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My guest today is Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent, whistleblower and one of TIME magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 2002.
JB: Welcome to OpEdNews, Coleen. You've been critical of the War in Iraq virtually from the get-go. What did you know that so many people within the Beltway didn't?
CR: Thanks! Here's what I knew and warned FBI Director Mueller about on Feb 26, 2003 (published in the New York Times on March 6, 2003):
1) The diversion of attention from al-Qaeda to invade Iraq, would be a step likely to bring an exponential increase in the terrorist threat to the U.S., both at home and abroad.
2) The Bush Administration was threatening Mueller with breaking up the FBI which served as additional pressure on him to politicize intelligence and keep him from voicing any objection to the plan to attack Iraq, a country that had no connection to Al Qaeda or to the 9-11 attacks. I knew the Bush Administration had lied and confused people so much that, incredibly, they had gotten 70% of all Americans to believe that Iraq was behind 9-11.
3) I knew that the figure that were leaked estimating thousands of Al Qaeda terrorists already in the U.S. ("sleeper cells") was greatly exaggerated.
4) I knew that the objectives and justifications that officials were giving about increasing people's security and preventing future terrorist attacks rang hollow inasmuch as officials were not even attempting to interview the first real Al Qaeda terrorist suspects in custody, Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" to learn what they knew of other plots.
5) I knew that launching war on Iraq would damage liaison with European law enforcement and intelligence agencies who were more on the frontlines than the U.S.
6) The color code threat alerts touted after 9-11 were in many ways ludicrous and proving counterproductive.
7) None of the 1000 or so people rounded up and indefinitely detained after 9-11, mostly in the NYC area, had any connection to terrorism. It was just a way for the FBI to demonstrate it was doing something.
8) The looser "preemptive strike" rationale being applied to Iraq (and other situations abroad) was not consistent with deadly force policy. I warned that the looser standard could migrate back home, fostering a more permissive attitude towards shootings by law enforcement officers in this country.
9) Lacking patience to allow the U.N. Inspectors to do their job and instead launching an attack on Iraq was analogous to the FBI Swat Teams who, a few years before, had lost patience and improvidently rushed the Davidian Branch Compound at Waco, which resulted in the deaths of all the children there.
The NYT's article and my letter warning FBI Director Mueller to warn the President to reconsider launching war on Iraq are here and here.
JB: That's quite a list, Coleen. Among other things, #8 certainly reverberates today with the police shootings of unarmed civilians, largely black males, happening all over the country. Let's cut to the chase. With all due respect, taking your concerns to your boss accomplished exactly what? Was it enough to stop or even slow that incessant drumbeat for war echoing through the halls of power and the media?
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