Thursday, May 21, 2009

When Newt Gingrich worked for the Lie Factory 

Re-reading: from 2006 and 2004. Some old articles as they relate to recent charges from the likes of Newt Gingrich:
“To have the person third in line to be president say that the CIA misleads us all the time is so utterly irresponsible and such an attack on the men and women who are risking their lives ... that she disqualifies herself for being speaker of the House,” the Georgia Republican said during an interview on Joe Scarborough’s radio show.

“This is not like an average member, this is not some back-bencher who's allowed to, you know, say dumb things,” Gingrich added. “This person, the speaker of the House, has access to the nation's secrets.” [Politico, 5.18.09]

Newt Gingrich, one of the persons "in line to be president" who helped manufacture and distribute the lies and false intelligence that misled this country into an "utterly irresponsible" war in Iraq. Endangering (and costing) the lives of countless men and women and children from around the world. Newt Gingrich, "this person", the former speaker of the House, had access to our nation's secrets. What did former Lie Factory foreman person Newt Gingrich know about torture in 2002?


"Gingrich is what he is," [...] "Disingenuous as hell, never held to accountability...

Alex Koppelman Salon / December 2006:
Newt Gingrich's "outsider" act
As he eyes the White House, the former speaker tries to distance himself from the Bush administration, but he helped the president make his biggest mistake.


But when it comes to the "establishment" or "power structure," Gingrich has been anything but an outsider. He may now be trying to put some distance between himself and the Bush administration, but his fingerprints are all over the very debacle that has made the president politically toxic. As a close advisor to the administration over the past six years, as an intimate of both Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.


Gingrich wasn't merely a booster of the war and the manner in which it was conducted, said Kenneth Adelman, who like Gingrich was a member of the influential Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, which advises the Secretary of Defense. He was involved in the hands-on planning.


In fact, Gingrich's seat on the Defense Policy Board put him at the heart of the administration faction that was pushing to wage war on Iraq. During two meetings little more than a week after 9/11, according to the New York Times, board members became convinced that Iraq should be the next target after the invasion of Afghanistan. Gingrich was quoted in that Times report, on Oct. 12, 2001, as saying, "If we don't use this as the moment to replace Saddam after we replace the Taliban, we are setting the stage for disaster."


Gingrich also took part in the Bush administration's Iraq-inspired intramural policy battles. He chose the side of the popular kids, the hawks and neocons.


"Gingrich is what he is," Wilkerson said. "Disingenuous as hell, never held to accountability for the nine ideas out of ten that don't work ... but I don't think he runs around operating secret cabals in order to effect major changes in policy. He just does it upfront and in your face. Now, I may be wrong, but that's not my appreciation of him. Luti, Feith [Douglas Feith, former under-secretary of defense for policy] and that crew, they're the backroom gang. They're Nazis. They're Gestapo."

But Gingrich's ideas do sometimes translate into policy. Perhaps the best example is the Department of Homeland Security, for years a pet project of Gingrich's -- former Sen. Warren Rudman, whose Hart-Rudman Commission was one of the driving forces behind DHS's creation, once called Gingrich the father of the idea.


But Wilkerson says that, as in his criticism of the State Department, which Wilkerson believes was severely damaged by legislation passed under Gingrich, the former speaker is attacking a problem largely of his own making.

"He will take part in 100 things, 90 of which will ultimately be wrecks, and then there'll be no accountability ... I would contend one of the train wrecks that he's left in his wake is the Homeland Security Department ... I think it's a disaster. I doubt that we'll ever reverse it, because once you've created something that behemoth-like in our federal bureaucracy, oh God help the person who tries to take it down."

Full Story: Newt Gingrich's "outsider" act

"Luti, Feith [Douglas Feith, former under-secretary of defense for policy] and that crew, they're the backroom gang. They're Nazis. They're Gestapo."

William Luti:
Dr. William J. Luti is Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Special Plans and Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs in the Office of the Vice President (2002). He is identified as a neo-con in a February 27, 2005, article in the New York Times.


"Before joining the Bush administration, Luti had been a key player in Washington for years. Over the last decade, the Tufts graduate had worked under Vice President Richard Cheney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith.

William Luti, Newt Gingrich, and the Office of Special Plans (OSP):
Most important, Gingrich met regularly with one old friend, Cheney, and advised another, Rumsfeld. But his influence was also felt in the former employees who had taken jobs throughout the administration. Notably, Bill Luti and William Bruner, who had served Gingrich as military affairs advisors during his days as speaker, were central figures in the Bush team's politicization of intelligence. They worked for the infamous Office of Special Plans, the Department of Defense's "stovepiping" operation that was responsible for much of the questionable intelligence on Iraq. Bruner himself was the handler for Ahmad Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi who provided much of the OSP's most dubious data. Bruner and Luti worked with Elliott Abrams, the disgraced Iran-Contra figure whose redemption Gingrich had kick-started. [see Newt Gingrich's "outsider" act link above]

- - - - - - - -

The Lie Factory:
Both Luti and Shulsky were neoconservatives who were ideological soul mates of Wolfowitz and Feith. But Luti was more than that. He'd come to the Pentagon directly from the office of Vice President Cheney. That gave Luti, a recently retired, decorated Navy captain whose career ran from combat aviation to command of a helicopter assault ship, extra clout. Along with his colleague Colonel William Bruner, Luti had done a stint as an aide to Newt Gingrich in 1996...


