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'Fixing' intelligence

Published Saturday, June 18th on
By Gordon Prathers

© 2005

By now, all members of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction ought to have fallen on their swords.


Here is the way the commissioners began their report made to President Bush just a month before the London Sunday Times published the so-called Downing Street Memo.

On the brink of war, and in front of the whole world, the United States government asserted that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, had biological weapons and mobile biological weapon production facilities, and had stockpiled and was producing chemical weapons.

All of this was based on the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community.

And not one bit of it could be confirmed when the war was over.

What was contained in the Downing Street Memo that should cause Commission members to fall on their swords?

Well, central to the memo was the report Richard Dearlove – director of the British equivalent of our CIA – made of his just-completed talks with then-CIA Director George Tenet and then-National Security Adviser Condi Rice.

Dearlove reported that "military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Intelligence was being "fixed"? Now, admittedly, the Commission's report was about U.S. intelligence capabilities.

And the Commission did note that all of these ridiculous charges about Saddam's "reconstitution" of his WMD capabilities – known to have been completely destroyed under U.N. supervision by 1997– were based upon "assessments of the U.S. intelligence community."

But shouldn't the Commission have at least mentioned – if not lamented – the inexplicable failure of our intelligence community to even take note of – much less accept – the reports provided them by the International Atomic Energy Agency, especially in the months leading up to the pre-emptive attack on Iraq to "disarm" Saddam Hussein?

In his final report before being forced to withdraw from Iraq at the end of 1998 by President Clinton, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei had reported:

"The verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its program objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material.

Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.

But even more significantly, ElBaradei reported:

There were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically coherent picture that had evolved of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program and the information contained in Iraq's "Full, Final and Complete Declaration."

In other words, as of late 1998, the Iraqis were telling the truth!

Nevertheless, in 2002 Bush claimed to have "slam-dunk" intelligence that Saddam had not only reconstituted his nuke programs, but would have nukes to give terrorists within a year or less.

So ElBaradei and his IAEA inspectors went back in and conducted a total of 218 inspections at 141 sites, including 21 sites designated by Bush that the IAEA had never inspected before.

Result? On March 7, 2003, ElBaradei told the Security Council:

"After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq."

Twelve days later Bush invaded Iraq.

There is no evidence that Bush-Cheney-Rice paid any attention whatsoever at any time to the null results obtained in Iraq by the U.N.'s intrusive go-anywhere see-anything inspectors.

On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that Bush et al. disputed their results and attempted to influence – "fix" is the word Dearlove used – their conclusions.

They even "bugged" ElBaradei and Hans Blix, chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, hoping to learn something they could use to "influence" them.

So, shouldn't the Commission have at least mentioned the fact that U.N. inspectors refuted every one of the specific charges made by Bush-Cheney-Rice-Powell, supposedly based upon U.S. intelligence assessments?

The "yellowcake" from Niger? Forgeries.

The "aluminum" tubes? Rockets.

The mobile "bio-warfare" lab? Hydrogen for weather balloons.

All Bush-Cheney-Rice-Powell charges refuted publicly, with "expert" support.

Nevertheless, the Commission concluded there was no evidence that Bush-Cheney had "fixed" U.S. intelligence so as to provide a justification to wage war on Iraq.

But what is inexplicable is the Commission's failure to note the well-documented attempts by Bush-Cheney to intimidate ElBaradei and Hans Blix and to "fix" the findings of their U.N. inspectors.


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This administration has been "fixing" AKA manipulating outcomes since November of 2000. They have done nothing but lie and misrepresent truths. I am sure as the weeks go on and this movement grows they will be developing new lies and subversions of the truth to feed to the American public. Bush calls these memos "old news" again another lie to be lapped up by the american public. Perhaps this time the truth will get out and will not be swept aside. Though watch for this administration to create diversions and distractions both real and imagined. I sometimes think the last few years have been America's darkest times and if the citizenry does not wake up soon, our country will be so far down this wicked path that it will be too late.

Biltmore, I agree with you. I ask my friends everyday when we talk about the state of our country, "how far off course do we have to go before we right this ship" I don't think enough people are suffering enough yet. They still have cable TV and a piece of sweets for their mouth so they don't seem too bothered that our president might be a bold faced liar and as a result of it over 1,700 young Americans have died.

Does anyone remember Bill Clinton's contortions: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is?"

Now we have Tod Linberg in the Weekly Standard squirming his way through the definition of the word "fix", as used in the Downing Street Memo. He wants us to believe that the meaning implied in that memo was not as in the fix is in (as in influencing the outcome), but rather that the evidence was being fixed or solidified or made firm, an entirely different meaning.

He rhetorically asks the question why no one in the room said anything about what he calls a "bombshell." He wonders why no one was surprised that Bush would be doing such a dastardly thing. And he concludes that because no one was outraged, the meaning of the word "fix" in this case must not be the pejorative, but rather the innocent. He simply can't imagine raised eyebrows or knowing glances, or the idea that this was not news to them. He sloughs it off with a slur against British liberals.

And now that we have even further validation that the fix was in from a report about the meeting of Bush and Blair two months before the Downing Street memo, it makes Linberg's tortured logic look even that more silly.

Linberg even lamely suggests that because the Brits invented English, he trusts them to know how they are using words better than American liberals. Impressive and vellicated logic (look it up, Tod, in the Oxford English Dictionary).

Here's the phrase in the memo: But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. Don't you get it? Linberg has it entirely backwards. When you are planning a war, you don't fix the intelligence around the policy, you fix the policy around the intelligence!! If you fix the intelligence around the policy, you are, indeed, as the dictionary says, " influencing the outcome or actions of by improper or unlawful means ." You are fixing a decision to wage war and then "fixing" whatever evidence you need to make that war happen. The Brits clearly understood what Lindberg cannot possibly accept (his house of cards would collapse).

