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Shifting the Blame: Is David Kay a Weapon of Mass Deflection?
by Wayne Saunders
January 31, 2004

The latest spin surrounding the Bush administration's pre-war intelligence on Iraq comes from outgoing WMD hunter David Kay. After rummaging around Iraq for nine months and coming back empty-handed, Kay says he now believes that no such weapons exist, and haven't since the mid nineties. But instead of drawing the logical conclusion that he's been duped and played for a fool, he chose instead to launch the latest salvo in the Bush administration's undeclared war on the rank and file US intelligence community.

When asked on National Public Radio whether President Bush owes the American people an explanation, following Kay's findings, he flipped the question on its head: "I actually think the intelligence community owes the president, rather than the president owing the American people."

Kay believes the failure to find WMDs in Iraq is not the fault of those who actually made the decision to invade Iraq, who "had absolutely no doubt" that these weapons existed. He instead implies that the liability must fall on an intelligence bureaucracy that, as has been well documented, was under constant pressure to manipulate their findings to suit the administration's goal of a pre-emptive attack. How is that for inverted logic?

Kay apparently finds nothing suspicious about a President who, according to former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil, demanded his advisors "find a way" to invade Iraq just 10 days after he came into office.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has documented how administration insiders took these orders from their boss seriously, setting up a secret Pentagon unit called the Office of Special Plans, headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and other Pentagon hawks. The purpose was to create a case for invading Iraq and then control the flow of "information" through a network of favoured think tanks and usual suspects like the American Enterprise Institute and Amhed Chalibi's Iraqi National Congress (a source that the Pentagon, the State Dept. and yes, the CIA came to distrust during the Clinton era). Bogus intelligence, including forged documents were then passed along to a Commander in Chief who--no matter how disengaged--had already made up his mind. But lets always remember, it's not his fault, or their fault. The fault must always lie elsewhere.

In an interview with the New York Times, Kay clearly shows his stripes by stating that he doesn't believe the White House put pressure on analysts to come up with intelligence pointing to a weapons program. Here's a couple of excerpts from an article by Jason Leopold which could serve as a little reminder for David Kay and anyone else who believes that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell were unwittingly misled:

"A half-dozen former CIA agents investigating prewar intelligence have found that a secret Pentagon committee, set up by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2001, manipulated reams of intelligence information prepared by the spy agency on the so-called Iraqi threat and then delivered it to top White House officials who used it to win support for a war in Iraq...

Several current and former intelligence officials told the New York Times (July 20) that they felt pressure to tailor reports to conform to the administration's views, "particularly the theories Feith's group developed."

Moreover, the agents said the Office of Special Plans routinely rewrote the CIA's intelligence estimates on Iraq's weapons programs, removing caveats such as "likely," "probably" and "may" as a way of depicting the country as an imminent threat. The agents would not identify the names of the individuals at the Office of Special Plans who were responsible for providing the White House with the wrong intelligence. But, the agents said, the intelligence gathered by the committee sometimes went directly to the White House, Cheney's office and to Rice without first being vetted by the CIA.

In cases where the CIA's intelligence wasn't rewritten, the Office of Special Plans provided the White House with questionable intelligence it gathered from Iraqi exiles from the Iraqi National Congress, a group headed by Ahmad Chalabi, whom the CIA has publicly said is unreliable, the CIA agents said.

More than a dozen CIA agents responsible for writing intelligence reports for the agency told the former CIA agents investigating the accuracy of the intelligence reports said they were pressured by the Pentagon and the Office of Special Plans to hype and exaggerate intelligence to show Iraq as being an imminent threat to the security of the U.S."

There are two possibilities: either David Kay lives in a bubble and is not widely read (for instance Hersh's New Yorker piece appeared, May 12 with a related piece on October 27), or a penchant for distorting the truth is the number one prerequisite for all Bush appointees, followed by blind allegiance to "Dear Leader," no matter what one discovers, thinks, or even, apparently what one publishes (it is obvious that Paul O'Neil suffers from this malady, seeing as how he stated that he will "probably" vote for Bush again, despite revealing what an incompetent and detached fool he is.

