The allegations that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction are lies.
By Elizabeth Murray / AlterNet December 1, 2016
I retired in 2010 after a 27-year career with the CIA and for the first 20 years of my career, I was a senior political and media analyst with the CIA’s open source arm. That department monitors and translates speeches by foreign leaders, newspaper editorials and other foreign news of interest to US policymakers.
Our job was to analyze the speeches of foreign leaders and the political spin of foreign media content and help the policymakers we worked with understand the implications for US policy and interests. It was exciting, challenging and very interesting work.
In early 2003, just prior to the launching of the US attack on Iraq, I was the senior analyst in charge of Iraqi media at the Open Source Center. The political atmosphere around the Beltway had become very charged amid allegations that Saddam Husayn possessed WMD and there were active efforts afoot to link him to al-Qa’ida and the events of 9-11. The drumbeat for war was in full swing.
One morning I received a telephone call from the office of then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz asking us to find media reportage of meetings between al-Qaida representatives and Iraqi officials. There was a strong implication in the way the tasking was conveyed to me that a meeting between the two sides had, in fact, taken place – possibly in Prague – and that we needed to find the evidence.
I gave the tasking my highest priority. I immediately contacted our overseas bureau in the Middle East in charge of monitoring and translating Iraqi media. We had the monitors/translators undertake an exhaustive search of all relevant Iraqi media reports in our archives that might contain such information. We also leveraged other resources available to us in Baghdad so that they could check on lesser known Iraq media sources – we pulled out all the stops.
About 2 weeks later, we received a definitive response – there was no evidence in Iraqi media of any such relationship between al-Qaida and Saddam Husayn’s regime. I promptly reported this information to Wolfowitz’s office. I assumed that was the end of the matter.
However, about a week later Wolfowitz’s office phoned us again, asking for the same thing – media evidence of an Iraqi government link with al-Qaida. So I again marshaled all the resources we had and dedicated some of our overseas staff to a full-time search. Again the finding was negative.
Again I reported this back. Unbelievably, a few weeks the request came to us a third time. It was slowly dawning on me that we were not providing his office with the answer they wanted. We were being subjected to political pressure. We had already expended many hours and many US tax dollars on this search – and I trusted our seasoned media professionals when they said there was no evidence of these allegations.
So I asked Wolfowitz’s office where they had heard that a meeting between al-Qa’ida and Iraqi officials had taken place – in the hopes that this might aid our search. However, I never received a response to my request.
Of course, we now know that these allegations were pure fiction, as were the allegations that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.
By 2006 – three years into the war on Iraq — the Bush administration officially admitted it had no evidence of any Iraqi role in the 9-11 attacks. Nevertheless, the US continues to devastate that country, to this very day.
It is time to face the truth and hold our leaders to account for the terrible war crimes committed against the Iraqi people. And it is time for the United States to withdraw from Iraq and allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their country free of foreign interference.
That is why I have shared my experience with The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War – as my testimony to the lies that led to the mass murder of so many innocent people. It is my hope that the truth uncovered by the Tribunal will enable a national reckoning and help us hold our leaders accountable for the past and present war crimes committed against the nation of Iraq – crimes which could not have been committed in the absence of the lies that were told to the American people.
Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis.
resident-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Rep. Michael Pompeo (R-Kan.) sends a crystal clear message that Trump was telling the American people the truth when he said that he would bring back the torture program and do “a hell of a lot worse.” Pompeo himself said that CIA officers who engaged in torture “are not torturers. They are patriots.” The only conclusion one can draw is that Trump intends to return the CIA to the dark days of the Bush administration. And this is despite the fact that torture is illegal under the Federal Torture Act, the United Nations Conventions Against Torture, and the McCain-Feinstein Amendment.
Pompeo’s nomination was something of a surprise. Although he supported and endorsed Trump during the Republican primaries, he was not a player in the campaign, he is not one of the more prominent members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), where he served only three years, and he was not among the names being circulated among “people in the know” in Washington for CIA Director. But Trump apparently likes West Point graduates, who are more likely to say, “Yes, sir” than they are to say, “Mr. President, let me tell you why that’s a bad idea.” Pompeo is a yes man with credentials. He graduated first in his class at the U.S. Military Academy, and then went to Harvard Law School before going into business and politics.
Pompeo also has towed the Tea Party line on national security issues since being elected to Congress in 2010. He called NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden “a traitor” and in an interview on C-SPAN added, “he should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.” Pompeo was a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, where he said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had “failed to lead,” despite the fact that his committee’s leadership had found that the former secretary had done nothing wrong related to Benghazi. And he wants to keep the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay open, calling it “the right option for American security” and “an important asset that must remain open.” He said after a visit to Guantanamo that he had seen the detainees there and that he wants them “right where they are.”
