Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


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).

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