Dual Loyalties

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

US DOD: Feith and Luti on U.S. Intelligence Issues in Iraq and Iran - 6-4-03

US DOD: Feith and Luti on U.S. Intelligence Issues in Iraq and Iran - 6-4-03: "BRIEFING WITH DOUGLAS J. FEITH



June 4, 2003

Feith: Good morning.

Bill, do you want to join me up here?

The reason that we were interested in meeting with you this morning is to help lay to rest some stories that have been circulating about the Defense Department that are not true and are beginning to achieve the status of urban legends. So we thought we would try to help straighten the record out.

There are four issues that I think I'd like to address. One is this so-called, or alleged intelligence cell and its relation to the Special Plans Office. Secondly is the issue of intelligence judgments regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Third is the department's alleged intent to topple the Iranian regime, about which there have been a number of inaccurate news stories. And finally, our policy and the Defense Department's views on the organization called the MEK, the Mujahedeen e Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group. And I'd like to start with a review of some of these items, and then my colleague, Bill Luti and I will be happy to take some of your questions.

On this so-called intelligence cell, which has been hyped in various publications as a Department of Defense effort to create a unit that would somehow substitute for the CIA, I'd like to give you what actually is the story. After the September 11th attack, I identified a requirement to think through what it means for the Defense Department to be at war with a terrorist network. This was an unusual circumstance -- warfare has traditionally been against nation states -- and we understood that it presents a number of peculiar conceptual challenges to be at war with a network, or as I've described it as a network of networks of terrorist organizations.

So, I asked for some people to think through -- first of all, to review the large amount of intelligence on terrorist networks, and to think through how the various terrorist organizations relate to each other and how they relate to different groups that support them; in particular, state sponsors. And we set up a small team to help digest the intelligence that already existed on this very broad subject. And the so-called cell comprised two full-time people. This is why you see that I think it's almost comical that people think that this was set up as somehow an alternative -- (Chuckles.) -- to the intelligence community or to the CIA. I mean, it was two full-time people. They drew from time to time on assistance from a few others. I mean, altogether, we're talking about four people, five people, you know, at one time or another, doing the work.

The team began its work in October of 2001. It was not involved in intelligence collection. Rather, it relied on reporting from the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community. Its job was to review this intelligence to help digest it for me and other policymakers, to help us develop Defense Department strategy for the war on terrorism. And as I said, it looked at these interrelationships among terrorist organizations and their state sponsors. It did not confine its review to Iraq or al Qaeda. I mean, it was looking at global terrorist networks and the full range of state sponsors and other sources of support for terrorist groups. Its main conclusion was that groups and states were willing to cooperate across philosophical, ideological lines.

So, it came up with the -- a number of interesting connections of where, for example, Sunni and Shi'a groups cooperated, or religious- based groups cooperated with secular groups or states. And so it showed that we cannot simply assume that the only cooperation that existed in the world among terrorist groups and their sponsors was on some kind of pure ideological or philosophical lines. I mean, this is not that shocking for anybody who remembers that, for example, the Nazis and the Soviets had a strategic alliance also. But it was a very important point, because there was a lot of debate in government circles and in academic circles about whether these different groups do in fact cooperate across these philosophical lines.

I think what has become the focus of a lot of the press stories about this is the fact that in the course of its work, this team, in reviewing the intelligence that was provided to us by the CIA and the intelligence community, came up with some interesting observations about the linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda. And when they did, and they brought those to the attention of top-level officials here in the department, and we arranged for a briefing of these items to Secretary Rumsfeld, he looked at that and said, "That's interesting. Let's share it with George Tenet." And so some members of the team and I went over, I think it was in August of 2002, and shared some of these observations. And these were simply observations of this team based on the intelligence that the intelligence community had given to us, and it was just in the course of their reading it, this was incidental to the purpose of this group. But since they happened to come up with it and since it was an important subject, we went over, shared it with George and people at the CIA. My impression was it was pretty well received, and that was that. It was one meeting.

There have been a number of misperceptions about this team. One of them is that, there have been several press articles that have identified this team with the Special Plans Office in Dr. Luti's organization. Dr. Luti is the deputy under secretary of defense for -- let me get it right --

Luti: Special Plans and Near Eastern/South Asian Affairs.

Feith: Special Plans and Near Eastern/South Asian Affairs.

Luti: Twenty-seven countries.

