As Last Piece of Business, Carl Levin Reiterates that Dick Cheney Lied Us into War

As one of the last things Carl Levin did before retiring, he released a letter he received from John Brennan demonstrating what a liar Dick Cheney is.

For years, Levin has been trying to get the CIA to declassify a March 13, 2003 cable assessing a source’s claim that Mohammed Atta met Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmad Samir al-Ani in Prague before 9/11, a purported meeting Cheney repeatedly used to insinuate a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda justified the war in Iraq. While Brennan still refuses to declassify the cable, but his letter does explain some of CIA’s assessment of that source.

On 13 March 2003, CIA headquarters received a communication from the field responding to a request that the field look into a single-source intelligence report indicating that Mohammed Atta met with former Iraqi intelligence officer al-Ani in Praque in April 20001. In that communication, the field expressed significant concern regarding the possibility of an official public statement by the United States Government indicating that such a meeting took place. The communication noted that information received after the single-source report raised serious doubts about that report’s accuracy.

The context — and CIA’s long refusal to declassify the cable — suggests that the source was yet another planted lead designed to justify the war, a last ditch attempt to create a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda that did not exist.

Brennan’s letter goes on to quote on line from the report.

The field added that, to its knowledge, “there is not one USG [counterterrorism] or FBI expert that … has said they have evidence of ‘know’ that [Atta] was indeed [in Prague]. In fact, the analysis has been quite the opposite. [brackets original]

Four days after this report, Cheney fought mightily to make the Atta claim once more, just before the attack, even though the entire intelligence community thought the claim was not credible.

I raise all this when I should instead be talking about the torture report because it gets to the point I made here, which I keep making in every radio appearance I do on the torture report.

This all was about exploitation, not intelligence. And for over a year, Dick Cheney’s goal for exploitation was to create a fraudulent case for the Iraq war, whether via torture or dubious single source claims in Prague. As Cheney complains that the torture report (which reported on the anal rape done in the guise of rectal rehydration done on his order) is “full of crap,” we should never forget that one end result of this was the disastrous Iraq war.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

20 replies
  1. wallace says:

    quote”As Cheney complains that the torture report (which reported on the anal rape done in the guise of rectal rehydration done on his order) is “full of crap,” we should never forget that one end result of this was the disastrous Iraq war.”unquote

    Yes, full of crap. Cheney’s skull cavity, that is. And speaking of torture, I bet there’s more than a few people out there that would pay a fortune to exploit an “EIT” on war criminal Cheney ..with a firehose. A couple of Iraq vets I know come to mind. I’d settle for a firing squad.

  2. Frank Probst says:

    Thank you for continuing to call bullshit on “rectal rehydration”. “Rectal feeding” is another one to keep calling bullshit on. It’s all anal rape. Ask any doctor if they’ve even HEARD of these terms before, and you’ll probably just get a blank stare.

    What’s worse, it’s something that most doctors could figure out how to get away with WITHOUT having to resort to bullshit terms. “Enema given for suspected constipation” would’ve also been anal rape if the person (I refuse to call them patients, since nobody seems to have been acting as a physician.) didn’t consent to it. And if you ask any doctor if “enema given for suspected constipation” sounds reasonable, almost all of them would say yes. So they’re not just lying, they’re lying BADLY.

    • beauregard says:

      > enema given for suspected constipation

      its hard to have constipation when you are being fed liquids due to the fact that you are on hunger strike

  3. Name says:

    When news about Ahmed Chalabi and Curveball reached the main stream media it seemed like the official narrative was that he was an opportunist. Someone who was exploiting existing rumours and perhaps providing one or two selected informants. But if he or those backing the war were generating reports from Prague it starts to look like they had more resources than just a small but well-connected band of adventurers.
    .
    I realize of course that anyone can make a single source report but at a certain point this looks better orchestrated than one guy.

  4. Jim Oberly says:

    EW–you write: “Four days after this report, Cheney fought mightily to make the Atta claim once more, just before the attack.” Senator Levin’s press release does not mention a March 17 Cheney speech. Instead, the senator’s press release refers to Cheney’s dissembling in September of 2003 on *Meet the Press*. Did CIA refuse to clear a Cheney speech on March 17? Thanks… joberly

  5. mindful says:

    I have always thought that the torture program was aimed more at generating disinformation rather than gathering useful intelligence. But something about the apparent interest in rather extreme tactics gives me the feeling that this was about something more than just policy interests.

    It looks almost like personal vengeance to me — the kind of things that mobsters are known to do in turf wars.

    Perhaps someone was double-crossed?

