Kevin Drum wins best headline of the year. And he’s right:
Drum scoffs at the sheer hypocrisy and selective memory inherent in Cheney’s complaints. He says, “This came on the same day that Kurt Eichenwald told us what he’d learned after seeing a series of daily briefings from the months prior to 9/11. Presumably Dick Cheney saw them all too.”
- By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation.
- Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible. But some in the administration [i.e., Cheney's clique of neocon nitwits -ed.] considered the warning to be just bluster….In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
- “The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name
- On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.”
- On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews.
- On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied, but that it had been postponed, perhaps by a few months. But the president did not feel the briefings on potential attacks were sufficient, one intelligence official told me, and instead asked for a broader analysis on Al Qaeda, its aspirations and its history. In response, the C.I.A. set to work on the Aug. 6 brief.
- August 6, of course, was the infamous daily brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” — the one that prompted George Bush to tell his briefer, “All right. You’ve covered your ass.”
NEVERFORGET™ how much good it did us for Bush to attend his daily briefings in the summer of 2001.
Drum reminds everyone, “Obama reads the daily brief and sometimes he attends briefing sessions. Either way, though, he certainly seems to pay more attention to them than either George Bush or Dick Cheney ever did.”
“The President is among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.” — National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, in response to this criticism
Who can keep a low profile when you need a bagel, like NOW:
TPM: Does someone need a timeout? Intelligence operatives are supposed to know how to keep a low profile. Last we heard of CIA operative Raymond Davis he was at the center of a diplomatic crisis with Pakistan after he was arrested for shooting two men dead on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. Now he’s been arrested south of Denver after a scuffle over a parking spot outside an Einstein Bagels.
THE LIFE OF A CIA AGENT: constant danger and excitement! Can you imagine the “Einstein Bagels parking spot scene” being acted out by Johnny Depp (Once Upon A Time In Mexico) or Matt Damon (Bourne) or Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible)?
An op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post (emphasis mine):
I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.
In fact, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator — none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden — was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.
I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.
Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and al-Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more conventional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.
– Senator John McCain
This is a shorter summary of the post below:
- 2005: Abbottabad compound built — probably when Bin Laden took up residence there.
- September 2006: Emphasis on bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism. Here’s how President Bush explained this Tuesday: “This thing about . . . let’s put 100,000 of our special forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work.”
- September 2010: the CIA presented Obama with a set of assessments that indicated bin Laden could be hiding in a compound in northwest Pakistan. Starting in mid-March, the president convened at least nine National Security Council meetings to discuss the intelligence suggesting that bin Laden was possibly hiding out virtually in plain sight.
- April 29, 2011: After many National Security Council meetings and reviewing the intelligence, Obama gave the order to pursue Bin Laden.
- May 01, 2011: A small SEAL team begins and ends the strike within 40 minutes — and they take custody of OBL’s body.
So…100,000 special forces “stomping through Pakistan” wasn’t really what was needed. At all. We’ll probably never know if Bush was made aware of Bin Laden’s location in Pakistan and whether he chose not to pursue it further. And if Bush didn’t know, then what “intel” was supposedly used in this mission from Team Bush?
See more details of Bush years.
The Bin Laden operation in Abbottabad has been in planning since 2010: the compound caught the attention of intelligence because it had no internet or cell phone signal, which would be unusual for the size and wealth of the place.
In September 2010, the CIA presented Obama with a set of assessments that indicated bin Laden could be hiding in a compound in northwest Pakistan. Starting in mid-March, the president convened at least nine National Security Council meetings to discuss the intelligence suggesting that bin Laden was possibly hiding out virtually in plain sight.
You might find it interesting, because I do, that Osama has probably been in this location in Pakistan since 2005, when the compound was built. So last Friday, Obama gave the order to pursue Bin Laden. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the strike began.
Now take a look at George W. Bush’s pursuit of Bin Laden. From the article “Obama Succeeded Where Bush Failed: Osama Bin Laden Rhetoric And Reality” by Dan Froomkin:
- BUSH RANCH (AUGUST/2001): The unsuccessful attempts to engage Bush culminated in a briefing he got while vacationing on his Texas ranch. As investigative reporter Ron Suskind reported in his book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” an unnamed CIA operative flew to Crawford to call the president’s attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S. “All right,” Suskind reported Bush saying after hearing out the operative. “You’ve covered your ass, now.”
