Praising by Damned Faintness: The NSAs, SoSs, and SoDs Who Didn’t Endorse Chuck Hagel

Ever since this letter, in which a bunch of former Directors of Central Intelligence–but not Poppy Bush–came out against torture investigations, I’ve been more interested in who doesn’t sign these endorsement letters than who does.

For example, did you notice that Harold Koh did not vouch for John Brennan’s respect for the rule of law the other day, even though his counterpart at DOD, Jeh Johnson, did?

The same is true of this letter–signed by a bunch of former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of Defense and State in support of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense Secretary.

Here’s who did endorse:

Hon. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

Hon. Samuel Berger, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. James Jones, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Perry, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor

Hon. George Shultz, former Secretary of State

Hon. Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor

Which leaves–in addition to currently serving Tom Donilon, Leon Panetta, and Hillary Clinton–these non-endorsers:

Stephen Hadley

Condi Rice (both NSA and State)

Anthony Lake (Lake directs UNICEF right now, which may preclude such endorsements)

Frank Carlucci (both NSA and Defense Secretary) [Update: Thanks to Justin Raimundo for correcting me–while Carlucci did not sign this letter, he did sign a LTE in support of Hagel]

John Poindexter

William Clark (NSA for Reagan)

Richard Allen (NSA for Reagan)

Henry Kissinger (both NSA and State)

Donald Rumsfeld

Dick Cheney

James Schlesinger

James Baker III

Jeebus, White House, get on your game! You want people to vote for Hagel? Release the list of all the corporatist warmongers who didn’t endorse Chuck Hagel. Hagel may not be my first choice, but there is no clearer praise than the list of non-endorsers Hagel has racked up.

Dark Actors Playing Games with Iraq WMD Propaganda

The National Security Archive has been doing great work going back and collecting the documents leading to the Iraq War, adding some it acquired through FOIA. Its first installment provided new evidence of how quickly the Bush Administration turned to targeting Iraq both before and after 9/11. Its second installment looked at whether anyone had ever even considered alternatives to war. Both are worth reading closely.

But I’m particularly interested in the third installment, which they posted a couple of weeks ago. It traces the collaboration between the US and UK as they developed the propaganda used to generate support for the war. Notably, its list of previously and newly released documents shows intense cooperation as the US intelligence community was working on the NIE and white paper and the UK was working on its own white paper (which the Bush Administration would use to justify the 16 words in the State of the Union). For example, this document includes passages from emails commenting on drafts which may show the UK offering suggestions to the US.

By the evening of Friday, September 13, British officials had a copy of “the latest US Doc. Summary + nuclear section.” An email sent at 7:54 p.m. (Document 17) forwarded that document. Internal evidence identifies this as the draft of a CIA white paper, one more recent than the July version, making it at least the third iteration of the paper. An email reply the following Monday makes what appears to be a wording suggestion for the U.S. paper. Although this is a technical point, it demonstrates that the transatlantic exchanges on the respective drafts were a two-way process.

Among other things, the collection of these documents in one place strongly supports earlier suggestions that the final intelligence that went into the Niger claim came from Italy’s Nicolo Pollari at a meeting he had with Stephen Hadley on September 9, 2002 (just after the Bush Administration had introduced the Iraq War as its new September product). In addition, the collection adds more evidence refuting the Blair government’s claims that the propagandists weren’t leading the effort in their sexed up dossier.

But as I was reading it, all I could think of was David Kelly’s last email to Judy Miller, warning of dark actors playing games, followed shortly by Tony Blair’s apparently unplanned trip to the US, just in time for him to be out of the country when Kelly was suicided (not to mention for him to be here in the aftermath of the Plame outing which Dick Cheney had ordered Judy to be included in). After all, its hard to look at the timeline the NSA lays out without also thinking of Judy Miller’s key pieces of propaganda–boosting claims about the aluminum tubes–on September 8 and 13, 2002 (indeed, those articles appeared at the same time as the Brits were strengthening these claims, which makes me wonder whether her work wasn’t a key part of pushing the UK to make its claims about the tubes stronger).

