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Monday, December 12, 2005

Impeachment and war crimes: Will CIA personnel implicate the President?

CIA Directorate of Operations personnel have some decisions to make -- whether to take the fall, or provide evidence that would link the President to war crimes.

The intelligence community took the fall over 9-11 and the WMD issue.

Are they willing to remain patsies?

One of the alternate theories floating around has to do with the relationship between “the announcement of the US detentions in Eastern Europe” and the Iraqi elections.

There are three general theories:

  • 1. The entire story with the Eastern European detentions was fabricated, and nobody was ever held

  • 2. The Americans never moved the prisoners and they are still in Eastern Europe.

  • 3. The “Eastern European outage” was a ruse to distract attention from Iraq.

    * * *

    This note explores each of these theories, discusses the plausibility and weaknesses of each explanation.

    * * *

    The American media was given information late summer and early fall of 2005 related to the detention centers in Eastern Europe. What is curious is that, for whatever reason, after the 2003 agreement in Athens, two years later they decided to make public the existence of the detention centers.

    The initial response brought public denials; then other information from Human Rights Watch; then subsequent revelations the detainees had been moved to Africa, followed by UN Human Right watch admonition, Bolton’s attack on the UN officials, then Secretary of State Rice’s trip, followed by the revelations of the 1993 agreement.

    Bolton’s admonition of the UN human rights appears to have been made on the expectation the 2003 Athens agreement would not be disclosed. Curiously, Bolton does seem to have a bad pattern of making public statements, only to have contradictory information surface. For example, despite the assertions that the NSA does not spy on Americans, we learned otherwise [via NSA’s Koza and GCHG’s Gunn]; yet, Bolton was later reported to have made by-name requests for NSA transcripts of American citizens.

    Either Bolton has bad timing, or he’s conveniently been promoted to the UN despite his unreliable public statements. Either way, we are cautious when making any conclusion in events related to Bolton.

    * * *

    Let’s presume for the sake of argument that the revelations about Eastern Europe are simply a designed-distraction, timed release, or an effort related to another strategy.

  • Is there the apparent confusion, or is the confusion real?

  • Is there any benefit to feigning confusion within the CIA and State Department?

    Both questions can be answered in the affirmative. However, simply because the CIA may benefit from apparent perception of confusion and disorder, it doesn’t mean that it is more confused than it has been; or does this mean that the confusion is unreal.

    Director of Central Intelligence Goss asserts that there is “a lot of misinformation” floating around about the Eastern European detention centers. This comes on the heels of the US DoD being identified as the source of planted news reports in Iraq; and also MI6’s Operation Mass Appeal in re Iraq WMD.

    Goss was recently transferred from the House of Representatives to lead the CIA. If there is confusion in the public’s mind, he’s in the best position to clarify the situation, and also discuss the issues with his former colleagues on Capital Hill.

  • We hear of no efforts to clarify the issue

  • There are no special announcements or meeting to clarify the situation

    Rather, we have the opposite: Statements that there is confusion and misinformation.

  • Is the misinformation by design?

  • Does the White House benefit by this confusion?

  • If there is confusion, why no effort to clarify the situation?

    The puzzle is whether the confusion – regardless whether it real, by design, or as an unintended consequence – is a smokescreen for something else.

    * * *

    Iraq, in advance of the election, had a poll. The results reported that public support was high, their lives were improving.

    However, the results of the poll appear to be at odds with the actual sentiments on the ground:

  • The electricity is out

  • There’s not much social activity, if any, in the evenings

  • They want a strong, central leader who can move the country forward

    It remains to be understood whether there’s been a bonafide effort to independently verify the results of the poll results; and compare the questions in both the English and Arabic translations.

    * * *

    DNC has also taken the high road on the issue. Ever since the Downing Street Memo, the DNC has consistently been chipping away at the President’s approval ratings.

    * * *

    It is curious to compare a plain-reading-analysis of Rice’s speech with that of the published press reports of the account. It remains to be understood whether the American based media did any serious analysis of the Rice’s speech.

    What is curious is despite the flaws, weaknesses, and apparent deliberate obfuscation, the American media has for the most part reported that Rice’s comments did a lot to reassure the Europeans.

    In light of the WMD fabrications, and a plain reading of the speech in light of the inconsistencies, we question whether the American media is independent; and to what extent, if any, the American government is massaging the reporting of Rice’s visit.