- TORA BORA (DEC/2001): After the invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban government quickly fell and al Qaeda retreated into the hills. But in December 2001, when bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora, Bush didn’t pull the trigger.
- (2001 – 2004): Then for more than three years, Bush treated bin Laden a lot like the wizards in the Harry Potter books treat He Who Must Not Be Named (Dan Froomkin | WaPo): Since the beginning of 2003, in fact, Bush has mentioned bin Laden’s name on only 10 occasions. And on six of those occasions it was because he was asked a direct question. In addition, there were four times when Bush was asked about bin Laden directly but was able to answer without mentioning bin Laden’s name himself. Not once during that period has he talked about bin Laden at any length, or said anything substantive. During the same period, for comparison purposes, Bush has mentioned former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on approximately 300 occasions.
- (SUMMER/2005): Bush started invoking bin Laden again — but this time, to win support for his Iraq policy, which was very much on the ropes. “Hear the words of Osama bin Laden,” Bush said, “‘This Third World War is raging’ in Iraq.”
- (2006): on the stump for his fellow Republicans, Bush was citing bin Laden extensively. The president cast bin Laden as the oracular leader of a global movement, and warned of the possibility of an Islamic caliphate “stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia” — an unsubstantiated fantasy with only one thing going for it: It served the political agendas of both men. Meanwhile, in an Oval Office session that same month, Bush told to a group of conservative columnists that focusing on bin Laden didn’t fit with his military plans. Putting “100,000 of our special forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work,” he explained.
- (POST ELECTION/2008): Yet, in his attempts to persuade the voting public of the dangers it faced, Bush gave bin Laden exactly the attention he seemed to crave. After the 2008 presidential election, during which politicians from both parties publicly renounced him, Bush finally admitted some regret in an ABC News interview. “Do I wish we had brought Osama bin Laden to justice? Sure,” Bush said. “But he’s not leading a lot of parades these days.”
Read the whole thing.
Oh, yeah! For situations like Libya where intelligence on the ground might be an asset?
The United States and its allies have been scrambling to gather detailed information on the location and abilities of Libyan infantry and armored forces that normally takes months of painstaking analysis.
“We didn’t have great data,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who handed over control of the Libya mission to NATO on Wednesday, said in an e-mail last week. “Libya hasn’t been a country we focused on a lot over past few years.”
“She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie… cocaine.”
And here’s the bumbling war criminal’s testimony in federal court during the trial of John Poindexter, Reagan’s own National Security Advisor, who was convicted of five felonies for his Iran-Contra crimes…
– Its crusade against communism led the Reagan administration to support a not-too-secret secret war in Central America, aiding the Nicaraguan contras fighting against the socialist government of Nicaragua. Reagan referred to the contras as “freedom fighters,” but his fondness for them led the U.S. government down the road to hypocrisy — and worse. The CIA produced an “assassination manual” for the contras. And as a CIA inspector general report later acknowledged, the agency, in supporting the contras, worked with individuals it suspected of being involved in drug-dealing. Ponder this contradiction: As Nancy Reagan was preaching, “Just Say No,” the CIA, implementing administration policy, was knowingly using suspected drug-runners in this secret war. Of course, the administration’s involvement in this covert war partly led to the Iran-contra scandal, during which the administration secretly sold weapons to Iran to gain the release of hostages held by terrorist groups — even while the administration was strenuously pressuring NATO allies not to sell such weapons to Iran, and while proclaiming an official position of never negotiating with terrorists. Working out of the White House, Reagan aides funneled the money raised in these Iranian arms deals to furnish munitions to the contras, all as a way of circumventing a congressional ban on such support.
