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Alt 09.04.2006, 12:36   #76
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A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic

Prosecutor Describes Cheney, Libby as Key Voices Pitching Iraq-Niger Story

By Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 9, 2006; A01

As he drew back the curtain this week on the evidence against Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq.

Bluntly and repeatedly, Fitzgerald placed Cheney at the center of that campaign. Citing grand jury testimony from the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald fingered Cheney as the first to voice a line of attack that at least three White House officials would soon deploy against former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Cheney, in a conversation with Libby in early July 2003, was said to describe Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger the previous year -- in which the envoy found no support for charges that Iraq tried to buy uranium there -- as "a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife," CIA case officer Valerie Plame.

Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for denying under oath that he disclosed Plame's CIA employment to journalists. There is no public evidence to suggest Libby made any such disclosure with Cheney's knowledge. But according to Libby's grand jury testimony, described for the first time in legal papers filed this week, Cheney "specifically directed" Libby in late June or early July 2003 to pass information to reporters from two classified CIA documents: an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and a March 2002 summary of Wilson's visit to Niger.

One striking feature of that decision -- unremarked until now, in part because Fitzgerald did not mention it -- is that the evidence Cheney and Libby selected to share with reporters had been disproved months before.

United Nations inspectors had exposed the main evidence for the uranium charge as crude forgeries in March 2003, but the Bush administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair maintained they had additional, secret evidence they could not disclose. In June, a British parliamentary inquiry concluded otherwise, delivering a scathing critique of Blair's role in promoting the story. With no ally left, the White House debated whether to abandon the uranium claim and became embroiled in bitter finger-pointing about whom to fault for the error. A legal brief filed for Libby last month said that "certain officials at the CIA, the White House, and the State Department each sought to avoid or assign blame for intelligence failures relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

It was at that moment that Libby, allegedly at Cheney's direction, sought out at least three reporters to bolster the discredited uranium allegation. Libby made careful selections of language from the 2002 estimate, quoting a passage that said Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium" in Africa.

The first of those conversations, according to the evidence made known thus far, came when Libby met with Bob Woodward, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, on June 27, 2003. In sworn testimony for Fitzgerald, according to a statement Woodward released on Nov. 14, 2005, Woodward said Libby told him of the intelligence estimate's description of Iraqi efforts to obtain "yellowcake," a processed form of natural uranium ore, in Africa. In an interview Friday, Woodward said his notes showed that Libby described those efforts as "vigorous."

Libby's next known meeting with a reporter, according to Fitzgerald's legal filing, was with Judith Miller, then of the New York Times, on July 8, 2003. He spoke again to Miller, and to Time magazine's Matt Cooper, on July 12.

At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.

In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.

Unknown to the reporters, the uranium claim lay deeper inside the estimate, where it said a fresh supply of uranium ore would "shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons." But it also said U.S. intelligence did not know the status of Iraq's procurement efforts, "cannot confirm" any success and had "inconclusive" evidence about Iraq's domestic uranium operations.

Iraq's alleged uranium shopping had been strongly disputed in the intelligence community from the start. In a closed Senate hearing in late September 2002, shortly before the October NIE was completed, then-director of central intelligence George J. Tenet and his top weapons analyst, Robert Walpole, expressed strong doubts about the uranium story, which had recently been unveiled publicly by the British government. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, likewise, called the claim "highly dubious." For those reasons, the uranium story was relegated to a brief inside passage in the October estimate.

But the White House Iraq Group, formed in August 2002 to foster "public education" about Iraq's "grave and gathering danger" to the United States, repeatedly pitched the uranium story. The alleged procurement was a minor issue for most U.S. analysts -- the hard part for Iraq would be enriching uranium, not obtaining the ore, and Niger's controlled market made it an unlikely seller -- but the Niger story proved irresistible to speechwriters. Most nuclear arguments were highly technical, but the public could easily grasp the link between uranium and a bomb.

Tenet interceded to keep the claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department "fact sheet." After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

Bush put his prestige behind the uranium story in his Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address. Less than two months later, the International Atomic Energy Agency exposed the principal U.S. evidence as bogus. A Bush-appointed commission later concluded that the evidence, a set of contracts and correspondence sold by an Italian informant, was "transparently forged."

On the ground in Iraq, meanwhile, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction was producing no results, and as the bad news converged on the White House -- weeks after a banner behind Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln -- Wilson emerged as a key critic. He focused his ire on Cheney, who had made the administration's earliest and strongest claims about Iraq's alleged nuclear program.

Fitzgerald wrote that Cheney and his aides saw Wilson as a threat to "the credibility of the Vice President (and the President) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq." They decided to respond by implying that Wilson got his CIA assignment by "nepotism."

They were not alone. Fitzgerald reported for the first time this week that "multiple officials in the White House"-- not only Libby and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who have previously been identified -- discussed Plame's CIA employment with reporters before and after publication of her name on July 14, 2003, in a column by Robert D. Novak. Fitzgerald said the grand jury has collected so much testimony and so many documents that "it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson."

At the same time, top officials such as then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley were pressing the CIA to declassify more documents in hopes of defending the president's use of the uranium claim in his State of the Union speech. It was a losing battle. A "senior Bush administration official," speaking on the condition of anonymity as the president departed for Africa on July 7, 2003, told The Post that "the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech." The comment appeared on the front page of the July 8 paper, the same morning that Libby met Miller at the St. Regis hotel.

