Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal
Details the myriad illegal, immoral, and unethical activities of Dick Cheney when CEO of Halliburton, his obstruction of justice, and lies to the American public since his appointment as Vice President. For information on an equally corrupt politician, see link to Tom DeLay-Corporate Whore. Be sure to visit our cavernous vault of archives.
Kristof: Cheney Must Explain CIA Leak Role--or Resign
By E&P Staff
Published: October 30, 2005 10:15 AM ET
NEW YORK Nicholas Kristof, whose New York Times column in May 2003 helped set in motion the "Plamegate" scandal, called today for Vice President Dick Cheney to explain his role in the matter or resign.
It was an unexpected proposal from Kristof, who has long been skeptical about criminal wrongdoing in this case. In fact, he opens today's column with an apology to federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
What Kristof now points to is a detail in the Libby indictments, that Cheney had learned from the C.I.A. that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the agency and told Libby that on about June 12, 2003.
Kristof observes that he can't stop wondering if Libby's alleged perjury "was purely his own idea and whether Mr. Cheney was aware of it.
"Since Mr. Libby is joined at the hip to Mr. Cheney, it's reasonable to ask: What did Mr. Cheney know and when did he know it? Did the vice president have any grasp of the criminal behavior allegedly happening in his office? We shouldn't assume the worst, but Mr. Cheney needs to give us a full account.
"Instead, Mr. Cheney said in a written statement: 'Because this is a pending legal proceeding, in fairness to all those involved, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding.'
"Balderdash. If Mr. Cheney can't address the questions about his conduct, if he can't be forthcoming about the activities in his office that gave rise to the investigation, then he should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his resignation.
"It's not that there's a lick of evidence that Mr. Cheney is a criminal. There isn't. But the standard of the office should be higher than that: the White House should symbolize integrity, not legalistic refusals to discuss criminal cover-ups. I didn't want technical indictments of White House officials because they inflame partisanship and impede government; for just the same reason, it's unsavory when a vice president resorts to technical defenses and clams up."
Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel
By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.
Cheney had been the foremost administration advocate for war with Iraq, and Libby played a central staff role in coordinating the sale of the war to both the public and Congress.
Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.
The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.
The disclosures also come as Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wraps up the nearly two-year-old CIA leak investigation that has focused heavily on Libby's role in discussing covert intelligence operative Valerie Plame with reporters. Fitzgerald could announce as soon as tomorrow whether a federal grand jury is handing up indictments in the case.
Central to Fitzgerald's investigation is whether administration officials disclosed Plame's identity and CIA status in an effort to discredit her husband, former ambassador and vocal Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, who wrote newspaper op-ed columns and made other public charges beginning in 2003 that the administration misused intelligence on Iraq that he gathered on a CIA-sponsored trip to Africa.
In recent weeks Fitzgerald's investigation has zeroed in on the activities of Libby, who is Cheney's top national security and foreign policy advisor, as well as the conflict between the vice president's office on one side and the CIA and State Department on the other over the use of intelligence on Iraq. The New York Times reported this week, for example, that Libby first learned about Plame and her covert CIA status from Cheney in a conversation with the vice president weeks before Plame's cover was blown in a July 2003 newspaper column by Robert Novak.
The Intelligence Committee at the time was trying to determine whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies provided faulty or erroneous intelligence on Iraq to President Bush and other government officials. But the committee deferred the much more politically sensitive issue as to whether the president and the vice president themselves, or other administration officials, misrepresented intelligence information to bolster the case to go to war. An Intelligence Committee spokesperson says the panel is still working on this second phase of the investigation.
Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.
In April 2004, the Intelligence Committee released a report that concluded that "much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in Secretary Powell's [United Nation's] speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect."
Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee say that their investigation was hampered by the refusal of the White House to turn over key documents, although Republicans said the documents were not as central to the investigation.
In addition to withholding drafts of Powell's speech -- which included passages written by Libby -- the administration also refused to turn over to the committee contents of the president's morning intelligence briefings on Iraq, sources say. These documents, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, are a written summary of intelligence information and analysis provided by the CIA to the president.