Feith: And this intelligence cell -- alleged -- which is this team that did this particular project, which was not an intelligence project -- it was a matter of digesting other people's intelligence products -- this team is not -- was not part of that office; wasn't related to it. In fact, the team stopped doing its work -- basically, once we had that meeting with the CIA and the team had given us a report on these terrorist network interconnections, there was no team anymore. And they stopped doing their work before the Special Plans Office, if I have it straight, was actually created within Dr. Luti's organization.

Q: (Off mike.)

Luti: October of 2002. We had -- a decision was made in August of 2002 to reorganize, and Doug will explain to you why. But those are the dates.

Q: And that team stopped in August 2002?

Feith: Roughly. The -- (Chuckling.) -- and the Special Plans Office was called Special Plans, because at the time, calling it Iraq Planning Office might have undercut the -- our diplomatic efforts with regard to Iraq and the U.N. and elsewhere. We set up an office to address the whole range of issues regarding Iraq planning.

Luti: And if I may, it's clear to make a distinction; it's a policy planning office, just like -- in my shop, I have essentially three directorates: A Middle East directorate with a handful of people working, a South Asia directorate with a handful of people working, and I used to have a Northern Gulf directorate, which we expanded to meet the incredibly stepped-up requirements in the summer and fall of last year to deal with Iraq. We needed help, we needed people. So, we expanded it. And that's what I do -- policy planning.

Feith: So, I mean, there have been some people who have kind of concocted a goulash of snippets about this team that was working on the terrorist interconnections and the Special Plans Office, and they mixed them up when there's no basis for the mix.

As I mentioned, this team that was doing the terrorist analysis was not focused on Iraq. I mean, they focused -- they did not have a narrow focus. It was a global -- it was a global exercise, even though this particular report that -- briefing, I should say, that was prepared and given to the CIA focused on Iraq and al Qaeda because, as I said, that kind of fell out incidentally from the work that they were doing on global terrorist networks.

Third, there are some press accounts that have tied the team to what is called the intelligence collection program, which was a program for debriefing Iraqi defectors over recent years. And in fact the team had nothing to do with that program or the transfer of the management of that program from the State Department to the Defense HUMINT [Human Intelligence] Service.

And the -- with regard to this intelligence collection program, the reports that were obtained from the debriefings of these Iraq defectors were disseminated in the same way that other intelligence reporting was disseminated, contrary to one particular journalist account who suggested that the Special Plans Office became a conduit for intelligence reports from the Iraqi National Congress to the White House. That's just flatly not true. And in any event, that was a Defense Intelligence Agency/Defense HUMINT Service function, and not -- it was not anything that was run out of the policy organization. So again, this is part of the goulash of inaccuracies.

And then finally there were some accounts that asserted that the team dealt with the weapons of mass destruction issue, and there have been a number of stories in recent days that suggested that this was a team that somehow developed the case on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and it didn't -- I mean, it -- and that is also flatly not true. The team was focused on terrorist networks; it was not focused on weapons of mass destruction.

Now on this issue of intelligence judgments -- now to get to my second topic, the intelligence judgments on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Powell talked about our intelligence sources when he gave his presentation on February 5th to the U.N. Security Council. He played tapes of Iraqis who were discussing -- these were intercepts of Iraqi communications in which there were discussions of the concealing of weapons of mass destruction from U.N. inspectors. Secretary Powell cited the reports of witnesses and informants. He discussed the U.S. government's knowledge of Iraq procurement efforts in the weapons of mass destruction field. And he cited the old U.N. inspectors’ organizations reporting on weapons of mass destruction, for which Iraq had never accounted adequately.

And these judgments were based on intelligence that -- intelligence reports and intelligence analysis that not only went back years but predated this administration. In February 1998 President Clinton said, "Iraq continues to conceal chemical and biological weapons and the missiles that can deliver them, and Iraq has the capacity to quickly restart production of these weapons." Secretary of Defense Cohen, in -- also in 1998, said, "I believe that Iraq is developing them, because they've used them in the past. The acquisition of these types of weapons does make Saddam Hussein a major player in the region. He's concerned about the power, and the opportunity to have nuclear or biological or chemical weapons gives him the status and the ability to project that power to intimidate the neighbors in the region." And there are similar quotations from Vice President Gore and others.