    • RUKidding says:

      Interesting comment, and something similar occurred to me, as well. I knew torture was happening. Frankly, the CIA has been torturing – or outsourcing it sometimes to some other sadists – since its inception. Anyone who didn’t realize that wasn’t paying attention.
      *
      It’s clear that sadism plays a part of why human excrement chooses to torture another human, whether we’re talking about the Inquisition, Witch Trials, or this present days shaming horror story.
      *
      That said, I must confess that the anal rape stuff was “news” to me. I knew about everything else, which is all out there in the public sphere, especially the dreadful forced feedings at Gitmo. Horrid disgusting perverted stuff, but intense anal rapes? WTF?
      *
      Do not tell me that this had one iota to do with “keeping Murkins safe from terrisssss.” What baloney. Do not also tell me that this was “needed” to gain “good Intel.” Bullshit! Nor tell me that this was necessary to “find Osama bin Laden.” Crap!
      *
      That’s what I don’t get. WTF was THIS all about?
      *
      But it’s well known that the Criminal Organization call the CIA, which creates narco-states in central & south America, as well as now in Afghanistan, also is thoroughly and completely in bed with crooks and criminals and all sorts of low-level vermin across the globe.
      *So who double-crossed whom? Indeed, this truly reeks of Mafia-style (with apologies to the Mafia) HITS intended to send messages to others: Do. Not. F*ck. With. Us.
      *
      Geez. Shit (literally).
      *
      That dick Cheney should be hung from his twisted evil neck, and then have head on pike carried throughout cities across the USA. Yes, I’d go there now. This is beyond the pale.
      *
      Fire Brennan? Sure. But, like, whatever. Brennan will just skippity-do-dah through that there revolving door to some ever more lucrative “job” in the MIC, no doubt “advising” someone on how to do torture better.
      *
      Don’t wait for anyone to hold to anyone accountable. There will be no Perp Walks. All the released info amounts to a hill of beans. This torture is still happening as I type this, and it’s not going away any time soon. More’s the pity.

  6. TarheelDem says:

    The “all powerful head of the Armed Services Committee” waits until he is on his way out to tell the American people the truth that most peace activists sussed out in 2002. Sorta gives you one more clue that Congress is no longer running the show with any real power, which explains the descent into bad Restoration drama and cynical Kabuki and the rush for those post-political big bucks.

  7. galljdaj says:

    The lil bush gang is ‘tied’ to the PNAC Gang and the ~130 +/- White Papers and the crimes outlined and promoted within! All written during the 1990’s and then put into Our National Policy. Also, the entire first administration of the lil bush gang, they ‘denied’ all their crimes were systemic!

    While the lil bush gang has cleaned the inter net of the PNAC White Papers as National Secrets, they were all still available to the lil obama gang, which lays bare faced and asses the crimes of the lil obama gang following down the same path!

  8. galljdaj says:

    And remember, what we know is just the tip of the iceberg! The Police State is to control us! the Majority! And! The why can be seen in virtually every state and community where the Majority is being attacked with cuts due to citizenship equal rights and the common good, via lost jobs, lost and still shrinking wages, and with the legislation pending(ABOUT TO BE SENT TO LILL OBAMA) RETIREMENTS ARE ABOUT TO BE ATTACKED!

  9. burnt says:

    Emptywheel, Charles Pierce has come around to your point of view:

    “I do not want to believe what I am about to write. I think it’s possible that the barbarians in the White House tortured peoole in order to produce statements they could use to validate further their bullshit case for their bullshit war. Even I don’t want to believe that we were ruled for eight years by that species of monster. If that is the case, however, somewhere at CIA there’s a memo, and somewhere there’s somebody in a cublcle that knows where the memo is, and who knows the phone number of a reporter. I suspect the Christmas card list at the Cheney household will be lengthy for the next several decades.”

    Thinking about this actually makes my stomach flip and I don’t think I’m particularly sensitive/empathetic. It’s monstrous all the same but when one considers this possibility it really makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, it’s sort of like understanding some infinities are larger than other infinities. We do live in an awesome country. That is certain.

    My wife, “Bittersweet” here but we mostly lurk these days, had CNN on yesterday evening because she “had to see what the messages were” and Hayden was on claiming the rape was legitimate feeding/rehydration… What sort of society does he circulate in that anyone speaks to him/acknowledges his presence?

    • P J Evans says:

      What sort of society does he circulate in that anyone speaks to him/acknowledges his presence?

      One where no one is willing to tell him that that’s not a ‘feeding technique’ – unless one is full of shit, like he is.
      One full of people who are afraid of what he may know about them, and the power he has.