One congressional source said, for example, that senators wanted to review the PDBs to determine whether dissenting views from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Department of Energy, and other agencies that often disagreed with the CIA on the question of Iraq's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were being presented to the president.
An administration spokesperson said that the White House was justified in turning down the document demand from the Senate, saying that the papers reflected "deliberative discussions" among "executive branch principals" and were thus covered under longstanding precedent and executive privilege rules. Throughout the president's five years in office, the Bush administration has been consistently adamant about not turning internal documents over to Congress and other outside bodies.
At the same time, however, administration officials said in interviews that they cannot recall another instance in which Cheney and Libby played such direct personal roles in denying foreign policy papers to a congressional committee, and that in doing so they overruled White House staff and lawyers who advised that the materials should be turned over to the Senate panel.
Administration sources also said that Cheney's general counsel, David Addington, played a central role in the White House decision not to turn over the documents. Addington did not return phone calls seeking comment. Cheney's office declined to comment after requesting that any questions for this article be submitted in writing.
A former senior administration official familiar with the discussions on whether to turn over the materials said there was a "political element" in the matter. This official said the White House did not want to turn over records during an election year that could used by critics to argue that the administration used incomplete or faulty intelligence to go to war with Iraq. "Nobody wants something like this dissected or coming out in an election year," the former official said.
But the same former official also said that Libby felt passionate that the CIA and other agencies were not doing a good job at intelligence gathering, that the Iraqi war was a noble cause, and that he and the vice president were only making their case in good faith. According to the former official, Libby cited those reasons in fighting for the inclusion in Powell's U.N. speech of intelligence information that others mistrusted, in opposing the release of documents to the Intelligence Committee, and in moving aggressively to counter Wilson's allegations that the Bush administration distorted intelligence findings.
Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee backed the document request to the White House regarding Libby's drafts of the Powell speech, communications between Libby and other administration officials on intelligence information that might be included in the speech, and Libby's contacts with officials in the intelligence community relating to Iraq.
In his address to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, Powell argued that intelligence information showed that Saddam Hussein's regime was aggressively pursuing programs to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons
Only after the war did U.N. inspectors and the public at large learn that the intelligence data had been incorrect and that Iraq had been so crippled by international sanctions that it could not sustain such a program.
The April 2004 Senate report blasted what it referred to as an insular and risk- averse culture of bureaucratic "group think" in which officials were reluctant to challenge their own longstanding notions about Iraq and its weapons programs. All nine Republicans and eight Democrats signed onto this document without a single dissent, a rarity for any such report in Washington, especially during an election year.
After the release of the report, Intelligence Committee, Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said they doubted that the Senate would have authorized the president to go to war if senators had been given accurate information regarding Iraq's programs on weapons of mass destruction.
"I doubt if the votes would have been there," Roberts said. Rockefeller asserted, "We in Congress would not have authorized that war, in 75 votes, if we knew what we know now."
Roberts' spokeswoman, Sarah Little, said the second phase of the committee's investigation would also examine how pre-war intelligence focused on the fact that intelligence analysts -- while sounding alarms that a humanitarian crisis that might follow the war - failed to predict the insurgency that would arise after the war.
Little says that it was undecided whether the committee would produce a classified report, a declassified one that could ultimately be made public, or hold hearings.
When the 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee was made public, Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials cited it as proof that the administration acted in good faith on Iraq and relied on intelligence from the CIA and others that it did not know was flawed.
But some congressional sources say that had the committee received all the documents it requested from the White House the spotlight could have shifted to the heavy advocacy by Cheney's office to go to war. Cheney had been the foremost administration advocate for war with Iraq, and Libby played a central staff role in coordinating the sale of the war to both the public and Congress.
In advocating war with Iraq, Libby was known for dismissing those within the bureaucracy who opposed him, whether at the CIA, State Department, or other agencies. Supporters say that even if Libby is charged by the grand jury in the CIA leak case, he waged less a personal campaign against Wilson and Plame than one that reflected a personal antipathy toward critics in general.
Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Powell as Secretary of State, charged in a recent speech that there was a "cabal between Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense [Donald L.] Rumsfeld on critical decisions that the bureaucracy did not know was being made."
