Michael Isikoff on Hubris –- by Seán Kinane


Last night at Inkwood Books in South Tampa, investigative journalist Michael Isikoff spoke about his recent book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports.

“It’s a truly stunning story because what happened in the Fall of 2002 and the winter of 2003 is the President took the country to war by presenting an entirely false reality to the American public.�

That was Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff speaking about Hubris. The main theme of the book and of Isikoff’s speech was that the Bush administration hyped the threat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in order to get support for an invasion. But in their research, he and co-author David Corn interviewed many people who said that it was known that Saddam did not present a threat to the U.S. One of those people was Admiral Thomas Wilson who was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1999 until the summer of 2002:

“And he started out by identifying what he felt were the five near-term security threats to the United States in March 2002. And guess what? Saddam Hussein and Iraq doesn’t make the list.�

One of the pieces of evidence that the Bush administration used to sell the war was aluminum tubes seized in Jordon en route to Iraq. CIA analyst Joe Turner thought that they could only be used in a nuclear weapons program. But scientists at the Department of Energy wrote memos to dispute Turner’s claims. Despite this, the Bush administration insisted that this was evidence of a nuclear program in Iraq.

“They were ‘wow, we got it, here it is.’ There was one problem with this: every nuclear scientist in the government, every expert in nuclear centrifuges and the building of nuclear bombs looked at the same evidence, looked at these tubes, analyzed them and said ‘you’re crazy, these aluminum tubes can not be used for nuclear centrifuges. They don’t fit, they’re not the right dimensions; they don’t have the right specifications. This doesn’t make any sense.’�

Isikoff was asked about Ahmed Chalabi who was head of the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, which funneled information to the US on Iraq. Most of it was false, but it was hyped by the neocons in the Bush administration. Isikoff said the CIA thought that Chalabi was a fraud. The INC ran the Information Collection Program, a propaganda instrument that made Iraqi defectors available to the U.S. news media. But Isikoff stated that the CIA had identified the person who ran that program as an Iranian intelligence agent. This may have meant that Iran duped the Bush administration into attacking Iraq.

“The guy running the program, providing the intelligence, the defectors, who we now know to be fraudulent, to make the case for the toppling of Saddam Hussein, was a suspected Iranian intelligence agent by the US intelligence agency. Was this entire thing, the Chalabi operation, an Iranian intelligence scheme designed to get the United States to invade Iraq? Because after all, who is the biggest beneficiary right now of the war in Iraq? It’s the Iranian government. In fact it looks to me like the net result of all of this will be that Iran won the Iraq-Iran war from the 1980s.�

Isikoff feels that once the Democrats take over both houses of Congress in January, one of the best chances for investigation regards the testimony of Ibn Sheik al-Libi. He was tortured into saying there was a connection between Saddam, Al-Queda, and weapons of mass destruction. Even though intelligence analysts didn’t believe it, the Bush administration used this “sinister nexus� to sell the war. Isikoff feels that investigation of this faulty intelligence obtained from Ibn Sheik al-Libi could expose many illegal acts.

“The whole matter of CIA extraordinary rendition, and interrogation techniques, and the kinds of things we did that were in stark violation of the Geneva Convention, that is very much a live topic. That could expose some people to criminal charges. If somebody knew that somebody in US custody was being sent to another country to be tortured, that is a potential violation of domestic US law banning the use of torture. If you conspire to torture somebody with somebody else, you’re in potential violation.�

More information about the book Hubris can be found at the website of co-author David Corn – davidcorn.com/book.php

For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane




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