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This article appears in the July 25, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[See also: Intelligence Professionals Call for Cheney's Resignation.]

Cheney's 'Shadow Government'
Comes Into the Sunlight

by Edward Spannaus

All the trees in the forest have not yet fallen—to use the famous Watergate analogy—but they are beginning to shake. And as they do, the secret "shadow government" operating under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney and centered in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (OSP)—the driving force for war with Iraq and other countries—is coming out into the light.

Over the weekend of June 6-8, EIR founder and Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche issued a widely circulated statement charging that the growing mountain of evidence showing that Cheney had repeatedly used a forged document to corral Congressional and public support for the Iraq War, constituted grounds for the impeachment of the Vice President. The document in question was the now-famous forgery, purporting to show that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium ore "yellowcake" from Niger.

Since LaRouche issued his demand that Cheney, and not President Bush, must be the target, the attention to Cheney's role in the intelligence fiasco leading into the war has heightened, so that as of this writing, the momentum is building to the point at which heads are likely to roll in the coming days and weeks.

Tenet 'Admission' Backfires

Any hope that Cheney and his defenders might have had, that by forcing CIA Director George Tenet to fall on his sword and take the blame—for failing to stop the White House from including the fraudulent Niger story in the President's State of the Union Address—they could somehow shut down the scandal, rapidly evaporated in the days following Tenet's July 11 statement. All that Tenet's admission did, was to focus attention on the question of who in the White House wanted to override the CIA and include the Niger fable.

Exemplary of the growing focus on Cheney, in just the few days following Tenet's statements, are the following items:

July 13:

  • Maureen Dowd, in her Sunday New York Times column, noted that the line about the Niger story only got into the State of the Union speech over the CIA's objections, because "a higher power wanted it in."

    "And that had to be Dick Cheney's office," Dowd concluded, noting that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate the Iraq claim by the CIA, in response to questions raised by Cheney's office.

  • The Washington Post reported, in a front-page story: "Administration sources said White House officials, particularly those in the office of Vice President Cheney, insisted on including Hussein's quest for a nuclear weapon as a prominent part of their public case for war in Iraq. Cheney had made the potential threat of Hussein having a nuclear weapon a central theme of his August 2002 speeches that began the public buildup toward war with Baghdad."

July 14:

  • In a Newsweek Online column, Eleanor Clift wrote: "CIA director George Tenet sent [Joseph] Wilson to Niger after Vice President Cheney asked for an investigation. Wilson asks why Cheney's office would demand this inquiry and not want to know the result. If Bush really was misled, wouldn't he want to know who embarrassed him? Who made him a liar? In a White House as obsessed with loyalty as this one, the fact that no heads rolled strongly indicates this could go all the way to Cheney, if not to Bush himself. Who knows how much Cheney tells the boss. Bush is not a detail guy. He may not have wanted to know."

  • The London Guardian wrote: "Fingers were also pointed at the vice-president, Dick Cheney, who was allegedly obsessed with proving his repeated claims last August that Saddam was actively pursuing a nuclear program.... According to his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney had taken an interest in an Italian intelligence report in late 2001 about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Niger."

  • Time magazine noted that when the Italian report on Niger yellowcake got to Washington, it "caught the eye of someone important: Vice President Dick Cheney."

    "Cheney's interest hardly came as a surprise," Time said, explaining that "he has long been known to harbor some of the most hard-line views of Saddam's nuclear ambitions."

  • USA Today reported that George Tenet is being pushed toward "walking the plank," and suggested that Vice President Cheney's office is in the lead among those pushing for Tenet's ouster, citing a number of reasons why Cheney's office is angry at the CIA Director.

  • The group of retired intelligence officers known as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) called upon President Bush to ask for Cheney's immediate resignation, telling the President that Cheney's role has been so transparent that further attempts to cover it up, "will only erode further your own credibility." (See Documentation.)

July 15:

  • New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff featured the VIPS statement, saying that it reflects the view of many in the intelligence community "that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney."

  • Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee, highlighting reports that the forged Niger documents had been first given to Vice President Cheney's office in early 2002, and demanding that a number of agencies and offices, including Cheney's, be thoroughly investigated for abuse of intelligence.

  • Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), in a statement on the Senate floor about the yellowcake matter and other dubious claims about Iraq's alleged nuclear capability, posed a series of questions which need answers, including the role of the Office of the Vice President in triggering the mission of former Ambassador Wilson to Niger, and whether Cheney's staff was briefed on the results of the Wilson mission.

  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) held a Congressional briefing in a hearing room packed with reporters and cameras, featuring VIPS spokesman Ray McGovern, and Andrew Wilkie, a senior intelligence analyst for Australia's Office of National Assessments, who had resigned on March 11, 2003, to protest the way intelligence was misused to justify Australia's support for war on Iraq.

    Kucinich asked a series of questions to McGovern, who had been a CIA briefing officer for Vice President George H.W. Bush during the 1980s, such as: Is it possible that Vice President Cheney was never told about the Wilson mission to Niger? "That's an easy one," McGovern answered. "It is not possible." McGovern then pointed out that Cheney had "led the charge" for war last Summer, using disinformation and the "mushroom cloud scare" to frighten Congress into giving the President the authority to go to war against Iraq.

    Kucinich also asked McGovern, if it were possible that someone like former Ambassador Wilson could be sent to Niger at the initiative of the Vice President, and then the Vice President would not have been told the result? McGovern said that this would go through National Security Council (NSC) channels, adding: "When a Vice President has a question, as certain as night follows day, he gets an answer."