In interagency meetings in preparation for Powell's U.N. address, Wilkerson, Powell, and senior CIA officials argued that evidence Libby wanted to include as part of Powell's presentation was exaggerated or unreliable. Cheney, too, became involved in those discussions, sources said, when he believed that Powell and others were not taking Libby's suggestions seriously.
Wilkerson has said that he ordered "whole reams of paper" of intelligence information excluded from Libby's draft of Powell's speech. Another official recalled that Libby was pushing so hard to include certain intelligence information in the speech that Libby lobbied Powell for last minute changes in a phone call to Powell's suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel the night before the speech. Libby's suggestions were dismissed by Powell and his staff.
John E. McLaughlin, then-deputy director of the CIA, has testified to Congress that "much of our time in the run-up to the speech was spent taking out material... that we and the secretary's staff judged to have been unreliable."
The passion that Libby brought to his cause is perhaps further illustrated by a recent Los Angeles Times report that in April 2004, months after Fitzgerald's leak investigation was underway, Libby ordered "a meticulous catalog of Wilson's claims and public statements going back to early 2003" because Libby was "consumed by passages that he believed were inaccurate or unfair" to him.
The newspaper reported that the "intensity with which Libby reacted to Wilson had many senior White House staffers puzzled, and few agreed with his counterattack plan, or its rationale."
A former administration official said that "this might have been about politics on some level, but it is also personal. [Libby] feels that his honor has been questioned, and his instinct is to strike back."
Now, as Libby battles back against possible charges by a special prosecutor, he might be seeking vindication on an entirely new level.
Cheney told top aide of CIA officer: report
Oct 24, 11:58 PM (ET)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff first learned about the CIA officer at the center of a leak investigation in a conversation with Cheney weeks before her identity became public in July 2003, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Notes of the conversation between chief of staff Lewis Libby and Cheney on June 12, 2003, put a spotlight on the vice president's possible role in the leak. The account also appears to run counter to Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he first learned about the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, from reporters.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor investigating the leak of Plame's identity, is said by lawyers involved in the case to be considering bringing charges against Libby for making false statements and possibly obstruction of justice.
Another possible target for indictment is Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Fitzgerald's announcement is expected later this week.
Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq. Wilson based the criticism in part on a CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to check out an intelligence report that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.
Cheney's office had sought more information about the uranium deal, prompting the CIA to dispatch Wilson.
Eager to distance the vice president from Wilson's mission and findings, Cheney's office began looking into Wilson's background in May or June of 2003, after details of his mission began to appear in the press but well before he came out publicly in July 2003 with his criticisms, people close to the investigation said.
Libby's notes indicate that Cheney got his information about Plame from George Tenet, who was then the CIA director, according to the Times, which attributed its report to lawyers involved in the case.
According to the Times, the notes do not show that Cheney knew the name of Wilson's wife. But they do show that Cheney did know and told Libby that she was employed by the CIA and that she may have helped arrange her husband's trip.
Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman, declined to comment.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride would only say, "We're cooperating fully, as the president and the vice president directed us."
A former intelligence official close to Tenet said the former CIA director has not been in touch with Fitzgerald's staff for over 15 months and was not asked to testify before the grand jury.
"Mr. Tenet does not wish to make any comments regarding an ongoing investigation," the former intelligence official said.
Cheney Rumors, Fall-out, and Fallings-out
by Margie Burns
We are told that eight indictments in the Plame case have already been prepared, with the possibility of another ten.
Both yahoo.com and the Washington Post report that chief presidential advisor Karl Rove discussed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Cheney. US News reports that rumors of a Cheney resignation are flying fast around the White House.
Veteran intelligence professional Ray McGovern writes an analysis explaining why Cheney must have been key in any concerted effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson and his report on the Niger uranium story.
