Peace Activists Arrested After Protesting US Drones in Nevada

This where I spent my Easter!!!

US drone bombings have reportedly killed 687 Pakistani civilians since 2006. During that time, US Predator drones carried out sixty strikes inside Pakistan, but hit just ten of their actual targets. Last week, a group of peace activists last week staged the first major act of civil disobedience against the drone attacks in the United States. Fourteen people were arrested outside the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where Air Force personnel pilot the unmanned drones used in Pakistan. We speak with longtime California peace activist Father Louis Vitale, who was among those arrested, and with Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist.

More with Amy Goodman

CLOSER LOOK AT THE KILLER DRONES

CLOSER LOOK AT THE KILLER DRONES

By Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrall

It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.

This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes.

We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, – if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.

The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the USAF refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles. Creech Air Force Base is headquarters for coordinating the latest high tech weapons that use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for surveillance and increasingly lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (UAVs), take off from runways in the country of origin, controlled by a pilot, nearby, “on the ground.” But once many of the UAVs are airborne, teams inside trailers at Creech Air Force base and other U. S. sites begin to control them.

We’ve become more skilled in spotting and hearing the vehicles.

But, we want to acknowledge that Creech Air Force base pilots guiding surveillance missions over areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they are ordered to hunt down Taliban fighters, are absorbing and processing information which we wish they could disclose to us. Trainers at the base have arranged for a contractor to hire “extras” to pose as insurgents, walking about the range inside the base, so that pilots training for combat can practice shooting them. This is all done by simulation. Sometimes flares are set up to simulate plumes of smoke representing pretended battle scenes. But when the pilots fly drones over actual land in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they can see faces; they can gain a sense for the terrain and study the infrastructure. A drone’s camera can show them pictures of everyday life in a region most of us never think much about. We should be thinking about the cares and concerns of people who have been enduring steady attacks, displacement, economic stress, and, amongst the most impoverished, insufficient supplies of food, water and medicine. The Pentagon stated, today, that the situation in Pakistan is dire. We agree. Pakistanis have faced dire shortages of goods needed to sustain basic human rights. Security issues such as food security, provision of health care, and development of education can’t be addressed by sending more and more troops into a region, or by firing missiles and dropping bombs. In the past few days, the Taliban have responded to U.S. drone attacks with attacks of their own and with threats of further retaliation which have provoked renewed drone attacks by the United States. Are we to believe that the predictable spiral of violence is the only way forward? Antagonisms against the US in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced when we actively respond to the reality revealed to us by the drones’ own surveillance cameras: severe poverty and a crumbling or nonexistent infrastructure. Human interaction, negotiation, diplomacy and dialogue, not surveillance and bombing by robots, will ensure a more peaceful future at home and abroad. We can’t see what the drones’ “pilots” can see through the camera-eye of the surveillance vehicle. But, we can see a pattern in the way that the U.S. government sells or markets yet another war strategy in an area of the world where the U.S. wants to dominate other people’s precious resources and control or develop transportation routes. We’ve heard before that the U.S. must go to war to protect human rights of people in the war zone and to enhance security of U.S. people. Certainly, the U.S. is nervous because Pakistan possesses a “nuclear asset,” that is to say, nuclear bombs. But so do other states that have been reckless and dangerous in the conduct of their foreign policy, particularly the United States and Israel.

At the gates of Creech Air Force Base, our signs read: “Ground the Drones…Lest You Reap the Whirlwind,” and “Ending War: Our Collective Responsibility.” Our statement says: “Proponents of the use of UASs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in ‘real-time’ by ‘pilots’ sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity. With less risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of ‘enemy’ noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.

” We hope that U.S. people will take a closer look at our belief that peace will come through generous love and through human interaction, negotiation, dialogue and diplomacy, and not through robots armed with missiles.

Kathy Kelly is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the author of Other Lands Have Dreams (published by CounterPunch/AK Press). Her email is kathy@vcnv.org

Brian Terrell (terrellcpm@yahoo.com) lives and works at the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, IA.

Via gmail.com

Can Obama End Veteran Homelessness?