The -- it -- from our perspective, it's pretty clear that the intelligence community's judgments concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not undergo a major change between the Clinton and Bush administrations. And that's -- without regard to the issue of whether the officials from the previous administration agree or disagree with the policies of this administration about how to deal with the problem, the basic intelligence reports did not undergo any kind of change from the previous administration to this one.

On the third point that I raised, on this issue of reports about the department's attitude toward toppling the Iranian regime, there was a recent Financial Times article that grossly misrepresented Secretary Rumsfeld's views on Iran. It is true that the United States government wants Iran to turn over all al Qaeda members currently in Iran and to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But as for the future of the Iranian government, that's a matter to be decided by the Iranian people. And our policy is what President Bush has said: that we see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their government and determine their own destiny, and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom. And everything that we have done and that we support in this department is consistent with and captured in that statement by the president. And it's not good to be reading inaccurate descriptions of what our policy is on Iran.

A sub-point on that is the last point that I wanted to address in these opening remarks, and that is the issue of the policy toward the MEK, the Mujahedeen e Khalq. The United States has designated the MEK a foreign terrorist organization; it is on the State Department's list of such organizations. Accordingly, we demanded the surrender of MEK forces in Iraq. That demand is being complied with, and the MEK forces are being disarmed.

Now, earlier in the war, a U.S. commander on the ground reached a temporary cease-fire with the MEK which he justified on the grounds that it enabled our forces to contain the MEK forces in cantonment areas, while not having to fight against them or to actively disarm them. And it was also a way of making sure that these MEK forces were not going to get into a clash with the pro-Iranian forces. There were a number of different groups floating around in Iraq that were not under our control, and we didn't want them clashing in a way that could interfere with our operations.

Now, because of that local decision to work out this temporary arrangement, there were some people who believed that we were giving the MEK special treatment, and there were even news stories that said that the Defense Department planned to use the MEK as a Northern Alliance-type organization -- making the analogy to Afghanistan -- as a Northern Alliance-type organization against the government of Iran. There never was such a plan. We will not do that. We view the MEK as a terrorist organization and we are treating it as such.

And with that, I will be happy to take your questions.

Q: On Iran, you made the point that the administration supports the aspirations of the Iranian people. The question seems to be how far are you going -- that's important to what kind of support you're talking about, and people are speculating that you could go as far as supporting by either actively undermining the existing government or by taking military action. And can you define exactly how far you would go?

Feith: Our policy is to urge the Iranians, as the president has done publicly and as other top administration people have done, to urge them to stop their support for terrorism -- Iran is one of the world's leading supporters of terrorist organizations -- to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and stop the development of nuclear weapons. And we know that there is widespread unhappiness in the country about the failures of the clerical regime. And the president has expressed his sympathy with the aspirations of the Iranians to have a free country. And that's our policy. And that's what we're willing to say and do.

And there are a lot of countries in the world who are coming increasingly to understand the dangers that this state support for terrorism and the development of nuclear weapons by countries that are not supposed to be developing them -- that represents the international security. And so, we're getting increasing international support for this kind of an approach. And we hope that the Iranians will change their policies.

Q: [And now] to the intelligence, one of the more puzzling aspects of all of this for a lot of people is the Niger letter, and why U.S. officials seem so willing to accept and promulgate what appears to people who were knowledgeable about it to have clearly been a forgery. Can you explain -- and there's been a couple of congressional requests for information about that. Can you shed some light on that?

Feith: I mean, I'm aware of it in general. I don't know how much light I could shed on it.

Luti: No, no, I can't either. No. I believe that that is an issue between the source of the document and the analysts in the government in the intelligence community, and they're sorting that out. We're not particularly as policy people involved in that process.

Q: I want to challenge your assumption here that the intelligence has remained consistent throughout the '90s. This administration, starting in September, painted the picture of an imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction, yet the DIA -- this is -- and this is something that U.S. News and World broke [a past sentence of] of this week, said in September, there's no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons. Just square the circle. You say the intelligence has been consistent, but yet you painted a much more imminent threat than anybody in the Clinton administration did during the '90s.

Feith: I think what we -- what we have been stressing is that September 11th highlighted the special dangers that come from the connection of weapons of mass destruction to state sponsors of terrorism. The September 11th attack forced a lot of people to rethink the dangers of both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in light of the possible connection between the two. And the willingness of terrorist organizations to do as much damage as they possibly can was something that was driven home, you know, powerfully, by the September 11th attack. And the recognition that if a terrorist organization, perfectly willing to do as much damage as it possibly can, could get its hands on weapons of mass destruction from one of the state sponsors that is otherwise providing support to it, then the possibility exists, the danger exists that you could have an attack that would kill many times the number of people that were killed on September 11th.

