From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
You were warned!

July 22, 2003 6:55 PM

This is fantastic. Ray McGovern warned the President about "favoring ideologues and spin-doctors over the professional intelligence officers paid to serve you" in the State of the Union the day before the speech.

Here's the best part:

As you prepare for Tuesday's address, you might consider giving your principal intelligence adviser, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, an advance look at your draft this time. And please think long and hard about the rhetoric.

More from the archive in Bush, Intelligence, Lies and Deceit.

You were warned! (07.22.2003)

Next Entry: Pro Life? or Anti Abortion? (07.23.2003)
Previous Entry: Virtual al-Qaeda (07.22.2003)

Read the 13 comments.


Could you give it a rest already? Ray McGovern is an exgovernment employee sending emails to the White House, and the President is supposed to take his advice over PM Tony Blair's concerning the findings of MI6? That would be a REAL nws story.

If you bother to do ANY journalistic research, instead of pack reporting, you would learn that the British have never backed off the intellegence evaluation that Saddam was attempting to buy "Yellow Cake" and revive his nuclear program. The British know full well that SOME of the information they had was falsified but they have already discounted it. They have more then one source for this evaluation. Does everyone forget that Bill Clinton made a similar statement concerning Saddam's nuclear program in 1998? Is he given a "pass" because no one ever expected the truth to flow from Slick's mouth, while Bush is held to a higher standard?

Wed Jul 23 2003 6:56 AM

Jim Gilliam:

It is interesting though that McGovern nearly predicted the fallout that the President would face if he listened to the Office of Special Plans and not the CIA.

I don't think anyone *expects* Bush to listen to McGovern, but maybe he *should*. If he had, this yellowcake scandal would never have happened.

Wed Jul 23 2003 7:59 AM


Problem is, it's not a scandle. Bush stated that British intelligence had evidence that Saddam was attempting to purchase nuclear material in Africa. No news service has bothered to report that it is a FACT, and the British are standing by that evidence.

The huge blow up is that the CIA has not confirmed what MI6 has found, but the CIA has not disproved the information either. The CIA is lacking in intelligence resources in Africa and can't even offer an informed opinion, and that should be the story. Why are US intelligence services playing second string the British? Are the news services so arrogant to believe that something like Saddam attempting to purchase nuclear material couldn't happen without the CIA knowing it?

Wed Jul 23 2003 8:31 AM

Jim Gilliam:

I think the news services have been pretty good at reporting that Britain stands behind the intel. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a FACT, it's just intelligence, which we've all learned recently is far from certain.

Yes, I agree there is a story in the lack of CIA resources. There are an awful lot of ex-CIA guys that have talked for years about how the CIA has been gutted.

From Robert Baer's book See No Evil:

Not only did the CIA systematically shed many of its agents, it also began to ease out many of their onetime handlers: seasoned officers who had spent their careers overseas in the hellholes of the world. In 1995 the agency handed the title of director of operations—the man officially in charge of spying—to an analyst who had never served overseas. He was followed by a retiree, and the retiree by an officer who had risen through the ranks largely thanks to his political skills.

In practical terms, the CIA had taken itself out of the business of spying. No wonder we didn’t have a source in Hamburg’s mosques to tell us Muhammad Atta, the presumed leader of the hijacking teams on September 11, was recruiting suicide bombers for the biggest attack ever on American soil.

Wed Jul 23 2003 9:04 AM

Paul in OC:


The way I read it, the point behind Jim's post is that it was blindingly obvious at the time, not just in 20/20 hindsight, that the administration was hell-bent on making a case for war with Iraq, regardless of what the actual intelligence was. This is important, because the administration usually falls back on the claim of "20/20 hindsight", when all their other excuses, scapegoats, etc. have been used up. It was widely known at the time that the administration was wildly exaggerating the Iraq WMD threat. This is just one more piece of evidence to show how widespread the warnings were that the President was maneuvering the country out on exceedingly thin ice.

Since you think this is such a non-story, can I infer that you believe that the President should take British intelligence claims without any evidence being provided to back it up? Is that what you would call responsible government? Remember, the President didn't say that the British had "claimed...". He said the "British have learned...", which implies an acceptance of the information as fact.

