Friday, February 09, 2007

Tire Smoke and Sooty Mirrors: The OSP Report on Iraq Intelligence

The recently released report of the Department of Defense Inspector General (I.G.) on the manipulation of pre-Iraq invasion intelligence stinks like a junkyard's worth of burning tires.

Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story published the two page executive summary of the report on Friday morning. The summary condemns the now infamous Office of Special Plans (OSP), the neoconservative cabal within the Pentagon that shaped intelligence on Iraq to suit the Bush administration's policy. But it also lets the OSP off the hook, and tells everybody to look the other way.

All's Well

The I.G. report states that the OSP's intelligence assessments were "inappropriate" because "a policy office was producing intelligence products and was not clearly conveying to senior decision makers the variance with the consensus of the Intelligence Community."

In other words, the OSP ideologues cooked the intelligence to support the Iraq invasion but didn't bother to say that their conclusions were not supported by the analyses of actual intelligence professionals.

But the I.G. report also says that the OSP's actions were not "illegal or unauthorized," which means that nobody involved with the intelligence manipulation should be impeached or go to jail, at least not on the basis of the I.G.'s investigation.

The I.G. report also states:
The circumstances prevalent in 2002 are no longer present today. We believe that the continuing collaboration between the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will significantly reduce the opportunity for the inappropriate conduct of intelligence activities outside of intelligence channels. As a result, we are not making any recommendations.

No recommendations. Brother. These guys make Pontius Pilate look like a piker.

Nothing to See Here, Move Along

The opportunity for inappropriate intelligence activities has been reduced?

In June 0f 2006, Alexandrovna revealed the existence of the Iran Directorate (ID). Like the OSP, the ID is another "special" intelligence analysis group, buried, like the OSP was, under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. In August 2006, Alexendrovna reported that Dick Cheney was receiving private briefings on Iran from Abram Shulsky, former director of the OSP.
Several foreign policy experts, who wish to remain anonymous, have expressed serious concern that much like the OSP, the ID is manipulating, cherry picking, and perhaps even -- as some suspect -- cooking intelligence to lead the U.S. into another conflict, this time with Iran.

"Cheney distrusts the information being disseminated by CIA on Iran," said one former senior intelligence official. "The reports assembled by the Iranian Directorate at the Pentagon differ significantly from the analysis produced by the Intelligence Community. The Pentagon Iranian Directorate relies on thin and unsupported reporting from foreign sources."

Foxes Inspecting the Henhouse

Why would the I.G. report say that all the OSP problems have gone away when the ID--essentially that same old gang of Cheney's--is still running loose in the Pentagon? Is it because the ID went away when Donald Rumsfeld got the boot? I doubt that's the case, and I certainly wouldn't believe it is the case on the basis of the I.G.'s say so. In fact, lack of mention of the ID in the I.G.'s report is so conspicuous as to strongly suggest that the I.G. was specifically ordered not to mention it in his findings.

The Inspector General program within the executive department is so corrupted that it should be disbanded, at least for the duration of the Bush/Cheney tenure.

This "unitary powers" executive branch has made it clear that its idea of separation of powers and oversight is to write its own legislation, to make its own judicial decisions, and to have its actions judged by its peers--which in the Bush administration's case is a jury of fellow criminals.

Criminal Negligence

Spencer Ackerman of TPM Muckraker informs us that Iran offered to recognize Israel back in spring of 2003. The offer came in by fax. Along with a promise to recognize Israel, the missive suggested that everything was on the table, including full cooperation on its nuclear program and termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

Condi Rice, who was National Security Adviser at the time, doesn't recall seeing that fax.

She must have been pumping iron with young Mr. Bush when it came across her desk, huh?

Elliot Abrams, a neoconservative luminary who was the NSC's senior director for Middle East affairs then, doesn’t recall seeing the fax either.

Seems to me we need to award somebody a no-bid contract to calk those cracks between the floorboards in that there White House. I'll bet you a shiny penny Halliburton could do the job just dandy, and then file a report on what good work they did.

Late Friday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, while visiting Germany, said that serial numbers and other markings on bombs used by Iraqi militants can be traced to Iran. Well, he sort of said that.

What he actually said was that the evidence was "pretty good" that the bombs came from Iran. "I think there's some serial numbers," he said. "There may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found'' that point to Iran.

Gates didn't make clear how he thinks the serial numbers may be traceable to Iran, or why he even mentioned the issue based on what he maybe thinks.

Last week, Gates said that military officers in Baghdad had been planning to reveal what they know about Iranian involvement in Iraq, but that he and other senior officials decided to hold off on all that revealing until they were sure all that revealing was accurate.

I can't wait to hear what the administration thinks may be happening but can't prove next week as they try to make visions of mushroom clouds dance in our heads.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous6:23 PM

    If it were not for the work of Alexandra, I wonder how much of this would be actually covered today. There would be conspiracy theories for sure, but they would be just that, conspiracy theories.

    Kudos to her, and to you for carrying the torch and making this story known as widely as possible.

    Dan Smith

  2. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Make that Larisa Alexandronov!

    MeMyself(somewhat out of focus)Eye

  3. Jeff: vis a vis the alleged Iranian ordnance being used in Iran -- did you see this story yet?

  4. Oops. Being used in IRAQ. Doh!