    Kucinich also asked McGovern if he had ever known of a Vice President making regular visits to the CIA, standing over analysts as they do their work? "Never," he answered.

    During the question period, EIR asked McGovern to elaborate on the VIPS recommendation to President Bush that he call upon Vice President Cheney to resign, noting that Lyndon LaRouche had called six weeks ago for Cheney to be impeached.

    McGovern answered, "If you read our statement, it's very clear that the Vice President spearheaded the push for war. If you look at Cheney's speeches, he is way out ahead of other American statesmen and officials in saying that Saddam Hussein has a nuclear capability," citing as an example Cheney's March 16 television appearance in which he stated that Saddam "has reconstituted nuclear weapons."

July 16:

  • The London Independent's lead story was headlined: "Cheney Under Pressure to Quit Over False War Evidence," reporting that calls for Cheney's resignation were coming from a number of quarters, including the VIPS organization.

Tenet Fingers a 'Mole'

It was also on July 16, that George Tenet and another senior CIA official, Alan Foley, testified in a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Their appearance also marked a turning-point, in shifting the Committee's focus from the role of the CIA, to the question of who within the White House had pressed for the inclusion of the fraudulent Niger story in the State of the Union speech.

It was reported that Tenet and Foley had, under intense questioning, named Dr. Robert Joseph, the Director of Nonproliferation for the National Security Council, as the staff-level official who insisted on retaining the discredited Niger canard in the President's speech. Following the Committee session, its chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) indicated for the first time, that the Committee will broaden its focus, to "follow the trail wherever it may lead," and he suggested that he may call White House officials in for questioning. "We'll let the chips fall where they may," Roberts declared.

The identification of Robert Joseph in an official hearing is quite significant. (Joseph had already been identified in a number of press accounts, as having been engaged in a dispute with CIA officer Foley over the Niger statement.)

EIR had published a profile of Joseph back in April 2001, exposing him as a "plant" in the NSC for leading neo-con warhawk Richard Perle, the disredited former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. During the Reagan Administration, Joseph worked under Perle and Frank Gaffney in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He now sits on the Advisory Board of Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, one of the major "chicken-hawk" nests in Washington.

Cheney's 'Shadow' Spy agency

EIR has recently been provided with new details, by several high-level U.S. intelligence sources, regarding the role of Cheney in the rogue intelligence operations run out of the Pentagon in the United States, and out of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office in Israel—operations designed to circumvent established intelligence agencies such as the U.S. CIA and DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and Israel's Mossad.

Cheney's office learned of the existence of the Niger documents from Sharon's office in Israel, probably through the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, EIR was told. By late 2001, Cheney and his national security adviser and chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were making regular trips to CIA headquarters to press for followup to the Niger story.

EIR has for some time been aware of a major Israeli component to the Pentagon OSP operation. Two sources have now separately confirmed that there is a parallel office to the OSP, situated in Prime Minister Sharon's office. Both units were created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, for the purpose of bypassing their respective nation's traditional intelligence agencies. The Israeli Mossad reportedly refused to participate in this game, not wishing to jeopardize its long-standing relations with U.S. and other intelligence services. The Mossad, as a professional intelligence institution, also disapproves of much of what Sharon is currently doing.

The OSP, as we have previously reported, is run under the direction of Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, by Abram Shulsky, an avowed follower of the late fascist philosopher Leo Strauss, and the fanatical William Luti, a former aide to Cheney.

Shortly after EIR had received the above-cited reports, the online edition of the London Guardian published a bombshell account of the Pentagon's "shadow intelligence agency," the OSP, on July 17, which coheres with these reports, as well as with EIR's extensive coverage of the OSP over the recent months. Guardian investigative reporter Julian Borger reported that senior officials in the Bush Administration have created "a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs" to compete with the CIA and DIA, and that it operates "under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice President Dick Cheney."

"The president's most trusted adviser, Mr. Cheney, was at the shadow network's sharp end." The shadow agency operates "off the official payroll and beyond Congressional oversight," Borger wrote. "He [Cheney] made several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more 'forward-leaning' interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, was. Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate results."

Borger describes the OSP as "an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House" for both Iraqi opposition groups such as Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, and the "parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office," which provided the Bush Administration "with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize." Borger notes that this representated a continuation of the long-standing relationship that Feith and other Washington neo-cons have with the Israeli right-wing Likud Party.

The Guardian also reports that the OSP's "primary customers" are Cheney, Libby, and their closest ally on the NSC staff, Stephen Hadley, the deputy to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Even though the rogue OSP has been operating without Congressional oversight, that may soon change. The senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), is looking into the OSP, and has made a formal "survey and investigation" request to the Appropriations Committee which could trigger an inquiry by the Committee's investigative arm. "That office [OSP] was charged with collecting, vetting and disseminating intelligence completely outside of the normal intelligence apparatus," Obey says, adding that its information was not shared with the regular intelligence agencies, and that it "was passed on to the National Security Council and the President without having been vetted with anyone other than political appointees."

The noose is now tightening around this small, sinister cabal, that has captured the President and planned the Iraq War, and other imperial adventures. The sooner Cheney and this apparatus are cleaned out, the sooner the nation can get back on track to deal with the genuine problems facing us: most urgently, the global economic and financial breakdown.