AN AR Editorial
SEN. CARL LEVIN 'BOWELS' 'EM OVER
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
As of July 9, 2003, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is chairing a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee investigation - and a cover-up, we suspect - of the origins of the lie about Iraq's search for uranium that was contained in the live, televised State of the Union speech President George W. Bush gave to a joint session of Congress in late January. The White House admitted on July 7 that the information used by the President to gain support for the war against Iraq was not credible and should not have been used because it was based on forged documents. That admission only comes after we learned the lie was debunked by the intelligence community and by a U.S. Ambassador at least five months before the President's speech.
Frankly, we fear the Sen. Levin, a strong supporter of Israel, may prevent disclosures that would reveal the true nature of the President's lie. Israel's chief lobbyists for the war - Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and defense analyst Richard Perle - have not been implicated in the forgery so far, and we fear they may be at the core of the dirty secret that Sen. Levin has set out to hide. As Israel's key spokesmen in the U.S. political establishment, these two men very much wanted the Iraq war, both on Israel's behalf and possibly - according to an article in The New Yorker - because it would also make money for a company Perle is associated with. When Israel made a big deal of saying it took no position on the war - which, had it not been fought, might have left them vulnerable to more Scud attacks by Saddam - the insiders laughed. But it was no joke.
You may not recall that Perle, a longtime Defense Dept. policy-maker, was embarassed into resigning as head of the influential Defense Policy Board when his business dealings with notorious Saudi arms broker Adnan Khashoggi were disclosed on March 17 in The New Yorker (http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?030317fa_fact); Perle had lunch with Khashoggi in January, reporter Seymour Hersh revealed; we think the take-out carton included a set of forged documents that probably originated in Israel.
Sen. Levin should take note of when these forged documents about an alleged Iraqi effort to purchase uranium from the small African nation of Niger appeared in the mix of lies, assertions and policy ideas that later formed the President's Jan. 27 speech. We suspect they went from Khashoggi to Perle at their lunch in January, to Wolfowitz, and from there to the CIA by one route, and to someone at the the White House by another. Now, the bull is in Levin's court, if you'll pardon a modest pun. The CIA dismissed the documents as fakes, but that same information came to the White House through another channel and was fleshed out in the President's speech to the nation in order to spur us all to war. What Sen. Levin wants us to believe is that the information all came through U.S. intelligence agencies, and that essentially, they dismissed it as fake while at the same time offering it to the President for his speech.
But, as the New York Times reports today, National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said Tuesday that "the documents alleging a transaction between Iraq and Niger were not the sole basis for the line in the president's State of the Union speech that referred to recent Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium from Africa." According to the paper (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/09/international/worldspecial/09INTE.html), at the time a "national intelligence estimate" - a wider, more inclusive document that is a fundamental assessment of a given issue and is provided to elected and appointed policy makers - noted "attempts by Iraq to acquire uranium from several countries" in Africa. "We now know that documents alleging a transaction between Iraq and Niger had been forge," Anton said. The other information was not solid enough to get used by the President, Anton explained - only the forgery made the grade.
Now, according to a letter released yesterday by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, it is revealed that a Feb. 4 letter from the U.S. State Dept. to the International Atomic Energy Agency just seven days after the President's speech warned the IAEA - which had begun to look into the charge - that the information might be tainted. Waxman is the congressman who exposed the tobacco industry's lies about cancer - and a fervent supporter of Israel who represents the largely Jewish voters of Los Angeles' Westside.
The uranium lie is almost equal to the lie about an alleged attack on a U.S. patrol boat in the Gulf of Tonkin that President Johnson told a joint session of Congress in 1964, which started the Vietnam War. It is certainly the equal of the false report in the Hearst newspapers about the alleged attack on the U.S.S. Maine that started the Spanish-American War in 1898. President Johnson was at least honest enough to reveal in his published personal papers released earlier this year that he had suspected the Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened. Don't look for a similar admission in the George W. Bush Presidential Library, though.
