|This article appears in the October 10, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
LaRouche-Led Assault on Cheney
by Jeffrey Steinberg
Is Drawing Blood
On Sept. 20, 2002, Lyndon LaRouche, the tenth candidate for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination, issued a campaign statement, calling on Vice President Dick Cheney to resign from office, on the grounds that his imperialist policy designs posed a grave threat to the security of the United States and the world. In the intervening year, LaRouche has kept up the focussed exposures of the Vice President's role, as the chief architect of the disastrous Iraq war, and the intelligence fakery that led a too-gullible Congress to give the White House carte blanche to prosecute, what Cheney and his neo-conservative cohorts view as a "perpetual war" against target nations extending from Libya, Somalia, and Sudan in Africa, to Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon in the Middle East, to North Korea.
Now, there is growing evidence that significant U.S. policy institutions have concluded that LaRouche was right, and have joined the drive to expose and depose Cheney and the entire neo-conservative gang that hijacked American foreign policy, beginning with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, attacks which LaRouche identified, from the outset, as a de facto coup d'état against the Presidency.
While the immediate focus of most of the media attention is the White House leaks about former Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV and his wife, who was "outed" as a Central Intelligence Agency "non-official cover" operative, the scope of the attacks on Cheney himself, signals that there is much more afoot than an effort to determine which White House officials broke the law, by leaking to columnist Robert Novak and a half-dozen other journalists, this past July, following a New York Times op-ed by Wilson, which named Cheney as the senior official who tasked the CIA to probe reports of Iraq's alleged attempts to procure uranium precursor, known as "yellowcake," from the African nation of Niger.
As the result of the Cheney tasking, the CIA had sent Wilson, a distinguished retired career foreign service officer, who had served in a number of diplomatic postings in Africa, and had been the chief Africa officer at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, to Niger to probe the allegations. From the outset, the intelligence community had been deeply skeptical about the Niger yellowcake story. It later emerged that the documents purporting to show the Iraqi effort to obtain uranium in Africa were forgeries; however, Cheney continued to peddle the yellowcake fairy tale, long after the revelations about the fake documents.
As recently as Sept. 14, 2003, in an appearance on "Meet the Press," Cheney lied flat-out, that the government had been right in going to war, based on Iraq's still-missing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and its alleged role in the 9/11 terror attacks. Cheney's TV performance triggered a huge backlash, leading President George W. Bush to distance himself from Cheney's continued claims of Iraqi involvement in 9/11.
On Sept. 27, Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, upon completion of the intelligence panel's review of the 19 volumes of classified intelligence that formed the basis for the Bush Administration's decision to go to war against Iraq in March 2003. The bipartisan letter found that the intelligence on Iraq was "circumstantial and fragmentary," and contained "too many uncertainties" to support the Administration's allegations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaedathe two leading reasons trumpeted, particularly by Vice President Cheney, to sell the Iraq invasion to the American people and the world.
Goss and Harman noted the "significant deficiencies" in the U.S. intelligence community's ability to develop new intelligence on Iraq, forcing a reliance on old data, obtained prior to the pullout of UN weapons inspectors in 1998. They further charged that the "absence of proof [that Iraq's WMD] had been destroyed, was considered proof they continued to exist." They concluded, "The lack of specific intelligence on the [Saddam Hussein] regime's plans and intentions, WMD, and Iraq support for terrorist groups, appears to have hampered the IC's [intelligence community's] ability to provide a better assessment to policymakers from 1998-2003." Goss, however, made it clear that he did not fault the intelligence community's assessments, which cautioned against any firm conclusions that Iraq was engaged in a live WMD effort, or had been tied to al-Qaeda prior to 9/11.
Capitol Hill sources reported, following the release of the Goss-Harman letter, that the House and Senate intelligence committees will now begin a new phase of their investigation, interviewing witnesses, to prepare for future hearings. The fact that Goss, a former CIA operations officer, broke ranks with the White House and said, in effect, that there was no intelligence basis for the Iraq War, has even more profound implications than the probe into the White House leaks. Up until the release of the letter, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) had maintained strict party discipline, and blocked any House of Representatives probes, from the Government Reform Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and the Intelligence panel, into the role of Cheney's aides and the Pentagon Office of Special Plans (OSP) in cooking the intelligence to justify war.
