Thursday, February 16, 2006

What's up with these Saddam tapes?

Two former directors of the CIA, John Deutch and James Woolsey, have resigned from the board of directors of Intelligence Summit. This is the organization that got its hands on some of the tapes of meetings between Saddam Hussein and his flunkies. The organization has given some of those tapes to ABC News which made them public in a Nightline telecast last night.

While the tapes that have so far been released to the public do not prove beyond doubt that Iraq had WMD's and moved them all to Syria prior to our attack, there is mounting evidence that this may be so. There is also mounting evidence that Saddam worked far more closely with al Qaeda prior to 9/11 than was known before. Apparently US intelligence agencies are in possession of a mountain of tapes and documents that have yet to be examined or translated.

In fact, the CIA, FBI, and directorate of national intelligence have been refusing to examine the documents, having concluded that they are irrelevant. This has led to the Intelligence Summit gaining access to some of the documents and making them public. In addition, Intelligence Summit is holding its annual conference in Arlington, VA, beginning tomorrow, and will make all the recordings that it has available to the public.

The intelligence directorate is also being pushed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Peter Hoekstra. Rep. Hoekstra says that there are some 36,000 boxes of tapes, documents and other materials that should be examined. And now, between the efforts of Intelligence Summit and the House committee, results are beginning to show.

There are enough elements in the national Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence agency (DIA) that believe that the documentation found so far deserves analysis that a "quiet" effort has been undertaken. According to a congressional staff member, connected to the House intelligence committee, I presume, says, "This includes the imagery, documents, and human sources. They also think a more extensive debriefing of knowledgeable human sources and third party nationals is in order."

An interagency operation called the Media Exploitation Center, administered by the Defense Intelligence Agency, started its own search of this mountain of evidence last month to attempt to discover the location of the weapons of mass destruction.

Now, back to Deutch and Woolsey. Why did they resign from Intelligence Summit? First of all, what is Intelligence Summit? Intelligence Summit is the name of their annual, er, summit. The full name of the organization is International Intelligence Summit (IIS). This is how it describes itself:
Welcome to the International Intelligence Summitsm (sic), a non-partisan, non-profit, neutral forum that uses private charitable funds to bring together for the first time the intelligence agencies of the free world and the emerging democracies. The purpose of The Summit is to provide an opportunity for the international intelligence community to listen to and learn from each other, and to share ideas in the common war against terrorism. The Summit's Advisory Council includes Generals, former senior FBI official, former senior Mossad officer, and the former Chair of British Joint Intelligence Committee.

The list of presenters at The Summit will include many of the top leaders of the intelligence, espionage, counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence agencies from around the free world. The Summit is intended to be the most prestigious world conference on international studies, intelligence policy, terrorism, and homeland security.
The IIS also has its own blog, run by ???. I dunno. The main sponsor of the summit is the Michael Cherney Foundation, and therein lies the problem supposedly, with Deutch and Woolsey.

Michael Cherney with Shimon Peres

The foundation states that its function is to provide aid to low-income victims of catastrophes and terrorist acts in Israel as well as the rest of the world. Michael Cherney is a Russian emigre to Israel who, according to John Loftus, president of IIS, has been falsely linked to the Russian Mafia. Loftus presents a vigorous defense of Cherney here and includes a wealth of documentation to support his position. Cherney was denied a visa by the US Department of State to attend the summit.

Who is John Loftus? John Loftus is the president of the IIS and former federal prosecutor as well as the "author of four history books, three of which have been made into films, two were international best sellers, and one was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize." These include The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People, Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the Nazis, and the Swiss Banks, Belarus Secret: The Nazi Connection In America (critiqued here) and Valhalla's Wake: The Ira, M16, and the Assassination of a Young American

Loftus also appears on the John Batchelor radio show. Loftus, whose three books and numerous writings involving Israel, Jonathan Pollard, Nazis etc. might lead you to believe he is Jewish, is a Boston Irish Roman Catholic. And he's no friend of the politicians. He has attacked Cheney and Clinton for their ties to big oil and officials of just about every administration all the way back to Allen Dulles for links to big oil, Saudi Arabia, Nazi Germany and former Nazi officials. In fact, Loftus says that President Bush may be overly friendly and forgiving of Israel because of some sense of shame for the actions of his grandfather and great-grandfather.

John Deutch

So why did Deutch and Woolsey quit the board of International Intelligence Summit just a week before the, er, summit? It's all on account of Michael Cherney's involvement, or so they say.

James Woolsey

Woolsey says in an email, "My only response is that I got new information this week about the funder from someone I know and whose judgment on these matters I trust. Based on that information I decided to withdraw. If Mr. Loftus is saying that anyone pressured me about this issue he is quite wrong."

Loftus responds,

Their departure is part of a campaign by the directorate of national intelligence to punish him for releasing the recordings.
"Why is Negroponte and the FBI trying to smash my little charity operation? They have called my board members saying you have to resign. As soon as the audio tapes hit Negroponte's office, they are told they have to quit."
Loftus maintains that Cherney's involvement as a major sponsor was made well known to all involved including Deutch and Woolsey.
Mr. Loftus said he checked with his board last year when Mr. Cherney offered to make a large donation to Intelligence Summit and did not hear any reservations. In December, Mr. Loftus authored a piece for the group's Website titled, "The Framing of Michael Cherney (linked above)."
So what do we have here? Probably a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations to discredit the International Intelligence Summit as much as possible and to blunt the further damage to the CIA if and when the current locations of Saddam's WMD's can be determined.

George Bush must be gritting his teeth. First, the CIA, along with every other intelligence service in the world, said that Saddam had dangerous WMD's and was either prepared to use them against either us or Israel or prepared to give them to those who would use them. Then, when the WMD's were not found, Bush had to admit that we were "probably" mistaken. Now, if and when the locations of Saddam's WMD's are determined, and I think they will be, Bush will have to say, "Wow! We were right, after all." It is apparent that President Bush must operate on a daily basis with no real idea whether the intelligence data he receives is accurate to 10% or accurate to 99% or accurate to some unknown value in between. This is a tremendous disadvantage for the man charged with protecting his people (that would be us) from another attack.

Others with interest in this highly convoluted subject:
Right Wing Nut House - doubts Loftus' reliability
Super Fun Power Hour - worries that the message may get lost over questioning the messenger
No More Mister Nice Blog - says it's Rove - and I have no better explanation
Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit - "It will take a heck of a lot to convince them to admit that Bush didn't lie about it" - yes, more than this, I'm afraid.
Ace of Spades HQ - is as mystified as all the rest of us, except for Stevie M.

Bill Quick "can't wait for the ropey-dopes to start telling me this is all a Rovian plot to lure the lefties into disaster." Uh, Bill, it's already happening - see above.

Debbie Schlussel: This probably should be an update if not a new post, but here goes: Debbie was a scheduled speaker at the IIS Summit. She canceled. She says, in so many words, that she believes Loftus to be a liar, an exaggerator, a resume padder, and that the IIS claims to be a 501(c)(3) organization but its tax returns, which must be public, are non-existent. She goes on to give about, oh, a dozen examples, more or less, to back up her opinions.

I'm beginning to think that if Loftus came forward with Saddam and Tariq Aziz themselves, walking arm-in-arm, to tell us where the WMD's were hidden, we wouldn't believe them because Loftus was with them.

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