is still pretty compromised)
    talking about elections, most us citizens still dont vote and as far as i know nothing substantial has been done about all the alleged rigging and election tampering, i dont know if the election is such a sure thing.

    so clinton wins, she is better than the neo-cons, but better isnt good enough, we need great, we need change that will happen sooner than she can deliver, if she even tries.

    honesty i wont be satisfied until i see radical changes.
    but barring that, i just dont see conditions in the the would outside and inside the halls of government that will lead,even slowly, away from the path the corportocracy wants. That path started with regan and continued steadily ever since, clinton slowed it down nothing more, his wife wont be any different, except she comes after a huge leap forward in their policies.

    and still, the reps may seem like they are falling apart but thats because the bush admin was just so freaking incompetent, imagine if it wasn’t the former coke addicted dumbass who was elected, sombody smart or at least could act the lines the real brains come up with, rove is arrogant because he was right about the media.
    even the perceived failures and scandals of this admin, are they really all that, just how many are serving time who should be, just how many have resined who landed a cushy job somewhere else(even if it is just a corporate gig. No one is really punished(okay an exeption or two, but we know damd well some should be serving treason sentences if not war crime sentences for shit decades ago) if you dont swiftly punish these crimes and really deal with the bullshit it is gonna come back.
    again i could go on. im not even touching crap that has been going on around the world for the last few decades, even imperialism is still alive and going strong, that alone is far from acceptable.

    greed still rules, nothing will really change and real progress will never be so long as that fact remains and it is more true than ever before.

    p.s. as for canada i have all but given up hope, the libs were bad enough but now the cons seem like they can only go up.

  • have the Ds up well over 50, and the Rs down mid or low 30s.

    Hillary (who is my very least favorite) is practical, even if aligned with the corporatocracy. She’s also not stupid. She will do what she has to to stay in power (as her husband did, in the opposite environment – remember ’92?).

    There are still states where an election could be gamed, but the rigging of 2006 was not successful. At this point, even gov Christy of FLA (R) has signed a bill saying elections have to be manually recountable. The story lost its “tin foil hat” a while ago, and nothing will put it back on.

    The halls of government, slower even than our corporate controlled media, are the last to get the news. But you can help change that. Because no government will punish their peers unless they know their constituents demand it.

    Greed only rules because their opposition doesn’t put up a whole lot of resistance.

  • some more good news, and i didnt know the conclusion of the rigging thing good to know something was done.

    and you see the problem with corruption, of course no voter accepts is at all, one of the biggest reasons few people vote is because they see the system as entirely corrupt for not going after bullshit like we see rampant today. not much i can do as a canadian but talk about it, but the point of my pessimism is that nothing will change this situation.

    hillary would be a breath of fresh air, but she isnt the big change needed right now, she is still status quo, smart and effective and better than this admin. but like i said the first clinton didnt stop the problem only slow it down.

    as for greed, how do you get rid of somthing that has been ingrained into our very culture and our economic system literally is built on it. how can you change that? even if you can present viable alternitive ideologies and economic systems those with the power to change the system are the most dependent on maintaining the status quo witch justifies their insane greed and protects them from the consequences of their immoral actions. greed is self reinforcing if only because the greediest bastard has the biggest guns, the us aint rich because its people are smart or intuitive(it helps no doubt) but because it has effectively used its power to gain more wealth and so on and so on, all driven by pure greed. you ask how to topple the american empire, i for one think nothing will change unless the us does indeed self destruct, a clean slate as it were.
    i could certainly be wrong but given that the intelligent and dedicated people here or elsewhere have yet to create somthing to oppose greed, and we have had decades.
    i am studying political science for these exact reasons, to counter this cancerous force that has afflicted our humanity and poisons our planet.
    so far i got nothing, my profs got nothing, and if my party of choice(ndp, who the hell else) has something nobody is listening.movements have resisted and they have had some success but today they are forgotten and what remains is divided, marginalized, or misguided.

    how do you oppose the most powerful force ever known and is beyond any historical comparison. more wealthy than the roman empire at its height, more cunning than the best Chinese strategists its empires could muster, more fanatical than the nazis, more ruthless than the vikings, and more evil than satan himself.

    i come to the agonist to find sanity in it all and to know others see these problems, i doubt much will change(except get worse). i can fight the small battles, but greed is something that requires every human being to radically change( at least every westerner as we are the imperialists)

  • In fact in the original conception of the 7 deadly sins what we consider greed appears twice: as Avaritia and as Luxuria, but this latter sin changed over time from extravagance to lust. Still, shouldn’t the church be combating all this greed?

