Richard Moore

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Date: Wed, 07 May 2003 14:36:42 -0700
From: "Butler Crittenden, Ph.D." <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: SELECTIVE INTELLIGENCE by Seymour M. Hersh
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How revisionist history is made. Butler

May 7, 2003
Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?
Issue of 2003-05-12
Posted 2003-05-05

They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal -- a small
cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in
the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans. In the past
year, according to former and present Bush
Administration officials, their operation, which was
conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of
Defense, has brought about a crucial change of
direction in the American intelligence community. These
advisers and analysts, who began their work in the days
after September 11, 2001, have produced a skein of
intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public
opinion and American policy toward Iraq. They relied on
data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also
on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress,
or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi. By
last fall, the operation rivalled both the C.I.A. and
the Pentagon's own Defense Intelligence Agency, the
D.I.A., as President Bush's main source of intelligence
regarding Iraq's possible possession of weapons of mass
destruction and connection with Al Qaeda. As of last
week, no such weapons had been found. And although many
people, within the Administration and outside it,
profess confidence that something will turn up, the
integrity of much of that intelligence is now in

The director of the Special Plans operation is Abram
Shulsky, a scholarly expert in the works of the
political philosopher Leo Strauss. Shulsky has been
quietly working on intelligence and foreign-policy
issues for three decades; he was on the staff of the
Senate Intelligence Com-mittee in the early
nineteen-eighties and served in the Pentagon under
Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle during the
Reagan Administration, after which he joined the Rand
Corporation. The Office of Special Plans is overseen by
Under-Secretary of Defense William Luti, a retired Navy
captain. Luti was an early advocate of military action
against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward
war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians
in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important

W. Patrick Lang, the former chief of Middle East
intelligence at the D.I.A., said, "The Pentagon has
banded together to dominate the government's foreign
policy, and they've pulled it off. They're running
Chalabi. The D.I.A. has been intimidated and beaten to
a pulp. And there's no guts at all in the C.I.A."

The hostility goes both ways. A Pentagon official who
works for Luti told me, "I did a job when the
intelligence community wasn't doing theirs. We
recognized the fact that they hadn't done the analysis.
We were providing information to Wolfowitz that he
hadn't seen before. The intelligence community is still
looking for a mission like they had in the Cold War,
when they spoon-fed the policymakers."

A Pentagon adviser who has worked with Special Plans
dismissed any criticism of the operation as little more
than bureaucratic whining. "Shulsky and Luti won the
policy debate," the adviser said. "They beat 'em -- they
cleaned up against State and the C.I.A. There's no
mystery why they won -- because they were more effective
in making their argument. Luti is smarter than the
opposition. Wolfowitz is smarter. They out-argued them.
It was a fair fight. They persuaded the President of
the need to make a new security policy. Those who lose
are so good at trying to undercut those who won." He
added, "I'd love to be the historian who writes the
story of how this small group of eight or nine people
made the case and won."

According to the Pentagon adviser, Special Plans was
created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and
his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed
to be true -- that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al
Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of
chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons
that threatened the region and, potentially, the United

Iraq's possible possession of weapons of mass
destruction had been a matter of concern to the
international community since before the first Gulf
War. Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons in the
past. At some point, he assembled thousands of chemical
warheads, along with biological weapons, and made a
serious attempt to build a nuclear-weapons program.
What has been in dispute is how much of that capacity,
if any, survived the 1991 war and the years of United
Nations inspections, no-fly zones, and sanctions that
followed. In addition, since September 11th there have
been recurring questions about Iraq's ties to
terrorists. A February poll showed that seventy-two per
cent of Americans believed it was likely that Saddam
Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th
attacks, although no definitive evidence of such a
connection has been presented.

Rumsfeld and his colleagues believed that the C.I.A.
was unable to perceive the reality of the situation in
Iraq. "The agency was out to disprove linkage between
Iraq and terrorism," the Pentagon adviser told me.
"That's what drove them. If you've ever worked with
intelligence data, you can see the ingrained views at
C.I.A. that color the way it sees data." The goal of
Special Plans, he said, was "to put the data under the
microscope to reveal what the intelligence community
can't see. Shulsky's carrying the heaviest part."

