Iraq War Tenth Anniversary

by Daniel McNeet on March 22, 2013

Good day, good people.

I have included below a letter from an Iraq veteran who is dying. He is a victim of the Cheney Administration and his marionette, George W. Bush, of going to war illegally in Iraq. Kofi Annan and others have agreed the Cheney-Bush cabal did so. The cabal of Rumsfeld, Rice, Libby, Rove, Feith, Wolfowitz and others are responsible for the murders of U.S. military personnel, Iraqi military personnel and civilians and other war crimes. When are they going to be prosecuted?

I have also included an article by a CIA analyst who was pressured by Cheney to perpetuate a hoax on the American people. The reasons are set forth in both documents. The additional reason was: Karl Rove told the marionette he could not be reelected without a war.

The Last Letter

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

I Tried to Make the Intelligence Behind the Iraq War Less Bogus


Ten years ago this week, the U.S. invaded Iraq, citing intelligence that turned out to be bogus. I had to work on some of it — and I also had to work on keeping the really, really terrible versions of it out of our analysis.

Specifically, I was a CIA analyst working in the Counterterrorism Center in the overburdened days after 9/11. As analysts, we spend most of our time identifying burgeoning issues based on communications intercepts, reports from CIA case officers, imagery from satellites, accounts from other governments, and piecing together a story.

What we don’t do routinely is tie one catastrophe to another. But that was exactly what I was asked to do in November 2002, shortly after Congress voted to authorize war with Iraq. That war was predicated on Saddam Hussein’s (ultimately nonexistent) stockpiles of deadly weapons, but lurking in the background was the assertion that he’d pass them on to al-Qaida. At the CIA’s Iraq Branch in the Counterterrorism Center, we didn’t think Saddam had any substantial ties to al-Qaida. But soon we found ourselves fielding questions from determined Bush administration officials about whether Saddam was tied to 9/11.

That’s how my team ended up in a windowless room with my branch chief, “Karen,” who was pretending to be Dick Cheney or his chief of staff, Scooter Libby.

That month, Vice President Cheney scheduled a meeting with our Branch to discuss our assessment of Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaida and 9/11. It was his second visit to the Branch; there always seemed to be more questions. The Branch Chief called us together for a practice session in a bland conference room a few days before their arrival. At this so-called “murderboard” session, we weren’t stripping down our analysis to find data we’d missed. We were practicing how to defend our perspective when questioned by the Vice President of the United States.
The Branch Chief would get the ball rolling with questions designed to lead us down a rabbit hole. Karen had briefed Libby, so she was skilled at impersonating both the Vice President and Libby — that is, she was being relentless and insistent — to anticipate the questions they would ask. We had a bottom line: Fear of Islamic extremism growing in Iraq would limit Saddam’s willingness to work with bin Laden. Fake-Cheney would rejoinder: Would ideological differences really hinder their cooperation? Anticipating the response, she’d come back with: What if bin Laden convinced Saddam that acting against the United States was in both of their best interests; you have told us we don’t know exactly how much communication has taken place between the regime and al-Qaida; and you have already found information that specified safe havens, contact and training?

We needed to poke holes in our analysis, to be sure we were right. If not, we could rest assured Cheney would. Already, Cheney’s Pentagon ally, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, had put together an alternative analysis faulting our own and asserting instead that “multiple areas of cooperation” existed between al-Qaida and Saddam. The ongoing questions and briefings became a labyrinth.

How far down a rabbit hole should we go in answering questions? Will it be misconstrued as an actual answer based on a made-up scenario? It was an unorthodox practice. But we were unused to a senior political figure being willing to dig down into the details of our analysis.

In the abstract, challenging CIA’s analysis is a good thing: agency analysts get stuff wrong, as evidenced by Saddam’s non-WMD. But in this case, it was problematic. The nature of intelligence analysis is to gather as much information as possible to assist a policymaker in making difficult choices. If a policymaker has a preference for what the intelligence product should say, that pollutes the objectivity of the intelligence — and diminishes its value.

On Sunday, March 16, 2003, I watched Cheney on “Meet The Press” contradict our assessment publicly. “We know that he [Saddam] has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups,” Cheney said, “including the al-Qaeda organization.” I was basically watching Cheney field-test arguments that we would have to anticipate — and rebut — at CIA. Except instead of asking us questions behind closed doors, Cheney was asserting to the public as fact something that we found to be anything but. I found myself yelling at the TV like I was contesting a ref’s blown call in a football game.

