Saturday, May 29, 2004

More dubious Def. Dept. allegations

More unsubstantiated claims from unnamed Defense Department sources are being unloaded on the gullible public. While the New York Times and media in general are in their mea culpa mood about repeating lies on intelligence on Iraq, they should be more careful about believing what they are told about Syria.

If anyone still has faith that US intelligence agencies haven't fallen into the arena of partisan politics and smear campaigns, he will be disabused by the remarks of Richard Perle in today's New York Times. He and CIA ex-chief Woolsey accuse the CIA and Defense Intelligence of "outrageous abuse of power." (The thieves have fallen out.)

"There is a smear campaign under way, and it is being perpetrated by the C.I.A. and the D.I.A. and a gaggle of former intelligence officers who have succeeded in planting these stories, which are accepted with hardly any scrutiny," Mr. Perle, a leading conservative, said in an interview.

Mr. Perle, referring to both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the campaign against Mr. Chalabi was "an outrageous abuse of power" by United States government officials in Washington and Baghdad.
In the same vein, Bill Gertz of The Washington Times has "accepted with hardly any scrutiny" the dubious reports of unnamed sources in the Defense Department.

Iraqi weapons pipeline probed - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - May 25, 2004
The Pentagon is investigating reports that Iraqi weapons are being sent covertly to Syria and that they are fueling anti-U.S. insurgents training there, The Washington Times has learned. The shipments include weapons and explosives sent by vehicles that were detected during the past several months going to several training camps inside Syria, which has become a key backer of anticoalition forces in Iraq, according to defense officials familiar with reports of the shipments.

One defense official said the pipeline was uncovered as part of efforts to discover what happened to Iraq's arms programs - conventional as well as weapons of mass destruction. 'Everyone seems to have forgotten that there was the prospect of ongoing traffic in munitions ... that could then be re-imported into Iraq with quite considerable effect,' the official said. 'We are pursuing the extent and location of that.'

The weapons are traveling by covered trucks and unmarked vans along routes that appear to have been set up before the U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq last year. The night-time deliveries are reported to include small arms, bombs and explosives pilfered from some of the several thousand weapons depots scattered throughout Iraq. The Pentagon has identified more than 8,700 weapons dumps and is continuing to find caches almost daily, officials said. The arms and explosives come back into Iraq with the Syrian-based insurgents and terrorists, the officials said. Camps were set up by former officials in the Saddam Hussein regime and are being used to train foreign fighters who are continuing to flow into Iraq to conduct attacks."...

Mr. Rumsfeld said recent sanctions imposed on Syria are an attempt to pressure its government to change its behavior. He said he thinks that "it is ... appropriate that Syria not be rewarded." "The hope is that through discussion, and debate, and consideration, diplomacy, that Syria will recalibrate its direction," he said after a speech at the Heritage Foundation. "Whether that will happen, I don't know. I wish I did know. But in the meantime, we've got to make sure that they do as little damage to what we're trying to accomplish in Iraq as possible." On May 11, the Bush administration announced new sanctions against Syria, noting Damascus' support for terrorists and its failure to keep anticoalition fighters from crossing into Iraq.
The following are comments on these allegations sent to me by Ray Close, ex-CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, who also, years earlier, flew Ibrahim al-Husseini (Syria's Intelligence chief under Shishakli) into Syria in 1957 to carry out "Operation Straggle" - the failed coup that frightened the Syrian left into forming the UAR. See bio bellow.
"I'm no apologist for the present Baathist regime in Syria. Remember that I once spent several years trying to undermine their predecessors, and acquired a wealth of experience in the process. Our efforts finally to overthrow the Syrian government (to liberate the Syrian people and install democracy?) failed miserably, much to our agency's embarrassment and to the personal frustration and humiliation of those of us who screwed up the operation. But Bill Gertz's Washington Times article made me laugh out loud.

If I understand the English language, then, this article says that:
1. The Pentagon has received intelligence reports (from sources that are not American-controlled) of the smuggling of significant quantities of arms from Iraq to Syria. The Pentagon and the NSC apparently presume that these reports are reliable, because we see that critically important political policy decisions are being influenced by these reports (like the imposition of sanctions on the Damascus regime); also, critically important military actions are also being influenced by the same intelligence (such as the raid that killed forty people last week).

2. Unfortunately, however, intensive surveillance efforts by United States intelligence agencies, employing their own ultra-modern technology, have been unable to detect any reliable evidence to corroborate these reports.

Hey, guys --- does that sound familiar? This is pure neo-con bullshit again, spoon-fed to Gertz by his "informants" among the neo-con faction in the Pentagon, or, just as likely, straight by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

One of my correspondents sent me this useful recollection concerning allegations that Syrians are fighting in Iraq:

"This reminds me that some months ago when the 82nd Airborne Div and one of the Cavalry Brigades were still in al-Anbar Province there were accusations by US officials in Baghdad about infiltrators crossing into Iraq from Syria. A reporter subsequently questioned several commanders of units on the border about this. The replies he got were uniformly: 'What infiltrators?'"

Ray
Ray Close is from a long line of Middle East experts. From the outset of the Iraq campaign, he fearlessly organized fellow colleagues from the CIA to speak out against the misuse of intelligence. He has been a relentless campaigner to return professionalism to our intelligence community and to rebuild the firewall separating it from politics. Here is a short bio:
Ray Close comes from a family with deep roots in the Middle East. He and many of his immediate relatives have been teachers, diplomats or businessmen in the Arab Middle East for four generations, since his maternal great-grandfather arrived in 1853 and began establishing schools in southern Lebanon. His father, Harold Close, was a professor and later Dean of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut from 1910 until 1955. His mother's brother, Colonel William Eddy, served as the interpreter between President Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud at their historic meeting aboard a US Navy cruiser in the Suez Canal immediately following the Yalta Conference in February 1945.

After graduating from Princeton University in 1951, Ray served for 26 years as a Middle East specialist with the Operations Directorate of the CIA. During his career, he served under cover as a political officer at American Embassies in Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. For seven years before his retirement in 1977, he was the CIA's senior representative in Saudi Arabia.

8 Comments:

At 5/30/2004 04:54:00 AM, Blogger Oldman said...

Do you think that anyone is actually going to take seriously these accusations in light of the Iraq debacle outside the true believer "new right" core group? As a old-right conservative I have been opposing the coterie around Bush for years, and I don't think that Americans with the current public opinion on Iraq in shambles would be too excited about further invasion plans. I'd hoped that these guys would just go away with the preponderance of public opinion swinging against them.

 
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