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Our unprecedented appeal even caught the eye of the FCM, since our Memorandum for the President reviewed some of the deceit engineered by the Vice President in conjuring up a concocted rationale for war on Iraq and leading the cheerleading for it.
We noted that Cheney, skilled at preemption, had stolen a march on his vacationing colleagues by launching, in a major speech on Aug. 26, 2002, a meretricious campaign to persuade Congress and the American people that Iraq was about to acquire nuclear weapons.
That campaign mushroomed, literally, in early October, with Bush and senior advisers raising the specter of a "mushroom cloud" threatening our cities. On the inside of the synthetic clouds one could almost read the label - "manufactured out of thin air in the Office of the Vice President."
In his memoir, the pitiable former CIA Director George Tenet complains that Cheney's assertion that Iraq would acquire nuclear weapons "fairly soon" did not square with the intelligence community's assessment.
Tenet adds, "I was surprised when I read about Cheney's assertion that, 'Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.'"
Tenet whines that the Vice President did not send him a copy of the speech for clearance. But the malleable CIA director quickly got over it, and told CIA analysts to compose the kind of National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that would provide ex post facto support for Cheney's bogus assertions. Just what Cheney (and Bush) ordered.
Tenet explains lamely, "I should have told the Vice President privately that, in my view, his speech had gone too far ... and not let silence imply agreement."
Yes, George; and you should have resisted White House pressure for a dishonest NIE to grease the skids to unnecessary war.
In fact Cheney, as well as Tenet, knew very well that Cheney's assertions were lies.
How? Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, whom Saddam had put in charge of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as missile development, told the United States when he defected in mid-1995 that all (that's right, all) such weapons had been destroyed at his order by the summer of 1991.
In mid-2002, the Iraqi foreign minister, whom CIA operatives had recruited and persuaded to remain in place, was telling us the same thing.
When they briefed the President and his senior advisers on this, CIA operations officers were astonished to learn first-hand that this intelligence was unwelcome.
These officers, who had used every trick in the book to "turn" the foreign minister and get him working for us, were told that further reporting from this source was not needed: "This isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change," they were told.
Tenet was hardly astonished at reports of the non-existence of WMD. From documentary evidence in the Downing Street Minutes we know that Tenet on July 20, 2002, told the chief of British intelligence that the intelligence was being "fixed" around the policy.
And former UN inspectors like Scott Ritter could verify that some 90 percent of the WMD Iraq earlier possessed had been destroyed - some during the Gulf War in 1991, but most as a result of the inspections conducted by the UN.
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