So that caused a reassessment of the nature of the threat and the risk. That's a different issue from the analysis of whether one believes that the Iraqis possessed the capability to use chemical weapons, biological weapons; whether they had a program that was aiming toward the development of nuclear weapons. On the basic question of whether the Iraqis had the capability, I don't think there was any kind of major discontinuity in the analysis over the years from the intelligence community.

Q: Well let me push back then, because Rumsfeld, starting in September, and the president talked about that they had a capability. They had -- they produced -- they have weapons; they have this; they have that. That was a lot stronger than the Clinton people or the intelligence community publicly talked about in the '90s, and your DIA is even saying this now in September of '02, raising questions about we don't have reliable information.

Feith: As I -- I mean, I quoted from -- President Clinton said, in 1998, Iraq continues to conceal chemical and biological weapons. And the U.N., in its report, I believe it was in January of '99, when UNSCOM [United Nations Special Commission] shut down its operations, said that there were large quantities of chemical and biological weapons materials that were unaccounted for. And this was precisely the point that President Bush stressed in -- and I don't remember whether it was in his U.N. speech or his State of the Union speech, but he made a major focus on what the UNSCOM report from 1999 said about chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

So, I mean, this is -- this was not news. I mean, a number of the recent stories have suggested that the basic question of whether the Iraqis -- whether there was intelligence to support the conclusion that the Iraqis had these weapons, there have been a number of stories that have suggested that this whole issue arose in recent months, and it didn't, it went back years.

Q: I think the question is that the issue -- you put a finer point on it than in past years and you raised the bar in terms of what Iraq allegedly had, and now we're seeing that they might not have had what you allegedly said they did.

Feith: Well, we'll see. We'll see what they had.

But the main thing that I think was different in the way this administration talked about the issue from the past, were the conclusions, the strategic conclusions that we came to as a result of the September 11 attack, and the particular strategic problems that arise from a recognition that you can't rely to the extent that we did in the past, or that at least some people did in the past, you can't rely on deterrence to deal with the problem of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of state sponsors of terrorism because the possibility that those state sponsors might employ chemical weapons or biological weapons by means of a terrorist organization proxy means that they could use the weapons without leaving their fingerprints, as it were, on the attack. And that meant that the traditional deterrence approach was not adequate.

Q: If I could just go back, Mr. Secretary, and look at the relationship -- I think three key relationships you have tried to -- (inaudible) -- I think; the one between the intelligence team and the special plans office, the intelligence team the Iraqi exile project, and the intelligence team and the assessment on weapons of mass destruction. Let me make sure I understand this now. The team is going to put out a report that's going to become a part of a larger body of material that policymakers, including those in the special plans office, would look at, right? So it's not to say while they may not have been resident in the same office, I would -- it certainly sounds like special plans would be aware of and would -- and have available those reports that they make, right? I mean, they would --

Feith: If the -- yeah, I mean, if the connection is that a team that is analyzing a policy problem by looking through a lot of intelligence is going to generate a briefing that is going to come to the attention of various offices -- I mean, that's true. That connection exists. There were various offices that were informed by, you know, that briefing.

Q: And given the importance that this team had within your office, would it not also be logical that the special plans office would give its -- whatever reports came from the team special significance? And this is something you're looking at, you created especially to look at the intelligence in a different way --

Feith: No, no, you see, it was not created to look -- there is this idea -- again, there have been a number of press stories that have said that the reason this team was created was because we wanted the intelligence looked at in a different way. That's not true. It was -- what happened was, on September 11th we were attacked, and the president announced we are in a global war against terrorism. And the office that's responsible for strategy is my office. And we asked ourselves: What does it mean to be at war against terrorism? What -- and how is this different from previous wars conceptually? How does one develop a strategy for fighting an international network?

So it just was kind of an obvious thing to do. I asked for some people to review the existing intelligence on what do we know about the nature of these terrorist networks. This was not because we were dissatisfied with, as some of the news stories have suggested -- it's not because we were dissatisfied with the intelligence or the intelligence analysis. It was because we needed people looking at that intelligence, good intelligence produced by the CIA and other agencies -- we needed people looking at it from the point of view of what do we need to understand from this intelligence about these connections to allow us to develop a Defense Department strategy for the war on terrorism.

