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Clapper Admits Gross Intelligence Failure on Iraq WMDs But Still Escapes Justice

By       Message Ray McGovern       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   15 comments

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Clapper: After WMD failure, promoted by Obama.
(Image by (White House Photo by Pete Souza))
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Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper's key role in helping the Cheney/Bush administration "justify" war on Iraq with fraudulent intelligence was exposed on Tuesday at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington by his own words quoted back to him from his memoir, "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence." Hard truths, indeed.

Clapper was appointed Director of National Intelligence by President Barack Obama in June 2010, almost certainly at the prompting of Obama's intelligence confidant and Clapper friend John Brennan, later director of the CIA. Despite Clapper's performance on Iraq, he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Obama even allowed Clapper to keep his job for three and a half more years after he admitted that he had lied under oath to that same Senate about the extent of eavesdropping on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA). He is now a security analyst for CNN.

In his book, Clapper finally places the blame for the consequential fraud (he calls it "the failure") to find the (non-existent) WMD "where it belongs -- squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn't really there." (emphasis added)

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So at the event on Tuesday I stood up and asked him about that. It was easy, given the background Clapper himself provides in his book, such as:

"The White House aimed to justify why an invasion of and regime change in Iraq were necessary, with a public narrative that condemned its continued development of weapons of mass destruction [and] its support to al-Qaida (for which the Intelligence Community had no evidence)."

What Clapper chokes on -- and avoids saying -- is that U.S. intelligence had no evidence of WMD either. Indeed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had put him in charge of the agency responsible for analyzing imagery of all kinds -- photographic, radar, infrared, and multi-spectral -- precisely so that the absence of evidence from our multi-billion-dollar intelligence collection satellites could be hidden, in order not to impede the planned attack on Iraq. That's why, as Clapper now admits, he had to find "what wasn't really there."

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Members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) who have employed Clapper under contract, or otherwise known his work, caution that he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. So, to be fair, there is an outside chance that Rumsfeld persuaded him to be guided by the (in)famous Rumsfeld dictum: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

But the consequences are the same: a war of aggression with millions dead and wounded; continuing bedlam in the area; and no one -- high or low -- held accountable. Hold your breath and add Joe Biden awarding the "Liberty Medal" to George W. Bush on Veteran's Day.

"Shocked"

Clapper writes:

"... We heard that Vice President Cheney was pushing the Pentagon for intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and then the order came down to NIMA [the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] to find (emphasis in original) the WMD sites. We set to work, analyzing imagery to eventually identify, with varying degrees of confidence, more than 950 sites where we assessed there might be WMDs or a WMD connection. We drew on all of NIMA's skill sets ... and it was all wrong."

"To support his [Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003] speech, NIMA (which Clapper headed) had gone through the difficult process of declassifying satellite images of trucks arriving at WMD sites just ahead of the weapons inspectors to move materials before they could be found, and my team also produced computer-generated images of trucks fitted out as 'mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.' Those images, possibly more than any other substantiation he presented, carried the day with the international community and Americans alike."

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"[For] the invasion of Iraq on March 20, six weeks after Powell's speech, NIMA ... prepared a prioritized list of our suspect [WMD] sites with specific locations. ... Using this information, they [the fourteen-hundred-member international Iraq Survey Group] went from site to site but found almost nothing. We were shocked. ... The trucks we had identified as 'mobile production facilities for biological agents' were in fact used to pasteurize and transport milk."

As for those mischievous trucks allegedly used "to move materials before they could be found," as Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector for Iraq, has pointed out, they were clearly decontamination vehicles. UN inspectors had visited the site in question. It was an ammunition bunker, and the decontamination vehicle was a water truck used to keep the dust levels down because of the sensitive fuses located in the bunker. These were known facts but Clapper chose to ignore them.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 

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