    * * *

    The Americans face the prospect of losing market share if confronted by the EU. There is an American interest in a strong NATO, but not an economically strong EU. However, a strong EU can act as a rallying point for joint American-European military operations.

    * * * *

    The 2003 Athens agreement shows there is a disconnect between the European intelligence services and the leaders public statements. It remains to be understood whether the public statements are a true reflection of the European leadership’s being “out of touch” or whether it is part of something else.

    The EU and UN have made public statements to the effect that if Eastern European nations are involved with the detentions, this would have serious implications.

    If we are to believe the UN and EU public statements, it remains to be seen whether

  • A. the US has deliberately worked with the intelligence services, keeping the governments in the dark with the hopes of undermining specific governments; or

  • B. The US has failed to plug a leak about potential abuse

  • C. Whether the long list of public statements is simply a charade.

    * * *

    Let us presume that the many public statements, however inconsistent and apparently damaging, are part of a larger plan.

    Could the Americans, who bungled the Iraqi post-invasion plan, have by design orchestrated confusion; or is the confusion real.

    Evidence of a “design-plan that went wrong” is the American propaganda effort in Iraq.

    Given the lack of public Senate Intelligence Committee findings; and repeated White House blaming of the intelligence community in re 9-11/Iraq WMD [most likely an excuse, not a bonafide problem-solution], we see little catalyst of evidence the confusion of 9-11 and post-invasion 2003 has been remedied.

    We judge the confusion, communication problems are consistently on message: To paint a line in the sand on torture; change the issue from the definition of torture; and blame those who raise the issue. This is not an offensive, but a defensive position.

    Recall the US Attorney in one country had the same messages as Rice in another European Country – evidence the messages are consistent, albeit unsupportable and flawed.

    * * *

    The Polish media initially did an investigation, discredited the results. But a close analysis of that effort failed to generate a specific response:

  • What was the basis to dismiss the concerns about Polish involvement

    Curiously, the same media outlet has now turned 180, and is reporting information completely inconsistent with its previous assessment.

    It remains to be understood what flaws existed in the initial Pole analysis; what new information they have to justify the reversal.

    * * *

    Would the Americans put themselves and their allies the attention on a detainee issue?

    There is an interest in doing so: If, in the end, the entire story is fabricated, this will have served two goals:

  • Discredited one apparent unbiased news source: The Washington Post

  • Distracted attention away from Iraq

    However, simply because these potential benefits could exist is not evidence that the objective of a distraction is real, or that the disclosures to the WaPo were fabrications; or that the detention centers were illusions.

    We judge:

  • the CIA planes traveled in and out of Europe;

  • the 2003 Athens agreement occurred;

  • American aircraft and personnel move with one level of notification to the intelligence community; with a second level, if any, to the politicians; and

  • detainees have been moved through the CIA pipeline in, through, and out of Europe in the extraordinary renditions.

    We don’t know:

  • Which specific detainees are located in which location; and

  • How many detainees have been held, if any, or moved to Africa

    * * *

    Yes, there is a benefit to distracting attention from Iraq. But there is also another side of the story: Why would the Americans on one hand spend money to plant stories [with the hopes that they get read], while at the same time make an effort to distract attention from Iraq [and the planted stories] by deliberately revealing a problem elsewhere, either real or imagined.

    * * *

    It is possible the prisoners were moved to Europe; but the Americans have not actually moved them from Eastern Europe to Africa.

    * * *

    There is an interest in America in seeing the EU fail. It will mean the US has one less trading block to contend with; and a new playground to provide solutions.

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if the American government were as interested in solving real problems in the American Gulf Coast than in chasing ghosts in Europe.

    * * *

    The problem of inconsistent messages -- which Rice and Bolton have made, and have later been discredited with contrary information -- is nothing new. This speaks not just about their personal credibility problems, but with the realty all the information they need to control is outside their umbrella.

    Rice’s public statements in Europe were not designed to answer questions, but to show support to the political leadership they have kept in the dark. The effort not only failed, but has backfired.

    It remains to be seen whether the revelations of the detentions in Europe, and subsequent revelations of agreements between the Americans and the European intelligence services causes a serious backlash against the governments, Americans, EU, or NATO.

    There is a communication problem within Europe: The intelligence services have been doing things which are contrary to human rights; and the public has not been part of that decision.

