Dousing the Plame Flames
By Ahmed Amr
Within a month of Judith Miller's appearance before the grand jury investigating the outing of a CIA agent, Lewis Libby was indicted on five counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice. After reading the indictment, Patrick Fitzgerald pointed out that 'we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005.' Once you do the math, it becomes apparent that the only vote that counted in the last presidential election was Judith Miller's.
Of course, Miller can't take all the credit for obstructing the investigation. It was Arthur Sulzberger who decided to spend millions of dollars to take his flimsy arguments to the Supreme Court. When the highest court in the land ruled against the publisher of the New York Times, Miller volunteered to hide away in jail while Sulzberger orchestrated a mass media campaign to canonize his star WMD fiction writer as a first amendment martyr. The idea was to pressure Fitzgerald into making do without Judy's testimony or wait for the clock to run out on the investigation. According to Miller, the NYT lawyers pressured her to go the distance and risk an obstruction of justice charge or a second grand jury. But on the advice of her personal lawyer, she decided her to get out of jail and appear before the grand jury.
Those familiar with Miller's role in marketing the Iraq war don't need much of an explanation for her motives. It was Miller's reporting on the front pages of the New York Times that convinced millions of Americans that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. There is now ample evidence that she coordinated her reporting with the White House Iraq Group tasked with selling the war. Given the fact that Sulzberger's editorial staff - especially Thomas Friedman and William Safire - amplified the bogus WMD charges in their columns and considering the enormous expense and public posturing by a publisher who rarely mingles with the masses - it becomes obvious that the New York Times made an institutional commitment to participate in the pre-war government propaganda campaign.
Now that Sulzberger and Miller have managed to postpone the day of reckoning by a full year, the burden of further delays rests entirely on Libby's shoulders. His defense team has already won a postponement of the trial until next February - to sort out procedures for handling classified information. They have also let it be known that they are going to obstruct progress in the case by coercing journalists into positions where they have to plead confidentiality. Of course, they can always count on star witness Dick Cheney to invoke executive privilege.
Libby's game plan is to drag out the trial as long as possible, do a few months in jail and then get pardoned by a very grateful president. This brings us back to Fitzgerald's comment about how his investigation was impeded by Miller and Sulzberger. Unless Fitzgerald issues new indictments - we're not likely to hear from him again until next February. Even Fitzgerald's detractors have to concede that his first loyalty is to the law and that he spares no effort to go by the book and play by the rules. We should expect him to do exactly what he said - stay within the confines of the four corners of the indictment.
None of this is to suggest that Fitzgerald is a neutral player in the Plame games. He obviously believes that the outing of Valerie Plame is a serious national security crime. But he can only do what the law obliges him to do - give Libby a fair trial and play along with his strategy to drag out the trial.
I would like to suggest that Fitzgerald has put the American public on notice that he can only do so much. The rest is entirely up to us. After reading the indictment, Fitzgerald cautioned those who might have expectations that Libby's trial would resolve issues about pre-war intelligence and the wisdom of invading Iraq. Without making an overt political statement, he was sending us a message that we shouldn't wait for the outcome of Libby's trial to figure out what the Plame games are all about - the war in Iraq and pre-war intelligence.
This leaves us with a few choices. We can either hibernate until certain irrefutable facts become part of the public record via a long protracted trial. We can all sit back and depend on Sulzberger and other mass media barons to make a show of scratching their collective heads as to why Libby outed Plame or why a lawyer as smart as Libby would commit perjury and obstruct justice. We can assume the position of passive voyeurs and let the MSM clowns amuse and distract us with all kinds of tangential issues to make the Plame games seem so complicated - so beyond the grasp of the average citizen. Or we can thank Fitzgerald for his noble efforts, wish him well on the Libby trial and make a commitment to play an active role in holding the neo-cons accountable for deceiving the American people and leading them into a disastrous war of choice.
Those who want to pitch in and speed up the pace of the Plame games can start by insisting that Congress investigate Douglas Feith and the Office of Special Plans (OSP). The best description of the OSP is one given by Rep. David Obey: "A group of civilian employees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, all of whom are political employees, have long been dissatisfied with the information produced by the established intelligence agencies both inside and outside the Department. That was particularly true, apparently, with respect to the situation in Iraq. As a result, it is reported that they established a special operation within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which was named the Office of Special Plans. That office was charged with collecting, vetting, and disseminating intelligence completely outside the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that the information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with the established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the National Security Council and the President without having been vetted with anyone other than (the Secretary of Defense)."
"It is further alleged that the purpose of this operation was not only to produce intelligence more in keeping with the pre-held views of those individuals, but to intimidate analysts in the established intelligence organizations to produce information that was more supportive of policy decisions which they had already decided to propose."
Notice that Obey makes a sharp distinction between the OSP and the "established intelligence agencies" - the CIA and the DIA. His quote comes from a speech at a congressional briefing on July 8th, 2003 - four months after the invasion of Iraq. Not only did Congress know about the OSP two years ago - but a few months later, the Senate Intelligence Committee was specifically tasked with investigating the role of the OSP in manufacturing WMD fiction. To avoid embarrassing the administration, Republican Senators have obstructed the investigation. As for the Democrats, they finally got around to demanding a progress report - if only to turn the public's attention away from their complicity in sweeping the matter under the rug.