Q: That's looking at intelligence in a different way, with a different perspective.

Feith: Well -- but I mean, not as --

Q: (Off mike.)

Feith: -- but it's been portrayed as this was done --

Q: They did not find their own intelligence. They took existing intelligence, given this new perspective, given this new focus you've asked them to address, and said, "Here. Here's a new way of looking at it." Right? That's what you asked for.

Feith: You could say that, except the way it --

Q: All right. Let me move on to my second point, then.

Feith: Well, let me just say, the way it's been portrayed in a number of stories was that this was set up because there was dissatisfaction with what the intelligence community had done. That's not true. It was set up because we had a different function to be performed; we had a different mission to be performed. We had to develop a strategy to fight the global war on terrorism. And so, we needed to take this material and review it in that light.

Q: Point two, on the Iraqi exile project. While these guys didn't run, obviously, the interrogations or anything, they obviously took the information that was provided for them from those interviews, right? And they looked at it and they put it in a larger context, as well. That's part of the existing intelligence, no? Part of their definition?

Luti: No, Eric (sp), who took those reports and looked at them?

Q: The team.

Luti: No, no.

Q: They were ignorant of that when they did their analysis?

Luti: No, the information collection program was removed from the State Department and deposited into Defense HUMINT Service to ensure that proper tradecraft was used, accounting procedures. And it was a program to interview Iraqi defectors.

Q: Right.

Luti: The INC would remove them from Iraq to a different location. DHS [Defense HUMINT Service] teams would go to that location, debrief them according to the tradecraft -- all the professional tradecraft that's required -- and then they would write a report. Those reports would go into the intelligence system, writ large --

Q: Right. And that would be one of the many things that this team would look at, right, and draw upon for your -- for the tasks that they were assigned, correct?

Feith: There were lots [of customers] throughout the building --

Luti: Many customers, not only --

Q: Were those reports given any extra weight or significance by this team that you're aware of?

Luti: The information collection program was moved into the Defense HUMINT --

Q: That's a mechanical issue. I'm asking about the report that they produced, giving the fresh information that Iraqi exiles are providing. And that's now going into the system. Among all of the other things that they're going to look at, does the team hone in on these type of reports as a special source and give them that hint of added significance, that you're aware of? That's essentially what the accusation --

Luti: No more than -- in fact, I'm trying to remember when --

Q: (Inaudible.) -- you weigh it -- the intelligence that is coming from defectors was given unusual and disproportionate weight among all the other sources.

Luti: I don't know.

Q: Do you agree with that?

Luti: No. I don't know what the basis of that charge -- no, no, there's been no basis for that. None whatsoever.

Q: But the third point was you said there's no connection between this team and WMD. But you've just said that the relationship between terrorists and terrorist states and WMD has been -- is -- that was -- demonstrated how they --

Feith: No, I didn't mean no connection between the team and WMD. If I said that, I misstated it. What I said is it was not the purpose or the special focus of this team to look at WMD. Its focus was to look at terrorist networks and the connection.

Q: (Inaudible.) -- terrorist networks, and you've just explained how what 9/11 demonstrates is that terrorist networks and WMD and their acquisition thereof are importantly intertwined. And so, how do you not look at WMD when you're looking at terrorist networks in the case of Iraq?

Feith: No, I didn't mean to suggest that they didn't look at WMD at all. I'm saying that the mission that this team was given was not: Look at WMD. The mission that they were given was: Help us understand how these different organizations relate to each other and to their state sponsors.

Q: That may not have been their stated mission, but certainly that's one of the things they found, right?

Feith: I imagine -- yes, I imagine that they looked at WMD along with other stuff. All I'm saying is it was not as it is portrayed in a number of erroneous press stories that we've read. It was not the purpose of this group to focus on the WMD issue.

Staff: Sir, I hate to bring this to a close, but I know you're at the end of your time here. Maybe you can take one or two more.

Q: Critics have raised the issue of the slanting of intelligence findings, the alleged slanting, basically to conform with the views of top policymakers. Can you say what pressure, if any, was put on intelligence analysts in the CIA, DIA, anywhere else, to endorse the view of Iraq possessing chemical and biological weapon stockpiles and reconstituting the nuclear weapons program as an imminent threat to U.S. interests? And can you rule out that intelligence analysts may have perceived that this pressure existed, whether it did or not?