Libby was still defending the uranium claim as the administration's internal battle burst into the open. White House officials tried to blame Tenet for the debacle, but Tenet made public his intervention to keep uranium out of Bush's speech a few months earlier. Hadley then acknowledged that he had known of Tenet's objections but forgot them as the State of the Union approached.

Hoping to lay the controversy to rest, Hadley claimed responsibility for the Niger remarks.

In a speech two days later, at the American Enterprise Institute, Cheney defended the war by saying that no responsible leader could ignore the evidence in the NIE. Before a roomful of conservative policymakers, Cheney listed four of the "key judgments" on Iraq's alleged weapons capabilities but made no mention of Niger or uranium.

On July 30, 2003, two senior intelligence officials said in an interview that Niger was never an important part of the CIA's analysis, and that the language of Iraq's vigorous pursuit of uranium came verbatim from a Defense Intelligence Agency report that had caught the vice president's attention. The same day, the CIA referred the Plame leak to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, the fateful step that would eventually lead to Libby's indictment.

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Alt 09.09.2006, 10:36   #77
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08. September 2006

Bericht des US-Senats

Vernichtendes Urteil über Bushs Begründung für Irak-Krieg

400 Seiten dick ist der Bericht des US-Senats. Sein Inhalt ist eine schallende Ohrfeige für US-Präsident Bush: Für einen der Hauptgründe des Irak-Kriegs - eine Verbindung zwischen Diktator Saddam und dem Terrornetzwerk al-Qaida - gibt es demnach keinerlei Hinweise. Washington - Saddam Hussein und seine Schergen in Bagdad "hatten keine Verbindung, boten keine Zuflucht und drückten auch kein Auge zu in Richtung Sarkawi und dessen Anhänger", befindet der Bericht des Geheimdienstausschusses des US-Senats. Vielmehr sei Saddam misstrauisch gegenüber al-Qaida gewesen und habe die islamischen Extremisten als Gefahr für sein Regime angesehen. Die Bitte um ein Treffen mit Qaida-Kommandeuren habe er abgelehnt.

Eines der wichtigsten Argumente, das die Falken der Bush-Regierung vor mehr als vier Jahren gegen den Irak ins Feld führten, nämlich dass Diktator Saddam Hussein den Terrorismus des Netzwerkes von Osama Bin Laden unterstütze, ist damit von höchster legislativer Stelle widerlegt.

Es könne nicht einmal gesagt werden, dass die damalige irakische Regierung den al-Qaida-Führer Abu Mussab al Sarkawi - die angebliche Verbindung zu Bin Laden - geschützt habe, heißt es in dem heute in Washington veröffentlichten Bericht. Sarkawi habe sich zwar von Mai bis Ende November 2002 in Bagdad aufgehalten, aber Saddam habe während dieser Zeit versucht, ihn gefangen zu nehmen.

Damit wird nach Ansicht der oppositionellen Demokraten die Rechtfertigung von US-Präsident George W. Bush für die Invasion im Irak zu einem Zeitpunkt in Frage gestellt, da Bush ständig größten Wert darauf legt, dass der Krieg gegen den Terror im Irak gewonnen werden müsse.

Der gebürtige Jordanier Sarkawi wurde im Juni dieses Jahres bei einem US-Luftangriff im Irak getötet.

Die Senatoren stellten zudem fest, dass die irakische Führung kein aktives Atomprogramm und auch kein mobiles Labor zur Herstellung biologischer Waffen gehabt habe. Die Regierung habe Geheimdienstinformationen nicht so genutzt, wie sie es hätte tun sollen, nämlich "um Entscheidungsträger zu informieren", urteilte die Nummer zwei des Ausschusses, der Demokrat John Rockefeller. Die Verantwortlichen hätten vielmehr Hinweise "ausgewählt, übertrieben oder verschwiegen", um ihre Entscheidung zum Krieg gegen den Irak zu rechtfertigen, die sie ohnehin schon gefasst gehabt hätten.

Der lang erwartete, 400 Seiten dicke Bericht stelle der Regierung ein verheerendes Zeugnis aus, sagte der dem Geheimdienstausschuss angehörende Senator Carl Levin. Bush und Vizepräsident Dick Cheney hätten hartnäckig versucht, Saddam Hussein und al-Qaida in Verbindung zu bringen. Der über einen Zeitraum von zwei Jahren hinweg erstellt Bericht untersucht auch die zweifelhafte Rolle von Informationen der Exilgruppe Irakischer Nationalkongress während des Entscheidungsprozesses vor dem Krieg.



go JDR
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Alt 27.01.2007, 13:27   #78
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Tja ........

30.03.2003 , 09:57 #1

GWB vs. Rockefeller

The Real Stakes Behind the War

- With the UN Neutralized There Are No More Rules
- The U.S. Economy on the Brink
- Global Oil Shortages and Massive Price Hikes Imminent .......


und Rockefeller bleibt dran, auch im Jahr 4 nach Kriegsbeginn

Jan. 25, 2007

Rockefeller: Cheney applied 'constant' pressure to stall investigation on flawed Iraq intelligence

By Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, the panel's Democratic chairman charged Thursday.

In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia also accused President Bush of running an illegal program by ordering eavesdropping on Americans' international e-mails and telephone communications without court-issued warrants.

In the 45-minute interview, Rockefeller said that it was "not hearsay" that Cheney, a leading proponent of invading Iraq, pushed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to drag out the probe of the administration's use of prewar intelligence.