When columnist Robert Novak unveiled Valerie Plame as a CIA undercover operative in his syndicated column in 2003, Plame reportedly confessed to a friend, “I didn’t plan for this day.” …
In Fair Game, director Doug Liman bravely tackles the now well-known story of how Plame’s husband, former career diplomat Joseph Wilson, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times accusing President George W. Bush of knowingly lying in his State of the Union address about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and how, in return, White House officials leaked Plame’s true identity to the media. As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews reportedly told Wilson, Karl Rove declared, “Wilson’s wife is fair game.” …continued
Some highlights from the following timelines:
- 11 SEP 2001
- 14 SEP 2001: Congress authorizes [PDF] President George W. Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
- 20 SEP 2001: British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. According to former British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, who also attended the dinner, Bush indicates that he is determined to remove Saddam Hussein from power: “We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.”
- 29 JAN 2002: In his State of the Union address, President Bush describes an “axis of evil” between Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Osama bin Laden is not mentioned in the speech.
- 26 FEB 2002: Joe Wilson arrives in Niger. Before the leak: 2002 (Wilson’s Trip to Niger)
- 24 SEP 2002: The British government releases a dossier [PDF] alleging that Iraq has and is developing weapons of mass destruction, including a claim that Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Africa. George Tenet briefs the Senate Intelligence Committee on the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. In his summary of the document, he includes the allegation that Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been sent to Niger by the CIA in February 2002 and who had determined that the allegations that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Niger were false, contacts the CIA and advises the agency to inform the British about the intelligence that had been acquired during his mission to Niger.
JAN – MAR 2003:
- BEFORE 28 JAN 2003: The National Intelligence Council sends and the White House receives an unequivocal memo, drafted by Robert G. Houdek, the national intelligence officer for Africa, that the Niger story is baseless and should be laid to rest. (WaPo, DailyKos)
- 28 JAN 2003: The 16 words are spoken by the President in the State of the Union address (transcript; SSCI). “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
- 29 JAN 2003: Joseph Wilson meets with a friend who works at the State Department and asks why the president had cited the British intelligence report about Iraq’s attempt to buy uranium, when he had debunked the allegation a year earlier. (NYT)
An advocacy group working on behalf of Vietnam veterans has asked a federal judge in California to sanction the CIA, saying the spy agency has been blocking efforts to uncover its role in alleged experiments on US soldiers from the 1950s to 1970s.
The Vietnam Veterans of America filed a lawsuit on behalf of six Vietnam War veterans in January, 2009, claiming that the CIA had used an estimated 7,800 US service members as “guinea pigs” in experiments involving “at least 250, but as many as 400 chemical and biological agents,” according to Courthouse News.
Among the chemicals the lawsuit alleges were used on the soldiers were LSD, sarin and phosgene nerve gases, cyanide, PCP and even THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The lawsuit described it as a “vast program of human experimentation” that was “shrouded in secrecy” and carried out without the informed consent of the experiment subjects.
“In 1970, [the CIA] provided Congress with an alphabetical list showing that they had tested 145 drugs during Projects Bluebird, Artichoke, MKULTRA and MKDELTA,” the lawsuit stated, as quoted at Courthouse News.
[In 1951] nearly 60 years ago, a French town was hit by a sudden outbreak of hallucinations, which left five people dead and many seriously ill. For years it was blamed on bread contaminated with a psychedelic fungus – but that theory is now being challenged: Pont-Saint-Esprit poisoning: Did the CIA spread LSD?
The Hidden Tragedy of the CIA’s Experiments on Children: From early 1940 to 1953 … Continue reading →
The Hidden Tragedy of the CIA’s Experiments on Children
by: H.P. Albarelli Jr. and Dr. Jeffrey S. Kaye, t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report
Wednesday 11 August 2010
[...] From early 1940 to 1953, Dr. Lauretta Bender, a highly respected child neuropsychiatrist practicing at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, experimented extensively with electroshock therapy on children who had been diagnosed with “autistic schizophrenia.” In all, it has been reported that Bender administered electroconvulsive therapy to at least 100 children ranging in age from three years old to 12 years, with some reports indicating the total may be twice that number. One source reports that, inclusive of Bender’s work, electroconvulsive treatment was used on more than 500 children at Bellevue Hospital from 1942 to 1956, and then at Creedmoor State Hospital Children’s Service from 1956 to 1969. Bender was a confident and dogmatic woman, who bristled at criticism, oftentimes refused to acknowledge reality even when it stood starkly before her.