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

If you think homelessness among veterans is unacceptable, you’re not alone. Obama has pledged to establish a national “zero tolerance policy” for homelessness among veterans. In his proposed budget, he took a bold step towards that goal by proposing a 10 percent increase for Veterans Affairs. But will increasing government spending to match our “support our troops” rhetoric ultimately end veteran homelessness?

It’s no mystery that veterans are disproportionately represented among the homeless population. During good economic times, one in four people without a roof wore the uniform (thanks to the recession, that number is probably a bit lower today). While many of these homeless vets served in Vietnam, a growing number of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan are winding up in shelters and on the streets.

Why, you ask? The answer, of course, is where our government chooses to direct funding (or not direct funding, as is the case here). During the Bush years, Veterans Affairs (VA) was wholly undersupported by the Bush administration. Suffering through astronomical budget shortfalls and lowball estimates that failed to take into account the costs of treating vets returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

http://homelessness.change.org/blog/view/can_obama_end_veteran_homelessness

Major Push Is Needed to Save Afghanistan, General Says

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

WASHINGTON — The top American commander responsible for Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said Thursday that the country would require a “sustained, substantial” commitment from the United States and other nations to stop a downward spiral of violence and a resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Gen. David H. Petraeus in Washington on Thursday. “There has been nothing easy about Afghanistan,” he said.

General Petraeus, who declined to suggest a time frame for that commitment, also said that Iran, which has been the target of United Nations sanctions because of its nuclear program, had common interests with the United States and other nations in a secure Afghanistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/washington/09petraeus.html?_r=1&ref=world

Bush-Cheney Deserve Censure for Declaring War Against The Constitution

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Before Inauguration Day, the 111th Congress should pass a forward-looking resolution censuring President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for executive aggrandizements or abuses that have reduced Congress to vassalage and shredded the rule of law. The resolution should express a congressional intent to prevent repetitions by the President-elect Barack Obama or his successors. The objective is not Bush-Cheney bashing, but to restore a republican form of government in which “We the People” are sovereign, and the president is checked and publicly scrutinized by Congress and the courts. The Bush-Cheney duumvirate won an undeclared war against the Constitution. Most troublesome, they captured the power to initiate war from a spineless Congress. The Founding Fathers were unanimous in denying the president that constitutional authority. They knew that presidents would chronically deceive Congress and concoct excuses for war to control public information, benefit political friends through government contracts, quell dissent, assert emergency powers and enjoy the intoxicating thrill of, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

By wielding the threat of international terrorism, the Bush-Cheney team put the nation on a permanent war footing – the first time in history that war has been undertaken against a tactic. They maintained that the entire post-9/11 world is an active battlefield where United States military force may be used to kill suspected members of al Qaeda irrespective of international boundaries.

They claimed executive privilege and state secrets to conduct secret government – thereby circumventing political and legal accountability. This included directives to former White House officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to flout congressional subpoenas for testimony. They detained hundreds of people (including American citizens) as enemy combatants without accusation or trial. They authorized torture (waterboarding and extraordinary rendition), abductions, secret prisons and illegal surveillance of American citizens.

US Military Defiant on Key Terms of Iraqi Pact

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

WASHINGTON – U.S. military leaders and Pentagon officials have made it clear through public statements and deliberately leaked stories in recent weeks that they plan to violate a central provision of the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement requiring the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009 by reclassifying combat troops as support troops.

The scheme to engage in chicanery in labeling U.S. troops represents both open defiance of an agreement which the U.S. military has never accepted and a way of blocking President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed plan for withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of his taking office.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/12/19

By redesignating tens of thousands of combat troops as support troops, those officials apparently hope to make it difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to insist on getting all combat troops of the country by mid-2010.

Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Dick Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes. Asked about waterboarding in an ABC News interview, Cheney replied, “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared.” He also said he still believes waterboarding was an appropriate method to use on terrorism suspects. CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the agency waterboarded three Al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.

