North Korea and the Bush Administration’s Toxic Legacy

Map, NK's proliferation trading partners (see PBS' Frontline: Kim's Nuclear Gamble)

Map, NK’s proliferation trading partners (see PBS’ Frontline: Kim’s Nuclear Gamble)

Over the last several weeks there has been considerable re-evaluation of the Iraq War, launched ten years ago by the Bush Administration. Eulogies and opinions from pundits of all types ranged from “I told you so,” to “It was a qualified success.”

We all know what the truth is without punditry: the war was a bolloxed-up mess before it began, and its outcome is tragic no matter the angle from which one views the results.

But with all the reassessment of the Bush years and its policies on Iraq, there’s been little revisiting of tangential foreign policies and their equally disturbing outcomes.

In particular, in spite of the ramped up threats of nuclear missile deployment, the damage of Bush policies on North Korea have not been discussed.

North Korea has been able to grow its nuclear program primarily because the Bush administration abruptly vacated the previous Clinton administration policy of engagement — in March 2001, a dozen years ago this month. Bush told a shocked South Korean president Kim Dae Jung about this unanticipated policy change in private during a summit. To reporters and the public at large, Bush says,

“Part of the problem in dealing with North Korea, there’s not very much transparency. We’re not certain as to whether or not they’re keeping all terms of all agreements.”

At the end of 2002, North Korea kicked out all IAEA inspectors — those which had been monitoring NK’s nuclear program under the Clinton administration’s previously negotiated 1994 Agreed Framework — thereby eliminating any transparency just as North Korea removed monitoring devices and seals from their nuclear program equipment.

In 2003, the Bush administration entered Six-Party talks with NK; the talks were on-again-off-again until 2009, when NK walked away entirely from discussions. Visiting U.S. scientists were allowed to see functioning uranium enrichment equipment in 2010. Read more

Who First Spread the Iraqi Anthrax Claim?

Glenn’s asking some important questions about the anthrax story–mostly about who started the rumor in October 2001 that the anthrax might be from Iraq?

During the last week of October, 2001, ABC News, led by Brian Ross, continuously trumpeted the claim as their top news story that government tests conducted on the anthrax — tests conducted at Ft. Detrick — revealed that the anthrax sent to Daschele contained the chemical additive known as bentonite.

As Glenn points out, those early ABC stories seem to point back to a Ft. Detrick source–which is where Bruce Ivins worked. In other words, Glenn suggests, the report that Iraq was responsible was probably sourced back to government researchers in the same lab where–news reports allege–the chief suspect for the anthrax terrorism worked. This raises the specter of researchers carrying out the attack to lay the ground-work for the Iraq War.

But the ABC News story Glenn cites was not, apparently, the first allegation that the anthrax came from Iraq. RawStory reports that the story first appeared in the Guardian, followed quickly by a story in the WSJ editorial page, then in a Richard Butler comment on CNN.

RAW STORY has found that, although there had been active online speculation about an Iraqi source for the anthrax by the first week of October, the first suggestion that official investigations were focusing on that nation appears to have come in an article published in the Guardian on October 14.


The next day, the Wall Street Journal picked up the story, but without the Guardian’s skepticism, suggesting that the most likely suspect was al Qaeda using supplies obtained from Iraq.


On the same day, CNN quoted former UN weapons inspector Richard Butler as saying, "What we’ve got to be certain about above all is whether it came from a country supporting these terrorists as a matter of policy, such as Iraq, which we know has made this stuff. And there’s a credible report, not fully verified, that they may indeed have given anthrax to exactly the group that did the World Trade Center. … It’s possible that many months ago anthrax, a small quantity of it, was handed over in Prague to Mohamed Atta … and the person who handed it over in Prague was an Iraqi."

Read more

Another Spooked-Up BushCo Crony Dabbling in Kurdistan

It was bad enough that PFIAB member and Bush uber-donor Ray Hunt was doing business in Kurdistan. That put one of the President’s top private advisors on intelligence, someone who has access to a great deal of classified intelligence, and someone whose privately held company evades all kinds of public scrutiny, setting up shop in Iraq and potentially contributing to its destabilization.

But now we learn that Richard Perle has joined Hunt in the oil rush in Kurdistan (h/t egregious).

Mr. Perle, one of a group of security experts who began pushing the case for toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein about a decade ago, has been discussing a possible deal with officials of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government, including its Washington envoy, according to these people and the documents.

It would involve a tract called K18, near the Kurdish city of Erbil, according to documents describing the plan.

It’s bad enough that the former Defense Policy Board Chair and one of the big champions of the war is looking to get rich off of Kurdistan’s oil. More troubling, though, is that he’s doing so via a company that seems to be the pure incarnation of the kinds of dubious Turkish ties that Sibel Edmonds has talked about.

A consortium founded by Turkish company AK Group International is seeking rights to drill there, the documents say. Potential backers include two Turkish companies as well as Kazakhstan, according to individuals involved.

AK’s chief executive is Aydan Kodaloglu, who, like Mr. Perle, has been involved with the American Turkish Council, an advocacy group in Washington. She didn’t respond to requests for comment. Phyllis Kaminsky, who identified herself as the U.S. contact for Ms. Kodaloglu, said she herself was aware of the drilling plan but referred questions about it to Mr. Perle.

"Richard would know the most," Ms. Kaminsky said. "He is involved, I know that."

Without going too deeply into Edmonds’ allegations, let me just say by far the best treatment I’ve seen of it is Chris Floyd’s piece seeing the murky relationships that Edmonds reported to be an outgrowth of (I’d say a reincarnation of) the amorphous networks of influence, money laundering, legally sanctioned covert ops, illegal ops, and arms deals normally referred to as BCCI. Read more