    To consider how warped modern thinking has become, there is a whole evangelical/fundamentalist preaching that says God wants you to be wealthy. What else could the pastor say when he has a private jet, mansion, and luxury cars?

    I believe you are dealing with major societal forces of a long term nature. Also, you live in unusual times when greed has paid well. If I could put this in business terms, the extent and duration of the global stock market advance has been unprecedented since 1982. We are overdue for a significant correction of this advance, when greed becomes dangerous and counterproductive for the investor.

    I suspect we are on the cusp of this correction. If so, your battle will appear to be won. Greed will reappear five or ten years from now, but in a chastened form and quite defensive. Long term material shortages and global warming may also make avarice and hoarding highly unsocial activities.

    Keep up the battle because it seems the tide is turning your way, maybe soon.

  • exactly, things can change, but it will take something really big and really bad. but i do agree, greed needs to be shown for what it is and what it is doing.
    unfortunately its probably gonna hurt a lot of people.

  • Sic Semper Tyrannis

    The “jungle telegraph” in Washington is booming with news of the Iran NIE. I am told that the reason the conclusions of the NIE were released is that it was communicated to the White House that “intelligence career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary” if the document’s gist were not given to the public. Translation? Someone in that group would have gone to the media “on the record” to disclose its contents.

    It is no wonder that the AEI crowd and their congressional helpmates are running around with their hair on fire over this estimate. In sharp contrast to the ease with which the neocon Jacobins were able to control the content of the October 2002 NIE on Iraq, this time they failed utterly to use a national intelligence estimate as a propaganda tool.

    Hearings? Good! Let there be hearings! Let there be many hearings! The more the better and let them be public hearings. Bring them on!. pl

  • Ewen MacAskill in Washington
    Saturday December 8, 2007

    Guardian Unlimited – The intelligence came from an exotic variety of sources: there was the so-called Laptop of Death; there was the Iranian commander who mysteriously disappeared in Turkey. Also in the mix was video footage of a nuclear plant in central Iran and intercepts of Iranian telephone calls by the British listening station GCHQ.
    But pivotal to the US investigation into Iran’s suspect nuclear weapons programme was the work of a little-known intelligence specialist, Thomas Fingar. He was the principal author of an intelligence report published on Monday that concluded Iran, contrary to previous US claims, had halted its covert programme four years ago and had not restarted it. Almost single-handedly he has stopped – or, at the very least, postponed – any US military action against Iran.

    His report marks a decisive moment in the battle between American neoconservatives and Washington’s foreign policy and intelligence professionals – between ideologues and pragmatists. It provided an unexpected victory for those opposed to the neocon plans for a military strike.
    The report, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represents the consensus of the 16 US intelligence agencies, gave President George Bush one of his most difficult weeks since taking office in January 2001.

    Fingar’s findings were met in many Washington offices occupied by foreign policy and intelligence professionals not only with relief but with rejoicing. They had lost out in the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003, but they are winning this one.

    A backlash is under way; with the neocons being joined by even moderate foreign policy specialists who claim the report seriously underestimates the threat posed by Iran. Senate Republicans are planning to call next week for a congressional commission to investigate the report.

    Senator John Ensign, a Republican, said: “Iran is one of the greatest threats in the world today. Getting the intelligence right is absolutely critical.”

    Flynt Leverett, a former CIA analyst and former National Security Council adviser in the Bush administration, was among those celebrating this week, and praised Fingar and his colleagues. “We seem to have lucked out and have individuals who resist back-channel politics and tell it how it is,” he said. “That is what the CIA and other agencies are supposed to do.”

    He continued that Fingar and one of his co-authors, Vann Van Diepen, national intelligence officer for weapons of mass destruction, had opposed the war in Iraq. “They both felt the intelligence was misused in the run-up to the Iraq war. The conservatives are now attacking them, saying they are taking their revenge,” Leverett said. “It is not mutiny for intelligence officers to state their honest views.”