U.S. courts have long held that waterboarding, where water is poured into someone’s nose and mouth until he nearly drowns, constitutes torture. Our federal War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, enshrined in U.S. law, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief can be held liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/19

A time for eagles: Code Pink, Muntadar and Ackerman

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

A time for eagles: Code Pink, Muntadar and Ackerman

Today is Code Pink, Muntadar al-Zaidi and Judy Ackerman Day at Censored News

A call for whistleblowers: Cyclops in the Closet
By Brenda Norrell
Photo AP/Washington Post
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

In Washington outside the White House, the Code Pink ladies were throwing shoes at a Bush effigy on Wednesday, while a lone woman, Judy Ackerman, 55, was getting arrested in El Paso for defending the Rio Bosque Wetlands from the destruction of the US Border Wall construction.
It was a day for eagles.
We can only hope that more eagles in the form of whistleblowers will step forward before another dirty coal mine, Desert Rock, becomes a reality on the Navajo Nation, and Peabody Coal is allowed to expand its genocidal tentacles into the heartland of Black Mesa.
Like a morbid octopus, Peabody wants to usurp everything that does not belong to the coal-chewing monster. Like a thirsty cyclops, Peabody wants to drain the pristine waters of the Navajo and Hopi aquifer, with its one eye focused on more dirty millions.
If the highly-paid spin doctors have their way, there will be more Navajo relocation to make way for the Peabody Coal dragon. There will be more lies in the media and more Navajo elderly will die from broken hearts.
Through the years there have been many whistleblowers on the Navajo Nation, exposing the dirty backdoor deals of Navajo politicians and corrupt corporate spiders.
Today, the Censored News blog calls on all those whistleblowers who are home biting their nails to come out and tell the world about the sleazy deals behind the Desert Rock scheme and Peabody Coal’s latest parasitic coal mining plan.
Already, the sex and cocaine of the US Mineral Management Service in Denver with the Big Oil daddies has been exposed.
We would like to hear from the whistleblowers of the Office of Surface Mining in Denver. We would like to hear about the cash that is flowing to keep people silent in corporate offices and what is going on in the US Interior closets.
We would like to hear about the lush meals and lavish hotels aimed at keeping American Indian politicians voting for dirty power plants in tribal council sessions. We would like to hear about the advocates who receive scholarship dollars to speak out in favor of digging into the Earth Mother.
We would also like to hear from whistleblowers at the BLM and elsewhere within the Bush Family. We would like to hear more about how President Bush Sr., before leaving office, cleared the way for Barrick Gold mining to lease lands in Nevada. Once he was out of office, Bush Sr. then went to work as a senior consultant for Barrick. Barrick tore out the trees and bulldozed the area of the Western Shoshone’s sacred Mount Tenabo in the past two weeks, as it prepares to core out the mountain for gold mining and poison the water with cyanide leaching.
We would also like to hear from the whistleblowers in the Cheney ring of private prison thieves, who profiteered from imprisoning migrants and all people of color. Surely there are whistleblowers in the US military torture schools and the private mercenaries for profit empire.
Meanwhile, there are the shoes to consider.
With more than 8,300 online articles now in Google Breaking News, Muntadar al-Zaidi — the shoe-throwing journalist who called Bush a “dog” and remembered the dead, orphans and widows — has become one of the most famous people in the world.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said of al-Zaidi, “What courage.”
Today’s AP article on the Code Pink shoe throwers outside the White House says, “The U.S. Secret Service stood by during the protests; however there were no conflicts with authorities and no arrests were made.”
How could anyone have a conflict with what the reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi did in Iraq. There is no way to bring back the dead women, children and elderly of Iraq. The mass murders in Iraq can only be considered an act of US genocide. The US kidnappings and tortures were violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Today is Code Pink, Muntadar al-Zaidi and Judy Ackerman Day at Censored News.
Video: ‘Shoe-in at the White House:’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yOC4ckof04

VIDEO: Shoe-icide at the White House: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju0VpP4oUyM

realtipof5450http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2008/12/time-for-eagles-code-pink-muntadar-and.html

New Evidence Contradicts White House Assertions on Uranium Claim

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

New Evidence Contradicts White House Assertions on Uranium Claim

By: House Oversight Committee

Dec. 18, 2008 – New evidence obtained by the Oversight Committee indicates that the CIA rejected White House efforts to insert the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa into two speeches by President Bush prior to the 2003 State of the Union address, contradicting assertions made to Congress by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales on behalf of then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