But why the concern that Sen. Levin will cover up the chain of events that led to one of the most critical falsehoods in American history? Because, talking on July 8 to a female stand-in for CNN's Lou Dobbs - who, to her credit, seemed to be holding her nose as the senator talked - Levin flatly alleged that the information was known in the "bowels" of U.S. intelligence but not to the President well before the State of the Union speech. He twice referred to those "bowels," using that powerful noun to link documents and intelligence agencies with taboo topics and thus distract viewers from thinking about the White House, where the "solid" information actually emerged.
The problem, of course, is that Sen. Levin has yet to hold a single second of hearings on the uranium lie, and is already assigning blame. Now that the solid waste has hit the fan, substantially damaging the President's support and potentially hurting his chances for re-election, Israel is not anxious to be a key player in this bathroom debacle. That's why a Michigan Democrat is supporting the President on an issue that could otherwise put Democrats in the White House (and probably will, anyway).
Yet, even Bill Keller, a pro-war writer in the New York Times who said in a June 20 OpEd that Wolfowitz led the attack on the CIA's supposed underestimate of Soviet strength in 1976, suggested in a column entitled "The Boys Who Cried Wolfowitz" that the Deputy Defense Secretary's "Team B" inserted the documents into the intelligence mix separately from the national intelligence estimate.
"Mr. Wolfowitz was part of a famous 1976 Team B that attacked the C.I.A. for underestimating the Soviet threat," Keller wrote. "These days the top leadership of the Defense Department is Team B. Mr. Wolfowitz and his associates have assembled their own trusted analysts to help them challenge the established intelligence consensus." We read that comment about information from "their own trusted analysts" as: "lies cooked up by Israeli disinformation experts." (Please note the colon.)
Keller continues, "While the C.I.A. may say that we have insufficient evidence to conclude that Saddam has reconstituted his nuclear program, Team B starts from the premise that it is just the kind of thing Saddam would do, and it is dangerous to assume he didn't. Then," Keller writes, "Team B dips into the raw intelligence and fishes out information that supports its case, tidbits that the A Team may have rejected as unreliable [emphasis added]. The Pentagon takes this ammo to an interagency review, where it is used to beat the A Team..." Keller's article (http://www.clw.org/iraqintelligence/keller.html) appears to be an attempt to ameliorate the growing anger in America about the President's use of lies to justify a war that Israel wanted us to fight.
And then there is the racial angle. Tonight, Sen. Levin twice quoted "Leeza" - referring to National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice - as his source for the White House's ignorance of the truth. If Wolfowitz gave the forged documents to Rice or an underling of hers on the National Security Council, that will place the burden of failing to properly verify the President's information on a popular black woman who may be pushing Israel a little too to its liking towards a fair and relatively impartial solution to the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Note that the fall guy in the Waxman letter is also the State Dept., the province of a black man, Secretary of State Colin Powell. That letter would also help clear Wolfowitz, or at least get him out of the direct line of fire. And that would be as Leezy as it gets, to risk a second pun.
As they often do, elected officials who have failed miserably in their jobs of protecting American interests are once again blaming the intelligence agencies for the sins of politicians, knowing it is an easy way to hide the truth. We have little doubt that it will work once again for Sen. Levin, who peers so warmly at us over his spectacles as he sends the Big Lie off to a good start. We see a concerted effort by Israel's supporters to in Congress and the Senate to shift the blame away from Wolfowitz and Israel to Condaleeza Rice and Colin Powell, who because they are black are probably the most expendable members of President Bush's White House team.
Israel had the President spinning like a top just days after he criticized one of its attacks on Palestinians as "not helpful," and it needs him to spin the lies about Iraq their way, too. They should be more concerned about the growing ability of the American people to perceive that our politics and our public policy have been profoundly insulted by Israel's interference in our sovereign decisions. We remain firm supporters of Israel's right to exist and mindful of the hate spewed against it, but we must refuse to take up a cudgel of lies on its behalf. We believe Sen. Levin knows the real truth about the uranium lie deep in his own bowels and yet will allow it to fester there unsaid. Shame, shame on him.