We knew the Brits and the US built their propaganda for war together. We knew that Judy Miller was an integral part to that. But when we see the emails going back and forth commenting on each others drafts, it raises once again the question of where the emails back and forth to the war effort’s chief propagandist got disappeared to.

Hadley’s Email

Okay, now for the Hadley weirdness revealed in the White House email searches revealed in a document turned over to CREW.

On the morning of October 15, Karl Rove testified before the Plame grand jury for appearance number 3.  He justified testifying to Fitzgerald by handing over the email Rove purportedly sent Hadley on July 11, 2003, just after he leaked Plame’s identity to Matt Cooper.


Either that day (the file searches appear to be dated October 15) or the next, someone did a series of searches, apparently looking for Hadley’s emails; these searches appear on pages 47-49. Here are the searches in the order of which they were last opened (here’s the spreadsheet if you want to play along).

Search File Last opened Time File size
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA.pst 10/16/04 2:12p 1753302016
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(2).pst 10/16/04 3:26p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(3).pst 10/16/04 4:51p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(4).pst 10/16/04 6:17p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(5).pst 10/16/04 7:07p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(6).pst 10/16/04 8:15p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 16, 2004_MA(7).pst 10/16/04 8:22p 270222336
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 23, 2004_MA(2).pst 10/23/04 2:18a 1865040896
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 23, 2004_MA(3).pst 10/23/04 4:01a 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 23, 2004_MA(4).pst 10/23/04 5:13a 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 23, 2004_MA(5).pst 10/23/04 5:51a 958940160
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Saturday, October 23, 2004_MA.pst 11/4/04 12:46p 1751270400
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Friday, October 22, 2004_MA(2).pst 3/9/05 5:34p 488177664
10-1504 HadleyInitial Search 1st Hadley Results.pst 3/9/05 5:34p 38944768
10-1504 Hadley NSC_2004_Friday, October 22, 2004_MA.pst 3/9/05 5:34p 1754644480
10-1504 HadleyInitial Search Hadley Final.pst 3/10/05 3:00a 39166978

So here’s what appears to have happened.

Either the same day Rove testified or the next day, someone started doing searches for Hadley’s email. On that day they appear to have run the search at least 7 times, from 2:12 PM to 8:22 PM, until the file size had been shrunk significantly. That Friday, October 22, 2004, at 5:34 PM, someone did two more searches. Then, in the middle of the night that night (that is, from 2 AM to almost 5 AM on a Friday-Saturday night),  someone did five more searches; the first one of these was opened again on November 4. The last of these searches–like the last of the searches saved on October 16, 2004, was significantly smaller than the rest of the searches done that day.

Then, finally, someone did a search under a slightly new name: HadleyInitial Search. We don’t know when this search was saved–the two runs of the search are titled simply 1st Hadley Results and Hadley Final. These files were both much smaller than any of the earlier searches.

On October 28, 2004 someone appears to have done a whole slew of searches in the NSC files, many of them date-specific (these aren’t in the spreadsheet, but appear in the PDF). Read more

Scottie and Condi and the Niger Intelligence

My posts on Scottie McC’s book have, thus far, treated issues closely connected to the CIA Leak investigation (well, except for the post in which he calls cracking down on deadbeat dads "trivial").

In this post, I want to look at how he deals with the underlying issue–the Niger intelligence and the White House’s response to it. I find his treatment particularly curious. As many of you have pointed out, Scottie McC is fairly critical of Condi Rice.

Over time, I was struck by how deft she is at protecting her reputation. No matter what went wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands clean, even when the problems related to matters under her direct purview, including the WMD rationale for war in Iraq, the decision to invade Iraq, the sixteen words in the State of the Union address, and postwar planning and implementation of the strategy of Iraq.