MEMORANDUM

December 18, 2008

To: Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Fr: Chairman Henry A. Waxman

Re: The President’s Claim that Iraq Sought Uranium from Niger

Next month, I will be leaving the Oversight Committee to chair the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Before I depart, I want to report to you on the most significant information I have learned from the Committee’s investigation into the basis for President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

On January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales sent a letter on behalf of Condoleezza Rice, who was then the National Security Advisor, to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, writing that “Dr. Rice has asked me to respond” to questions raised by the Committee about the uranium claim. Mr. Gonzales informed the Committee that the CIA “orally cleared” the uranium claim “for use by the President” in both a September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations and a September 26, 2002, speech in the White House Rose Garden.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence relied on these representations and adopted the White House’s statements almost verbatim in its 2004 Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. As a result, the Senate report created the impression that the President’s use of the uranium claim in the State of the Union address could be blamed in large part on the CIA and its clearance of the claim in the earlier speeches.

The information the Oversight Committee has received casts serious doubt on the veracity of the representations that Mr. Gonzales made on behalf of Dr. Rice. Contrary to Mr. Gonzales’s assertions, the Committee has received evidence that the CIA objected to the uranium claim in both speeches, resulting in its deletion from the President’s remarks. In the case of the September 26, 2002, speech, the former Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA told the Committee that she personally warned Dr. Rice not to use the uranium claim.

The President’s September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations contended that Iraq was in breach of United Nations sanctions. During an interview with the Committee, John Gibson, who served as Director of Speechwriting for Foreign Policy at the National Security Council (NSC), stated that he tried to insert the uranium claim into this speech at the request of Michael Gerson, chief White House speechwriter, and Robert Joseph, the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense at the NSC. According to Mr. Gibson, the CIA rejected the uranium claim because it was “not sufficiently reliable to include it in the speech.” Mr. Gibson stated that the CIA “didn’t give that blessing,” the “CIA was not willing to clear that language,” and “[a]t the end of the day, they did not clear it.”

On September 26, 2002, President Bush delivered remarks in the White House Rose Garden urging Congress to authorize the use of force in Iraq. During an interview with the Committee, Jami Miscik, the Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA, stated that NSC officials “wouldn’t take [the uranium claim] out of the speech.” As a result, she was asked to explain directly to Dr. Rice “the reasons why we didn’t think this was credible.” Ms. Miscik stated that “[i]t was clear that we had problems or we at the most fundamental level wouldn’t have been having the phone call at all.” According to Ms. Miscik, the CIA’s reasons for rejecting the uranium claim “had been conveyed to the NSC counterparts” before the call, and Dr. Rice was “getting on the phone call with that information.” Ms. Miscik told Dr. Rice personally that the CIA was “recommending that it be taken out.” She also said “[i]t turned out to be a relatively short phone call” because “we both knew what the issues were and therefore were able to get to a very easy resolution of it.”

During his interview with the Committee, Mr. Gibson was asked about the White House assertions that the CIA had cleared the inclusion of the uranium claim. He stated that the White House assertions were “incorrect.” He told the Committee that “the CIA had never cleared” the use of the uranium claim. During her interview with the Committee, Ms. Miscik made the same point, stating that the White House assertions were “not accurate” and “misleading.” She explained further: “We had not cleared on this speech until the discussion that Dr. Rice and I had.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Rice resisted efforts by the Committee to obtain her testimony about these matters. Thus, I am not able to report to you how she would explain the seeming contradictions between her statements and those of Mr. Gonzales on her behalf and the statements made to the Committee by senior CIA and NSC officials.

Background

On January 28, 2003, President Bush delivered his State of the Union address in which he made the case for going to war with Iraq. As part of his effort to justify his conclusion that war was necessary, President Bush stated that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

On March 7, 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported to the U.N. Security Council:

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents – which formed the basis for reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger – are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.

On March 17, 2003, two days before U.S. troops invaded Iraq, I wrote a letter to President Bush to express concern that “a key piece of evidence … cited regarding Iraq’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons is a hoax” and that “the Central Intelligence Agency questioned the veracity of the evidence at the same time [the President] and other Administration officials were citing it in public statements.”

