The Real News Network coverage of the recent Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, with contributions from many of the whistleblowers involved:
The SAAII is one of the few international recognitions for those within the intelligence community who follow their conscience, often at great professional and personal cost.
This year’s winner is Dr Tom Fingar, who headed up the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. He collated the official assessments of all 16 of America’s intelligence agencies, which unanimously assessed that Iran had ceased trying to build a nuclear weapon in 2003. This evidence-based analysis made it impossible for the Bush administration to push through its plans to launch a war against Iran in 2008. This excellent article by ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains Dr Fingar’s achievements far better than I could.
Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of working with the Union officers and fellow SAAIIers, especially renowned peace activists Ray McGovern and Elizabeth Murray (formerly of the US National Intelligence Council), to organise this event. Many of us will be speaking that evening, and Julian Assange will be doing a live video link.
All this in recognition of Dr Fingar’s contribution to professional, ethical intelligence work. Even in this “gloves-off”, post-9/11 world, it is heartening to hear that is possible.
I hope that many people can support and report on this event.
My recent interview on RT about the Petraeus Affair and the possible real reasons for his exposure and resignation:
By: Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence officer
Recent remarks by the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, leave us wondering if the Secret Intelligence Service is preparing to “fix” intelligence on Iran, as his immediate predecessor, Sir John Scarlett, did on Iraq.
Scarlett’s pre-Iraq war role in creating “dodgy dossiers” hyping the threat of non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” is well known. As for Sawers, the red warning light for politicization blinked brightly on July 4, as he told British senior civil servants that Iran is “two years away” from becoming a “nuclear weapons state.” How did Sawers come up with “two years?”
Since late 2007, the benchmark for weighing Iran’s nuclear program has been the unanimous assessment by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and that, as of mid-2007, had not restarted it. Those judgments have been revalidated every year since — despite strong pressure to bow to more ominous — but evidence-light — assessments by Israel and its neo-conservative supporters.
Intelligence Can Make a Difference
The 2007 the US National Intelligence Estimate helped to thwart plans to attack Iran in 2008, the last year of the Bush/Cheney administration. This shines through in George Bush’s own memoir, Decision Points, in which he rues the NIE’s “eye-popping declaration: ‘We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.’”
Bush continues, “But after the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?” (Decision Points, p. 419)
Hands tied on the military side, US covert operations flowered, with $400 million appropriated at that same time for a major escalation of the dark-side struggle against Iran, according to military, intelligence, and congressional sources cited by Seymour Hersh in 2008. This clandestine but all-too-real war on Iran has included attacks with computer viruses, the murders of Iranian scientists, and what the Israelis call the “unnatural” demise of senior officials like Revolutionary Guards Major General Hassan Moghaddam father of Iran’s missile program.
Moghaddam was killed in a large explosion last November, with Time magazine citing a “western intelligence source” as saying the Israel’s Mossad was behind the blast. More threatening still to Iran are the severe economic sanctions, which are tantamount to an act of war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel neo-conservatives in the U.S. and elsewhere have been pushing hard for an attack on Iran, seizing every pretext they can find. Netanyahu was suspiciously fast off the blocks, for example, in claiming that Iran was behind the tragic terrorist bombing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on July 18, despite Bulgarian authorities and even the White House warning that it is too early to attribute responsibility.
Netanyahu’s instant indictment of Iran strongly suggests he is looking for excuses to up the ante. With the Persian Gulf looking like an accident waiting to happen, stocked as it is with warships from the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere — and with no fail-safe way of communicating with Iranian naval commanders — an escalation-generating accident or provocation is now more likely than ever.
July 23: Marking a Day of Infamy
Oddly, Sawers’s speech of July 4 came just as an important date approached — the tenth anniversary of a sad day for British intelligence on Iraq. On July 23, 2002 at a meeting at 10 Downing Street, then-MI6 head, John Dearlove, briefed Tony Blair and other senior officials on his talks with his American counterpart, CIA Director George Tenet, in Washington three days before.
In the official minutes of that briefing (now known as the Downing Street Memo), which were leaked to the London Times and published on May 1, 2005, Dearlove explains that George Bush has decided to attack Iraq and the war was to be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.” While then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw points out that the case was “thin,” Dearlove explains matter-of-factly, “The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.”