But his book, in some key ways, helps her protect her reputation. Now, most of this is–I think–ignorance on the part of Scottie McC, not any attempt to put Condi in a good light. Nevertheless, it is rather telling that he seems to be unaware of some of the key roles that Condi played in precisely these intelligence issues. Which is another way of saying he really misses some of the tensions between NSC and CIA the week of the leak–and therefore some of the underlying skirmishes that contributed to Plame’s outing.

For this post, I’m going to do a timeline–both of the events he covers, and the events he misses.

June 8, 2003: Condi gets beat up by George Stephanopoulos

Scottie McC does not mention this appearance at all, gliding directly from Kristof’s column to Pincus’, and ignoring Condi’s appearance as the decisive factor in leading Joe Wilson to publish his op-ed and, apparently, in getting Bush to tell Libby he was interested in the Kristof allegations:

In early June, while making inquiries about what Kristof wrote, Pincus had contacted Cathie Martin, who oversaw the vice president’s communications office. Martin went to Scooter Libby to discuss what Pincus was sniffing around about. The vice president and Libby were quietly stepping up their efforts to counter the allegations of the anonymous envoy to Niger, and Pincus’s story was one opportunity for them to do just that.


In this atmosphere of growing controversy–and with no WMD in sight anywhere in Iraq–Kristof’s anonymous source, Joe Wilson, decided to go public.

Read more

Bush’s Empire: Making His Own Reality, NIE Edition

I’m interested in Michael Hirsh’s report that Bush trashed the key judgments of the NIE while in Israel for two reasons. First, WTF was the SAO who leaked the story trying to accomplish?

That NIE, made public Dec. 3, embarrassed the administration by concluding that Tehran had halted its weapons program in 2003, which seemed to undermine years of bellicose rhetoric from Bush and other senior officials about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. "He told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE’s] conclusions don’t reflect his own views" about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity. [my emphasis]

The same article quotes Stephen Hadley, one of a limited number of Senior Administration Officials accompanying Bush on the trip, as saying that Bush said only that Iran remains a threat, regardless of what the NIE says.

Bush’s national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, told reporters in Jerusalem that Bush had only said to Olmert privately what he’s already said publicly, which is that he believes Iran remains "a threat" no matter what the NIE says.

Was Hadley’s on the record quote a continuation of the earlier anonymous comment to Hirsh or, more likely, a response to the earlier leak, an alternate view of what the anonymous SAO was spinning to Hirsh? That is, did some SAO spin Bush’s fairly innocuous comment (at least as Hadley interpreted it) as a repudiation of the NIE, contrary to the official stance of the Administration? And if so, to what end? To support Dick Cheney’s campaign for war (Stephen Hadley is often considered a Cheney operative, though he was stuck playing the interlocutor between Cheney and the CIA leading up to the Plame leak)?

But I’m also struck by the timing of this quote. If I were one of the analysts who worked on this NIE–or even, say, one of the senior intelligence officers who threatened to go public with the key judgments of the NIE–I’d be pretty peeved to know that Bush was bad-mouthing my handiwork to allies, particularly after the apparent confrontation to get it declassified in the first place. Read more

August 2007 PDB: Iran Not Determined to Get Nukes

ThinkProgress reports Stephen Hadley’s claim that George Bush only learned of the Iran intelligence–judging they have had no nuclear weapon program since 2003–"a few months ago."

QUESTION: Steve, what is the first time the president was given the inkling that something? I’m not clear on this. Was it months ago, when the first information started to become available to intelligence agencies? […]

HADLEY: [W]hen was the president notified that there was new information available? We’ll try and get you a precise answer. As I say, it was, in my recollection, is in the last few months. Whether that’s October — August-September, we’ll try and get you an answer for that.

TP is right: Bush almost certainly continued to war-monger against Iran after learning his war-mongering claims were not true. But I’m equally troubled by the timing of when Bush is purported to have learned this news.

As I noted yesterday, the NIE states that the key piece of intelligence–verifying that Iran had no active nuke program–dates to "mid-2007."

We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons. [my emphasis]

Read more