Feith: I know of no pressure. I can't rule out what other people may have perceived. Who knows what people perceive? I know of nobody who pressured anybody. We have a -- we have a normal and, I think, useful interchange between the intelligence community and its customers, basically the policy community. It is not a one-way transmission. If people understand the way intelligence -- the intelligence agencies relate to their customers, they understand that it's -- there's a process of back and forth where we get reports, I get a briefing every morning. I know that Secretary Rumsfeld has talked about this too. I mean, we're all, I think, in the same boat, those of us who get daily briefings from the CIA. I get a briefing. As I'm being briefed, questions occur to me. I ask for clarification of items. I sometimes say, "Well, that's an interesting point. That suggests that it might be good to get a report on x, y, and z. And I'd like to learn more about that." And those questions go back and they produce additional work and reports. And the intelligence community prides itself on being responsive when its customers raise questions and make requests for additional information or clarification or tables or historical perspective on some topic. I mean, things go back and forth all the time. And, I mean, that is the way a good system works.

And in this particular case, we, as customers, were analyzing this information about terrorist networks, and when we happened to come up with some interesting observations, we took them back and gave them to the intelligence community. And I must say, I was very pleased with the response that we got. I mean, people over there said that's -- you know, that's worthy of looking at and study. And I think that, you know, that George Tenet received it very well and found it useful.

Q: Two questions. Are any of the people who were on the intelligence team, which you said is now no longer doing that work, are any of those people still paid by the department and perhaps in other parts of your organization basically doing that same work on other topics? That's my first question. Are any of those people still there doing that work, perhaps on Iraq or on WMD?

And my second question, I am really puzzled why you two gentlemen are exactly doing this briefing today. Neither of you are well known to come down here and talk about what you read in the news media. Were you asked to do this briefing by Secretary Rumsfeld, by the White House, by Torie Clarke? Do you have any sense that there's some article coming out somewhere in the news media that you're trying to respond to ahead of time?

Feith: On the latter question first, there have been enough articles that have come out already on these subjects that have been inaccurate that -- and it's quite clear that some of the articles that are inaccurate are getting reverberations in numerous other articles that clearly are derivative of the mother lode of inaccuracies here and there. And we just -- and since it directly relates to our office, we just thought it might be useful to straighten the record out. So --

Q: So this briefing was your idea?

Feith: This briefing was my idea. And -- I mean, I hope it is in the nature of a public service.

Now, the first question you asked was --

Q: Is anybody who was on that intelligence team doing that work still --

Feith: Well, as I mentioned before you arrived, the --

Q: No, I was here.

Feith: Oh. Okay. The team that has gotten so much attention was two people, full-time. (Chuckling.) I mean, this is much less than one would infer from a lot of the press coverage of it. And altogether, as I said, there might have been a half a dozen people who were in and out, working either on the team full-time, part-time.

Q: (Off mike.) --

Feith: And some of those people -- because some of them were Reserve officers, so I mean, I think they're -- they've moved on, but some of them are people who are still in the government.

Q: May -- what I'm not understanding is, are any of those half dozen people -- bluntly, what I'm trying to ask -- doing the same work, perhaps not in an assembled team --

Feith: No, this was a project.

Q: I understand that.

Feith: So the answer's no.

Q: But the question is, I want to make sure there's no bureaucratic misunderstanding. That team has been disbanded. That label is gone. But is that work, candidly, going on somewhere else?

Feith: "Disbanded" is a peculiar term to apply. They had a project. They finished their project.

Q: And the project -- fine. The project is done. Nonetheless, is that work of reviewing information still going on in your organization? Is that basic task --

Feith: I would say that there are hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in this building who review intelligence for policy purposes every day. So that work is ongoing by thousands of people in this department.

Q: So why did you need these special people?

Feith: As I explained, we had a particular requirement to review the existing intelligence, to help us develop the strategy for the Defense Department for the global war on terrorism.

(Cross talk.) I'll take one last question here. This lady has had her hand up.

Q: And couple of -- (Inaudible.) -- here. These two people you say you had managed to come up with a link, you say, between al Qaeda and Iraq -- using the same intelligence, because you didn't gather intelligence -- that the CIA hadn't really come up with, and then you present this to George Tenet. Is that just coincidental that these two -- was their analysis more intense?