On June 10, 2003, I wrote to Dr. Rice in her previous position as National Security Advisor to the President. In my letter, I asked her to explain how the uranium claim got into the State of the Union address and who in the Administration had information about the uranium intelligence. She never responded to this letter.

On July 6, 2003, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson made public the details of his trip to Africa and the questions he had raised about the uranium claim. Based on this additional information, I wrote to Dr. Rice again on July 29, 2003, with detailed questions about her knowledge about the uranium claim and how it became a key piece of evidence in the President’s justification for the Iraq War. She never responded to this letter.

When I became chair of the Oversight Committee, I wrote to Secretary Rice on March 12, 2007, requesting a response to my letters from June and July 2003. After receiving no response, I sent a letter to Secretary Rice on March 30, 2007, inviting her to testify before the Oversight Committee on April 18, 2007. When she failed to appear at the hearing, the Committee voted 21 to 10 to issue a subpoena for her testimony. On May 11, 2007, the Committee received a letter from the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs stating that Secretary Rice would be unable to attend the hearing. To accommodate her schedule, I postponed the hearing until June 19, 2007.

On June 12, 2007, I wrote to inform Secretary Rice that the Committee would postpone her testimony “in order to allow additional time for the Committee to conduct interviews and review documents.” As I stated in that letter:

The Committee was conducting interviews and depositions of senior government officials with knowledge of prewar intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program, including George Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence; John McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Carl Ford, former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. The Committee plans to conduct additional interviews over the coming weeks. In addition, the CIA and State Department have begun to provide important documents to the Committee.

The Committee continued its investigation, reviewing documents and interviewing officials from the CIA and NSC. On October 31, 2008, I wrote to the White House to request the production of information the White House had previously produced to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence relating to the uranium claim. On November 12, 2008, the White House produced a letter sent on January 6, 2004, from White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The United Nations Speech

On September 12, 2002, President Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations making the case that Iraq had violated United Nations sanctions by pursuing weapons of mass destruction. As part of the Committee’s investigation, staff conducted a two-part interview on August 2 and October 11, 2007, with John Gibson, who previously worked for Dr. Rice at the National Security Council as Director of Foreign Policy Speechwriting.

Mr. Gibson told the Committee that he was asked to draft the United Nations speech in order “to make the case that … Iraq is not in compliance with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions and that the world community should not accept this noncompliance.”

According to Mr. Gibson, on September 11, 2002, the day before the speech, Michael Gerson, the chief White House speechwriter, and Robert Joseph, the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense at the National Security Council, approached him about including a reference to “evidence that purported to show that Iraq had attempted to purchase enriched uranium or uranium from an African country, Niger.”

Mr. Gibson explained that Mr. Joseph “came across” information about the uranium claim that he considered “interesting,” and as a result, “there became interest to put it in the speech.”

According to Mr. Gibson, he inserted the uranium claim into the speech and sent it to the CIA for review. Mr. Gibson told the Committee that while the CIA was reviewing the speech, there was further discussion at the White House regarding the uranium claim, but he emphasized that they were “still waiting for clearance” from the CIA and that “if the agency didn’t stand behind it, it would not be included.”

Mr. Gibson informed the Committee that the CIA rejected the inclusion of the claim in the President’s speech. He stated that Mr. Joseph “relayed to me that we’ve got to pull it, the agency is just not comfortable with it.” According to Mr. Gibson, Mr. Joseph stated that the CIA raised specific concerns that the uranium claim “was from a single foreign source” and “was not sufficiently reliable to include it in the speech.” The uranium claim was then removed and was not referenced by the President in the United Nations speech.

The account Mr. Gibson provided to the Oversight Committee directly contradicts the account the White House provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. On January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a letter to Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. According to this letter, the White House was asked to provide “examples of references to Iraq’s efforts to acquire uranium that was [sic] cleared by CIA for use in various Presidential remarks or White House communications.” Mr. Gonzales wrote:

Dr. Rice has asked me to respond to your letter dated October 30 requesting information that you believe is necessary to assist in your review of U.S intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

With respect to the United Nations speech, Mr. Gonzales stated: “On September 11, 2002, CIA officials orally cleared [the uranium claim] for use by the President.” Mr. Gonzales also stated:

The language cleared by the CIA was identical to the language proposed for clearance by the White House staff, except that it appears that CIA may have suggested the addition of the words “up to” in the third sentence.