Even before September 11th, Richard Perle, who was then
the chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board,
was making a similar argument about the intelligence
community's knowledge of Iraq's weapons. At a Senate
Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing in March, 2001,
he said, "Does Saddam now have weapons of mass
destruction? Sure he does. We know he has chemical
weapons. We know he has biological weapons. . . . How
far he's gone on the nuclear-weapons side I don't think
we really know. My guess is it's further than we think.
It's always further than we think, because we limit
ourselves, as we think about this, to what we're able
to prove and demonstrate. . . . And, unless you believe
that we have uncovered everything, you have to assume
there is more than we're able to report."

Last October, an article in the Times reported that
Rumsfeld had ordered up an intelligence operation "to
search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or
links to terrorists" that might have been overlooked by
the C.I.A. When Rumsfeld was asked about the story at a
Pentagon briefing, he was initially vague. "I'm told
that after September 11th a small group, I think two to
start with, and maybe four now . . . were asked to
begin poring over this mountain of information that we
were receiving on intelligence-type things." He went on
to say, "You don't know what you don't know. So in
comes the daily briefer" -- from the C.I.A. -- "and she walks
through the daily brief. And I ask questions. 'Gee,
what about this?' or 'What about that? Has somebody
thought of this?'" At the same briefing, Rumsfeld said
that he had already been informed that there was "solid
evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members."

If Special Plans was going to search for new
intelligence on Iraq, the most obvious source was
defectors with firsthand knowledge. The office
inevitably turned to Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National
Congress. The I.N.C., an umbrella organization for
diverse groups opposed to Saddam, is constantly seeking
out Iraqi defectors. The Special Plans Office developed
a close working relationship with the I.N.C., and this
strengthened its position in disputes with the C.I.A.
and gave the Pentagon's pro-war leadership added
leverage in its constant disputes with the State
Department. Special Plans also became a conduit for
intelligence reports from the I.N.C. to officials in
the White House.

There was a close personal bond, too, between Chalabi
and Wolfowitz and Perle, dating back many years. Their
relationship deepened after the Bush Administration
took office, and Chalabi's ties extended to others in
the Administration, including Rumsfeld; Douglas Feith,
the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy; and I. Lewis
Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. For
years, Chalabi has had the support of prominent members
of the American Enterprise Institute and other
conservatives. Chalabi had some Democratic supporters,
too, including James Woolsey, the former head of the

There was another level to Chalabi's relationship with
the United States: in the mid-nineteen-nineties, the
C.I.A. was secretly funnelling millions of dollars
annually to the I.N.C. Those payments ended around
1996, a former C.I.A. Middle East station chief told
me, essentially because the agency had doubts about
Chalabi's integrity. (In 1992, Chalabi was convicted in
absentia of bank fraud in Jordan. He has always denied
any wrongdoing.) "You had to treat them with
suspicion," another former Middle East station chief
said of Chalabi's people. "The I.N.C. has a track
record of manipulating information because it has an
agenda. It's a political unit -- not an intelligence

In August, 1995, General Hussein Kamel, who was in
charge of Iraq's weapons program, defected to Jordan,
with his brother, Colonel Saddam Kamel. They brought
with them crates of documents containing detailed
information about Iraqi efforts to develop weapons of
mass destruction -- much of which was unknown to the U.N.
inspection teams that had been on the job since
1991 -- and were interviewed at length by the U.N.
inspectors. In 1996, Saddam Hussein lured the brothers
back with a promise of forgiveness, and then had them
killed. The Kamels' information became a major element
in the Bush Administration's campaign to convince the
public of the failure of the U.N. inspections.