"It was just constant," Rockefeller said of Cheney's alleged interference. He added that he knew that the vice president attended regular policy meetings in which he conveyed White House directions to Republican staffers.

Republicans "just had to go along with the administration," he said.

In an e-mail response to Rockefeller's comments, Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea McBride, said: "The vice president believes Senator Roberts was a good chairman of the Intelligence Committee."

Roberts' chief of staff, Jackie Cottrell, blamed the Democrats for the investigation remaining incomplete more than two years after it began.

"Senator Rockefeller's allegations are patently untrue," she said in an e-mail statement. "The delays came from the Democrats' insistence that they expand the scope of the inquiry to make it a more political document going into the 2006 elections. Chairman Roberts did everything he could to accommodate their requests for further information without allowing them to distort the facts."

"I'm not aware of any effort by the vice president, his staff or anyone in the administration to influence the speed at which the committee did its work," said Bill Duhnke, who was Roberts' staff director.

Rockefeller's comments were among the most forceful he's made about why the committee failed to complete the inquiry under Roberts. Roberts chaired the intelligence committee from January 2003 until the Democrats took over Congress this month.

The panel released a report in July 2004 that lambasted the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for erroneously concluding that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was concealing biological, chemical and nuclear warfare programs. It then began examining how senior Bush administration officials used faulty intelligence to justify the March 2003 invasion.

Robert promised to quickly complete what became known as the Phase II investigation. After more than two years, however, the panel published only two of five Phase II reports amid serious rifts between Republican and Democratic members and their staffs.

Rockefeller recalled that in November 2005, the then-minority Democrats employed a rarely used parliamentary procedure to force the Senate into a closed session to pressure Roberts to complete Phase II.

"That was the reason we closed the session. To force him" to complete the investigation, he said.

The most potentially controversial of the three Phase II reports being worked on will compare what Bush and his top lieutenants said publicly about Iraq's weapons programs and ties to terrorists with what was contained in top-secret intelligence reports.

In the two reports released in September, the panel said that the administration's claims of ties between Saddam and al-Qaida were false and found that administration officials distributed exaggerated and bogus claims provided by an Iraqi exile group with close ties to some senior administration officials.

Rockefeller said it was important to complete the Phase II inquiry.

"The looking backward creates tension, but it's necessary tension because the administration needs to be held accountable and the country . . . needs to know," he said.

Rockefeller said that he and the senior Republican member of the committee, Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., have put the frictions behind them and agree that the committee should press the administration for documents it's withholding on its domestic eavesdropping program and detainee programs.

Under the eavesdropping program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans' international telephone calls and e-mails without court warrants if one party was a suspected member or supporter of al-Qaida or another terrorist group.

Rockefeller charged that Bush had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to obtain permission to eavesdrop on Americans from a secret national security court.

"For five years he's (Bush) has been operating an illegal program," he said, adding that the committee wants the administration to provide the classified documents that set out its legal argument that Bush has the power to wiretap Americans without warrants.

Rockefeller is among a handful of lawmakers who were kept briefed on the program after it started following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he told Cheney in a handwritten note in July 2003 that he was deeply concerned about its legality.

In the interview, Rockefeller said the committee needs more details about how the program worked before it considers amending the eavesdropping act to give the administration the flexibility it says it requires to be able to track terrorists.

"How do we draw something up if we have no idea about what the president sent out in the way of orders to the NSA? What about the interpretation of the Department of Justice?" he asked. "Americans . . . should want us to discern what the facts are, what the truth is."

"Wer zu spät kommt, den.....".... gilt heute für die breite Masse welche vor 4 Jahren noch alle Lügen geglaubt haben und über die letzten Monate aufgewacht sind, auch in den USA drüben ...
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Alt 09.02.2007, 18:31   #79
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auch wenn es seit langem klar war ......

Report Says Pentagon Manipulated Intel

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Friday, February 9, 2007

Pentagon officials undercut the intelligence community in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq by insisting in briefings to the White House that there was a clear relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, the Defense Department's inspector general said Friday.

Acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the office headed by former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith took "inappropriate" actions in advancing conclusions on al-Qaida connections not backed up by the nation's intelligence agencies.

Gimble said that while the actions of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy "were not illegal or unauthorized," they "did not provide the most accurate analysis of intelligence to senior decision makers" at a time when the White House was moving toward war with Iraq.

"I can't think of a more devastating commentary," said Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

He cited Gimble's findings that Feith's office was, despite doubts expressed by the intelligence community, pushing conclusions that Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague five months before the attack, and that there were "multiple areas of cooperation" between Iraq and al-Qaida, including shared pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

"That was the argument that was used to make the sale to the American people about the need to go to war," Levin said in an interview Thursday. He said the Pentagon's work, "which was wrong, which was distorted, which was inappropriate ... is something which is highly disturbing."

Republicans on the panel disagreed. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said the "probing questions" raised by Feith's policy group improved the intelligence process.

"I'm trying to figure out why we are here," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., saying the office was doing its job of analyzing intelligence that had been gathered by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Gimble responded that at issue was that the information supplied by Feith's office in briefings to the National Security Council and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was "provided without caveats" that there were varying opinions on its reliability.

Gimble's report said Feith's office had made assertions "that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community."

At the White House, spokesman Dana Perino said President Bush has revamped the U.S. spy community to try avoiding a repeat of flawed intelligence affecting policy decisions by creating a director of national intelligence and making other changes.