The agency’s intelligence collection on Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaida was thin — Iraq’s connections to terrorist organizations were so minute it wasn’t a priority for us — so it was difficult to even construct a chart showing connections, as if we were mapping the Barksdale crew on The Wire. Saddam has a history of supporting small, anti-Israel terrorist groups; in early 2002, due to the war in Afghanistan, the terrorist leader Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi moved into Iraq on his own, with no direction or control by al-Qaida or Saddam; there were reports of varying reliability saying Iraq had discussions with al-Qaida about establishing a safe haven, dating from the early 1990s. The Zarqawi stuff would prove to be relevant, after the U.S. invasion. The rest of it didn’t add up to much. We concluded that, at most, the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida was like two independent groups trying to exploit each other.

None of that stopped the invasion. Nor did the invasion stop the troll-y back-and-forth with the White House on Saddam and terrorism. When I volunteered to deploy to Iraq, my boss’ boss wouldn’t spare me for four days’ worth of weapons training. (“I would rather have you come back in a body bag than spend that much time out of the office,” he told me.) They were so frantic to respond to White House questions that supporting the actual war effort took a back seat.

As it turned out, the questions wouldn’t stop once the invasion occurred. In June 2003, the Defense Department started to report that troops discovered caches of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents allegedly proving Saddam was tight with al-Qaida.
The documents claimed to directly link Mohammed Atta, one of the main 9/11 hijackers, with the Baghdad training camp of Abu Nidal, the infamous Palestinian terrorist. It was a hand-written note, supposedly by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). If the documents were real, it was damning evidence that Iraq worked with al-Qaida long before the 9/11 attacks; if not, someone embarked on a very sophisticated strategy to play the U.S. government, our team or both. And if this was truly a smoking gun, our team would be blamed — rightly — for getting it wrong. There was a sense of urgency at the CIA to evaluate these documents and provide an answer.

We got to work. We worked with the Secret Service to test the ink. If we could determine how old the ink itself was, we would have a time frame for when the documents were prepared. While in Iraq, I asked every high-level Iraqi government detainee I could about the details of the document. They either had grave doubts, or flatly said the document was bogus. They were adamant the names and roles outlined in the documents didn’t match the structure of the IIS. Having studied the Iraqi intelligence apparatus extensively before the war, everything they said lined up with the structure we understood to be true. The FBI had put together a timeline of Atta’s 2001 travels around the world, culling together airline records, ATM withdrawals and hotel receipts. Much like the infamous “Prague meeting” — another ultimately-bogus thread weaving al-Qaida together with Saddam — the FBI material indicated Atta was in the U.S. when the IIS document indicated he was meeting with Abu Nidal in Iraq.

Our Branch Chief, Karen, walked into Cheney’s office with everything we’d uncovered about the Abu Nidal link in June 2003. It seemed airtight. The Secret Service had determined that the paper was made after the date printed on the page. The timeframes didn’t match. The ink was inconsistent with the ink manufactured in the early 1990s purported timeframe of the documents. The chain of command indicated in the documents contradicted the description of the Iraqi intelligence bureaucracy provided by our detainees, even down to incorrect titles. These were forgeries.

I wasn’t there, but I heard the vice president was gracious and thanked her.

I actually quit the CIA for 3 days in 2004. I was exhausted answering historical questions trying to justify the invasion while at the same time trying to define Iraqi al-Qaida leader Zarqawi’s growing role as a real threat. I couldn’t take it. People were dying and we were still talking about evidence of a connection between Saddam and al-Qaida. After a few phone calls with leadership in the Counterterrorism Center, I went back after 3 days and switched roles to the operations side — the National Clandestine Service — heading up the targeting operations team looking for Zarqawi. Instead of writing about him, I wanted to find him, I felt like the U.S. accidentally gave him a platform that helped him grow into a major terrorist. I moved onto another assignment a few months before he was killed in 2006.
After leaving the CIA, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this sorry absurd role in intelligence history, and my bit role in it. No intelligence analyst should have to deal with policymakers delving into intelligence work. It sounds bureaucratic and boring, but the distinction matters: the CIA doesn’t have a policy agenda, it seeks to inform those agendas. Politicians and appointees have ideas for shaping the world. Mingling the two is a recipe for self-delusion and, as we saw in Iraq, failure.
What is your thought on the contribution you can make to cause the indictment and prosecution of Cheney, Bush and their cabal?

I hope this article will give you something to consider and discuss. To be successful you must understand other people’s opinions and care about them.

Many have asked me if it is alright to publish my weekly column with attribution on their blog, Facebook, website and/or forward it to another. Yes, you may do either or all. If you do, I thank you for the compliment. All Rights Reserved

Contacting me with comments and constructive criticisms at Daniel McNeet with honesty and pleasantness their constant companions will always be welcomed.

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