Last October, in a speech in Cincinnati, the President
cited the Kamel defections as the moment when Saddam's
regime "was forced to admit that it had produced more
than thirty thousand liters of anthrax and other deadly
biological agents. . . . This is a massive stockpile of
biological weapons that has never been accounted for,
and is capable of killing millions." A couple of weeks
earlier, Vice-President Cheney had declared that
Hussein Kamel's story "should serve as a reminder to
all that we often learned more as the result of
defections than we learned from the inspection regime

The full record of Hussein Kamel's interview with the
inspectors reveals, however, that he also said that
Iraq's stockpile of chemical and biological warheads,
which were manufactured before the 1991 Gulf War, had
been destroyed, in many cases in response to ongoing
inspections. The interview, on August 22, 1995,was
conducted by Rolf Ekeus, then the executive chairman of
the U.N. inspection teams, and two of his senior
associates -- Nikita Smidovich and Maurizio Zifferaro.
"You have an important role in Iraq," Kamel said,
according to the record, which was assembled from notes
taken by Smidovich. "You should not underestimate
yourself. You are very effective in Iraq." When
Smidovich noted that the U.N. teams had not found "any
traces of destruction," Kamel responded, "Yes, it was
done before you came in." He also said that Iraq had
destroyed its arsenal of warheads. "We gave
instructions not to produce chemical weapons," Kamel
explained later in the debriefing. "I don't remember
resumption of chemical-weapons production before the
Gulf War. Maybe it was only minimal production and
filling. . . . All chemical weapons were destroyed. I
ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All
weapons -- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear -- were

Kamel also cast doubt on the testimony of Dr. Khidhir
Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994.
Hamza settled in the United States with the help of the
I.N.C. and has been a highly vocal witness concerning
Iraq's alleged nuclear ambitions. Kamel told the U.N.
interviewers, however, that Hamza was "a professional
liar." He went on, "He worked with us, but he was
useless and always looking for promotions. He consulted
with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was
even interrogated by a team before he left and was
allowed to go."

After his defection, Hamza became a senior fellow at
the Institute for Science and International Security, a
Washington disarmament group, whose president, David
Albright, was a former U.N. weapons inspector. In 1998,
Albright told me, he and Hamza sent publishers a
proposal for a book tentatively entitled "Fizzle: Iraq
and the Atomic Bomb," which described how Iraq had
failed in its quest for a nuclear device. There were no
takers, Albright said, and Hamza eventually "started
exaggerating his experiences in Iraq." The two men
broke off contact. In 2000, Hamza published "Saddam's
Bombmaker," a vivid account claiming that by 1991, when
the Gulf War began, Iraq was far closer than had been
known to the production of a nuclear weapon. Jeff
Stein, a Washington journalist who collaborated on the
book, told me that Hamza's account was "absolutely on
the level, allowing for the fact that any memoir puts
the author at the center of events, and therefore there
is some exaggeration." James Woolsey, the former head
of the C.I.A., said of Hamza, "I think highly of him
and I have no reason to disbelieve the claims that he's
made." Hamza could not be reached for comment. On April
26th, according to the Times, he returned to Iraq as a
member of a group of exiles designated by the Pentagon
to help rebuild the country's infrastructure. He is to
be responsible for atomic energy.

The advantages and disadvantages of relying on
defectors has been a perennial source of dispute within
the American intelligence community -- as Shulsky himself
noted in a 1991 textbook on intelligence that he
co-authored. Despite their importance, he wrote, "it is
difficult to be certain that they are genuine. . . .
The conflicting information provided by several major
Soviet defectors to the United States . . . has never
been completely sorted out; it bedeviled U.S.
intelligence for a quarter of a century." Defectors can
provide unique insight into a repressive system. But
such volunteer sources, as Shulsky writes, "may be
greedy; they may also be somewhat unbalanced people who
wish to bring some excitement into their lives; they
may desire to avenge what they see as ill treatment by
their government; or they may be subject to blackmail."
There is a strong incentive to tell interviewers what
they want to hear.