    Fingar, Van Diepen and Kenneth Brill, a former US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were able to put out what they regard as an objective assessment because those occupying senior roles in the Bush administration had changed. Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and Donald Rumsfeld have given way to those who oppose war with Iran, including Robert Gates, the defence secretary and former CIA director, and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

    Only the vice-president, Dick Cheney, remains to advocate military strikes against Iran. Wolfowitz, out of work since resigning from the World Bank earlier this year, has been invited back into the administration by Rice as an adviser on WMD, but that is an act of pity for an old mentor, not a shift in power to the neocons.

    Joseph Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, also welcomed the report, saying: “What is happening is that foreign policy has swung back to the grown-ups. We are watching the collapse of the Bush doctrine in real time. The neoconservatives are howling because they know their influence is waning.”

    The report is a disaster for Bush’s Iranian policy. Although he still refuses to take the military option off the table, it is harder to give the order to go to war. It also makes it harder for the US to persuade Russia and China to back tougher economic sanctions against Iran.

    Bush and Cheney might have tried to block publication but feared it would leak, leading to damaging charges of cover-up and the manipulation of intelligence. “It was not likely to stay classified for long, anyway,” Cheney told Politico, the Washington daily devoted to politics.

    The “howling” of the neocons that Cirincione spoke about began within hours of the report’s publication. Bolton, who remains close to Cheney, appeared on CNN complaining about the authors without naming them. In the comment section of the Washington Post on Thursday he wrote: “Many involved in drafting and approving the NIE were not intelligence professionals but refugees from the state department.” He accused the officials, who he said had held benign views of Iran’s nuclear intentions five or six years ago, of presenting these same policy biases as “intelligence judgements”.

    The Wall Street Journal, the editorial pages of which have long been aligned with the neocon agenda, went straight on to the attack within a day of the report’s publication, expressing doubt in the officials and their conclusions. It quoted an intelligence source describing Fingar, Van Diepen and Brill as having reputations as “hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials”.

    Bush has said repeatedly that the US will not allow Iran to secure a nuclear weapons capability. Air strikes were becoming an increasingly likely option, even though opposed by the US state department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies. As of last spring, American deployments in the Gulf had been completed, ready should the order be given.

    A European official close to the discussions, who is copied in to key memos relating to Iran, spoke in the summer as if an attack was a given. He said that the war was containable only as long as the Iranians did not strike back.

    Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA head of counter-terrorism, said Bush had been building up the anti-Iran rhetoric to justify the military option: “There was a set of contingency plans updated over the last year and a half. The intent was air strikes to destroy the nuclear programme to the extent that it could be done. Is it possible to destroy 100% underground nuclear facilities? No, it is not. Could they set it back 10 years? Yes.”

    Iran’s covert programme can be traced back to the mid-1980s when the country was at war with Iraq and fearful that the then Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, might secure a nuclear weapon. The programme involved design, ballistic delivery systems and uranium enrichment; the NIE concluded in 2005 that it was continuing. In July that year US intelligence officials showed IAEA officials an alleged stolen Iranian laptop with thousands of pages relating to nuclear weapons experiments. It was nicknamed the Laptop of Death – it is still not clear whether it was genuine

    Fingar and his colleagues have gone back over the material and subjected it to a higher level of scrutiny. They took the same data but reached different conclusions. They also had some new material.

    Cannistraro said everyone was pointing towards General Ali-Reza Asgari, a former deputy defence minister, who disappeared in Turkey in February. But he insisted Asgari had been a long-term agent run by the West who has since been debriefed and given a new identity.
    more at the link

    1.”George Washington did not cross the Delaware for Capitalism,” -Shmuley Boteach.
    2.The Dems haven’t punished the GOP enough, so you’re going to reward the Republicans?

  • Cannistraro said everyone was pointing towards General Ali-Reza Asgari, a former deputy defence minister, who disappeared in Turkey in February. But he insisted Asgari had been a long-term agent run by the West who has since been debriefed and given a new identity.

  • Well, finally I read an intelligent commentary on what’s really going on in DC. The NIE was an extraordinary event. It showed total defiance toward Cheney-Bush and it was no accident. Even McConnell wasn’t able to fence sit. He had to defend the troops.

