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Politics, Paranoispiricies, neologisms, diary, creative, ruminations

Monday, March 19, 2007

More about how experts and witnesses are cowed in the Bush2 juggernaut

Michael Isikoff and David Corn, co-authors of "Imperial Hubris," discuss how the aluminum tubes found (by Valerie Plame!) were pounced upon as evidence that Saddam had an active nuclear weapons program. This piece also touches on how the U.S. first considered provocating Iraq to attack the British and US forces by Kuwait and the no-fly zone by helping a 'Bay of Pigs' type force take over a section of Iraq by the border covered by the 'no-fly zone.' This piece also mentions how Plame was in charge of anti-nuclear proliferation for Iran. When her work or her husband started threatening the Bush2 party-line for invasions and their justification, they turned against her and her network.

MI: ....the image of the mushroom cloud was based on and first pushed vigorously by Vice President Cheney. That Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program and was close to -- was on its way to getting a nuclear bomb. The intelligence supporting that conclusion -- the primary piece of intelligence -- was these aluminum tubes that Iraq was seeking to purchase on the open market. A shipment of the tubes was seized in Jordan under an operation headed by Valerie Plame Wilson. She oversaw the operation that intercepted these tubes that were then shipped back to the CIA. A CIA analyst came to the conclusion that these tubes could only be used for a nuclear centrifuge to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. That piece of intelligence was shared by the White House, embraced by the White House, and then jumped on by Vice President Cheney and the Administration to argue the nuclear weapons case. Well, it turns out that there was vigorous dispute within the intelligence community about the conclusion about the aluminum tubes. The Energy Department scientists who were experts in nuclear centrifuges to the man...

DC:.. the biggest and most prominent experts in the US government...

MI: ... said, This is not the case, these tubes aren't suited for nuclear centrifuges. We believe they're for conventional rockets. There were multiple Energy Department reports written to this effect. The State Department intelligence bureau came to the same conclusion. Those dissents were recorded in the classified National Intelligence Estimate that was released to Congress on the eve of war but it was not made public. And in fact the White Paper -- the public version of the NIE -- contained no reference to those dissents.

DC: We talked to some of these scientists after the fact and they saw this piece of evidence being used to support a war and they all said they were afraid to speak publicly or to get into the debate. Because they feared they would lose their top-secret classifications. So the people who knew the most were cut out of the debate internally eventually. And then when they saw it going public with Cheney citing the tubes and the White House doing the same -- and all these documents -- they sat on their hands.

In this world, Department of Energy nuclear analysts and developers, to lose your classification is career-death. You can't get further work. Maybe you lose your pension if you don't work x number of years before retirement. Maybe you get fired or impugned. Look what happened to the Plame-Wilsons, John O'Neill, Sibel Edmonds, maybe Hatfill.... They were out, completely out.

As Giuliani once said about a good-government organization (middle of the road, if not pro-business) that once criticized his budgeting or performance: 'cut off their air supply.' He went after the corporate sponsors of their Annual Dinner. ]

... People often retort, when folks speak about rogue parts of the U.S. government being involved in the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon in 2001, that wouldn't someone from the government speak out? Some folks have spoken out, such as firemen, and they have been reprimanded or demoted... so they speak privately or keep their mouths shut about witnessing explosions visually or hearing them throughout the buildings... or they grumble about seeing the black box being carried off.

As for many of the others, they could have been confused, distracted or taken out of the scene by the dozens of wargames going on that day. Besides with such huge events - planes crashing into buildings, fires, collapses, deaths, it is easy to be distracted. Few people in the public even noticed that a third WTC building crashed that day at 5:20 pm.

Folks who work in government often work there for a steady job with benefits, retirement, and pensions. One of the few jobs like that left in a constantly changing world. Risking all that to bear witness to one small detail by one person -- well, it kind of makes sense that people wouldn't step forward. You don't just have everything to lose and little personally to gain, but you can more than just lose everything, you can be attacked, ridiculed, labeled as insane or dangerous, so that you can't work anymore anywhere.


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