Kay claims that, based on the intelligence that existed, "it was reasonable to reach the conclusion that Iraq posed an imminent threat." That's funny, we Internet types must be living in a mirror universe because that's not quite what it looked like on this side of the looking glass. In fact as the records show, between the time when UN inspectors left in 1998 and early 2002, the CIA’s reports on the so- called terror threat offered no details on what types of chemical and biological weapons that Iraq may possess. Then, as war fever gripped the Bush administration, there was a dramatic shift in the assessment of Iraq's capabilities in the CIA Report of Oct. 2002.

Yet we are not supposed to believe this had anything to do with any kind of pressure from the administration. In fact for months now, through an assortment of bafflegab, the fallback position for the War Party has been to blame "faulty intelligence."

Thus history is being constantly scrubbed, truth is continually turned into fiction or vice versa--whatever expediency commands--and we are not supposed to recognize what transpires before our very eyes. Instead, we are to become beleaguered, bewildered, and ultimately, stifled. Now, it seems apologists of the Iraq invasion have taken their cue, and are refusing to examine how this "faulty" intelligence (disinformation) was gathered, or where it came from.

One such example is a Globe and Mail editorial of January 23 entitled "Come clean, President Bush." The headline is misleading because they actually let Bush (and by inference his top aids), off the hook. Editors of Canada's national newspaper appear mystified as to how such an intelligence failure could have happened so they posit that the failure to locate WMDs in Iraq is best explained as "an honest mistake, and the result of an "intelligence failure. Honest mistake? How about dishonest, impeachable offense?

There will be no such talk because willful blindness entails ignoring contrary data. And in this case, there are balefuls of what must be considered unprintables in many a pro-war media boardroom. One of the best summaries is a piece by Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest in the latest issue of Mother Jones, entitled "The Lie Factory" now on the newsstand.

Never mind the leftish tripe. Globe and Mail editors assign any ulterior motives for the invasion of Iraq to "Bush's harshest critics." Here, they surely refer to anyone who has been paying attention of late, like for instance, everyone I randomly encounter down at the pub, whose words of disdain for Bush and company are, shall I say, unsuitable for family viewing (of course I'm always on the look-out for "Bush's least harsh critics" but such creatures appear to be a rare breed, since this guy elicits such visceral reactions amongst his non- fans-can't imagine why).

What has become glaringly obvious to any sentient being is that the Bush White House consciously deceived a jittery post 9-11 public, thereby leading a nation to war, and plunging a region into chaos under false pretenses. And for those not glued to FOX or CNN, it was truly nightmarish watching it all unfold. They berated, bribed and threatened friends and allies. They undermined and ignored the findings of UN agencies involved in Iraqi arms inspections. They launched a smear campaign against Hans Blix. They spied on UN delegates. They outed Valerie Plame. They regarded millions of global anti-war demonstrators as a "focus group." And yes, they disregarded cautionary assessments from many within their own intelligence apparatus and military, as well as retired and respected Generals.

The implications of these and other skullduggeries too numerous to list have profound consequences, not just for America but also for world order. It is too much to expect a Bush errand boy-turned coy-such as Kay, to re-assess his paymaster's pre-war claims and motives, much less his own delusions.

As for their ideological custodians who remain ensconced throughout the media, these very same ramifications remain off limits. At least for now, it is apparently too astounding to contemplate. In the meantime, it is most depressing to witness the utter frailty in their debate.

Wayne Saunders is a freelance writer from Canada. His writings can be found at www.punditman.com and he can be reached at punditman@punditman.com. Punditman also sells a great looking, witty deck of Neo-Con trading cards, the sale of which helps support their web site.

Posted: January 31, 2004


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