Beginning in 2006, PBS broke
the silence - Colin Powell's #2 went public with an account of duplicity long absent from US headlines. Originally ordered to look into the Abu Ghraib scandal by Powell, State Dept. Chief of Staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson found things that "shook him to the core", making him question his loyalty to an administration who he felt had violated the Constitution. Not news?
Powell's long time aide called the Iraq War was a "hoax" and recounted the doubts expressed at the time by Secretary Powell as CIA Director George Tenet played monkey for a war-crazed organ grinder Dick Cheney. Also on that PBS program, the chief weapons inspector for the UN Hans Blix revealed that Cheney told him to lie in a meeting to President Bush or, Blix would be discredited.
Previous to this airing, only indie US and international media seemed to care about the claims of the lying Iraqi bioweapons witness "Curveball", the so-called Italian Letter
, and Nigerian Yellowcake forgeries that fooled Congress into authorizing invasion, shouting over resistance by the public and real journalists. The Berlusconi and Blair
administrations would tumble, tainted by shoddy vetting of faked intel, along with blood money from defense contractors like BAE and the Saudi royalty.
on CNN World
explained Wilkerson's grappling with his own conscience as a member of the State Dept. team that lied us into war, but here at home, the story remained buried.
The most widely watched TV networks in the US whitewashed these stories, suggesting the erection of a media firewall providing Bush and Cheney major cover. The blackout continues, even after Col. Wilkerson divulged Cheney and Libby delivered Secretary Powell a 50 page script of lies for his UN speech that was thrown in the garbage with disgust.
Powell's testimony ultimately rested on assurances from Tenet that Curveball was credible. This week TV viewers learned that Tyler Drumheller, the head of the CIA's European division had in fact informed Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin that Curveball's accounts were unreliable.
In a days-long charade played out for Powell's team, key CIA experts were trotted out from the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) unit in a full-steam sales pitch to get Powell's endorsement and thereby, get the public behind the war. According to Wilkerson, the WINPAC agents were actually reporting to Cheney in a breach of protocol.
Meanwhile, Drumheller's aide Margaret Henoch was unable to verify any of the bio-weapons labs really existed, so the CIA was both for and against the intel. But the WINPAC faction had already written the claims into an incredibly consequential Oct. 2002 NIE. As shown in the debate over aluminum tubes, they didn't like being questioned even when they got things wrong.
As BBC trumpeted the Downing Street Memos and Seymour Hersh's leaks told of covert plants illegally "tuning up" detainees with electrodes and sexual humiliation, images leaked by Australian media showed the world exactly what was going on. Rumsfeld's #2 Stephen Cambone stood accused of greenlighting unconstitutional cruelty and violations of US human rights treaties, military code and judicial conventions. Wilkerson was ordered to investigate this by Powell.
But TV viewers in the US were still not privy to the backstory crystallizing around the Iraq War hoax. In November of 2007, a 60 Minutes
broadcast spotlighted claims by Curveball (aka Rafid Ahmed Alwan) and how the administration handled them. Soon after, George Washington University's National Security Archive published a detailed chronology
which shows tense, internal wranglings within the CIA and in sober review, a distinct lack of credibility or competence on the part of Tenet and McLaughlin.
Trying up to the last second to have mention of mobile labs removed from Bush's State of the Union speech, Drumheller's misgivings were well documented and corroborated, yet Tenet and his deputy still deny knowledge of anyone red-flagging Curveball until 2004.
Incredibly, the Silbermann-Robb investigation commissioned by President Bush to find out what went wrong faulted "the intelligence community" including Drumheller, who was right all along, for not alerting Tenet that Curveball was a fabricator, after the 25-year CIA veteran had done just that.
Drumheller quit in 2005 and went public
in 2006, explaining he had not only doubted Curveball in writing, he had himself cultivated a high-level Iraqi source named Naji Sabri
who told the CIA Saddam's weapons program was in shambles. This crucial intel was presented directly to George Bush in the Oval Office but was immediately dismissed, and not relayed to Powell. Why was this not on TV by 2007?
In 2009, Lawrence Wilkerson did appear on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show but did not speak on the topic of fudged pre-Iraq War intel, instead telling Maddow the State Dept. knew Gitmo detainees were innocent and harshly interrogated anyway, asserting the White House also knew this. But Rachel never asked on air whether the Office of the Vice President pressured Powell to lie to Congress or the UN Security Council.
A year later, Lawrence O'Donnell guest-hosted an episode
of Keith Olbermann's Countdown where Wilkerson actually likened Cheney and Karl Rove to cowardly Nazis for draft-dodging and illegal waterboarding, revealing more laws were broken when Rove, a civilian, was briefed on classified interrogation procedures.
George Tenet admitted the war was "sold" to the public by Bush and Cheney in his own "CYA" memoir. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book described a "massive operation" inside the White House, under the senior direction of Karl Rove, directly providing "comprehensive talking points to Conservative talk show personalities" regarding the war in Iraq and the war on terror (a violation of anti-propaganda laws if government sources are not disclosed).
Another Bush administration defector was David Wurmser, Cheney's former Middle East adviser, who resigned in disgust after the White House's push for elections in Gaza resulted in a decisive and table-turning win for Hamas, unexpected because Bush and Rice had secretly been sponsoring Fatah intimidation squads, squandering taxpayer cash of $20 million or more through Iran-Contra style subterfuge.
J. Gerald Hebert was yet another Bush DOJ veteran who called for an investigation
of Bush era crimes. Eventually even Bush's own Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told Fiasco
author Thomas Ricks in a memoir
the Iraq War was unnecessary, based on 'series of lies' and that the administration's WMD spin job was intentional deception.
In January 2009, then President-Elect Obama polled the American public through the website Change.gov in a special "Open for Questions" section. Spurred by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com, the top question with over 22,000 votes became "Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor...to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?". Obviously, he did not.
HuffPo covered this diligently with "Obama Prompted to Prosecute Bush". But when Bush left office and gave up his pardon pen, neither Obama nor John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee looked backwards, missing the opportunity to capitalize on popular support as major media tiptoed around the story.
According to Bob Woodward, Secretary Powell was told
we would be invading Iraq two days after
Cheney and Rumsfeld had already briefed Saudi Prince Bandar, sharing with him a top secret war map, another violation of protocol.