There is no sign in the minutes that anyone hiccupped — much less demurred — at making a case for war and furthering Blair’s determination to join Bush in launching the kind of “war of aggression” outlawed by the post-world war Nuremberg Tribunal and the UN treaty.
Helped by the acquiescence of their chief spies, the Blair government mainlined into the body politic un-assessed, raw intelligence and forged documents, with disastrous consequences for the world.
UK citizens were spoon-fed fake intelligence in the September Dossier (2002) and then, just six weeks before the attack on Iraq, the “Dodgy Dossier”, based largely on a 12-year old PhD thesis culled from the Internet — all presented by spy and politician alike as ominous premonitory intelligence.
So was made the case for war. All lies, resulting in hundreds of thousands dead and maimed and millions of Iraqis displaced — yet no one held to account.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who might have prevented this had he had the integrity to speak out, was allowed to retire with full honours and became the Master of a Cambridge college. John Scarlett, who as chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee signed off the fraudulent dossiers, was rewarded with the top spy job at MI6 and a knighthood. George W. Bush gave George Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian award.
What need have we for further proof? “So are they all, all honourable men” — reminiscent of those standing with Brutus in Shakespeare’s play, but with no Mark Anthony to expose them and stir the appropriate popular reaction.
Therein lies the problem: instead of being held accountable, these “honourable men” were, well, honoured. Their soft landings offer a noxious object lesson for ambitious bureaucrats who are ready to play fast and loose with the truth and trim their sails to the prevailing winds.
Ill-got honours offer neither deterrent nor disincentive to current and future intelligence chiefs tempted to follow suit and corrupt intelligence rather than challenge their political leaders with hard, un-“fixed” facts. Integrity? In this milieu integrity brings knowing smirks rather than honours. And it can get you kicked out of the club.
Fixing Intelligence on Iran
Are we in for another round of “fixing” — this time on Iran? We may know soon. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, citing the terrorist attack in Bulgaria, has already provided what amounts to a variation on Dearlove’s ten-year old theme regarding how war can be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”
According to the Jerusalem Post on July 17, Netanyahu said that all countries that understand that Iran is an exporter of world terror must join Israel in “stating that fact clearly,” in order to emphasize the importance of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Appearing yesterday on Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation, Netanyahu returned to that theme. Putting the blame for the terrorist attack in Bulgaria squarely on Iran (and Hezbollah), Netanyahu warned of the increased dangers that would accrue if Iran acquired nuclear weapons. “What would be the consequences if the most dangerous régime in the world got the world’s most dangerous weapons?”.
Will MI6 chief Sawers model his conduct on that of his predecessors who “justified” war on Iraq? Will he “fix” intelligence around U.K./U.S./Israeli policy on Iran? Parliamentary overseers should demand a briefing from Sawers forthwith, before erstwhile bulldog Britain is again dragged like a poodle into another unnecessary war.
Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 Security Service and Ray McGovern is a fomer U.S Army Intelligence Officer and CIA analyst.
I keep returning to this subject, but it is troubling me deeply. Reading the runes, all things point to the fact that we are being actively groomed for yet another Middle Eastern war.
As I’ve said before, the picture is clearly being drawn for those who wish to join the dots. At the end of last year the entire US intelligence infrastructure formally assessed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons programme in 2003. This, of course, did not suit the hawkish neo-con agenda in the States.
Then Mossad, the Israeli intelligence outfit, conveniently pops up claiming that it has new, shit-hot intelligence that disproves the US assessment. Mossad passes this on to the heads of MI6 and the CIA, and shortly afterwards the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, visits George Bush on a state visit to America to discuss his “concerns” about Iran.
The third part of the equation fell into place this week. Con Coughlin, writing in the right-wing UK national newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, unquestioningly regurgitates information from anonymous intelligence sources who state that Iran is now developing weapons grade uranium.