    This shows who the loyal opposition is and it’s not in Congress. I’ve referred to this process as a civil war within “management” since the people are not represented (although we benefit by the reduction of power controlled by madmen). I’ve even written about it a couple of times – Brzezinski on the Path to War in Iran and Teardown.

    It’s not over and it never will be until there’s a vetting and consequences , i.e., punishment, for this bype of aberrant behavior.

    My hat’s off to you for speaking about this so clearly and succinctly.

  • Someone else commented awhile back that she has nothing like the impressive resume you usually see in these positions. So she ran Snotfrad U (sorry, SF Bay resident here) and wrote some papers on the Soviet Union. BFD.

    It’s possible that she really did have the talent required but was so woefully unprepared that it took her this long to get her sea legs. Or grow into her $500 heels.

    Forget it, Jake – it’s AmnesiaTown

  • 1.”George Washington did not cross the Delaware for Capitalism,” -Shmuley Boteach.
    2.The Dems haven’t punished the GOP enough, so you’re going to reward the Republicans?

  • The former ambassador to the U.N. says the the latest intelligence estimate is meant not to inform but to influence policy.

    Reuters, December 9, 2007

    BERLIN — U.S. intelligence services attempted to influence political policy by releasing their assessment that concludes Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, said John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

    Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton on Saturday as alleging that the aim of the National Intelligence Estimate, which contradicts his and President Bush’s position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.

    “This is politics disguised as intelligence,” Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in this week’s edition.

    Bolton described the report, released Monday, as a “quasi-putsch” by the intelligence agencies, Der Spiegel said.

    The intelligence estimate said Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago but was continuing to develop the technical means that could be used to produce a bomb. This contradicted Bush’s assertion that Iran was actively trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

    “Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity.”

  • Exile group says Iran still pursuing nuclear arms
    Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:08pm EST

    By Mark John

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – An Iranian exile group accused Tehran on Tuesday of pursuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons, dismissing as incomplete a U.S. intelligence report that Iran’s nuclear arms program was frozen in 2003.

    Sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a study published on December 3 that Iran had stopped activities aimed at making nuclear weapons in 2003, though it continues to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel.

    The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which first exposed Iran’s nuclear fuel program in 2002, said it published information three years ago alleging that Tehran had restarted weapons-related work after a short break.

    NCRI officials said they checked back with sources inside Iran after the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released, and those informants reported that work on nuclear weapons was still being pursued at three sites.

    “The clerical regime is continuing its drive to obtain nuclear weapons,” Mohammad Mohaddessin of the France-based group, listed as a terror organization in the United States, told a news conference in Brussels.

    Iran’s president, who denies his country is seeking the atomic bomb, rejected the NRCI allegations.

    “This group cannot be the basis for correct information,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a news conference in Tehran.

    The NIE report concluded that Iran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007. The halt applied to work on explosive device components and to uranium conversion activities, it said.

    That conclusion contradicted earlier assertions by the Bush administration that Tehran was determined to develop the bomb. Analysts say it could complicate the U.S. drive for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran.

    Tehran welcomed the report as proof Bush wanted to deceive the world about a nuclear arms agenda it has denied pursuing.

    But major powers said their policy remained one of seeking negotiations with Tehran over inducements to suspend uranium enrichment, while threatening it with sanctions.


    Mohaddessin said the NCRI agreed with the NIE assessment that activities were suspended in 2003, and specified that in March 2003 Iran closed down a weaponization site in Lavisan, northeast Tehran, fearing it might be detected.

    But it transferred the weapons activities to a new site in Lavisan and later to two additional sites, information the NCRI had made public from November 2004 onwards, he said.

    In a second briefing in Washington on Tuesday, former NCRI spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh presented photographs and lists of sites around Tehran, including Imam Hossein University, that he said played major ongoing roles in nuclear arms development.

    The Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps initiated and led Iran’s nuclear program, said Jafarzadeh, who identified 21 senior nuclear physicists at Imam Hossein University as “commanders and cadres of the IRGC.”

    “Anytime you have the military involved with the nuclear program, we are talking about the bomb,” he told reporters.

    ….The NCRI’s armed wing, the People’s Mujahideen organization of Iran (PMOI), is banned in the United States and the EU.(MEK)

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