Buzzflash.com posts an email from an unnamed inside source saying, among other things, that the investigation has focused most closely on Vice President Cheney and his staff, as well as US Ambassador to the UN (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) John Bolton and his staff. We are told that eight indictments have already been prepared, with the possibility of another ten. These indictments include senior White House staff, most notably Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby, Fred Flights (special assistant to John Bolton), and—very surprisingly—National Security Adviser Steve Hadley. Apparently, Libby and Hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments. The indictment of senior Bush political advisor Karl Rove seems highly probable.
Here is a partial take on the rumors, Plamegate, and the legal fallout.
1. There is nothing surprising in a possible item about former Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Amid insinuations that counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke was miffed at being demoted to a deputy, few seemed to notice that the Bush White House security reshuffle actually promoted a group of deputies, including Hadley, who was deputy under Condoleezza Rice. The position of National Security Adviser itself was effectively vacant. Hadley, in contrast, was heavily invested in homeland security before coming to the White House. Along with his ties to Cheney, he was formerly on the board of ANSER, Inc, which founded a Homeland Security Institute back in 1999. Like Rice, Hadley was promoted in the aftermath of 9/11, which in a normal administration would not have brightened the resumes of anyone in the NSA office at the time. Needless to say, he was also key in boosting the Iraq invasion.
According to the message, in the past several days, former Secretary of State Colin Powell had a meeting with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), primarily about the McCain-sponsored amendment to the defense budget prohibiting torture (a bill that Powell has himself been lobbying heavily for, against the objections of President Bush). During the meeting, Powell recounted to the senator that he had traveled on Air Force One with Bush and Cheney, and brought to their attention a classified memorandum about the issue of whether there was indeed a transaction involving Niger and yellowcake uranium. The document included Ambassador Joe Wilson's involvement and identified his wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert agent. The memorandum further stated that this information was secret. Powell told McCain that he showed that memo only to two people—the President and Vice President. According to Powell, Cheney fixated on the Wilson/Plame connection and Plame's status. The ongoing legal ramifications here would explain why so little has been seen of Cheney lately.
2. Also from the message comes one interesting tidbit: a parade of senior Republican senators have evidently been privately pushing McCain to lobby to be Cheney's replacement. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also been mentioned. Meanwhile, the White House has already been developing countermeasures—notably including senior White House officials privately voicing President Bush's disappointment in Karl Rove's involvement in the case, calling it “misconduct.” An urgent search for a Rove replacement is already underway.
3. Intriguing as this item is, presumably the White House will go to literally any lengths to keep a Cheney resignation from happening. McCain disappointed a nation by joining with Bush in the 2004 election, when he could have made a real difference. He has not opposed holding prisoners without telling them the charges against them, a practice that could not possibly enhance our national security. Even so, the tiny independence he has shown in supporting official limits on torture is sufficient to threaten the team in the White House. If GOP Congressmembers are lobbying for him, that would be another strike against him. Undoubtedly the White House would prefer to replace Cheney with Condoleezza Rice, who has been ingratiating herself with Bush. But either way, the situation is not a winner for the Bush team.
4. Speaking of which, if any significant portion of this information is valid, it strongly suggests that the Bush team has been diminished to its irreducible core of Bush himself, his White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Karen Hughes, Harriet Miers, and a few of his relatives. This is their constituency, reduced to its true components, exactly where and what it should have been from the first, back when this quintessentially unqualified man started making little noises about running for the White House back in the late 1990s. Too bad they in effect bought off the mainstream media.
The last buffer for Bush still standing is the mainstream media, which have created a widespread public unawareness about much of what is going on.
5. With the Congress, parts of the GOP, the Project for a New American Century and now the Vice President peeled away from him, Bush has one remaining buffer. No, it is not the Christian right. Genuine fundamentalists have never effectively been in the picture with Bush, except in being successfully manipulated by the Bush team, and in being used as a bogeyman to scare writers, editors and producers, among others. The last buffer for Bush still standing is the mainstream media, which have created a widespread public unawareness about much of what is going on. The current fallout will be a race against time, with Washington insiders trying to piece together some version of the story that will pass muster with the public, and against Truth, the Daughter of Time.
Margie Burns, a college English instructor and freelance writer, resides in Maryland near Washington, DC. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wilkerson says Cheney hijacked U.S. policy
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Former senior U.S. State Department official, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, says Vice President Dick Cheney has dominated U.S. foreign policy with bad results.