Despite publicly claiming good results with electroshock treatment, privately Bender said she was seriously disappointed in the aftereffects and results shown by the subject children. Indeed, the condition of some of the children appeared to have only worsened. One six-year-old boy, after being shocked several times, went from being a shy, withdrawn child to acting increasingly aggressive and violent. Another child, a seven-year-old girl, following five electroshock sessions had become nearly catatonic. [...]
About the same time Dr. Bender was conducting her electroshock experiments, she was also widely experimenting on autistic and schizophrenic children with what she termed other “treatment endeavors.” These included use of a wide array of psycho-pharmaceutical agents, several provided to her by the Sandoz Chemical Co. in Basel, Switzerland, as well as Metrazol, sub-shock insulin therapy, amphetamines and anticonvulsants. Metrazol was a trade name for pentylenetetrazol, a drug used as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. High doses cause convulsions, as discovered in 1934 by the Hungarian-American neurologist and psychiatrist Ladislas J. Meduna. [...]
A November 1936 Time magazine article seriously questioned the benefits of Metrazol, citing “irreversible shock” as a “great danger.” The article described a typical Metrazol injection as such: “A patient receives no food for four or five hours. Then about five cubic centimeters of the drug [Metrazol] are injected into his veins. In about half-a-minute he coughs, casts terrified glances around the room, twitches violently, utters a horse wail, freezes into rigidity with his mouth wide open, arms and legs stiff as boards. Then he goes into convulsions. In one or two minutes the convulsions are over and he gradually passes into a coma, which lasts about an hour. After a series of shocks, his mind may be swept clean of delusions…. A patient is seldom given more than 20 injections and if no improvement is noted after ten treatments, he is usually given up as hopeless.” [...]
Dr. Bender’s LSD Experiments on Children
Shortly after deciding to initiate her own LSD experiments on children, Bender attended a conference sponsored by a CIA front group, the Josiah Macy Foundation. The conference focused on LSD research and featured Dr. Harold A. Abramson as a presenter. In 1960, Abramson conducted his own LSD experiments on a group of six children ranging in age from five to 14 years of age. A few short months after the Macy Foundation conference, Dr. Bender was notified that her planned LSD experiments would be partially and surreptitiously funded by the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology (SIHE), another CIA front group then located in Forest Hills, New York. The Society, headed by James L. Monroe, a former US Air Force officer who had worked on top-secret psychological warfare and propaganda projects, oversaw about 55 top-secret experiments underwritten by the CIA. These projects involved LSD, ESP, black magic, astrology, psychological warfare, media manipulation, and other subjects. Apparently, Bender’s work with children and LSD raised some concerns at the CIA’s Technical Services Division (TSD). A 1961 TSD memo written to Monroe questioned the “operational benefits of Dr. Bender’s work as related to children and LSD,” and requested to be kept “closely appraised of the possible links between Dr. Bender’s project and those being conducted under separate MK/ULTRA funding at designated prisons in New York and elsewhere.”
In 1960, Dr. Bender launched her first experiments with LSD and children. They were conducted within the Children’s Unit, Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens, New York. The LSD she used was supplied by Dr. Rudolph P. Bircher of the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company. (Dr. Bircher also provided Bender with UML-491, also a Sandoz-produced product, very much like LSD but sometimes “dreamier” in effect and longer lasting.) Her initial group of young subjects consisted of 14 children diagnosed schizophrenic, all under the age of 11. (Because diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, autism, and other disorders have changed over the decades, one cannot assess what actual conditions these children really had.) There were 11 boys and three girls, ranging in age from six to ten years old. Continue reading…
- Lauretta Bender, M.D. (1897–1987)
- Several papers written by Lauretta Bender (and others)
- Harold Alexander Abramson (Nov 27, 1899 – September 1980)
- Josiah Macy Foundation + LSD time line
- Project MKULTRA, The CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification—Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Committee on Human Resources (August 3, 1977) | Ninety Fifth Congress (Senate report, pdf, NYTimes)