With the Pentagon's support, Chalabi's group worked to
put defectors with compelling stories in touch with
reporters in the United States and Europe. The
resulting articles had dramatic accounts of advances in
weapons of mass destruction or told of ties to
terrorist groups. In some cases, these stories were
disputed in analyses by the C.I.A. Misstatements and
inconsistencies in I.N.C. defector accounts were also
discovered after the final series of U.N. weapons
inspections, which ended a few days before the American
assault. Dr. Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in political
science at Cambridge University, compiled and examined
the information that had been made public and concluded
that the U.N. inspections had failed to find evidence
to support the defectors' claims.

For example, many newspapers published extensive
interviews with Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a civil
engineer who, with the I.N.C.'s help, fled Iraq in
2001, and subsequently claimed that he had visited
twenty hidden facilities that he believed were built
for the production of biological and chemical weapons.
One, he said, was underneath a hospital in Baghdad.
Haideri was apparently a source for Secretary of State
Colin Powell's claim, in his presentation to the United
Nations Security Council on February 5th, that the
United States had "firsthand descriptions" of mobile
factories capable of producing vast quantities of
biological weapons. The U.N. teams that returned to
Iraq last winter were unable to verify any of
al-Haideri's claims. In a statement to the Security
Council in March, on the eve of war, Hans Blix, the
U.N.'s chief weapons inspector, noted that his teams
had physically examined the hospital and other sites
with the help of ground-penetrating radar equipment.
"No underground facilities for chemical or biological
production or storage were found so far," he said.

Almost immediately after September 11th, the I.N.C.
began to publicize the stories of defectors who claimed
that they had information connecting Iraq to the
attacks. In an interview on October 14, 2001, conducted
jointly by the Times and "Frontline," the
public-television program, Sabah Khodada, an Iraqi Army
captain, said that the September 11th operation "was
conducted by people who were trained by Saddam," and
that Iraq had a program to instruct terrorists in the
art of hijacking. Another defector, who was identified
only as a retired lieutenant general in the Iraqi
intelligence service, said that in 2000 he witnessed
Arab students being given lessons in hijacking on a
Boeing 707 parked at an Iraqi training camp near the
town of Salman Pak, south of Baghdad.

In separate interviews with me, however, a former
C.I.A. station chief and a former military intelligence
analyst said that the camp near Salman Pak had been
built not for terrorism training but for
counter-terrorism training. In the mid-eighties,
Islamic terrorists were routinely hijacking aircraft.
In 1986, an Iraqi airliner was seized by pro-Iranian
extremists and crashed, after a hand grenade was
triggered, killing at least sixty-five people. (At the
time, Iran and Iraq were at war, and America favored
Iraq.) Iraq then sought assistance from the West, and
got what it wanted from Britain's MI6. The C.I.A.
offered similar training in counter-terrorism
throughout the Middle East. "We were helping our allies
everywhere we had a liaison," the former station chief
told me. Inspectors recalled seeing the body of an
airplane -- which appeared to be used for
counter-terrorism training -- when they visited a
biological-weapons facility near Salman Pak in 1991,
ten years before September 11th. It is, of course,
possible for such a camp to be converted from one
purpose to another. The former C.I.A. official noted,
however, that terrorists would not practice on
airplanes in the open. "That's Hollywood rinky-dink
stuff," the former agent said. "They train in
basements. You don't need a real airplane to practice
hijacking. The 9/11 terrorists went to gyms. But to
take one back you have to practice on the real thing."

Salman Pak was overrun by American troops on April 6th.
Apparently, neither the camp nor the former biological
facility has yielded evidence to substantiate the
claims made before the war.