For Tod Linberg, the fix has been in way before he wrote this arduous piece of irrationality. If George Bush walked up to him naked, he would continue to see Emperor Bush in his fine regalia.

Stephen McArthur: When you are planning a war, you don't fix the intelligence around the policy, you fix the policy around the intelligence!! If you fix the intelligence around the policy, you are, indeed, as the dictionary says, " influencing the outcome or actions of by improper or unlawful means."

Exactly right. The truth is, changing from "fix" as a slang term for chicanery to the root meaning of "prevent from moving" or "attach" does nothing for their case. They are really grasping at straws over at the Standard!

I agree to this extent: the sense of Dearlove's usage is the root value. But that makes no difference. It isn't the slang or criminal lingo force of the words, it's merely the plain truth of them.

Without any possibility of contradiction, Dearlove's statement makes the "intelligence and facts" subservient to the (foreordained) policy. Indeed, the hoity-toity slang-free style of these old Etonians actually makes this truth impossible to mistake (so I guess the Standard is part right! <heh>)

I wonder if this commission would now want to ammend their report having watched the Conyers hearing. It was sure a revolutionary [mind changing] experience for me and my staunch Republican neighbors. After the hearing we were compelled to write our Republican Representative in Congress, Mark Green. Here's what I sent him, I hope all Americans [those asleep as well as awake] follow suit and contact their CongressPerson.

Dear Congressman Green:

I am one of your constituents. I voted for you. I am 62 and recently [more or less] retired and living in our family home outside of Eagle River, on Catfish lake. We have owned homes on this lake since 1937. I am generally conservative but do not necessarily support everything that the Republicans do. From the beginning I was not a supporter of our going to war against Iraq. I wanted the government and the nation to engage in a national dialogue about ,"why anyone would attack us in such a viscious manner'. I thought that we were involved in some bait and switch conspiracy to blame 9/11 on whoever we viewed our enemies to be at the time, namely Iraq. I viewed the impatience of the Bush administration with the UN weapons inspectors and the culmination of their process to be childish. A tantrum in the check out line of the super market of global life, against a parent who was saying no candy or gum now, when you get home you can have some low fat yogurt. The Bush administration wanted their candy and gum now and were going to mau mau the parent/congress/nation until they got their sugar fix or the parent was going to pay, and pay dearly.

Everyone caved in. Even half of the congressional Democrats voted to give the President the authority to go to strike preemptively. A big mistake. And everybody laid down, including the so called liberal press. No one asked the appropriate questions..... including you, the press, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton, Tommy Franks, Leonard Zinn, and the nation. Nor did I, nor any member of my family.

From the day after the attack of 9/11 when our leaders in Washington immediately began talking about Iraq, [ I thought a bait and switch plan was afoot] I suspected that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, et al were trying to use the events of 9/11 to achieve other objectives rather than go after the perpetrators of 9/11.

Over the course of my career, I have worked at every level of government. I know how government works. I know that there is a constant push and pull that goes on between career beaurocrats and elected officials. I know that politicians win all the battles and the beaurocrats win all the wars. Politicians come and go, beaurocrats are forever. Maybe this is as it should certainly is the way it's been.

So tonight I watched a CSPAN 2 replay [just by chance] of the John Conyers hearing on the Downing Street memos. I don't know how many of those Democrats, [I call them Dumbocrats], who testified or asked questions during that hearing had voted for the resolution. I suspect half of them had, but no one asked them how they had voted. They were seeking the limelight ,through situational ethics, trying to jump on the latest horse that would, they hoped, bring down our President.

Anyway, apart from that, I found the testimony of those who testified and those who asked questions of the experts to be one of the most fascinating civic lessons I had ever seen on television. Staged as it was, in the small room that they were given,[relegated to, by the majority who controls congress] with 11 interrupting floor calls for simultaneous votes, it was clear that both sides were playing politics with this issue.

But the burning issue still remains, apart from all the games that can be played around or about it. Was the intelligence twisted, creamed, or fabricated so that 1,700 plus of our young people and thousands more Iraqi lives have been lost as an aftermath of a collection of lies? As my Representative I charge you with the responsibility to find out. I further charge you with the responsibility to impeach, remove from office or position, and/or convict of a felony, all those found to be accomplices to this tragedy, if in fact through a congressional investigation, culpability is verified.

If the Downing Street memos have no basis in fact, but are merely a rendition of opinion of Mr. Dearlove, [what a name] and others at this top secret British meeting, then I hope the investigation of the congress determines this. I need to know and you're my representative who can find out.

So please do your the will set us all free. This is not a threat but rather a promise, if you don't, you will loose my vote and all those I influence in your next run for re-election. This I promise you. Looking forward to your response.

Sincerely, your constituent, John H. Higgins

Dear Mr. Higgins —

I read a lot of this kind of material, but I have to say, your comment is remarkable for its fresh insights. This quote is priceless:

"A tantrum in the check out line of the super market of global life, against a parent who was saying no candy or gum now, when you get home you can have some low fat yogurt. The Bush administration wanted their candy and gum now and were going to mau mau the parent/congress/nation until they got their sugar fix or the parent was going to pay, and pay dearly."

This cuts to the quick of their motivational base, their psychology. Bush, the spoiled brat, fratrat, practical joke king who can't even lie without smirking or sweating in the attempt not to, loudmouth cheerleader, his skill-base begins with regaling his fellow louts (seen the pic of him on the plane with Jeb?) and ends with what he can extort from his parents.


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