Refresh my memory - what was Bill Clinton's "similar statement" regarding Iraq attempting to purchase fissionable material in Africa? Please supply a URL from a reputable news source, not something from Limbaugh's "Excellence In Brainwashing" network.

Wed Jul 23 2003 3:45 PM

Paul in OC:


"No news service has bothered to report that it is a FACT, and the British are standing by that evidence."

What evidence? The British haven't supplied any evidence. That's the whole point. It's an example of Bush's "faith-based" intelligence. There may be no evidence at all, and you seem to be of the opinion that the President should trust our British allies, when they may be covering their asses out of embarrassment for a string of intelligence failures, not the least of which was plagiarizing a graduate student's paper and passing it off as their own intelligence assessment.

Give me one reason why we should trust "intelligence" from such people, and better yet, give me a reason why we should trust Bush, who recently lied about our reasons for going to war with Iraq, by saying that we invaded because Hussein wouldn't allow the weapons inspectors into Iraq. In reality, the weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq, when we indicated we were going to war.

No, the President should not make claims to justify a war, when his administration does not possess evidence to back up those claims. The Bush administration told us that they were "certain" that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and was actively developing nuclear weapons. It threatened the American people with the spectre of a mushroom cloud appearing over an American city. Every day, we move closer to the conclusion that all of these charges were all baseless.

Wed Jul 23 2003 4:04 PM


Paul in OC:

I really don't need Rush L to tell me how to think, I just read the newspaper. If you have so little faith in foreign intelligence services you should note that Bush specifically stated the information came from England, he made no attempt to pass it off as coming from the CIA. As to why we are relying on the British for information coming from Niger see Jim Gilliam's post above as to how the CIA has been gutted. Now as for Slick's statement that Iraq has nuclear weapons and WMD see the abreviated version of a CNN story from December 16, 1998. If you don't trust me (I really don't care) just go to Google and type in Clinton, Nuclear, Iraq, and you can find all the quotes you want. Apparently we must have troves of information on WMD if in 1998 Clinton could make such a statement.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- From the Oval Office, President Clinton told the nation Wednesday evening why he ordered new military strikes against Iraq.

The president said Iraq's refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors presented a threat to the entire world.

"Saddam (Hussein) must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons," Clinton said.

Thu Jul 24 2003 6:56 AM

Paul in OC:


Bush stated that the "British government has learned..." implying an acceptance of the claim as fact. Again I ask if you believe the President should accept intelligence claims sans proof from foreign governments, which may have their own agendas, when our own intelligence agencies balk at the claims made?

What happened here was that Bush had a preconceived notion, and he went with the source which supported his beliefs. It's "faith-based intelligence". Isn't there something wrong with choosing your sources, based upon whoever gives you the answer you're looking for? That's the same thing as surrounding yourself with "yes men". Besides Bush being a dim-bulb, he searches out sources with the purpose of reinforcing his ideas, rather than seeking to disprove them. Clearly, the mark of an Enron-type CEO. Get ready for a big fall, and guess what - we're all along for the ride.

What does the CIA having been gutted have to do with the known fact that the British attempted to pass off the work of a graduate student as its own intelligence? How can you suggest that we trust their intelligence over our own, knowing this information? How do you know that their "evidence" isn't some high school term paper they picked up off of the net?

Regarding Clinton's quote, there is a difference between claiming, without evidence, that Iraq tried to acquire nuclear material and stating a hypothetical situation which could come about, if events were to run their course.

Thu Jul 24 2003 5:40 PM


Actually I see nothing in Clinton's statement about Iraqi nuclear arms being a hypothetical situation. Bush's statement was more qualified then Slick's, W states that Iraq attempted to buy "Yellow Cake" and that Iraq was attempting to reactivate its nuclear weapons program. Slick's statements implied that Iraq either had nuclear weapons or was close to having nuclear weapons and that threat ws immediate enough to warrant cruise missile attacks. Either Clinton lied about a lot more then sex or as I stated the US has a lot more then just some warmed over Birtish intelligence report to lead to the belief that Iraq was attempted to develope nuclear weapons again. As I said, do the google search and read with your own eyes.