A former Bush Administration intelligence official
recalled a case in which Chalabi's group, working with
the Pentagon, produced a defector from Iraq who was
interviewed overseas by an agent from the D.I.A. The
agent relied on an interpreter supplied by Chalabi's
people. Last summer, the D.I.A. report, which was
classified, was leaked. In a detailed account, the
London Times described how the defector had trained
with Al Qaeda terrorists in the late nineteen-nineties
at secret camps in Iraq, how the Iraqis received
instructions in the use of chemical and biological
weapons, and how the defector was given a new identity
and relocated. A month later, however, a team of C.I.A.
agents went to interview the man with their own
interpreter. "He says, 'No, that's not what I said,'"
the former intelligence official told me. "He said, 'I
worked at a fedayeen camp; it wasn't Al Qaeda.' He
never saw any chemical or biological training."
Afterward, the former official said, "the C.I.A. sent
out a piece of paper saying that this information was
incorrect. They put it in writing." But the C.I.A.
rebuttal, like the original report, was classified. "I
remember wondering whether this one would leak and
correct the earlier, invalid leak. Of course, it

The former intelligence official went on, "One of the
reasons I left was my sense that they were using the
intelligence from the C.I.A. and other agencies only
when it fit their agenda. They didn't like the
intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in
people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so
far out and so difficult to reason with -- to the point of
being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission
from God." He added, "If it doesn't fit their theory,
they don't want to accept it."

Shulsky's work has deep theoretical underpinnings. In
his academic and think-tank writings, Shulsky, the son
of a newspaperman -- his father, Sam, wrote a nationally
syndicated business column -- has long been a critic of
the American intelligence community. During the Cold
War, his area of expertise was Soviet disinformation
techniques. Like Wolfowitz, he was a student of Leo
Strauss's, at the University of Chicago. Both men
received their doctorates under Strauss in 1972.
Strauss, a refugee from Nazi Germany who arrived in the
United States in 1937, was trained in the history of
political philosophy, and became one of the foremost
conservative émigré scholars. He was widely known for
his argument that the works of ancient philosophers
contain deliberately concealed esoteric meanings whose
truths can be comprehended only by a very few, and
would be misunderstood by the masses. The Straussian
movement has many adherents in and around the Bush
Administration. In addition to Wolfowitz, they include
William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, and
Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence, who is particularly close to Rumsfeld.
Strauss's influence on foreign-policy decision-making
(he never wrote explicitly about the subject himself)
is usually discussed in terms of his tendency to view
the world as a place where isolated liberal democracies
live in constant danger from hostile elements abroad,
and face threats that must be confronted vigorously and
with strong leadership.

How Strauss's views might be applied to the
intelligence-gathering process is less immediately
obvious. As it happens, Shulsky himself explored that
question in a 1999 essay, written with Gary Schmitt,
entitled "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By
Which We Do Not Mean Nous)" -- in Greek philosophy the
term nous denotes the highest form of rationality. In
the essay, Shulsky and Schmitt write that Strauss's
"gentleness, his ability to concentrate on detail, his
consequent success in looking below the surface and
reading between the lines, and his seeming
unworldliness . . . may even be said to resemble,
however faintly, the George Smiley of John le Carré's
novels." Echoing one of Strauss's major themes, Shulsky
and Schmitt criticize America's intelligence community
for its failure to appreciate the duplicitous nature of
the regimes it deals with, its susceptibility to
social-science notions of proof, and its inability to
cope with deliberate concealment.

The agency's analysts, Shulsky and Schmitt argue, "were
generally reluctant throughout the Cold War to believe
that they could be deceived about any critical question
by the Soviet Union or other Communist states. History
has shown this view to have been extremely naïve." They
suggested that political philosophy, with its emphasis
on the variety of regimes, could provide an "antidote"
to the C.I.A.'s failings, and would help in
understanding Islamic leaders, "whose intellectual
world was so different from our own."

Strauss's idea of hidden meaning, Shulsky and Schmitt
added, "alerts one to the possibility that political
life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it
suggests that deception is the norm in political life,
and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of
establishing a politics that can dispense with it is
the exception."