Feith: I don't think it's all that unusual or hard to understand. If a large amount of material is reviewed by fresh eyes -- I mean, this -- I think this would apply to -- you know, any intelligent people sitting down with this pile of intelligence, looking it over, reading it over, has a chance of finding certain things in it. I mean, ask yourself why new history books get written about old events. I mean, people look over very often the very same material. But in light of experience or just because they see something that nobody had seen before, certain connections become clear or appear, and, you know, new hypotheses get developed and new facts surface. I mean, it's not that mysterious. It's just -- there was an enormous amount of intelligence about terrorist networks that had been developed for many years before September 11th. And the idea that we would look at it again in light of September 11th and maybe see some new things in it shouldn't be that surprising.

Q: But you act as if the other intelligence agencies weren't looking at it that way.

Feith: No, they were. I -- no, I'm not acting that way.

Q: Only in post-9/11. So why --

Feith: They were too, but, I mean, I don't know why it should surprise anybody that any given group of people looking at a mass of material might come up with a few interesting insights that other people didn't come up with.

Q: And in --

Q: Why not just hire the CIA to do it then? I mean, that's what they do full time.

Feith: Because, well --

Q: (Inaudible.) -- the DIA, and you have to get in your own people and say, "This is what we're looking for. Go find it."

Feith: No. Nobody -- nobody helped -- see, this suggestion that we said to them -- "This is what we're looking for. Go find it." -- is precisely the inaccuracy that we are here to rebut.

Q: Can I just do one final one. Can I just --

Q: Can you give us an example of information that they found that did not fit those scenarios; that did not say there was an imminent danger; that did not present the facts that there was a belief that they were -- had an active and ongoing weapons of mass destruction program? Was that a part of what they found --

Feith: No, as I told you, the main thing that the briefing of this team produced was not this Iraq-al Qaeda connection. That was incidental. The main thing that the team produced was it helped -- it helped educate a lot of people about the fact that there was more cooperation and interconnection among these terrorist organizations and state sponsors across ideological lines than many people had appreciated before. That was really -- I mean, to sum it up in a sentence, that's it.

Q: Just one final point. What do think now of --

Feith: And this is her final point.

Q: (Laughs.) What do you think of the intelligence now? You said we'll see about the weapons of mass destruction, and yet some of the intelligence thus far that the United States was told about has been wrong. The Iraqis didn't use chemical weapons when American troops advanced. The first 200 sites you've checked that were suspected sites for weapons of mass destruction had nothing. You're backing away from some of the other sites, unless you get further intelligence. Can you assess the intelligence thus far?

Feith: The process of gathering information about the Iraqi programs is underway. I'm not going to come in and preempt the careful work that's being done. As you all know, there's a major new team going over to make systematic and comprehensive the work on studying what exists in Iraq and what became of this and that, about which we had information regarding the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs. They'll do their systematic and comprehensive work, and they'll come back and report.

Q: Can we talk about the last couple of months, though?

Feith: Thank you all.

Q: What about the last couple of months?

Feith: I'm not going to preempt what the team is -- (Off mike as he leaves the podium.)"

The New Yorker: Fact - Luti, Wolfowitz, and Chalabi

The New Yorker: Fact: "The spying charges have forced Chalabi?s patrons at the Pentagon to distance themselves from him. Paul Wolfowitz, who was one of the earliest and most outspoken proponents of an invasion of Iraq, and who has been friends with Chalabi for years, spoke of him with studied detachment at a recent congressional hearing. He praised the I.N.C.?s effectiveness in providing battlefield intelligence since the war began, but he said, ?I think there?s quite a bit of street legend out there that somehow he is the favorite of the Defense Department, and we had some idea of installing him as the leader of Iraq.?
But a prominent State Department official told me that he saw numerous documents that had been prepared by the Pentagon?s Office of Special Plans, which devoted considerable effort to planning the war. The office was overseen by Douglas Feith. ?Every list of Iraqis they wanted to work with for positions in the government of postwar Iraq included Chalabi and all of the members of his organization,? the State Department official said."

Tufts E-News -- William J. Luti : A Defining Role

Tufts E-News -- A Defining Role: "A Defining Role

The chief of the Pentagon’s office for Middle Eastern policy, Tufts graduate William Luti has earned recognition for playing a key role in Iraq.

