Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who Is In Charge Here?

I know that most liberals joke about Dick Cheney being president. But sometimes, information comes out that shows just how true that really is. This post on Slate is scary and shows that although most of the intelligence community didn’t believe Cheney’s claims of Iraqi ties to Al Qaida, because he was so close to the President, his information was treated as credible.

In fact, the bad intel came largely out of something called the Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, which reported to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.


The information CTEG put together was treated differently than other intelligence. Unlike other reports, CTEG's conclusions about Iraq's training of jihadists in the use of explosives and weapons of mass destruction were never distributed to the many different agencies in the intelligence community. Although CTEG analysts met once with Director George Tenet and other CIA officials, they changed no minds at the agency on the issue of Saddam and al-Qaida, and their work was never "coordinated" or cleared by the various agencies that weigh in on intelligence publications. Top officers in military intelligence who saw the report refused to concur with it.

Nonetheless, CTEG's findings were the basis for briefings in the White House and on Capitol Hill.


Dick Cheney was CTEG's patron. He had the group present its material at OVP and the National Security Council. He made frequent public remarks, drawing on CTEG conclusions, alleging an al-Qaida/Saddam connection. (Even after the 9/11 commission delivered its verdict that there was no collaborative relationship between the two sides, Cheney announced that the evidence of the Bin Laden-Baghdad ties was "overwhelming.") John Hannah, a Cheney aide who became the vice president's national security adviser after Libby's resignation, recycled some of the material into a draft of the speech Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give at the United Nations in February 2003—a draft that Powell threw out, calling it "bullshit."

I don’t think anyone ever intended the VP to have the ability to circumvent normal channels of intelligence checking in order to drum up a course for war. But I guess no one ever expected to have such an intellectually weak President either. Read the whole post to really grasp how strong Cheney’s influence is and oblivious the President seems to be.