View Full Version : Nat'l Security How Colin Powell Got Duped by the CIA

05-19-2009, 11:59 PM
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Think back six years. How often did we hear then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tout his intense four-day vigil at CIA headquarters preparing the speech he would give to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003? Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, who was asked by Powell to herd cats in putting that speech together, recently threw light on why it turned out to be such an acute embarrassment.

Surrogates of Vice President Dick Cheney were insisting on giving prominence to highly dubious reports of operational ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but on this particular issue (unlike the phantom WMD) CIA and State department intelligence analysts had stood firm in the face of heavy pressure. Indeed, the CIA ombudsman saw fit to tell Congress that never in his 32 years as a CIA analyst had he witnessed a more aggressive “hammering” on analysts to change their minds and give credence to reporting that was trash.

How was it, then, that Secretary Powell ended up citing a “sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network” to depict a relationship that did not exist? Fair labeling: Reading what follows may not make you quite as ill as reading the Department of Justice torture memos, but it may well sicken—and anger—you just the same.

According to Col. Wilkerson, just days before trying to sell the invasion of Iraq to the United Nations, his boss Colin Powell had decided not to regurgitate the dubious allegations about Saddam Hussein’s ties to al-Qaeda. Just in the nick of time, however, top CIA officials produced a “bombshell” report alleging such ties. The information was more than a year old and apparently extricated via torture, but Powell took the bait.

Wilkerson says the key moment occurred on Feb. 1, 2003, as the two men labored at the CIA over Powell’s presentation to the U.N. Security Council four days later.

“Powell and I had a one-on-one — no one else even in the room — about his angst over what was a rather dull recounting of several old stories about Al Qa’ida-Baghdad ties [in the draft speech],” Wilkerson said. “I agreed with him that what we had was bull___t, and Powell decided to eliminate all mention of terrorist contacts between AQ and Baghdad.

“Within an hour, [CIA Director George] Tenet and [CIA Deputy Director John] McLaughlin dropped a bombshell on the table in the director’s conference room: a high-level AQ detainee had just revealed under interrogation substantive contacts between AQ and Baghdad, including Iraqis training AQ operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons.”

Although Tenet and McLaughlin wouldn’t give Powell the identity of the al-Qaeda source, Wilkerson said he now understands that it was Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who had been captured 15 months earlier; who later claimed he gave the CIA false information in the face of actual and threatened torture; and who now seems to be quite dead.

Presumably not realizing that the “new” intelligence was tainted, “Powell changed his mind and this information was included in his UNSC presentation, along with more general information from a previous draft about Baghdad’s terrorist tendencies,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson’s account provides insight into how the need to justify war gave impetus to the use of torture for extracting information, and how the Bush administration’s reliance on harsh interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects helped grease the skids to war. Both.

Sealing the Deal

Powell, whose credibility essentially sealed the deal for war as far as millions of Americans were concerned, let himself be manipulated by senior CIA officials who kept him in the dark about crucial details, including the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency had thrown serious doubt on al-Libi’s credibility. Wilkerson told me:

“As you can see, nowhere were we told that the high-level AQ operative had a name, or that he had been interrogated [in Egypt] with no US personnel present or much earlier rather than just recently (the clear implication of Tenet’s breathtaking delivery).

“And not a single dissent was mentioned (later we learned of the DIA dissent) … All of this was hidden from us – the specific identity, we were informed, due to the desire to protect sources and methods as well as a cooperative foreign intelligence service….

“As for me in particular, I learned the identity of al-Libi only in 2004 and of the DIA dissent about the same time, of al-Libi’s recanting slightly later, and of the entire affair’s probably being a Tenet-McLaughlin fabrication – to at least a certain extent – only after I began to put some things together and to receive reinforcement of the ‘fabrication’ theme from other examples.”

Among those other examples, Wilkerson said, was the case of the Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball, who supplied false intelligence about mobile labs for making biological and chemical weapons, and various Iraqi walk-ins who spun bogus stories about an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Though some of those sources appear to have concocted their tales after being recruited by the pro-invasion exiles of the Iraqi National Congress, al-Libi told his stories—he later claimed—to avoid or stop torture. This is a central point in the current debate about why torture was used and whether it saved American lives.

Torture Can Produce

For those of you distracted by the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) spotlight on “what-did-Pelosi-know-about-torture-and-when-did-she- know-it,” please turn off the TV long enough to ponder the case of the recently departed al-Libi. According to a Libyan newspaper, al-Libi has died in a Libyan prison, a purported suicide.

The al-Libi case might help you understand why, even though information from torture is notoriously unreliable, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the me-too officials running U.S. intelligence ordered it anyway.

In short, if it is untruthful information you are after, torture can work just fine! As the distinguished Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham put it during a Senate hearing on May 13—with a hat-tip to the Inquisition—“One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work.”


05-20-2009, 10:35 AM
Colin Powell is a POS.

Bush I put the guy on the map by giving him a superficial role in Desert Storm. The guy didn't even step foot in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.

How does he thank the GOP? By stabbing them in the back every chance he gets. I have no love for the GOP, but this guy goes around telling everybody he's a republican and he represents the party, yet he endorsed and voted for that greasy communist from Chicago, B.O.

He's a scumbag.