By the summer of 2003, every member of Congress knew about this rogue intelligence operation set up by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith to circumvent the CIA and "cherry pick" raw intelligence to make a case for the invasion of Iraq. While the alternative media routinely reported on the OSP and its role in manufacturing the WMD hoax, it remains a taboo subject for the MSM crowd.
We now have sufficient confirmation that Judith Miller collaborated with the OSP to spin WMD urban legends into 'facts' on the front pages of the New York Times. But the question remains as to how many other Miller clones embedded in the mass media became actively involved in performing leaking services for their neocon handlers.
The OSP is the key link to understanding how a small cabal of neo-cons in the government and the media pulled off an elaborate propaganda campaign to convince Americans that Iraq posed an eminent threat to the United States that could only be neutralized by a pre-emptive war.
Two years ago, I wrote an article on the Plame case titled "This isn't your Mama's Watergate". At the time, I thought it would only be a matter of weeks before the public tuned in to the Plame games and focused in on the Office of Special Plans and the role of Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz in corrupting intelligence. I was wrong. It has been two years and the mass media titans are still providing the neo-cons sanctuary.
This is what I wrote back in October of 2003. Perhaps, the most damning result of any investigation into the deliberate OSP 'intelligence failures' will be the discovery of excessive reliance on sources like Ahmed Chalabi's National Congress (INC). The mainstream intelligence community dismissed the INC for very sensible reasons. Chalabi, a creature of the American Enterprise Institute, had old associations with neo-cons like Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. His 'intelligence' was an echo of their 'intelligence' which was an echo of Israeli 'intelligence'. Judith Miller, Sulzberger's in-house WMD 'expert' at The New York Times, also found it convenient to use Chalabi as a 'reliable' source.
It was all a circular intelligence scam. First you concoct intelligence using operatives like Chalabi and the INC. Next you discover the intoxicating concoction on the menu at Chalabi's place. Using his recipe you dismiss the findings of the CIA and DIA as too timid and unworthy of master chefs. You then selectively practice the art of the leak by contacting fellow travelers like Murdoch's minions at FOX to come over for a taste of Chalabi's soup de jour. For good measure, Charles Krauthammer and Judith Miller also get invited for the main course. Last, for a final coup de grace, Judith Miller's WMD stories are put on the OSP lunchroom menu as a new item made of fresh leaks.
If alternative journalists knew enough to write about the WMD hoax two years ago, it's fair to assume that thousands of mainstream journalists, diplomats, military officers, intelligence analysts and politicians knew as much or more. They all knew that this was a war of choice that had nothing to do with fictional WMD arsenals or the atrocities on 9/11. They all knew who exposed the identity of Valerie Plame and the exact reason she was betrayed by senior White House officials.
It is worth noting that the same neo-con actors who fabricated intelligence were the driving force behind the 'torture' policies that led to Abu Ghraib, the non-existent post-war plan, the rules of engagement that have resulted in the death of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the constant lies about 'progress' in Iraq and the no-bid contracts to Halliburton and other corporate war profiteers.
Given enough time, I am certain that Patrick Fitzgerald, David Obey, Ambassador Wilson, Lawrence Wilkerson and other honorable public servants will provide us with enough details to put together a fairly accurate account of how WMD intelligence was manufactured by the OSP, the identity of willing media collaborators who distributed OSP fiction and the real agenda behind the war. Sooner or later, we will come up with answers for Cindy Sheehan.
It's been almost three years since the invasion of Iraq and the President of the United States and the President of Vice have yet to come up with a convincing argument to justify the loss of American and Iraqi blood and treasure. How likely is it that the neo-cons - all hard core off shore affiliates of the Likud party - were out to spread the blessings of liberty in the Middle East? Are we supposed to forget that these are the same people who devoted themselves to derailing the Oslo peace process - at a time when the official policy of the United States was to bridge the gaps between Israelis and Palestinians?
In the next few weeks, the war party and their willing collaborators in the mainstream media will attempt to douse the Plame flames. It would be a serious mistake to underestimate their capabilities. Expect them to continue slandering Ambassador Wilson and dismiss the crime against Valerie Plame as 'politics as usual.' Libby will be either lionized as an over-zealous misguided patriot or dismissed as an independent operator. Even now, Cheney's war mongering Likudnik neo-con brigades are routinely described as 'idealists.' The White House game plan is to make Libby's case fade into the background and put the bird flu on the front page. CNN and FOX have already taken measures to put the matter to rest.
The point is this: don't expect Patrick Fitzgerald to miraculously appear to reignite interest in the Plame Games. That's not his job. That's your job.
So far, Fitzgerald's investigation has enlightened the public on the role of Judith Miller, Arthur Sulzberger, Lewis Libby and the White House Iraq Group. But the real prize out there is Douglas Feith - the designated neo-con cherry picker responsible for systematically corrupting pre-war intelligence. An investigation of the Office of Special Plans will focus attention on his central role in orchestrating and coordinating the propaganda campaign that duped the American people. Fitzgerald has no mandate to investigate Feith. But your Senator does. If every concerned citizen would just pick up the phone and demand that their elected representatives provide answers about the OSP - we will be that much closer to understanding how and why we got into this war and that much closer to ending our military misadventures in Iraq.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com This article may be published and distributed at will.
Want to help spread quality independent journalism?
Donate to NileMedia and watch us grow.