Wilkerson made the allegations in a speech at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank. He was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell until last January.
"What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made," Wilkerson said. "Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."
Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran's nuclear program, the Financial Times reported.
He said he and Powell had a personal falling out over his decision to go public with his allegations.
Second Cheney aide cooperating in leak probe, those close to case say
Jason Leopold and Larisa Alexandrovna
A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say.
Late Monday, several sources familiar with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe said John Hannah, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, was cooperating with Fitzgerald after being told that he was identified by witnesses as a co-conspirator in the leak. Sources said Hannah was not given immunity, but was likely offered a “deal” in exchange for information that could result in indictments of key White House officials.
Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.
Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.
According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings.
Wurmser did not return a call seeking comment.
The investigation into who leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to reporters is heating up, reaching deep into the White House and threatening to bring down key members of an administration not seen since the days of Watergate. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, may be indicted for his alleged role in the agent's outing, as well as discrepancies in his testimony provided to the grand jury.
The sources say that Hannah and Wurmser were given orders by senior officials in Cheney’s office in June 2003 to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson. The former ambassador had been a thorn in administration’s side since May 2003, when he began questioning claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East.
That July, Wilson penned a New York Times op-ed calling into question the veracity of intelligence President Bush cited in his State of the Union speech six months prior that led the nation to war.
Specifically, Wilson said there was no truth to the claims that Iraq had tried to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Africa. Bush officials said Wilson’s trip was a boondoggle, and was set up by his wife, Plame Wilson, who worked at the CIA on weapons of mass destruction.
The White House Iraq group was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s offices.
To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, WHIG relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.
On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.
Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.
According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The revelation that Hannah and Wurmser have become prosecution witnesses, as well as being identified as the original sources of the leak, indicates Fitzgerald now may be looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Administration officials sought to derail a vocal critic of Iraq intelligence.
The two administration hawks were instrumental in shaping the Bush administration’s agenda with Iraq prior to 9/11.
Wurmser was the lead author of a 1996 policy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” It called for removing Saddam from power in Iraq as part of a broad strategy to transform the region and remove radical regimes. Eight months before 9/11, Wurmser called for joint U.S.-Israeli air strikes on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya.
Hannah and Wurmser were first named as possible suspects in the Plame leak by Wilson, Plame’s husband, in his book, The Politics of Truth.
“In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime,” Wilson writes.
“John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level,” Wilson notes.
Today, The New York Times confirmed Hannah provided information to the prosecutor, writing, “Officials who testified or were questioned by investigators also included John Hannah, Mr. Cheney's principal deputy national security adviser.”
Second revision adds: "Wurmser... likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said."
Dick Cheney's Covert Action
by Larry C. Johnson
Face it, America. You’ve been punk'd.
It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam—and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic “covert action” program against the citizens of the United States.
Covert action refers to behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to plant stories, manipulate information and shape public opinion. In other words, you write stories that reporters will publish as their own, you create media events that tout a particular theme, and you demonize your opponent. Traditionally, this activity was directed against foreign governments. For example, the U.S. used covert action extensively in Greece in the 1960s to help fend off communists. Covert action also played a major role in rallying world support for the Afghanistan mujahideen following the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Revelations during the past week about the Plame affair make it clear that the Bush administration used covert action against its own citizens. Consider, for example, the charge that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The key event in this disinformation campaign was the intelligence manufactured by the Italians. The Italian intelligence service, SISME, provided the CIA with three separate intelligence reports that Iraq had reached an agreement with Niger to buy 500 tons of yellowcake uranium (October 15, 2001; February 5, 2002; and March 25, 2002). The second report, from February, was the subsequent basis for a DIA analysis, which led Vice President Cheney to ask the CIA for more information on the matter. That request led to the CIA asking Ambassador Joe Wilson to go check out the story in Niger.
