& Jon Schwarz / The Intercept – 2015-05-22 00:18:52
George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer:
Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public
On “Hardball,” Michael Morell concedes the Bush administration misled the nation into the Iraq War
David Corn / Mother Jones
(May 19, 2015) — For a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape — or cover up — an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq.
For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared. And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other GOPers have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence.
But now there’s a new witness who will make the Bush apologists’ mission even more impossible: Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency’s deputy director and acting director. During the pre-invasion period, he served as Bush’s intelligence briefer.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball on Tuesday night, Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq’s supposed WMD program and Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda.
Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: “We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Here’s the conversation that followed:
MATTHEWS: Was that true?
MORELL: We were saying —
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true?
MORELL: That’s not true.
MATTHEWS: Well, why’d you let them get away with it?
MORELL: Look, my job Chris —
MATTHEWS: You’re the briefer for the president on intelligence, you’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver itâ€¦and nobody raised their hand and said, “No that’s not what we told him.”
MORELL: Chris, Chris Chris, what’s my job, right? My job —
MATTHEWS: To tell the truth.
MORELL: My job — no, as the briefer? As the briefer?
MATTHEWS: Okay, go ahead.
MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV.
The discussion went on:
MATTHEWS: So you’re briefing the president on the reasons for war, they’re selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn’t. So they’re using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.
MORELL: Look, I’m just telling you —
MATTHEWS: You just admitted it.
MORELL: I’m just telling you what we said —
MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.
MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects.
There’s the indictment, issued by the intelligence officer who briefed Bush and Cheney: The Bush White House made a “false presentation” on “some aspects” of the case for war. “That’s a big deal,” Matthews exclaimed. Morell replied, “It’s a big deal.”
And there’s more. Referring to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda, Morell noted, “What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community” had concluded. He added, “I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war.” That is, stronger than the truth would allow.
Morell’s remarks support the basic charge: Bush and Cheney were not misled by flawed intelligence; they used the flawed intelligence to mislead.
David Corn is Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief.
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Cheney Thought Al Qaeda Was Bluffing
Jon Schwarz / The Intercept
(May 19, 2015) — Dick Cheney would like you to believe that he knows more about protecting the nation from terrorism than anyone else. But he actually knows less.
When presented with an actual terror threat — the one that turned into the 9/11 attacks — Cheney thought al Qaeda was bluffing.
No kidding. This is from The Great War Of Our Time: The CIAâ€™s Fight Against Terrorism, a new book by former acting CIA director Mike Morell:
The threat reporting continued [in the spring and summer of 2001] — other pieces were titled “Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent” and “Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks” — but I sensed some skepticism about it.
The vice president one morning asked me whether all this threat reporting might not be deception on the part of al Qaâ€˜ida — purposely designed to get our attention and to get us to needlessly expend resources in response.
According to Morell, who was then in charge of the daily presidential intelligence briefing, the CIA felt they then needed to produce a report titled “UBL [Usama bin Laden] Threats Are Real.”
UBL Threats Are Real. Take a minute and think about that. Think about what would have happened on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 if Americans had known that had been Cheneyâ€™s attitude just a few months before. Think about how, if heâ€™d been a Democrat, that would have defined liberals as weak, cowardly children for the next 50 years.
So itâ€™s not just that Cheney is cartoonishly evil, itâ€™s that heâ€™s monstrously incompetent; in fact, his monstrous incompetence is a large part of why heâ€™s so cartoonishly evil. He was overwhelmingly powerful, but with no understanding of reality, and so blundered around the world strewing destruction wherever he went.
And of course, while al Qaeda wasnâ€™t bluffing in 2001, it often was afterward. As bin Laden openly explained in 2004, it caused the U.S. government to wildly overreact:
All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.
(George Tenetâ€™s memoir also describes this attitude within the Bush administration — that al Qaeda was sneakily trying to make us think they were about to attack us in 2001 — but attributes it only to Steve Cambone, who was then undersecretary of defense.)
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