"I think what he has said is that he took responsibility, and that the intel was wrong, and that we had to take measures to revamp the intel community to make sure that it never happened again," Perino told reporters.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman denied that the office was producing its own intelligence products, saying they were challenging what was coming in from intelligence-gathering professionals, "looking at it with a critical eye."

Some Democrats also have contended that Feith misled Congress about the basis of the administration's assertions on the threat posed by Iraq, but the Pentagon investigation did not support that.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Levin said the IG report is "very damning" and shows a Pentagon policy shop trying to shape intelligence to prove a link between al-Qaida and Saddam.

Levin in September 2005 had asked the inspector general to determine whether Feith's office's activities were appropriate, and if not, what remedies should be pursued.

The 2004 report from the Sept. 11 commission found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror organization before the U.S. invasion.

Asked to comment on the IG's findings, Feith said in a telephone interview that he had not seen the report but was pleased to hear that it concluded his office's activities were neither illegal nor unauthorized. He took strong issue, however, with the finding that some activities had been "inappropriate."

"The policy office has been smeared for years by allegations that its pre-Iraq-war work was somehow 'unlawful' or 'unauthorized' and that some information it gave to congressional committees was deceptive or misleading," said Feith, who left his Pentagon post in August 2005.

Feith called "bizarre" the inspector general's conclusion that some intelligence activities by the Office of Special Plans, which was created while Feith served as the undersecretary of defense for policy — the top policy position under then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld — were inappropriate but not unauthorized.

"Clearly, the inspector general's office was willing to challenge the policy office and even stretch some points to be able to criticize it," Feith said, adding that he felt it was subjective "quibbling." Feith maintains that the policy office and other, smaller groups created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks proved prudent and useful in challenging some of the CIA's analysis.

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Alt 12.02.2007, 23:22   #80
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Wake Up! The Next War Is Coming

By Ray McGovern

Senator Rockefeller? Stop the war against Iran before it starts. You are chair of the intelligence committee. You don’t have to be stonewalled, as previous chair Senator Bob Graham was in September 2002. Yes, he voted against the war in Iraq because he knew of the games being played with the intelligence. But he failed to play a leadership role; he didn’t tell his 99 colleagues they were being diddled. It’s time for some leadership

"Viele Wirtschaftswissenschaftler glauben an ihre Theorien, wie andere Menschen an ihre Religion glauben." John Mauldin
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Alt 16.02.2007, 14:22   #81
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Freshman WA state senator seeks Iraq probe, possible impeachment

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A freshman Democratic state senator who represents a traditionally Republican district introduced a resolution Wednesday asking that Congress investigate the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and possibly consider impeachment of the president and vice president.

Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, a retired Microsoft millionaire, told a cheering audience of peace activists that a full investigation is needed to give Congress and ordinary citizens better information about the war and whether impeachable offenses occurred.

"Congress is not leading on this, the American people are," he said.

If enough state and local governments petition Congress, the Democrats may get tougher about investigations and possible impeachment, he said.

Later Wednesday, state House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said of Oemig's resolution, "It's unlikely we will do that."

Oemig said he has eight Democratic co-sponsors in the state Senate and expects the bill to clear the upper chamber. A hearing is set for March 1. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, recently said the war is a legitimate discussion topic for state lawmakers, but didn't want to spend a lot of committee or floor time on debate.

"I'm new around here and I do feel some pressure" to not pursue a federal issue, Oemig said. "I answer to my constituents who elected me and are asking for me to do this."

He displayed what he described as more than 700 e-mails of support, with

11 opposed.

House Speaker Chopp said the Legislature sometimes petitions Congress or the White House on issues that directly affect the state, such as budget concerns or homeland security.

"We have 105 days to get done on time and we have a lot to get done," he said. "I have very strong opinions on what a disaster the Iraq war has been, but do I need to say it by passing something on the floor and take up a lot of people's time on that?"

Republican lawmakers had no immediate comment.

Oemig's resolution said the president and his team "appear to have deliberately misrepresented the severity of the threat from Iraq by providing distorted intelligence to Congress and the public in order to justify war with Iraq."

The war has cost lives and "squandered" money and the administration has used surveillance on its own citizens, the resolution said. The proposal asks Congress to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to impeach the president and vice president.
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Alt 06.03.2007, 20:08   #82
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06. März 2007

Cheneys Ex-Berater Libby in CIA-Affäre schuldig gesprochen

Washington - Lewis "Scooter" Libby, der frühere Stabschef von US-Vizepräsident Dick Cheney, ist von einem Geschworenengericht schuldig gesprochen worden. In der Affäre um die Enttarnung der CIA-Agentin Valerie Plame habe er gelogen.

Libby habe sich unter anderem der Justizbehinderung schuldig gemacht, heißt es in dem Urteil der Jury. Die Geschworenen halten ihn in vier von fünf Fällen für schuldig, die Justizbehörden angelogen zu haben. Vom Vorwurf, die Bundespolizei FBI belogen zu haben, wurde Libby von der Jury in Washington freigesprochen. Ihm drohen bis zu 25 Jahre Haft.

Libby war im Skandal um die Enttarnung der US-Spionin Valerie Plame vor rund dreieinhalb Jahren des Meineids angeklagt. Er beteuert seine Unschuld.