Robert Pippin, the chairman of the Committee on Social
Thought at Chicago and a critic of Strauss, told me,
"Strauss believed that good statesmen have powers of
judgment and must rely on an inner circle. The person
who whispers in the ear of the King is more important
than the King. If you have that talent, what you do or
say in public cannot be held accountable in the same
way." Another Strauss critic, Stephen Holmes, a law
professor at New York University, put the Straussians'
position this way: "They believe that your enemy is
deceiving you, and you have to pretend to agree, but
secretly you follow your own views." Holmes added, "The
whole story is complicated by Strauss's idea -- actually
Plato's -- that philosophers need to tell noble lies not
only to the people at large but also to powerful

When I asked one of Strauss's staunchest defenders,
Joseph Cropsey, professor emeritus of political science
at Chicago, about the use of Strauss's views in the
area of policymaking, he told me that common sense
alone suggested that a certain amount of deception is
essential in government. "That people in government
have to be discreet in what they say publicly is so
obvious -- 'If I tell you the truth I can't but help the
enemy.'" But there is nothing in Strauss's work, he
added, that "favors preëmptive action. What it favors
is prudence and sound judgment. If you could have got
rid of Hitler in the nineteen-thirties, who's not going
to be in favor of that? You don't need Strauss to reach
that conclusion."

Some former intelligence officials believe that Shulsky
and his superiors were captives of their own
convictions, and were merely deceiving themselves.
Vincent Cannistraro, the former chief of
counter-terrorism operations and analysis at the
C.I.A., worked with Shulsky at a Washington think tank
after his retirement. He said, "Abe is very gentle and
slow to anger, with a sense of irony. But his politics
were typical for his group -- the Straussian view." The
group's members, Cannistraro said, "reinforce each
other because they're the only friends they have, and
they all work together. This has been going on since
the nineteen-eighties, but they've never been able to
coalesce as they have now. September 11th gave them the
opportunity, and now they're in heaven. They believe
the intelligence is there. They want to believe it. It
has to be there."

The rising influence of the Office of Special Plans has
been accompanied by a decline in the influence of the
C.I.A. and the D.I.A. One internal Pentagon memorandum
went so far as to suggest that terrorism experts in the
government and outside it had deliberately "downplayed
or sought to disprove" the link between Al Qaeda and
Iraq. "For many years, there has been a bias in the
intelligence community" against defectors, the
memorandum said. It urged that two analysts working
with Shulsky be given the authority to "investigate
linkages to Iraq" by having access to the "proper
debriefing of key Iraqi defectors."

A former C.I.A. task-force leader who is a consultant
to the Bush Administration said that many analysts in
the C.I.A. are convinced that the Chalabi group's
defector reports on weapons of mass destruction and Al
Qaeda have produced little of value, but said that the
agency "is not fighting it." He said that the D.I.A.
had studied the information as well. "Even the D.I.A.
can't find any value in it." (The Pentagon, asked for
comment, denied that there had been disputes between
the C.I.A. and Special Plans over the validity of

In interviews, former C.I.A. officers and analysts
described the agency as increasingly demoralized.
"George knows he's being beaten up," one former officer
said of George Tenet, the C.I.A. director. "And his
analysts are terrified. George used to protect his
people, but he's been forced to do things their way."
Because the C.I.A.'s analysts are now on the defensive,
"they write reports justifying their intelligence
rather than saying what's going on. The Defense
Department and the Office of the Vice-President write
their own pieces, based on their own ideology. We
collect so much stuff that you can find anything you

"They see themselves as outsiders, " a former C.I.A.
expert who spent the past decade immersed in
Iraqi-exile affairs said of the Special Plans people.
He added, "There's a high degree of paranoia. They've
convinced themselves that they're on the side of
angels, and everybody else in the government is a

More than a year's worth of increasingly bitter debate
over the value and integrity of the Special Plans
intelligence came to a halt in March, when President
Bush authorized the war against Iraq. After a few weeks
of fighting, Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed, leaving
American forces to declare victory against a backdrop
of disorder and uncertainty about the country's future.
Ahmad Chalabi and the I.N.C. continued to provoke
fights within the Bush Administration. The Pentagon
flew Chalabi and hundreds of his supporters, heavily
armed, into Iraq, amid tight security, over angry
objections from the State Department. Chalabi is now
establishing himself in Baghdad. His advocates in the
Pentagon point out that he is not only a Shiite, like
the majority of Iraqis, but also, as one scholar put
it, "a completely Westernized businessman" (he
emigrated to England with his parents in 1958, when he
was a boy), which is one reason the State Department
doubts whether he can gain support among Iraqis.