Coughlin has form. For many years he worked for The Sunday Telegraph, otherwise known as the in-house journal of MI6. Readers of this site will know that MI6 has a section called Information Operations (I/Ops), which manipulates the media either by planting false stories or massaging the facts to suit MI6’s interests. Well, rather embarrassingly, Coughlin’s involvement in one such operation was exposed a few years ago.
In 1995 he was shown “information” by an MI6 officer whom he described as “a senior banking official” proving that Colonel Gadaffi’s son, Saif Al Islam, was involved in a money-laundering scam with Iran. Coughlin dutifully reported this, and this story was used by the Foreign Office to deny Al Islam a visa to live in the UK.
What Coughlin, and his then editor Dominic Lawson (whose brother-in-law was a senior MI6 officer), didn’t appear to know as he took this story down in shorthand, was the MI6 officer was from I/Ops, and that he was planting this story in the press to ensure that the son of a then Priority 1 Joint Intelligence Committee target could not come over the UK and live high on the hog. Too politically embarrassing, old bean.
Al Islam naturally sued, and The Sunday Torygraph duly settled out of court once it realised that intelligence whistleblower David Shayler knew the inside track on this libellous story and was prepared to give evidence in court.
Coughlin was also instrumental in getting stories linking Saddam Hussein to WMD and Al Qaeda into the national UK media in the run-up to the Iraq war, although the vigilent reader will notice these stories often contradict themselves. So it’s interesting that he’s now breaking more “news” suggesting precisely what Mossad and governments of the UK and the USA would have us believe: that Iran is a real, developing nuclear threat, and that there is a sound case for war.
As I posted on on 7 May, Israeli intelligence is claiming it has new intelligence that proves the recent US National Intelligence Estimate wrong in its assessment of the nuclear threat posed by Iran.
Mossad claims to have solid intelligence that proves Iran is still trying to develop a nuclear military capability. There have been recent high-level talks about this between the intelligence agencies of the US, UK and Israel.
A report in The Guardian today now indicates that the politicians are following suit. Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is set to meet President Bush today to discuss the threat from Iran. It would not surprise me if the US soon announces that it has proof of Iran’s nuclear intent, and tries to push for another a “pre-emptive”, and highly illegal, attack.
Yet another article has appeared about the mess that is the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail yesterday, described how our soldiers in Afghanistan feel that the continued conflict is pointless if there is no clear political strategy to resolve the situation.
The British army is overstretched, apparently at the behest of the USA. According to the article, our military badly needs to redeploy both normal troops and the SAS from Iraq to Afghanistan, but the US is unwilling to allow this to happen for political reasons. The Americans also appear to be making shameless use of the SAS.
So, let’s remind ourselves of how we got into this mess. At an informal meeting with Bush in 2002, Blair unilaterally committed this country to support the American invasion of Iraq. Without the support of Blair, Bush could not have pretended that he had a meaningful international coalition to invade Iraq.
Having made this promise, Blair needed to deliver. Intelligence material, rather than being used to inform policy making, was manipulated to fit around pre-determined decisions. This was summarised clearly by the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, in the notorious leaked “Downing Street Memo”, in which he is quoted as saying that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
Following on from this came the September Dossier, which not only placed undue emphasis on the claim that WMD could be launched against British interests in 45 minutes, but also the fake intelligence that Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Niger. And finally, we had the Dodgy Dossier of February 2003, based largely on a 12 year old PhD thesis culled from the internet, but which also contained nuggets of raw intelligence from MI6. Interestingly, it has been established by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in parliament that Blair did not have prior written permission from MI6 to publish this intelligence, which leaves him wide open to prosecution under Section 1(1) of the 1989 Official Secrets Act.
These are the false assertions that inexorably took this country to war. But even if these claims had been true, aggressive war is illegal under both international and British law. A raft of legislation prohibits our country engaging in any military action except in self-defence:
The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War (Kellogg-Briand Pact)
The United Nations Charter
The Nuremburg Judgment
The Nuremburg Principles
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The UK’s International Criminal Court Act 2001
The Iraq and Afghan wars are unwinnable and illegal. It is time for the people of the UK to inform themselves of the laws of war and demand that they be upheld. We are all equal under the law – even the former Prime Minister. Every day we delay results in the deaths of more of our servicemen and of yet more innocent people in the Middle East.