Die Enttarnung Plames hatte eine der heftigsten Affären in der zweiten Amtszeit von Präsident George W. Bush ausgelöst. Bis zuletzt standen dessen engste Mitarbeiter in dem Verdacht, die Identität der Frau gezielt preisgegeben zu haben. Ziel sei gewesen, ihren Mann, den ehemaligen US-Botschafter Joseph Wilson, für seine Kritik am Irak-Krieg zu bestrafen.

Dieser hatte der Regierung im Sommer 2003 in einem Gastbeitrag für die "New York Times" vorgeworfen, zur Rechtfertigung des Irak-Kriegs fragwürdige Geheimdienstinformationen genutzt zu haben. Acht Tage später wurde seine Frau in einem Artikel des Journalisten Robert Novak als CIA-Agentin enttarnt.

Libby wurde in dem Fall vorgeworfen, Ermittler belogen zu haben, als sie versuchten herauszufinden, wer die Identität der Agentin im Jahr 2003 der Öffentlichkeit preisgab.

Der Mehrheitsführer der oppositionellen Demokraten im US-Senat Harry Reid begrüßte das Urteil. Es sei an der Zeit, dass jemand in der Bush-Regierung für die Kampagne zur Manipulierung von Geheimdienstinformationen und Diskreditierung von Irak-Kriegsgegnern zur Verantwortung gezogen werde. Bush müsse jetzt versprechen, Libby nicht zu begnadigen.,470265,00.html

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Alt 07.03.2007, 17:32   #83
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March 7, 2007

Analysis: Verdict Puts Focus on Cheney


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Campaigning in 2000, George Bush promised he would swear on the Bible to restore honor and dignity to a sullied White House and give it ''one heck of a scrubbing.'' The conviction of I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby gave the White House a scrubbing -- but not the one Bush had in mind.

The case laid bare the inner workings of a presidency under siege and the secretive world of Vice President Dick Cheney.

It showed the lengths to which Cheney went in early summer 2003 to discredit administration critic Joseph Wilson. The former ambassador's assertions had cast doubt on the administration's justification for having taken the country to war in Iraq. And the Libby case showed the president assisting Cheney in the leaked attacks on Wilson.

Libby, who was Cheney's chief of staff, was found guilty on Tuesday of four of five counts of obstructing justice, lying and perjury during an investigation into the administration's disclosure of the identity of undercover CIA official Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife.

The verdict ''does great damage to the Bush administration,'' said Paul C. Light, professor of public service at New York University. ''It undermines the president's pledge of ethical conduct. But the most serious consequence is that it will raise questions about Cheney's durability in office. It may be time for Cheney to submit his resignation.''

But don't count on it. Bush in the past has repeatedly come to the defense of his vice president.

The trial, which included a month of testimony, is also relevant as the U.S. seeks to build a case that Iran is providing sophisticated munitions to Shiite insurgents in Iraq who are using them against U.S. troops. Administration critics have suggested the administration is trying to lay the groundwork for isolating or even attacking Iran -- using flawed intelligence, like in Iraq.

Wilson, a retired career diplomat, had accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to build its case to invade Iraq.

The trial leaves a trail of unanswered questions leading to the doorsteps of Bush and Cheney.

Testimony and evidence did not clear up whether they directed the leaking of Plame's identity to the news media.

But the trial did show Bush declassified prewar intelligence that Libby leaked to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a plan carried out in such secrecy that no one in the government except Bush, Cheney and Libby even knew about it.

Testimony showed the vice president was aware early on that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and told Libby about it. Cheney even scribbled a note to himself a week before Wilson's wife was exposed asking whether she had sent her husband on the CIA mission to Africa that triggered the controversy.

Cheney also directed Libby to speak with selected reporters to counter Wilson's accusations. Cheney developed talking points on the matter for the White House press office. He helped draft a statement by then-CIA Director George Tenet. And he moved to declassify some intelligence material to bolster the case against Wilson.

Lanny Davis, a lawyer who worked in the Clinton White House during several investigations, said Tuesday that, while Libby was the defendant, ''it was Vice President Cheney who was on trial today and who has the responsibility for what Libby did. The vice president has a personal and moral responsibility to take responsibility for what Mr. Libby did at his instruction -- and to apologize to Valerie Plame.''

Cheney said in a statement that he was ''very disappointed with the verdict'' and that Libby had ''served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction.'' Cheney said he would withhold further comment because Libby was seeking a new trial or, if necessary, an appeal.

Prosecutors said Libby concocted a story to avoid losing his job for disclosing classified information to reporters without authorization. Libby's attorneys said any errors resulted from memory flaws.

The White House refused to comment on the possibility that Bush would pardon Libby. He was the only one charged in the case, and he was not charged with deliberately disclosing Plame's identity, which can be a federal crime, but with lying to investigators and a grand jury. Testimony showed there were other leakers, including adviser Karl Rove, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

The White House has never corrected the denials it issued in the fall of 2003 saying neither Rove nor Libby was involved in the leak of Plame's CIA identity. Political observers doubt any correction will be made.

''What's really focused people's attention is the loss of American troops in Iraq and it's allowed Bush, Cheney and Rove -- once he wasn't indicted -- to kind of be pushed off the radar screen'' regarding the Plame affair, said presidential historian Robert Dallek.

Democrats used the verdicts to attack Cheney. ''Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct,'' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino would not characterize the verdict as embarrassing for the White House. ''I think that we have been able to continue on in moving forward on all sorts of different fronts,'' she said.