    It remains to be seen whether the political leadership, in their apparent ignorance, are actually in the dark, or feigning ignorance to preserve their political positions before a skeptical public.

    * * *

    We judge

  • A. The Americans do not have the ability to credibly plan a complicated effort and charade without eventual detection; they know this; and have less confidence they can achieve their objectives with the existing personnel;

  • B. The personnel in the White House and senior staff who are most capable at orchestrating these efforts are less experienced, and more likely to engage in the planning, but with higher chance of failure, mistakes, and errors;

  • C. Bolton’s public attack on the UN human rights official was done without expectation other information would discredit his position;

  • D. The story from Eastern Europe is real. Detainees have been abused in Eastern Europe. The American’s definition of torture is to provide ambiguity not clarity. We question [a] whether the entire operation, if any, has moved; or [b] they would bother moving detainees before Rice’s trip -- the Americans have lied about the initial efforts; it is plausible they have lied about the movements to Africa and remain in Europe. Either way, detainees are being held outside Guantanamo and the ICRC does not have access to all the detainees.

  • E. The bungling in Iraq is a problem in itself. The revelations about Eastern European detentions come at a time when the Americans want to have favorable news from Iraq, not negative momentum which would likely create negative news and criticisms that may come back later. It is possible news has been generated to distract attention from Iraq;

  • F. Most likely, the events in Iraq and revelations about the detention in Eastern Europe are unrelated, but now public. Although it is far too complicated and convoluted to believe the Americans, despite the ability to plan, could credibly expect to deliberately reveal negative information about themselves with the hopes of assisting a Iraq, already spiraling into civil war – we judge this is irrelevant. These realities are the cards the alliance will have to deal, regardless whether their relationship was by real by design or error; and

  • G. The RNC is rapidly burning its political goodwill, and the Americans have splintered.

    * * *

    Let’s review the three general theories:

  • 1. The entire story with the Eastern European detentions was fabricated, and nobody was ever held – this is not supported.

  • 2. The Americans never moved the prisoners from Eastern Europe or to Africa and they are still in Eastern Europe – This is possible.

  • 3. The “Eastern European outage” was a ruse to distract attention from Iraq – This is possible.

    * * *

    Let’s consider the broader alternate theories floating around has to do with the relationship between “the announcement of the US detentions in Eastern Europe” and the Iraqi elections.

    We judge regardless the planned or unplanned relationship between Iraq and Eastern Europe detentions, the two events are linked:

  • A. Eastern European military personnel are located in Iraq

  • B. Eastern European intelligence services have more information than the politicians are willing to publicly state, and they are in cooperation with the Iraq coalition efforts

    * * *

    It remains to be understood what the Washington Post was told, why they promised to agree to silence about something that would eventually surface. We expect the Washington Post to position itself, but this warrants caution.

    * * *

    We judge there is a benefit to distracting negative attention away from Iraq onto issues which remain, for now, behind closed doors. Whether this effort to distract is by prospective design or a retroactive reaction -- remains to be understood.

    We question whether the apparent rogue forces inside the CIA are coming forward out of sincere desire to do the right thing – they appear to have missed their window of opportunity to draw the line on war crimes. They appear motivated more by the objective of seeking revenge on the White House staff which has left the CIA hanging in the wind over Iraq-WMD.

    It appears to be too late for personnel in the Directorate of Operations to escape sanctions for war crimes. They need to decide whether they want to link the leadership to their actions. It is likely they remain silent fearing a backlash.

    They need to provide some substantial evidence to the US Attorney to warrant any belief they are interested in making amends for the alleged conspiracy they have failed to timely remove themselves from.

    However, it is more likely they will be seized and tried overseas, as we’ve seen in Italy, as opposed to the Americans trying one of their own.

    Regardless, their burden is to show they did not know the orders were illegal. They appear to have no defense.

    Based on a plain reading of the events, it appears Rice’s public statements is the first effort to provide a shield not just for the CIA agents, but to the White House. We judge these statements will be viewed as a pattern of conduct designed to mislead the American public and Congress; and will also fail as a defense. Bolton’s attacks on the UN officials should be seen in this context – designed to mislead, confuse, and defend – inaccurate and unreliable.

    It remains to be seen whether the CIA personnel in the Directorate of Operations can provide the necessary information to the US Attorney to link the White House to the events in Eastern Europe; or whether there are less convoluted ways to impeach the President.