The report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to have relied on this assertion and adopted it almost verbatim. The Senate report stated:

In a written response to questions from Committee staff, the White House said that on September 11, 2002, National Security Council (NSC) staff contacted the CIA to clear language for possible use in a statement for use by the President. The language cleared by the CIA … was identical to the text proposed by the White House except that the CIA had suggested added “up to” before 500 metric tons.

The Committee asked Mr. Gibson whether the assertions by the White House were accurate. In response, Mr. Gibson stated that they were “incorrect because it was my understanding that the CIA had never cleared” the language on the uranium claim. Mr. Gibson stated that the uranium claim “was not ultimately blessed” by the CIA “for inclusion in the speech.”

Mr. Gibson acknowledged that a lower-level CIA staffer without authority to clear the speech may have “suggested the inclusion of the words ‘up to’” as part of the process of getting “the language as clean and right as they could.” But Mr. Gibson stated that ultimately the CIA leadership “didn’t give that blessing,” the “CIA was not willing to clear that language,” and “[a]t the end of the day, they did not clear it.”

The Rose Garden Speech

On September 26, 2002, President Bush delivered remarks in the White House Rose Garden in an effort to persuade Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. As part of the Committee’s investigation, staff conducted a two-part interview on June 14 and August 21, 2007, with Jami Miscik, the former Deputy Director of Intelligence for the CIA.

During her interview, Ms. Miscik informed the Committee that there was a dispute between the National Security Council and the CIA about whether to include the uranium claim in the speech. Ms. Miscik told the Committee that CIA staff “needed my help” because officials who worked for Dr. Rice at the NSC “wouldn’t take [the uranium claim] out of the speech.” According to Ms. Miscik, the CIA officials asked her to call Dr. Rice directly to explain “the reasons why we didn’t think this was credible.” Ms. Miscik explained that these CIA officials were “really wanting this information not to be used, because we didn’t think it was credible.”

Ms. Miscik acknowledged that it would “not be typical” for the Deputy Director of Intelligence to call the National Security Advisor to remove a line from the President’s draft speech, but that it became necessary because Dr. Rice’s staff continued to resist the CIA’s requests to remove the claim. According to Ms. Miscik, “It was clear that we had problems or we at the most fundamental level wouldn’t have been having the phone call at all.”

Ms. Miscik told the Committee that she prepared for her call with Dr. Rice by familiarizing herself with the reasons the CIA was requesting the claim be removed from the President’s speech. According to Ms. Miscik, those reasons included the fact that Iraq already had stockpiles of uranium and would not need to acquire yellowcake; that the uranium mines in Niger were “run by” the French; and that that some of these mines were “underwater.”

Ms. Miscik stated that she spoke with Dr. Rice directly over the telephone on September 24, 2002. Ms. Miscik explained that the CIA’s reasons for requesting that the removal of the uranium claim “had been conveyed to the NSC counterparts” before the call began and that she and Dr. Rice “were getting on the phone call with that information.” According to Ms. Miscik, it was clear to her during the call that the CIA’s concerns already “had been discussed on both sides.”

Ms. Miscik stated that Dr. Rice began the conversation by stating, “I understand we have an issue on the speech.” Ms. Miscik then relayed to Dr. Rice that the CIA had “concerns” about including the uranium claim in the President’s speech and that the CIA was “recommending that it be taken out.”

Ms. Miscik informed the Committee that “[i]t turned out to be a relatively short phone call.” As she told the Committee, “we both knew what the issues were and therefore were able to get to a very easy resolution of it.” At the end of the call, Ms. Miscik explained, “I think she just then said, well, why don’t we just remove the sentences? And I said, that would be fine. And that’s what happened.” When the President delivered the Rose Garden speech, he did not reference the uranium claim.