It's not the administration's first ethics-related conviction. Two former Bush administration officials have been convicted in investigations related to jailed Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Last June, a former White House aide, David H. Safavian, was convicted of lying to government investigators about his ties to Abramoff. He faces an 180-month prison sentence. Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting tickets he received from Abramoff.

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Tom Raum has covered national and international affair for The Associated Press since 1973. Associated Press Writer Pete Yost contributed to this article.
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Alt 03.04.2007, 18:15   #84
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How Bogus Letter Became a Case for War

Intelligence Failures Surrounded Inquiry on Iraq-Niger Uranium Claim

By Peter Eisner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 3, 2007; A01

It was 3 a.m. in Italy on Jan. 29, 2003, when President Bush in Washington began reading his State of the Union address that included the now famous -- later retracted -- 16 words: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Like most Europeans, Elisabetta Burba, an investigative reporter for the Italian newsweekly Panorama, waited until the next day to read the newspaper accounts of Bush's remarks. But when she came to the 16 words, she recalled, she got a sudden sinking feeling in her stomach. She wondered: How could the American president have mentioned a uranium sale from Africa?

Burba felt uneasy because more than three months earlier, she had turned over to the U.S. Embassy in Rome documents about an alleged uranium sale by the central African nation of Niger. And she knew now that the documents were fraudulent and the 16 words wrong.

Nonetheless, the uranium claim would become a crucial justification for the invasion of Iraq that began less than two months later. When occupying troops found no nuclear program, the 16 words and how they came to be in the speech became a focus for critics in Washington and foreign capitals to press the case that the White House manipulated facts to take the United States to war.

Dozens of interviews with current and former intelligence officials and policymakers in the United States, Britain, France and Italy show that the Bush administration disregarded key information available at the time showing that the Iraq-Niger claim was highly questionable.

In February 2002, the CIA received the verbatim text of one of the documents, filled with errors easily identifiable through a simple Internet search, the interviews show. Many low- and mid-level intelligence officials were already skeptical that Iraq was in pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The interviews also showed that France, berated by the Bush administration for opposing the Iraq war, honored a U.S. intelligence request to investigate the uranium claim. It determined that its former colony had not sold uranium to Iraq.

Burba, who had no special expertise in Africa or nuclear technology, was able to quickly unravel the fraud. Yet the claims clung to life within the Bush administration for months, eventually finding their way into the State of the Union address.

As a result of the CIA's failure to firmly discredit the document text it received in February 2002, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was called in to investigate the claim. That decision eventually led to the special counsel's investigation that exposed inner workings of the White House and ended with the criminal conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was forced to resign as chief of staff to Vice President Cheney.

"You know I feel bad about it," Burba said later, discussing her frustrations about her role in giving the dossier to the Americans. "You know the fact is that my documents, with the documents I brought to them, they justified the war."

The Tip

In early October of 2002, a man mysteriously contacted Elisabetta Burba at her Milan office.

"Do you remember me?" the deep voice said, without identifying himself outright. It was Rocco Martino, an old source who had proved reliable in the past. He was once again trying to sell her information.

Martino said he had some very interesting documents to show her, and asked whether she could fly down to Rome right away.

They met at a restaurant in Rome on Oct. 7, where Martino showed Burba a folder filled with documents, most of them in French. One of the documents was purportedly sent by the president of Niger to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, confirming a deal to sell 500 tons of uranium to Iraq annually. This was the smoking gun in the package, claiming to show the formal approval of Niger's president to supply Iraq with a commodity that would in all likelihood only be used for a nuclear weapons program: Iraq had no nuclear power plants.

Though the document was in French it would later come to be known as "The Italian Letter." It was written in all capital letters, in the form of an old telex, and bore the letterhead of the Republic of Niger. The letter was dated July 27, 2000, and included an odd shield on the top, a shining sun surrounded by a horned animal head, a star and a bird. The letter was stamped Confidential and Urgent.

The letter said that "500 tons of pure uranium per year will be delivered in two phases." A seal at the bottom of the page read "The Office of the President of the Republic of Niger." Superimposed over the seal was a barely legible signature bearing the name of the president of Niger, Mamadou Tandja.

Burba listened without saying much as she took a first look at the documents. She recognized right away that the material was hot, if authentic. But confirming the origin would be difficult, she recalled thinking at the time. She didn't want to fall into a trap.

Burba and Martino made an agreement; she would take the documents, and if they checked out as authentic, then they could talk about money.

'Let's Go to the Americans'

Back in her magazine's Milan newsroom, Burba told her editors she thought it would make sense to fly to Niger and check around for confirmation. The editor of the magazine, Carlo Rossella, agreed. He then suggested they simultaneously pursue another tack.

"Let's go to the Americans," Rossella said, "because they are focused on looking for weapons of mass destruction more than anyone else. Let's see if they can authenticate the documents." Rossella called the U.S. Embassy in Rome and alerted officials to expect a visit from Burba.

On Wednesday morning, Oct. 9, Burba returned to Rome and took a cab to the U.S. Embassy, which is housed at the old Palazzo Margherita.

Burba came to a security gate and walked through a magnetometer, where an Italian employee of the embassy press department came down to meet her.

After a few formalities, an Italian aide introduced her to Ian Kelly, the embassy press spokesman. Kelly and Burba walked across the embassy's walled grounds and sat down for a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.

Burba told Kelly that she had some documents about Iraq and uranium shipments and needed help in confirming their authenticity and accuracy.