We learned last May that in the summer of 2002, the Bush administration told our British allies that they would "fix the facts" around the intelligence. In other words, the United States sought to manufacture a case that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear capability. Note, not only did bogus intelligence reports and fabricated documents surface, but senior administration officials—Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney—went to great lengths to try to convince Americans that the United States would soon face the wrath of Iraqi attacks. Remember the smoking mushroom cloud?
Despite repeated attempts by the Italian intelligence service to help us cook the books, the senior CIA intelligence analysts resisted the administration’s effort to sell the bogus notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger. Even in the much-maligned October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the entire intelligence community remained split on the reliability of the Iraq/Niger claim. During briefings subsequent to the publication of the NIE, senior CIA officials repeatedly debunked the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. They also dismissed as unreliable reports from Great Britain, which also were derived from the faulty Italian intelligence reports.
It is now clear that Italy’s intelligence service, SISME, had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in early October 2003 that purported to show a deal with Iraq to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with longstanding ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain: Either SISME or someone with ties to SISME helped forge and circulate those documents, which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq.
Although some in the intelligence community, specifically analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Energy, believed the report, the intelligence community as a whole did not put much stock in the reports and forged documents, and repeatedly told policy makers that these reports were not reliable. Yet the Bush administration ignored the intelligence community on these questions, and senior policymakers—like Vice President Cheney—persisted in trying to make the fraudulent case.
Two weeks before President Bush spoke the infamous 16 words in the January 2003 State of the Union speech, the Department of Defense was fanning the flames about Iraq’s alleged Nigerian uranium shopping trip. Starting in late 2001, senior Department of Defense officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, provided favored military talking heads with talking points and briefings to reinforce messages the administration wanted the public to remember.
One of those who frequently attended these affairs, Robert Maginnis, a former Army officer and now a commentator for Fox News and the Washington Times , published an op-ed on January 15, 2003, for United Press International, subsequent to one of the briefings. In writing about the case for attacking Iraq, Maginnis affirmed that Saddam, “failed to explain why Iraq manufactures fuels suited only for a class of missile that it does not admit to having and why it sought to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger.”
Notwithstanding repeated efforts by intelligence analysts to downplay these intelligence reports as unreliable, DOD officials fanned the flames. This, my friends, is one example of “cooking intelligence.” These facts further expose as farce the Bush administration’s effort to blame the CIA for the misadventure in Iraq. We did not go to war in Iraq primarily because of bad intelligence and bad analysis by the CIA. The Bush administration started a war of choice.
While CIA did make mistakes, and while some key members of the National Intelligence Council were willing to drink the neocon Kool-Aid and go along with the White House, when it came to questions of whether Iraq was buying uranium in Niger or if Saddam was working with bin Laden, CIA and INR analysts consistently got it right and told the administration what they did not want to hear. It was policymakers, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, NSC Chief Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who ignored what the analysts were saying and writing.
The evidence of the White House effort to manipulate and shape U.S. public opinion is now overwhelming. Just last week, President Bush appeared in a pathetic scripted “dialogue” with hand-selected U.S. troops. We also know that male escort Jeff Gannon Guckert was granted special access to White House press briefings and that pundits like Armstrong Williams sold themselves to the White House. The Bush administration had an organized campaign to manipulate the U.S. media to get its message out. Unfortunately, the corporate media played along.
The attack on Valerie Plame Wilson was not an isolated incident. It was part of a broader pattern of manipulation and deceit. But this was not done for the welfare of U.S. national security. Instead, we find ourselves confronted by an unprecedented level of terrorist attacks and a deteriorating military situation in Iraq. At the same time, we now know that the Bush administration gladly sacrificed an undercover intelligence officer in order to keep up the pretense that the war in Iraq was all about weapons of mass destruction.
Americans have died because of the Bush deceit. The unmasking of Valerie Plame was not an odd occurrence. It was part of a pattern of deliberate manipulation and disinformation. At the end of the day, American men and women have died because of this lie. It is up to the American people to hold the Bush administration accountable for these actions.
Larry Johnson worked as a CIA intelligence analyst and State Department counter-terrorism official. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Dick Cheney to Resign As Vice President Rumor Heats Up
By CK Rairden
Oct 19, 2005
It seems that since Dick Cheney was nominated and accepted the job of Vice President of the United States that a watch was put in place as to when the Veep would step aside. Four years plus later, he's still hanging tough, but now those rumors are heating up again.
Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report:
Rumor: Dick Cheney to Wave Good-Bye
Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"If that should happen, there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP,” a White House insider reportedly told Bedard.
Sidenote: Would it really be Ms. Rice? That's what the buzz was according to the article.
A Bush associate reportedly whispered of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.
"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide.
NewsMax states the obvious:
Some observers are whispering that the driving force behind the Rice-for-Cheney scenario is political pundit Dick Morris’ new book "Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.”
Bottom line - it could actually happen, but seems very unlikely unless Mr. Cheney would suffer from (God forbid) debilitating health problems.
This has to have the Dems worried, though.
And Wwhat if Rudi Giuliani replaced Mr. Cheney?
Cheney's Office Is A Focus in Leak Case
Sources Cite Role Of Feud With CIA
By Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 18, 2005; A01
As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.
In grand jury sessions, including with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Fitzgerald has pressed witnesses on what Cheney may have known about the effort to push back against ex-diplomat and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, including the leak of his wife's position at the CIA, Miller and others said. But Fitzgerald has focused more on the role of Cheney's top aides, including Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lawyers involved in the case said.
One former CIA official told prosecutors early in the probe about efforts by Cheney's office and his allies at the National Security Council to obtain information about Wilson's trip as long as two months before Plame was unmasked in July 2003, according to a person familiar with the account.
It is not clear whether Fitzgerald plans to charge anyone inside the Bush administration with a crime. But with the case reaching a climax -- administration officials are braced for possible indictments as early as this week-- it is increasingly clear that Cheney and his aides have been deeply enmeshed in events surrounding the Plame affair from the outset.
It was a request by Cheney for more CIA information that, unknown to him, started a chain of events that led to Wilson's mission three years ago. His staff pressed the CIA for information about it one year later. And it was Libby who talked about Wilson's wife with at least two reporters before her identity became public, according to evidence Fitzgerald has amassed and which parties close to the case have acknowledged.
Lawyers in the case said Fitzgerald has focused extensively on whether behind-the-scenes efforts by the vice president's aides and other senior Bush aides were part of a criminal campaign to punish Wilson in part by unmasking his wife.
In a move people involved in the case read as a sign that the end is near, Fitzgerald's spokesman yesterday told the Associated Press that the prosecutor planned to announce his conclusions in Washington, where the grand jury has been meeting, instead of Chicago, where the prosecutor is based. Some lawyers close to the case cited courthouse talk that Fitzgerald might announce his findings as early as tomorrow, though hard evidence about his intentions and timing remained elusive.
In the course of the investigation, Fitzgerald has been exposed to the intense, behind-the-scenes fight between Cheney's office and the CIA over prewar intelligence and the vice president's central role in compiling and then defending the intelligence used to justify the war. Miller, in a first-person account Sunday in the Times, recalled that Libby complained in a June 23, 2003, meeting in his office that the CIA was engaged in "selective leaking" and a "hedging strategy" that would make the agency look equally prescient whether or not weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
The special prosecutor has personally interviewed numerous officials from the CIA, White House and State Department. In the process, he and his investigative team have talked to a number of Cheney aides, including Mary Matalin, his former strategist; Catherine Martin, his former communications adviser; and Jennifer Millerwise, his former spokeswoman. In the case of Millerwise, she talked with the prosecutor more than two years ago but never appeared before the grand jury, according to a person familiar with her situation.
Starting in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the vice president was at the forefront of a White House campaign to convince Congress and the American public that invading Iraq was central to defeating terrorists worldwide. Cheney, a longtime proponent of toppling Saddam Hussein, led the White House effort to build the case that Iraq was an imminent threat because it possessed a dangerous arsenal of weapons.
Before the war, he traveled to CIA headquarters for briefings, an unusual move that some critics interpreted as an effort to pressure intelligence officials into supporting his view of the evidence. After the war, when critics started questioning whether the White House relied on faulty information to justify war, Cheney and Libby were central to the effort to defend the intelligence and discredit the naysayers in Congress and elsewhere.