Now, the Intelligence panel probe can move to the next phase. Goss's actions may soon be matched by leading GOP Senators Richard Lugar (Ind.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), John Warner (Va.), and John McCain (Ariz.), who all have key positions on Senate armed forces and intelligence panels.
Cheney's OSP Disinformation Shop
It has been widely reported that Vice President Cheney, and his chief national security aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were deeply involved in the day-to-day activities of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans (OSP), the unit under Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, that was created to review the intelligence community's data, searching for proof of Iraqi WMD and terrorist links. The unit mushroomed, on the eve of the Iraq invasion, from a small Iraq desk at the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia policy shop, to a rogue intelligence and operations group, dominated by neo-cons, with as many as 100 "personal contract" consultants, peddling discredited information from the Iraqi National Congress and the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to give Cheney and his allies the ammunition to counter the far more sober assessments coming out of the CIA, the State Department Intelligence and Research unit, and the Defense Intelligence Agencywhich all disputed the charges of Iraqi WMD and involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
Now, with Goss and Harman confirming that they saw no justification for the allegations concerning WMD and an al-Qaeda link, the whole Cheney-led Iraq War intelligence fakery is fair game for official scrutiny. And that is very bad news for a President George W. Bush facing a serious re-election battle. In fact, U.S. intelligence sources confirm that the President personally gave his approval to CIA Director Tenet's endorsement of a Justice Department probe of the origins of the Wilson leaks, even though such White House officials as National Security Council Mideast head Elliott Abrams, Cheney aide Libby, and White House political director Karl Rove have been named as possible sources of the leaks.
The Bush Sr. Factor
Just prior to the eruption of the Cheneygate scandals, former President George H.W. Bush had travelled to Russia, to attend the opening of a new joint venture between the Carlyle Group and the Alfa Group, which will invest $500 million in Russia. During the visit, Bush and his wife were hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin at his vacation home on the Black Sea. Both Russian and U.S. sources have confirmed that Putin and the elder Bush had a frank discussion about the "neo-con problem." Putin reportedly impressed on the President's father that he wishes to maintain close ties to the Administration, but faces his own Presidential re-election in late 2004, and cannot be seen as consorting with a U.S. Administration dominated by Cheney and the war party.
A week after the Black Sea visit, President Putin met with "Bush 43" at Camp David. Although the Russian leader did not raise the neo-con/Cheney issue with his U.S. counterpart, there is good reason to believe that the informal discussion with "Bush 41" contributed to the conclusion that the continuing dominance of Cheney and the neo-cons over the current Administration had to end. Bush Sr., as a former CIA Director, and his close associates have an awareness of the necessary role of the U.S. institutionsincluding the intelligence and uniformed military institutionsin protecting the U.S. Constitution. At the start of the "Bush 43" Administration, he had weighed in with G.W. to retain George Tenet as CIA Director, arguing that the top intelligence post should be shielded from politics as much as possible.
On Oct. 1, as the Joe Wilson leak probe was being upgraded to an official Justice Department/FBI criminal investigation, Dick Cheney was hit on another flank: his corrupt ties to Halliburton, Inc., one of the leading recipients of Bush Administration contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq. Cheney had been the president and CEO of Halliburton during the Clinton era, and had built up the former oil field services firm into a major Pentagon subcontractor. Halliburton has won billions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction contracts from the Bush Administration, including several lucrative no-bid contracts. In his Sept. 14 appearance on "Meet the Press," Cheney lied about his continuing financial ties to the company, claiming that he had completely severed those ties when he became Vice President.
However, a probe of the Cheney-Halliburton ties commissioned by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) confirmed that the Vice President was still receiving deferred salary checks from Halliburton, and had stock options, potentially worth millions of dollars, which both officially constitute financial interests. The Oct. 1 New York Times editorialized against Cheney's corruption with Halliburton, warning that the entire Iraq reconstruction was jeopardized by the high-ticket contracts to Cheney-linked American corporations, while Iraqis capable of the reconstruction work, at far cheaper costs, remained unemployed. With all of these scandals erupting, and with the intelligence community and the uniformed military clearly weighing in against the neo-con cabal, the counter-coup, which LaRouche called for right after 9/11, has begun. And that is good news for all Americans and for all past, current, and potentially future allies of the United States.