Monday, October 24, 2005

The CIA set them up

I know, I know, I know. We're not supposed to even think that the CIA might have set up Plamegate, for fear that the neocons might be able to claim some excuse like entrapment. The neocons are obviously spooked and on the run. Look at their response, or rather non-response, to the UN Hariri report, framing Syria for Hariri's assassination so Kofi can get a few more months of free parking at the UN. In the bad old days, they would have had a violent response ready, and the bombs for Israel would already be falling. The slightly more muted response of the 'cons - outrage based on a sloppy and incomplete (or here) preliminary report based on iffy testimony that some Syrians might have been involved in blowing up a guy, while blowing up the city of Falluja is apparently fine - is evidence that they've temporarily decided to concentrate on saving their own necks rather than indulge their normal predilection for murdering Arabs (unfortunately, it appears that they'll get around to murdering Arabs soon enough). Even before the indictments, if any, Plamegate has had a salutary effect on American politics. I just can't get the tell-tale signs of CIA involvement out of my head:

  1. One of the mysteries of Plamegate is the identity of the forger of the Niger documents. Justin Raimondo ties the forgeries to two CIA agents in Italy, probably in cahoots with Chalabi or a Chalabi associate. On the face of it, it seems unlikely that the CIA was involved, if only because the forgeries were so spectacularly awful (the CIA is incompetent, but not in that way). What if they were supposed to be awful, and supposed to be easily discovered? What if they took Chalabi's hack forgeries, and blessed them by having them pass through CIA hands? What if they knew that Ledeen was crazy enough to take the forgeries at face value and run with them (Ledeen fancies himself a 'change agent' and the forgeries must have been impossible to resist in aid of another Machiavellian scheme), bringing them into the neocon system and thus into the State of the Union address as one of the few seemingly solid cases for war?

  2. The CIA could have sent anybody they liked to Niger to investigate the situation. While Wilson was a logical choice, there were many other logical choices. If they were so deeply concerned about the undercover status of his wife, isn't it odd that they picked Wilson? Assuming that they picked Wilson because they knew he would deliver a negative report, didn't it occur to anyone that the reaction to his report, even absent the breaking of any laws, might put Wilson and his family in the spotlight, thus threatening the privacy of their precious undercover agent? Or was that the point?

  3. Why didn't Tenet object to the sixteen words? He signed off on the State of the Union address, after complaining about similar words in Bush's Cincinnati speech only a few months earlier. Did he just get tired of hitting his head against the wall? Or was he very happy to see the sixteen words?

  4. Why did Wilson wait until after the war was over to write his article embarrassing the Bush Administration? It looks to me, and it sure looked to the neocons, that he had set them up.

  5. How did the neocons know to start to attack Wilson before Wilson even wrote his article? Did they have a spy in the CIA who gave them the heads-up? Or was this spy actually a CIA agent in the White House (let them waste some time and energy hunting for the mole!), setting them up by starting them on the process of falling into Plamegate?

  6. What kind of game was the CIA playing? They've been blamed for screwing up the Iraqi intelligence, which isn't really fair, but the lingering doubt is that they were remarkably two-faced about complaining about the neocon misuse of intelligence. They really did try to have it both ways, appearing to support the Administration while hedging their bets by quibbling about the details. Were they simply cowed by having Dick Cheney visiting them and giving them the skunk-eye? Or did they know there was going to be a war anyway, regardless of the intelligence, and so contrived to put themselves in the best possible position after the war?

  7. Miller's recent article, for what it's worth, indicates that the neocons felt themselves under siege from the CIA, who was trying to set them up.

  8. Just how important was Plame's status? There has been a lot of nonsense written from the left - of all places - about how terrible it is to uncover a covert operator. Threatens American lives! What a pile of crap. In the whole history of the CIA the 'cult of intelligence' hasn't saved one American life, and has no doubt endangered quite a few. Great job the billions of dollars worth of covert operatives did preventing September 11 or catching bin Laden! Plame doesn't even seem to have been actually undercover at the time of Wilson's article. Her status seems to have been widely known in certain Washington circles. Her famous front employer, Brewster Jennings, doesn't even seem to have been operating. The CIA lost nothing of value when Plame was outed, but gained some remarkable public relations.

  9. The 'dog that didn't bark' behind all this is the fact that the CIA has been abused, emasculated, and humiliated by the neocons, and hasn't done a thing about it. When John F. Kennedy mused about reducing the power of the CIA, the CIA stood by and let the Pentagon and the FBI shoot him dead. Why are their no dead people, except for a few in the State Department, in Washington today? Is the CIA so domesticated that it would allow itself to become a laughing stock without any attempt to fight back? Very unlikely.

The general scenario is that some big brains in the CIA knew, even before 9-11, that Bush was going to attack Iraq, and knew that there was no good reason to do so, and knew that the CIA was going to be hung out to dry and blamed for the whole mess. They knew that Ledeen was fundamentally an idiot, and would jump at any straw to advance the Israeli cause of killing Arabs, so they made up or found some sloppy forgeries and slipped them to Ledeen, perhaps using their pals at SISME, knowing that Ledeen would put his foot in it by trying to use them. The documents planted the seed of the entire uranium case, which the CIA knew the neocons would have to use because they had no other WMD evidence. They sent Wilson over to Niger because they knew he would deliver a negative report and they knew he had an undercover wife whose status was no longer important to them but which would look good on television. Tenet, the guy who told Cheney about Plame (!), but not perhaps that she was undercover, let the sixteen words stay in the State of the Union address so Bush would be personally entangled, thus putting downward pressure on the whole system. Somebody in the CIA told somebody in the White House that Wilson was going to embarrass them, and probably also told them about Plame. The 'cons were cleverly led at each step by people who knew that the neocon weaknesses - single-minded devotion to Israeli Likudnik causes, paranoia, vindictiveness, clannishness, a lack of appreciation of their own relative lack of sophistication, and a sense of complete invulnerability - could be manipulated to lead them down the road to disaster. It is exactly how Nixon was led into Watergate through manipulation of his quite similar weaknesses.