An Inside Job: Is the NIE Bush’s Watergate?
By SAUL LANDAU
“Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous, if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” – George Bush, Dec. 4, 2007
“We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. . . . Bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.” – Prof. Harry Frankfurt (1986)
In early December, an intelligence report served as the instrument to disgrace Bush and Cheney. Behind this apparently benign act stood the relieved super rich and their government guardian who saw the reckless policies of Bush and Cheney as a threat to their power and fortunes.
In the early 1970s, the Establishment worried about Nixon. He brought a California crowd into the White House who didn’t consult the bastions of old power and wealth. Then, “Deep Throat” serendipitously emerged to reveal to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein details of Nixon’s involvement in a criminal break- in at Democratic Party Headquarters in Washington’s Watergate complex, and of a subsequent White House cover up. In August 1974, Nixon facing impeachment — resigned. The power structure breathed a collective sigh of relief.
In December 2007, intelligence boss Mike McConnell released a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report that humiliated Bush and Cheney. By making facts about the non-functioning of Iran’s nuke program public, the NIE removed the Bush zealots’ ostensible reason for starting another war. The “experts” concluded “with high confidence” that Iran had shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003, thus nullifying the Bush’s pretext for bombing that country. The spooks also deduced that Iran might make a weapon by 2015 if it reactivated its dormant program.
Compare that report with Bush’s September claim that Iran’s nuclear program could ignite World War III; reminiscent of Cheney’s 2002 rhetoric to show why Iraq needed invading that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger to make a nuclear WMD. Bush and Cheney also scoffed at intelligence reports that cast major doubt on these allegations. Bush still rejects the conclusion that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons production. (He also rejects evolution.)
By making this NIE public, the CIA further weakened Bush’s already damaged credibility. He no longer intimidates and stands exposed as a fraud.
The CIA informed Bush in August of its benign findings, but he shrugged off the facts and continued to insist on war as his answer to a non-existent threat. So, McConnell released the report which, for Bush compares with his twins making the centerfold of Playboy–on the humiliation scale.
The intelligence community sucker punched Great Intimidator — in public. Their NIE averred implicitly that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hated Holocaust denier and only remaining axis of evil personage, had told the truth about Iran not developing nuclear weapons. Conversely, Bush and Cheney, leaders of the World Alliance for God and Good (WAGG) prevaricated through their proverbial teeth.
The NIE derailed the White House policy of bombing of Iran and led to a prolonged scream from neo con heavies like Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. They now bleat on TV about “treason” in high places (CIA) and the nation’s desperate need to bomb Iran immediately.
Douglas Feith, Bush’s former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 until he resigned in August, 2005 spoke to the American Enterprise Institue in Washington in December and defended his own failed policies in Iraq. Some neo cons demand a “Team B” report to invalidate the NIE, an equivalent of former CIA Chief William Casey’s ploy to resurrect the Soviet threat.
In 1980, after US intelligence concluded the USSR posed less of a threat to the West than in previous decades, Casey handpicked another team of “experts” who predictably found the declining Soviet Union more dangerous than ever. Team B thgus backed Reagan’s aggressive posture to build more missiles and a Star Wars defense.
Bush and Cheney, like Reagan and Casey, disregard their intelligence services for which taxpayers pay $40 billion per year — and instead relied on Israel’s Mossad, whose spies rejected the CIA findings. Israeli intelligence clings to its claim that Iran will soon build a nuke.
For Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak publicizing the NIE report meant a “blow to the groin” of Israel. (Truth is a kick in the balls? Bombing is good for Israeli manhood?) Will Bush now secretly encourage Israel to use some its own nuclear stockpile to launch a “preemptive strike” against Iran?
For Bush, good nations behave obediently. England and now France, for example, should possess nuclear weapons. Sort-of-good Pakistan still rates approval (obedient by mouth, which is good enough); and of course, beloved Israel with 200 or more nukes.
Iran, the only remaining member of Bush’s “axis of evil,” began punching the United States in the fist with its face in 1953 when Iranians brazenly elected a democratic government. The CIA and their British equivalent in the name of anti-communism and in the interest of the oil companies overthrew that government and set up a puppet Shah, who ruled despotically until 1979 when militant Muslims dumped him and established a theocracy. In 1980, Iranian militants held CIA and other US officials hostage for more than a year thus humiliating numero uno.
The President and most presidential aspirants follow the U.S. axiom. To keep its status, Washington without casus belli invades and occupies other countries. Those who dare challenge such blatantly illegal behavior now become Islamofascists.
Acting in the Lord’s name, US presidents took revenge for Iran’s insolent behavior. After failing to revive the Shah’s rule, the US backed the now hated but then useful Saddam Hussein who dutifully, and with US aid, invaded Iran in 1980.
After almost a decade of Iraq-Iran slaughter, the United States punished Iran with sanctions while covertly selling it missiles to support anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua.
9/11 allowed Bush to declare a permanent and perpetual war against terrorism, thus undermining traditional foreign policy methods for unabashed aggression. His neo con advisers usurped power from the traditional Establishment, much as Nixon did with his California outsiders. The neo cons invaded the intelligence apparatus, much as Nixon’s Plumbers assumed FBI and CIA tasks. (Plumbers sealed “leaks” — to the press.) CREEP (Committee and Finance Committee to Re-elect the President) allowed Nixon his own private budget as well as a White House intelligence and police operation. Such behavior made the traditional agency heads seriously pissed off.
Bush and Cheney’s war-loving intellectuals like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Feith manipulated intelligence in order to use 9/11 to generate fear. They pushed the country into war with Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11. Even after the invasion turned sour, the neo cons pursued their plan to attack Iran. Now discredited, these men writhe from the NIE’s kick to their cerebral groins.
The repercussions from the revelation will play out in Europe as well. Bush’s plan to place missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic as a defensive shield against Iran’s “nuclear threat” has drawn the ire of Russian President Putin. Russia’s leader sees Bush repeating Truman and Churchill’s Cold War policies of 60 years ago, using a non-existent threat (Iran) as a pretext to militarily encircle Russia. In 1947, Truman declared the USSR an imminent threat to attack Western Europe while the Soviets still licked their wounds after losing more than 20 million people in World War II.
Repetition of history with a new metaphor! The groin kick an intelligence report to the balls should help abate the “hate Iran” fever that replaced the 2001-2003 “hate Iraq” zeal. The NIE revealed to the US public that Bush and Cheney were dangerous bullshitters who spread malicious lies about Iran. Previously, they had accused Teheran with providing Iraqi insurgents bombs to kill US military personnel, a line that remains in Bush’s verbal arsenal.
Sadly, presidential hopefuls from both Parties, excepting Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, still buy into the anti-Iran axiom. They agree with Bush that the United States should not permit other nations to help anti-US insurgents albeit Washington feels duty bound by God? — to help pro-US insurgents fight bad countries, like the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Sound like bullshit?
The imperial bullshit level has surpassed the feeble imaginations of Cheney, Bush and even the presidential candidates. It emanates from the $700 billon smelly military budget pile, passed by Congress even though no nation poses a threat.
The NIE served to discredit Bush, which reduces chances of an imminent war with Iran, but don’t fool yourself: it doesn’t change fundamental US policy.
Saul Landau writes a regular column for CounterPunch and progresoweekly.com. His new Counterpunch Press book is A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD. His new film, WE DON’T PLAY GOLF HERE (on globalization in Mexico) won the VIDEOFEST 2007 Award for best activist video. The event was held in October at the Roxie Theater. The film is available through email@example.com.