Administration officials acknowledge that Cheney was immersed in Iraq intelligence, and pressed aides repeatedly for information on weapons programs. He regularly requested follow-up information from the CIA and others when a piece of intelligence caught his eye. Wilson's trip, for example, was triggered by a question Cheney asked during a regular morning intelligence briefing. He had received a Defense Intelligence Agency report alleging Iraq had sought uranium from Niger and wanted to know what else the CIA may have known. Cheney's office was not told ahead of time about the Wilson mission to investigate the claim.
In the Bush White House, Cheney typically has operated secretly, relying on advice from a tight circle of longtime advisers, including Libby; David Addington, his counsel; and his wife, Lynne, and two children, including Liz, a top State Department official. But a former Cheney aide, who requested anonymity, said it is "implausible" that Cheney himself was involved in the leaking of Plame's name because he rarely, if ever, involved himself in press strategy.
One fact apparently critical to Fitzgerald's inquiry is when Libby learned about Plame and her CIA employment. Information that has emerged so far leaves this issue murky. A former CIA official told investigators that Cheney's office was seeking information about Wilson in May 2003, but it's not certain that officials with the vice president learned of the Plame connection then.
Miller, in her account, said Libby raised the issue of Plame in the June 23, 2003, meeting, describing her as a CIA employee and asserting that she had arranged the trip to Niger. Earlier that month, Libby discussed Wilson's trip with The Washington Post but never mentioned his wife.
Senior administration officials said there was a document circulated at the State Department -- before Libby talked to Miller -- that mentioned Plame. It was drafted in June as an administrative letter and addressed to then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who was acting secretary at the time since Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage were out of the country.
As a former State Department official involved in the process recalled it, Grossman wanted the letter as background for a meeting at the White House, where the discussion was focused on then growing criticism of Bush's inclusion in his January State of the Union speech of the allegation that Hussein had been seeking uranium from Niger.
The letter to Grossman discussed the reasons the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did not believe the intelligence, which originated from foreign sources, was accurate. It had a paragraph near the beginning, marked "(S)," meaning it was classified secret, describing a meeting at the CIA in February 2002, attended by another INR analyst, where Plame introduced her husband as the person who was to go to Niger.
Attached to the letter were the notes from the INR analyst who had attended the session, but they were written well after the event occurred and contained mistakes about who was there and what was said, according to a former intelligence official who reviewed the document in the summer of 2003.
Grossman has refused to answer questions about the letter, and it is not clear whether he talked about it at the White House meeting he was said to have attended, according to the former State official.
Fitzgerald has questioned several witnesses from the CIA and State Department before the grand jury about the INR memo, according to lawyers familiar with the case.
Cheney's Halliburton stock options rose 3,281% last year, senator finds
An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year, RAW STORY can reveal.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million. The former CEO of the oil and gas services juggernaut, Cheney has pledged to give proceeds to charity.
The above graph released by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) charts the value of the Vice President's holdings in Halliburton in the past year.
“Halliburton has already raked in more than $10 billion from the Bush-Cheney Administration for work in Iraq, and they were awarded some of the first Katrina contracts," Lautenberg said in a statement. "It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it. The Vice President should sever his financial ties to Halliburton once and for all.”
Cheney continues to hold 433,333 Halliburton stock options. The company has been criticized by auditors for its handling of a no-bid contact in Iraq. Auditors found the firm marked up meal prices for troops and inflated gas prices in a deal with a Kuwaiti supplier. The company built the American prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The Vice President has sought to stem criticism by signing an agreement to donate the after-tax profits from these stock options to charities of his choice, and his lawyer has said he will not take any tax deduction for the donations.
However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded in Sept. 2003 that holding stock options while in elective office does constitute a “financial interest” regardless of whether the holder of the options will donate proceeds to charities. CRS also found that receiving deferred compensation is a financial interest.
Cheney told "Meet the Press" in 2003 that he didn't have any financial ties to the firm.
“Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," the Vice President said. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.”
Cheney continues to received a deferred salary from the company. According to financial disclosure forms, he was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004.