Kelly interrupted her, realizing he needed help. He made a phone call summoning someone else from his staff as well as a political officer. Burba recalled a third person being invited, possibly a U.S. military attache. She didn't get their names.

"Let's go to my office," Kelly said. They walked past antiquities, a tranquil fountain, steps and pieces of marble, all set in a tree-lined patio garden.

The Italian journalist's chat with Kelly and his colleagues was brief. She handed over the papers; Kelly told her the embassy would look into the matter. But Kelly had not been briefed on what others in the embassy knew.

CIA Role

One person who refused to meet with Burba was the CIA chief of station. A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Sismi, the Italian intelligence agency, had sent along information about the alleged sale of uranium to Iraq. The station chief asked for more information and would later consider it far-fetched.

On Oct. 15, 2001, the CIA reports officer at the embassy wrote a brief summary based on the Sismi intelligence, signed and dated it, and routed it to CIA's Operations Directorate in Langley, with copies going to the clandestine service's European and Near East divisions. The reports officer had limited its distribution because the intelligence was uncorroborated; she was aware of Sismi's questionable track record and did not believe the report merited wider dissemination.

The Operations Directorate then passed the raw intelligence to the CIA's Intelligence Directorate and to sister agencies, including the Defense Intelligence Agency. A more polished document, called a Senior Executive Intelligence Brief, was written at Langley three days later in which the CIA mentioned the new intelligence but added important caveats. The classified document, whose distribution was limited to senior policymakers and the congressional intelligence committees, said there was no corroboration and noted that Iraq had "no known facilities for processing or enriching the material."

Pushing the Africa Claim

Almost four months later, on Feb. 5, 2002, the CIA received more information from Sismi, including the verbatim text of one of the documents. The CIA failed to recognize that it was riddled with errors, including misspellings and the wrong names for key officials. But it was a separate DIA report about the claims that would lead Cheney to demand further investigation. In response, the CIA dispatched Wilson to Niger.

Martino's approach to Burba eight months later with the Italian letter coincided with accelerating U.S. preparations for war. On Oct. 7, 2002, the same day Martino gave Burba the dossier, President Bush launched a new hard-line PR campaign on Iraq. In a speech in Cincinnati, he declared that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a "grave threat" to U.S. national security.

"It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons," the president warned.

CIA Director George J. Tenet had vetted the text of Bush's speech and was able to persuade the White House to drop one questionable claim: that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa. The information was too fishy, Tenet explained to the National Security Council and Bush's speechwriters.

Bush dropped the shopping-for-uranium claim, but ratcheted up the bomb threat. He said in Cincinnati that if Hussein obtained bomb-grade uranium the size of a softball, he would have a nuclear bomb within a year. This particular doomsday scenario had first been unveiled several weeks earlier, on Aug. 26, by Cheney. In a speech in Nashville to the 103rd national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he declared with no equivocation that Hussein had "resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons."

On Oct. 16, Burba sat on a plane on her way to Niger, while in Washington, copies of the Italian letter and the accompanying dossier were placed on the table at an interagency nuclear proliferation meeting hosted by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

At this point, State Department analysts had determined the documents were phony, and had produced by far the most accurate assessment of Iraq's weapons program of the 16 agencies that make up the intelligence community. But the department's small intelligence unit operated in a bubble. Few administration officials -- not even Secretary of State Colin L. Powell -- paid much attention to its analytical product, much of which clashed with the White House's assumptions.

The State Department bureau, nevertheless, shared the bogus documents with those intelligence officials attending the meeting, including representatives of the Energy Department, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency. Four CIA officials attended, but only one, a clandestine service officer, bothered to take a copy of the Italian letter.

He returned to his office, filed the material in a safe and forgot about it.

The Niger uranium matter was not uppermost in the minds of the CIA analysts. Some of them had to deal with the issue in any case, largely because Cheney, his aide Libby and some aides at the National Security Council had repeatedly demanded more information and more analysis.

A Fraud Unravels

Burba arrived in Niamey, Niger's capital, on Oct. 17 and began tracking down leads on the Italian letter. Burba's investigation followed a series of similar inquiries by Wilson, the former ambassador, who investigated on behalf of the CIA eight months earlier. It became clear that Niger was not capable of secretly shipping yellowcake uranium to Iraq or anywhere else.

Burba found that a French company controlled the uranium trade, and any shipment of uranium would have been noticed. If a uranium sale had taken place, the logistics would have been daunting. "They would have needed hundreds of trucks," she said -- a large percentage of all the trucks in Niger. It would have been impossible to conceal.

Burba returned to Milan and reported her findings to her bosses in detail. She didn't believe the evidence provided by Martino; it was impossible. Her editors agreed. There was no story.

Five months later, on March 7, 2003, as preparations for the Iraq invasion were in their final stages, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the U.N. Security Council that the report that Iraq had been shopping for uranium in Niger was based on forged documents. The agency had received the document from the United States a few weeks earlier.

Not long after the invasion, other news media in Italy, elsewhere in Europe and then in the United States reported that the source of the information about a Niger yellowcake uranium deal had been a batch of bogus letters and other documents passed along several months earlier to an unnamed Italian reporter, who in turn handed the information over to the United States.

Although Burba knew that the Bush administration had also received information about the forged documents from Italian intelligence, she wished she could have acted earlier to reveal the fraud.