    • RUKidding says:

      I think it’s possible that the barbarians in the White House tortured people in order to produce statements they could use to validate further their bullshit case for their bullshit war.
      *
      Wow. Well I suppose that could be one reason for these draconian methods. But still. Even given THAT Excuse… seriously? Just make it up. There is something inherently very very wrong with this picture, no matter how far down to the bottom of the barrel one scrapes to find a somewhat, uh, logical reason for this depravity.
      *
      Good quote from Pierce and could be true. Nonetheless, these are sick sick sick depraved perverted sadistic monsters. AND they’re “leading” our country.
      *
      How can this be changed? Ask bc I have no answer.

      • wallace says:

        quote” Nonetheless, these are sick sick sick depraved perverted sadistic monsters. AND they’re “leading” our country.
        *
        How can this be changed? Ask bc I have no answer.”unquote

        The Framers already provided it. It’s called the 2nd Amendment. And the force is already in place. 300 MILLION+ gun owners growing by the day.

        http://townhall.com/tipsheet/sarahjeanseman/2014/11/27/gun-sales-expected-to-skyrocket-on-black-friday-fbi-worried-n1924417

        It’s only a matter of time and the USG knows it. Why do you think they are “militarizing” law enforcement and doing everthing in their power to usurp the 2nd Amendment? There is only 2 questions left …
        1. What day will the USG step over the line in the sand and start kicking in doors to confiscate weapons.
        2. Will your grandchildren spit on your grave for not picking up one when the SHTF. Because it IS coming. The Framers knew it. Why do you think they gave you the right to BEAR ARMS when it happens? Now..any questions?

  10. GKJames says:

    You’re right to stress the need for keeping our eye on the bigger picture. It’s staggering how perfect a cue 9/11 was for Cheney and his cohort’s script of a geopolitical do-over decades after they’d left the scene. They did have the ultimate advantage, of course, in working for a clueless Bush. And while their mendacity was a prerequisite, a supine press and gullible public didn’t hurt either. Now all that remains is for evidence to surface that Cheney, through Halliburton and its closeness to the Saudis, engineered 9/11 itself.

    • RUKidding says:

      Now all that remains is for evidence to surface that Cheney, through Halliburton and its closeness to the Saudis, engineered 9/11 itself.
      *
      Exactly. Most USians refuse to confront this reality, just like they don’t really want to deal with the Torture Report or consider the 100s of thousands that we’ve killed, maimed, plundered, raped, etc.
      *
      Begin with 9/11 (although one could go even further back) and take it from there. I thought from the beginning that 9/11 was an Inside Job and I feel ever strongly about that now.

      • wallace says:

        quote”Now all that remains is for evidence to surface that Cheney, through Halliburton and its closeness to the Saudis, engineered 9/11 itself.”unquote

        DING DING DING!! We have a winner Johnny!! And what do we have for our To Tell the Truth contestant tonight?

        Well George, we have a terrific prize for our winner!(stage panel pulls back and three huge men appear in the shadows) We hava an all expenses paid trip to …GUANTANA…er…I mean..CUBA!! Yes indeed!! First, he’ll be personally escorted by these Men In Black to a private airport, where he will get a luxury flight to a special place where he will experience the best body preperations for his ultimate vacation! You betcha! The best money can buy! Including..you got it! A special ORANGE JUMPSUIT! Specially designed by the most famous clothing designers in the CIA..er..wait..I mean New York…hahaha. Ok..now to the core prize.. Johnny..our winner gets a full LIFETIME..of stunning views of the 4 walls of a Guantanamo cell…er..wait…I mean..luxury hotel!! You betcha. AND..it includes 3 fine meals a day, administered by his special hosts, in a special chair, and hand fed by the biggest…er ..best hostests who are specially trained in rectal…er..wait.. I mean ..luxury ..wait..uh..what was I supposed to say here??(as the three Men in Black approach the announcer……) wait! wait! I remember now!!(screen fades to black)

        Indeed. The next best seller on the NYT’s bookofthemonthclub..circa 2063. …The 40 year Wars in Search of Cheneys’s memo’s to the Saudi’s..the Holy Grail of 9/11.

    • galljdaj says:

      When lil cheney was a member of the PNAC IN THE 1990’S, one of the other members wrote a White Paper describing a Pearle Harbor Event was needed to swing the nation into taking over the Middle East(for profit) so that the US COULD CONTROL THIS NEW WEALTH AREA.

      Lots of the criminals of the lil bush gang were PNAC Members and they all wrote white papers on ‘what to do’, and they did them!

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