Today Juan Cole posted on his Blog the following insighfully well-wrapped up and compact text:
Several high-profile FBI investigations, in which substantial progress have been made, may well have been put on hold by the Bush administration for political reasons. That is, it has been alleged to me that the White House may have leaned on the FBI– not to drop the investigations but to postpone some key arrests until after the November elections.
The first such case is the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity as a covert CIA agent to the press as way to undermine the credibility of her husband, Joe Wilson, who had gone public about his warnings to the administration that the story about the Iraqi purchase of uranium from Niger was bogus.
Warning: The text below will use the word “Neoconservative.” In my lexicon, a Neoconservative is a person from a social group that typically voted Democrat before 1968 but now votes Republican. Neoconservatives include all the white southern Christian denominations, such as the Southern Baptists, that emigrated from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party as a result of the Nixon strategy, as well as the Reagan Democrats (largely working-class Catholics) and Jewish Americans who trod the same path. Neoconservatives tend to be far-right Zionists in the Jabotinsky tradition, whether they are Jews or Christian Zionists, and they are associated with a desire to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the West Bank or at least to so circumscribe their existence there as to render them nonentities. The latest Neoconservative to enlist in the cause is Zell Miller, and he typifies the anger, recklessness and disregard for open, democratic values that characterize the movement.
Neoconservatives have gained allies for themselves from some rightwing Realists, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, to the extent that it may well be that the latter two have been converted to the Neoconservative ideology, which is distinctive because of its historical origins on the right of the old Democratic Party and in some cases in the far left (Christopher Hitchens is another example). Some have attempted to argue that the very term “Neoconservative” is a code word for derogatory attitudes toward Jews. This argument is mere special pleading and a playing of the race cared, however, insofar as only a tiny percentage of American Jews are Neoconservatives, and only a tiny percentage of Neoconservatives are Jews. The Neoconservative movement is an example of what social scientists call cross-cutting cleavages, which are multiple loyalties and identities typical of complex urban political societies.
We now know that the Niger story involved the forgery of documents by a man with ties to Italian military intelligence, and that moreover Italian military intelligence has ties to Michael Ledeen, Harold Rhode and Lawrence Franklin, pro-Likud Neoconservatives, two of whom had high-level positions in the Pentagon and all three of whom were tightly networked with the American Enterprise Institute. Franklin (a Neoconservative Catholic) is being investigated for spying on the US for Israel. The nexus of Italian military intelligence, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon suggests a network of conspiracy aimed at dragging the US into wars against Iraq and Iran. The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq after the war was in some significant part staffed by young people who had initially applied to work at the American Enterprise Institute as interns.
Joe Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA in response to a request by Dick Cheney that they investigate the story of the Iraq uranium purchases, and he came to the (correct) conclusion that the whole idea was implausible given the structure of the industry in Niger, which was heavily under the control of European companies. The Neoconservatives around Dick Cheney, including Scooter Libby and John Hannah, were highly commited to the Niger uranium story as a casus belli against Iraq, and were furious when Wilson revealed that he had shown it false in spring of 2002. They were convinced that the CIA was behind this strike at their credibility, and that Valerie Plame had been the one who managed to get Wilson sent. That is, in their paranoid world, Wilson’s honest reportage of the facts was a CIA plot against the Iraq War and perhaps against the Neoconservatives around Cheney and in the Pentagon.
It has been being leaked for many months now that the FBI believes the leak came from persons in Cheney’s circle, possibly John Hannah and/or Scooter Libby. The FBI could well be ready to move in the case. But I have been told that it has orders from the White House to back off until later this fall.
There has likewise been no arrest of Franklin, though one was expected by now. This is not, as the Neoconservatives and their supporters in the press are beginning to allege, because the case against Franklin is week. Rumors are flying in Washington that the FBI found a whole cache of classified documents in his house. If this is true, it was illegal for him to keep them there. We know that the evidence against Franklin was so air tight that Franklin was turned by the FBI, and was attempting to gather incriminating evidence against other Neoconservatives on their behalf. At some point the FBI as a courtesy let Franklin’s boss, Douglas Feith, know of their investigation, and apparently soon after the story was leaked to the press.
Is it possible that Franklin hasn’t been charged yet not because the case is weak, but because the White House does not want to anger the powerful AIPAC lobbying organization just before an election, and does not want to risk alienating Neoconservative voters in swing states like Florida? Indeed, isn’t it likely that the Franklin investigation was leaked to the press by persons in the Pentagon who feared they were under investigation, and who knew very well that such a story leaked in late August before the election would get the investigation squelched or much delayed?
On the other hand the conscientious Dreyfuss warns about Media bias:
What won’t get mentioned in tonight’s debate is that George Bush, Dick Cheney et al. lied to get us into Iraq.
For this I blame the media. For the past six months, the media has basically stopped digging on the issue of the Office of Special Plans, the manipulation of intelligence, the distortions and the lies. It is the single most important failure of the media. As someone who has written extensively and repeatedly about it, it is, to me, very sad. What it means is that Bush will go into the debate tonight far more secure that he ought to be. Kerry can accuse Bush of making the wrong choices, of not having a clear pre-war strategy, of bungling the occupation. But Kerry can’t accuse the president of purposefully misleading America, because he doesn’t have the ammunition—at least not from slam-dunk, mainstream sources that he can wave around.
The facts are that Bush and Cheney wanted to invade Iraq for reasons other than the stated ones. They knew that Iraq couldn’t threaten the United States with WMD, and they knew that Iraq was not allied with Al Qaeda. Yet they manufactured evidence to the contrary, meticulously.
Of course, they miscalculated, too. The occupation is a failure, and America is losing the war it lied to get into. But the latter is a mistake. The former is criminal. And there is a big, big difference.
Six months ago, administration defectors such as Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke made clear that the president was targeting Iraq long before 9/11. The media was abuzz with stories of visits to the CIA by Cheney to pressure analysts to support pre-arranged conclusions. There was lots of news about Joe Wilson and the deliberate lies about Niger yellowcake. The Senate was bustling with pressure from Jay Rockefeller to investigate the OSP. And lots more. It’s all been lost. The media dropped the ball. Instead of looking into the machinations of Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Harold Rhode, Bill Luti and others who managed the Pentagon’s policy shop and the OSP, instead of digging into Richard Perle’s friends David Wurmser and Mike Maloof (who founded OSP’s precursor) and so on, the media got lost. There hasn’t been a single important investigation of the OSP by a major media outlet in months, and (as far as I can remember) not even a recap! It’s like all the lies never happened.
So now Bush can blame the CIA, and George Tenet, for having given him bad intelligence on Iraq’s WMD, and say that at least the world is rid of a bad guy.
Once the lies are off the table, all Kerry can do is to point out how badly things are going. Bush slips away, at least until historians unravel this.
It’s a shame.
This could have helped us untangle some of the mysteries behind Israeli spying and possible direct connections with the office of the prime minister.