Now I ask you to quote where our own intelligence contradicted what the British had released? The CIA wouldn't go on record as agreeing with the information MI6 was feeding the US, sounds more like CYA then professional evaluation. No media outlet has yet reported that the CIA or the NSA said "Don't use that material we know its wrong". The British where well aware that some documents gathered where faked and had discounted them and continue to stand by their report. My next question is, what was or was not shared with Bush's advisors concerning what the British had to back up their evaluation? If you know I would love to see it. Simply because the government won't release top secret information to the general public does not mean it doesn't exist.

On top of all this, if the US can't trust its closest ally in the Free World, who can we trust?

Fri Jul 25 2003 8:39 AM


As I stated in my first post, where is the scandle? The president stated British intelligence believes that Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear arms program. The British have stated they believe Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear arms program. No lies, no splitting of hairs, nothing but a synthetic uproar by a bunch of boring presidential candidates trying to grab some face time on TV, being reported by media outlets to lazy to sort the shaft from the grain.

Fri Jul 25 2003 9:09 AM

Paul in OC:


In the quote you referenced, Clinton made no allegation that Hussein actually possessed or was attempting to acquire biological or chemical weapons. Now, I would not be surprised if there was such a quote. Many people overstated Hussein's capabilities. The reason for overstating was generally to re-institute the inspections, not as in Dubya's case, as a reason for going to war. Can you see how it might be OK to exaggerate a possible threat in order to try to force inspections, when the payoff might be preventing a war or a 9/11 catastrophe? In Bush's case, his exaggerations were for the purpose of leading the country to war, which is an entirely different matter.

Regarding the claims of Iraq attempting to acquire nuclear material in Niger, Joseph Wilson's investigation of February 2002, conducted on behalf of the CIA and the office of the Vice President, showed conclusively that Iraq could not have acquired nuclear material clandestinely from Niger. This was well before the SOTU speech, and directly contradicts British claims.

The British, on the other hand, have not provided any evidence for their claim:

When asked whether she had checked out Britain's sources, Rice demurred, "The British have reasons, because of the arrangements that they made, apparently, in receiving those sources, that they cannot share them with us. … We have every reason to believe that the British services are quite reliable."

Again - and I'm interested in your thoughts on this - this is the same government which admits to plagiarizing a graduate student's thesis and passing it off as its own intelligence assessment.

Here is what Bush said in the SOTU: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

This is a far cry from your assertion: "The president stated British intelligence believes that iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear arms program."

I might say someone "has learned" that the Earth is round, but I wouldn't say that he "has learned" that the Sun is made of pixie dust. I would say he "has come to believe" that the Sun is made of pixie dust, because I don't share his belief.

Which reminds me that you didn't respond to my point that Bush chooses to ignore information which doesn't reinforce his own preconceived notions. He removes scientific assessments on global warming from his own EPA reports, because they don't match what he wants to hear. He pressures intelligence analysts to slant their reports to please him. There is something inherently wrong with choosing your information sources based on whoever tells you what you want to hear.

Fri Jul 25 2003 12:59 PM

Paul in OC:


I want to go on the record saying that I think Clinton mismanaged Hussein. He should never have allowed Hussein to dodge the inspections for so many years.

But, what Bush has done is much worse. He's drawn us into an unnecessary war, which makes us look like thugs to the entire rest of the world, and an occupation which we'll be saddled with indefinitely. In the meantime, North Korea, which is a real and legitimate threat to the safety of the American people, is allowed to go unchecked, manufacturing nuclear weapons. My only possible conclusion from all this is that our President is completely insane. I can only assume that his plan is to lose the next election and leave the nightmare of handling a nuclear-enabled Kim Jong Il to the next President.

Fri Jul 25 2003 1:11 PM


How many angels dance on a pin head?

Remember, Africa consists of more then one country.

Korea has been mishandled every since
Truman lost his nerve. MacArther had the Chinese quaking in their boots until Truman's state department made it known that America considered this the wrong war in the wrong place. Once they knew all they had to loose in Korea where men and material that where sent there with no fear of invasion or bombing China became very bold. Truman even made it well known that he would not permit Taiwan to make any mainland incursions while the war was being fought.

Fri Jul 25 2003 2:59 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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