The account Ms. Miscik provided to the Oversight Committee directly contradicts the account the White House provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Writing on Dr. Rice’s behalf on January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales addressed the uranium claim in the Rose Garden speech. He asserted: “On September 24, 2002, CIA officials orally cleared the [uranium claim] for use by the President.” Mr. Gonzales wrote:

The language cleared by CIA was identical to the language proposed for clearance by White House staff, except that it appears that CIA may have suggested that the second sentence read “in the process” rather than “of the process.”

Again, the Senate report appears to have adopted the White House assertion. The report states:

In response to questions from Committee staff, the White House said that on September 24, 2002, NSC staff contacted the CIA to clear another statement for use by the President. … The CIA cleared the language, but suggested that “of the process” be changed to “in the process.”

When the Committee asked Ms. Miscik whether the White House assertions were correct, she responded that they were “not accurate” and agreed that they were in fact “misleading” because they stated that the CIA had cleared the uranium claim. According to Ms. Miscik:

We had not cleared on this speech until the discussion that Dr. Rice and I had. And when she said that the information could be removed, at that point we then cleared on the remainder of the speech.

The Cincinnati Speech

On October 7, 2002, President Bush delivered a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, discussing the case for war against Iraq. White House officials have conceded previously that during the process of vetting this speech, the CIA warned Dr. Rice and her staff at the National Security Council on multiple occasions to remove the uranium claim.

The report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to accurately report these warnings, including (1) a memorandum sent on October 5, 2002, to Dr. Rice’s deputy, Stephen Hadley, (2) a second memorandum sent on October 6, 2007, to the White House, and (3) a personal telephone call from CIA Director George Tenet to Mr. Hadley directing him to remove the claim.

On June 5, 2007, the Committee conducted a deposition of George Tenet, the former Director of Central Intelligence. In his deposition, Mr. Tenet provided new details about the explicit nature of these warnings. According to Mr. Tenet, his staff at the CIA approached him and asked him to intervene. They stated:

[W]e need to get this stuff out. We don’t believe this. We need to get it out of the speech. It’s not coming out. Can you call Mr. Hadley?

Mr. Tenet explained that he called Mr. Hadley to direct him to remove the language. He told the Committee:

[S]taff came down to say there was specific language that they wanted out and, essentially, I called Mr. Hadley up. It was a very short conversation. And I said Steve, take it out. We don’t want the President to be a fact witness on this issue.”

Mr. Tenet stated further: “The facts, I told him, were too much in doubt.”

According to Mr. Tenet, the President’s speech in Cincinnati did not include the uranium claim because the CIA had explicitly informed the White House that it was not cleared for a Presidential speech. Mr. Tenet stated: “We sent two memos to Mr. Hadley saying, this is why you don’t let the President say this in Cincinnati.”

Conclusion

One of the President’s core arguments for going to war against Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. We now know that one of the pillars of this argument was illegitimate. For more than five years, I have been seeking answers to basic questions about why the President made a false assertion about such a fundamental matter.

As the President’s National Security Advisor at the time, Condoleezza Rice asserted publicly that she knew nothing about any doubts the CIA had raised about this claim prior to the 2003 State of the Union address. And former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asserted to the Senate – on her behalf – that the CIA approved the use of the claim in several presidential speeches.

The Committee has obtained evidence that just the opposite is true. Officials who were directly involved at both the National Security Council and the CIA have reported to the Committee that the CIA rejected the use of the uranium claim in all three of the President’s speeches before the State of the Union address in which its use was considered. One of these officials also told the Committee that she spoke with Dr. Rice personally about this issue and that Dr. Rice was fully aware of the CIA’s warnings to stop using the claim.

http://yubanet.com/usa/New-Evidence-Contradicts-White-House-Assertions-on-Uranium-Claim.php

In fact, there is now evidence that at least four top officials at the National Security Council – Dr. Rice; Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor; Robert Joseph, Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense; and John Gibson, Director of Foreign Policy Speechwriting – had been warned by the CIA to stop using the uranium claim.

This evidence would appear to raise serious questions about the veracity of the assertions that Mr. Gonzales made to Congress on behalf of Dr. Rice about a key part of the President’s case for going to war in Iraq.

‘Shoe-icide Attack’ at the White House, 12.17.08

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Code Pink and others honor the courage of Iraqi journalist and shoe-tosser Muntader Al-Zaidi at the White House.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju0VpP4oUyM

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