The Real News Network Whistleblower Special

The Real News Net­work cov­er­age of the recent Sam Adams Award for Integ­rity in Intel­li­gence, with con­tri­bu­tions from many of the whis­tleblowers involved:

More at The Real News

SAAII Award at the Oxford Union Society

On 23 Janu­ary the Oxford Uni­on Soci­ety will be host­ing the Sam Adams Award for Integ­rity in Intel­li­gence.

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.

Thomas_FingarThis 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.

Former SAAII win­ners include FBI Coleen Row­ley, GCHQ Kath­er­ine Gun, NSA Thomas Drake, and Wikileaks supremo Juli­an Assange.

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.

Interview about Iran on The Real News Network

Fol­low­ing on from the art­icle former CIA ana­lyst, Ray McGov­ern, and I co-authored last month about the pos­sible “fix­ing” of intel­li­gence around Iran, here is a sub­sequent inter­view we did for The Real News Net­work:

Will MI6 “fix” intelligence on Iran?

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.

Spooks + Politicians + Hacks = War

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.

Iran Threat — First the Spooks, now the Politicians

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.

The (Il)legal Road to War

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:

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death EstimatorThe 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.

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