It remains unclear who fabricated the documents. Intelligence officials say most likely it was rogue elements in Sismi who wanted to make money selling them.

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Alt 07.04.2007, 09:36   #85
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06. April 2007

Pentagon-Memo zeigt, wie US-Regierung Kriegsgründe konstruieren ließ

Washington/Los Angeles - Massenvernichtungswaffen, Atompläne, Qaida-Connection: Um den Irak-Feldzug zu rechtfertigen, ließ US-Präsident Bush munter Kriegsgründe erfinden. Jetzt tauchte erstmals ein Memo des Pentagons auf, das zeigt, wie die Administration ihre Beamten drängte, wohlfeile Analysen anzufertigen.

Die Anschläge vom 11. September 2001 waren gerade vier Monate her, als Paul Wolfowitz langsam die Geduld verlor: "Wir scheinen keine besonderen Fortschritte zu machen, Geheimdienstinformationen über die Verbindungen zwischen dem Irak und al-Qaida zusammenzutragen", schrieb der damalige Vize-Verteidigungsminister in einem Memo an Staatssekretär Douglas J. Feith, die Nummer drei im Pentagon. Man schulde Verteidigungsminister Donald Rumsfeld eine Analyse zu dem Thema, forderte Wolfowitz.

Das Memo wurde zum Anstoß für die vermeintliche Beweisführung über Verbindungen zwischen dem Regime von Saddam Hussein und dem Terrornetzwerk. Es ist Teil eines nun vollständig veröffentlichten Berichts des Pentagon-Generalinspekteurs Thomas Gimble. Bereits im Februar hatte Gimble Teile des Berichts vor dem Streitkräfteausschuss des US-Senats vorgestellt und nachgewiesen, dass führende Mitarbeiter des Verteidigungsministeriums vor dem Irak-Krieg Geheimdienstinformationen zuspitzten. Zwar sei das Vorgehen der Gruppe um Staatssekretär Feith nicht gesetzeswidrig gewesen, sie habe der Regierung um Präsident George W. Bush aber eine ungenaue Bewertung der vorhandenen Geheimdienstinformationen gegeben, kritisierte Gimble seinerzeit.

Die bislang geheimen Teile des 121 Seiten starken Sonderberichts enthüllen Berichten der "Washington Post" und er "Los Angeles Times" zufolge nun neue Details, wie Staatssekretär Feith und seine Leute es schafften, widersprüchliche Informationen einfach beiseite zu wischen und die Regierungsspitze davon zu überzeugen, es gebe eindeutige Beweise über Verbindungen zwischen dem Saddam-Regime und Terroristen. Diese angebliche Zusammenarbeit und den vermeintlichen Besitz von Massenvernichtungswaffen hatte die US-Regierung als Hauptgründe für ihren Irak-Feldzug im Jahr 2003 angeführt.

Unglaubwürdige Schlussfolgerungen

Der Bericht des Sonderinspekteurs macht deutlich, welche enorme Bedeutung die Feith-Gruppe etwa einem angeblichen Treffen zwischen Mohammed Atta, dem Anführer der 9/11-Terroristen, und einem irakischen Geheimdienstoffizier im April 2001 in Prag beimaß. Feith wertete diese Zusammenkunft als "known contact" zwischen dem irakischen Regime und Terroristen. US-Geheimdienste dagegen stellten den Bericht über das Treffen in Frage, weil er auf einer einzelnen Quelle, die in Kontakt mit dem tschechischen Geheimdienst stand, beruhte. Ob Atta sich tatsächlich mit dem irakischen Agenten traf, konnte niemals von zweiter Seite bestätigt werden.

Im Gimble-Report heißt es: Der US-Militärgeheimdienst DIA und die CIA hätten keinerlei "vollentwickelte, symbiotische Zusammenarbeit zwischen dem Irak und al-Qaida" feststellen können. Man sei sich einig, dass die Informationen über das angebliche Treffen zwischen Atta und dem irakischen Offiziellen zumindest widersprüchlich gewesen seien, von einem "known contact" könne auf keinen Fall die Rede sein.

Dem Sonderinspekteur fiel auch auf, dass Feith die Präsentationen seiner Erkenntnisse seinem jeweiligen Publikum anpasste. Demnach hatte er wenigstens drei verschiedene Versionen seiner Diavorführungen zusammengestellt. Als er es etwa mit dem damaligen CIA-Direktor George Tenet zu tun hatte, ließ er kurzerhand jenen Aspekt aus, an dem es um "fundamentale Probleme" bei der Art und Weise ging, wie Geheimdienste ihre Informationen bewerteten. Sehr wohl ließ Feith dagegen Bushs Stabschef Lewis Libby und den damaligen Vize-Chef des Nationalen Sicherheitsrates, Stephen Hadley seine Kritik an der Arbeit der Geheimdienste wissen.

Fast zeitgleich mit der vollständigen Veröffentlichung des Gimble-Reports verteidigte US-Vizepräsident Dick Cheney die amerikanischen Kriegsgründe erneut. In einem konservativen Rundfunksender beharrte er darauf, dass al-Qaida im Irak operierte, lange bevor die USA in den Krieg gezogen seien. So habe der im vergangenen Juni getötete irakische Qaida-Chef Abu Mussab al-Sarkawi zu dieser Zeit längst im Irak gelebt und Terroraktionen geleitet. "Sie waren dort, bevor wir im Irak einmarschierten", sagte Cheney.,476043,00.html
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