Further afield, Pompeo has said that he supports dragnet surveillance against American citizens, including NSA interception of all U.S. metadata, voicemails, emails, and text messages. He wants this information housed along with “lifestyle information” on Americans in a database that would be accessible to all U.S. law enforcement, something more akin to Orwell’s Big Brother than any other politician has put forth. He criticized his Congressional colleagues for rolling back some of NSA’s warrantless wiretapping programs in the aftermath of the Snowden disclosures, and added that the lone wolf attacks in San Bernardino in 2015 were a result of Congress not allowing NSA to do its job. Pompeo apparently has never commented publicly on the civil liberties and legal questions at play when a U.S. intelligence agency spies on American citizens.
So what can be done about a far-right activist CIA director serving a far-right president and being overseen by far-right Congressional committees? For us average citizens, not much, unfortunately.
But there are some things we can do. We can write our members of Congress and demand that they hold the CIA and its new director to both the letter and the spirit of the law. Torture is illegal. That isn’t going to change. If the CIA engages in torture, its leadership must be brought to task. If the Justice Department won’t file charges against torturers and those who order the torture, then maybe foreign courts will, just like Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who filed charges of human rights violations against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. We can write, speak out, and march against human rights and legal violations. We can initiate direct actions. And perhaps most importantly, if we have standing, we can sue, bog the CIA down in litigation, and force as much of the information as possible into the glare of the public spotlight.
Pompeo’s nomination is a bad thing. But it’s not the end of the world. We just have to be ready for a fight.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.
Demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline have resorted to social media and outside news sources to get out their message as N.Dakota police reportedly use tear gas, water cannon and concussion grenades, says political analyst Elizabeth Murray .
Police have reportedly deployed water cannon on the protesters, many of whom were trapped on a bridge at the scene, in sub-zero temperatures, and are using LRAD sound devices. There were also reports of police firing rubber bullets into the crowd.
Construction of the $3.7 billion pipeline has been inciting protests since the spring, with the Sioux tribe and environmental activists claiming the project threatens local water sources, as well sacred Indian sites, including burial grounds.
Once on-line, the 1,200-mile pipeline will carry 500,000 gallons of crude oil daily from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois.
Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the pipeline, told PBS last week the work was not being carried out on Native American property.
“We’re on private land,” and the pipeline is “new steel pipe,” he said.
Political analyst Elizabeth Murray provides her view of the demonstrations and how the US media has shied away from reporting on the disturbing drama.
RT: Tear gas and rubber bullets have reportedly been used to disperse the protests. Why do you think they’re use such strong force against protestors who say they’re acting peacefully?
Elizabeth Murray: This has been a full-blown assault on completely peaceful, non-violent protesters. I did see several reports, as yet unconfirmed, that the ground was vibrating underneath the area where the pipeline is being constructed and that it’s quite possible that this attack tonight could be a cover – actually, a distraction – while underground drilling is taking place.
As we know, Energy Transfer Partners has openly defied both the Army Corp of Engineers and the president’s urge to temporarily halt while the Army Corp of Engineers reviews whether they can go ahead with this. It’s possible that they may be trying to start drilling under the river tonight, and again, that’s unconfirmed, but I wouldn’t be surprised and I wouldn’t put it past Energy Transfer Partners, which has already said that any kind of alternative route is out of the question and that they intend to drill there…
RT:What do you think about protestors saying the police shot down their drone to prevent them from filming?
EM: I heard the same thing. I’ve been following the events rather closely on Twitter, but this is clearly an attempt to keep this out of the public eye. I understand that as this has been unfolding tonight, CNN, for example, has been busy going over the Hamilton theater incident with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and hasn’t given any attention to this issue. Fortunately, we’ve had not only RT but all kinds of citizen journalists live-streaming so they’re actually able to give citizens facts on the ground.
As you’ve mentioned and shown tonight, people were sprayed with water cannons in 25-degree cold.
Meanwhile, the Morton County Sheriff is apparently denying that they’ve used water cannons, but thanks to social media, people can get on-line and check out the live-streaming that has been going on through the night and see the terror that these non-violent water protectors are being subjected to.
It’s really appalling.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. (Full article here.)
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, together with others who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence community or related professions who exemplifies Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth – no matter the consequences. Read more about the history here.
The annual Sam Adams Award has been given in previous years to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance, former US Army Sgt; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks: Thomas Drake, of NSA; Jesselyn Radack, formerly of Dept. of Justice and now National Security Director of Government Accountability Project; Thomas Fingar, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and Director, National Intelligence Council, and Edward Snowden, former contractor for the National Security Agency; Chelsea Manning, US Army Private who exposed (via WikiLeaks) key information on Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as State Department activities; and to retired National Security Agency official William Binney, who challenged decisions to ignore the Fourth Amendment in the government’s massive — and wasteful — collection of electronic data.