According to Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official and an intelligence specialist at the National War College, the OSP officials routinely pushed lower-ranking staff around on intelligence matters. "People were being pulled aside [and being told], 'We saw your last piece and it's not what we're looking for,'" he says. "It was pretty blatant." Two State Department intelligence officials, Greg Thielmann and Christian Westermann, have both charged that pressure was being put on them to shape intelligence to fit policy, in particular from Bolton's office. "The Al Qaeda connection and nuclear weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link Iraq to an imminent security threat to the U.S.," Thielmann told the New York Times. "And the administration was grossly distorting the intelligence on both things."

Besides Cheney, key members of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, including Perle and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, all Iraq hawks, had direct input into NESA/OSP. The offices of NESA were located on the Pentagon's fourth floor, seventh corridor of D Ring, and the Policy Board's offices were directly below, on the third floor. During the run-up to the Iraq war, Gingrich often came up for closed-door meetings with Luti, who in 1996 had served as a congressional fellow in Speaker of the House Gingrich's office.

As OSP got rolling, Luti brought in Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich, and, together, Luti and Bruner opened the door to a vast flow of bogus intelligence fed to the Pentagon by Iraqi defectors associated with Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress group of exiles.


After founding the INC, Chalabi's bungling, unreliability, and penchant for mismanaging funds caused the CIA to sour on him, but he never lost the support of Perle, Feith, Gingrich, and their allies; once, soon after 9/11, Perle invited Chalabi to address the Defense Policy Board.


Bruner, the aide to Luti and Gingrich's former staffer, "was Chalabi's handler," says Kwiatkowski. "He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks," she says, adding that the INC leader often brought people into the NESA/OSP offices for debriefings.


Chalabi also claimed to have given the Pentagon information about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda. "We gave the names of people who were doing the links," he told an interviewer from PBS's Frontline. Those links, of course, have not been discovered. Thielmann told the same Frontline interviewer that the Office of Special Plans didn't apply strict intelligence-verification standards to "some of the information coming out of Chalabi and the INC that OSP and the Pentagon ran with."

Read in full: The Lie Factory, (Mother Jones, Jan-Feb 2004)


Former Select Committee on Intelligence Vice-Chairman Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska) resigns; questions "whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action" in Iraq.

Via MSNBC (Aug., 19, 2004):
Intelligence vice chairman calls war unjustified ‘Dangerous, costly mess,’ Bereuter says as he leaves House
updated 7:15 a.m. ET, Thurs., Aug 19, 2004

LINCOLN, Neb. - A top Republican lawmaker has broken from his party in the final days of his House career, saying he believes that the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified and that the situation there has deteriorated into “a dangerous, costly mess.”

“I’ve reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action,” Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., wrote in a letter to his constituents.

“Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action,” he said.


However, after a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded in early July that intelligence agencies had provided false assessments of the Iraqi threat before the war, the panel’s Republican chairman, Pat Roberts of Kansas, said Congress might not have approved the Iraq war had lawmakers known the truth.

CNN, August 31, 2004:
Congressional Republicans appeared surprised and angry at Bereuter's comments.

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Illinois, a member of the intelligence panel, described Bereuter as "very bitter" for having been passed over in recent years to head the intelligence and international relations committees. He suggested Bereuter's comments were a parting shot to House GOP leaders and President Bush.

Bereuter (former Vice-Chairman on the Select Committee on Intelligence) wrote (August 19, 2004):
Knowing now what I know about the reliance on the tenuous or insufficiently corroborated intelligence used to conclude that Saddam maintained a substantial WMD arsenal, I believe that launching the preemptive military action was not justified. However, the inability of the administration to clearly establish a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam, despite the intimations of various administration leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney, is no surprise to me. In my floor statement of Oct. 8, 2002, during the debate on the "military use of force" resolution, I said, "The administration cannot yet present incontrovertible evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam."

Skewing of Intelligence to Justify the War?

Of course, one of the major controversies yet remaining is whether key individuals in the administration skewed the intelligence made available to them to justify military action against Saddam's Iraq or, whether coerced, intimidated, or sympathetic American intelligence analysts and managers gave them the findings they seemed to want in order to justify military action. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee reports finding no evidence of such pressure and I do not believe that individual members of the House Committee have such evidence. Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action. That would be difficult to determine definitively without "a smoking gun."


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