Chalabi is not the only point of contention, however.
The failure, as of last week, to find weapons of mass
destruction in places where the Pentagon's sources
confidently predicted they would be found has
reanimated the debate on the quality of the office's
intelligence. A former high-level intelligence official
told me that American Special Forces units had been
sent into Iraq in mid-March, before the start of the
air and ground war, to investigate sites suspected of
being missile or chemical- and biological-weapon
storage depots. "They came up with nothing," the
official said. "Never found a single Scud."

Since then, there have been a number of false alarms
and a tip that weapons may have been destroyed in the
last days before the war, but no solid evidence. On
April 22nd, Hans Blix, hours before he asked the U.N.
Security Council to send his team back to Iraq, told
the BBC, "I think it's been one of the disturbing
elements that so much of the intelligence on which the
capitals built their case seemed to have been so

There is little self-doubt or second-guessing in the
Pentagon over the failure to immediately find the
weapons. The Pentagon adviser to Special Plans told me
he believed that the delay "means nothing. We've got to
wait to get all the answers from Iraqi scientists who
will tell us where they are." Similarly, the Pentagon
official who works for Luti said last week, "I think
they're hidden in the mountains or transferred to some
friendly countries. Saddam had enough time to move
them." There were suggestions from the Pentagon that
Saddam might be shipping weapons over the border to
Syria. "It's bait and switch," the former high-level
intelligence official said. "Bait them into Iraq with
weapons of mass destruction. And, when they aren't
found, there's this whole bullshit about the weapons
being in Syria."

In Congress, a senior legislative aide said, "Some
members are beginning to ask and to wonder, but
cautiously." For now, he told me, "the members don't
have the confidence to say that the Administration is
off base." He also commented, "For many, it makes
little difference. We vanquished a bad guy and
liberated the Iraqi people. Some are astute enough to
recognize that the alleged imminent W.M.D. threat to
the U.S. was a pretext. I sometimes have to pinch
myself when friends or family ask with incredulity
about the lack of W.M.D., and remind myself that the
average person has the idea that there are mountains of
the stuff over there, ready to be tripped over. The
more time elapses, the more people are going to wonder
about this, but I don't think it will sway U.S. public
opinion much. Everyone loves to be on the winning

Weapons may yet be found. Iraq is a big country, as the
Administration has repeatedly pointed out in recent
weeks. In a speech last week, President Bush said,
"We've begun the search for hidden chemical and
biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of
sites that will be investigated." Meanwhile, if the
American advance hasn't uncovered stashes of weapons of
mass destruction, it has turned up additional graphic
evidence of the brutality of the regime. But Saddam
Hussein's cruelty was documented long before September
11th, and was not the principal reason the Bush
Administration gave to the world for the necessity of

Former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who served on the
Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a strong
supporter of the President's decision to overthrow
Saddam. "I do think building a democratic secular state
in Iraq justifies everything we've done," Kerrey, who
is now president of New School University, in New York,
told me. "But they've taken the intelligence on weapons
and expanded it beyond what was justified." Speaking of
the hawks, he said, "It appeared that they understood
that to get the American people on their side they
needed to come up with something more to say than
'We've liberated Iraq and got rid of a tyrant.' So they
had to find some ties to weapons of mass destruction
and were willing to allow a majority of Americans to
incorrectly conclude that the invasion of Iraq had
something to do with the World Trade Center.
Overemphasizing the national-security threat made it
more difficult to get the rest of the world on our
side. It was the weakest and most misleading argument
we could use." Kerrey added, "It appears that they have
the intelligence. The problem is, they didn't like the




    For the movement, the relevant question is not, "Can we
    work through the political system?", but rather, "Is
    the political system one of the things that needs to be
    fundamentally transformed?"

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