Washington D.C. [10-30-03] William J. Luti was a third-level policymaker in the Bush administration, a position which normally receives little political and public recognition. But the Tufts graduate, chief of Middle Eastern policy at the Pentagon, broke the mold – and has risen to become one of the most talked about figures in Washington.

“The day-to-day manager of the Defense Department’s Iraq policy, [William Luti] has the highest profile of anyone to ever hold his post,” reported The Washington Post.

A retired Navy captain, Luti’s military career spanned more than 25 years and incorporated both sea duty and high-level policy positions in Washington. Asked to join the Bush administration in 2000, he took a position working for the Vice President on Middle East policy, and soon retired from the Navy.

Armed with his military background, Luti offered a unique perspective to the policymaking groups he worked with. Lending early support for a military presence in Iraq, Luti earned higher and higher positions as war in Iraq became a major focus within the White House. He is now the deputy undersecretary of defense for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

“Luti was an early advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities,” reported the New Yorker.

Luti has been influential in developing Iraq policy both before and during the war. A key member of the Office of Special Plans – an office created last year to work on Iraq strategy – he helped to develop defense policy options and worked to monitor their implementation.

Before joining the Bush administration, Luti had been a key player in Washington for years. Over the last decade, the Tufts graduate had worked under Vice President Richard Cheney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith.

In his years as a student at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Luti was also a powerhouse – studying strategy and diplomacy.

“He’s a lightning rod,” Richard Shultz – Fletcher professor of international politics and Luti’s thesis advisor – told the Post. “That’s partly because he is so passionate, and partly because he is so devoted to policies that have been divisive.”

While Luti came to Tufts for a master’s degree, “he was such a damned good student that we admitted him to the doctoral program,” Shultz told the Post.

The Tufts graduate has also earned praise from Newt Gingrich, his former employer, who kept in touch with Luti over the years.

“[Luti is] very smart, very aggressive, slightly impatient, and …with a very deep feeling that the world is more dangerous than many of his colleagues in the Pentagon, in the services, understand,” Gingrich told the Post."

Dr. William J. Luti: Strategic Responses to New Security Challenges

Dr. William J. Luti: "Strategic Responses to New Security Challenges

“An Emerging Bush Doctrine: Preemption to the Forefront”

Dr. William J. Luti, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Special Plans and Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs

Harmon: I’m delighted to be with you this afternoon. My name is Chris Harmon. I am from Marine Corps University. And our panel, this first of the afternoon is on “Strategic Responses to New Security Challenges.” That is always a good subject, especially now so quickly after the release of the Bush Administration’s new and much awaited National Security Strategy. Now our speakers are numerous and an impressive lot. And for that reason I am going to forego any comments I might make and move immediately to our first speaker.

The line-up is a little different than recorded on your program, be it original and updated. And that is because there are several Pentagon appointments that require our gents to move beyond this location after the panel. So we are going to begin with William Luti. He is going to discuss an emerging Bush doctrine of preemption. He is one of two Fletcher graduates who will be speaking to you this afternoon.

Apart from his year, 1990 degrees, in Law and Diplomacy and International Relations, William J. Luti also took another degree, a Masters from the Naval War College in National Security and Strategic Studies. Dr. Luti has been a Congressional Fellow at the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has been also an adviser to Vice President Cheney.
It is not exactly an afterthought to say that Dr. Luti is a Naval flight officer with the rank of Captain. He has flown or held command in more than a few of the nation’s more recent crises including Dessert Storm. And from ’97 to ’98, William Luti was commanding officer of the U.S.S. Guam. Today, he is with us as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Dr. Luti.

Luti: Thank you very much Chris for that kind introduction. What I would like to say, first of all, is thank you for inviting me. It is always good to see my friends from the Fletcher School, Richard Shultz, Bob Pfaltzgraff, Jackie Davis. It is always a delight to see you. It is also an honor to follow the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz who gave a marvelous luncheon address today.

And also, it is an honor for me to stand before you today and discuss an important topic such as our national defense. What I would like to do is spend about 10 minutes and describe how we got to where we are today with our national security strategy, how and why we treat anticipatory self-defense with great caution, and all placed in the context of the new threats posed by terrorist networks and states that sponsor them.

But first, let me describe what has changed in the world that we live in today. And that world changed on September 11th, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States murdering 3 thousand American men, women, and children. We are still a very long way from understanding the long-term effects of 9/11. But one thing is very clear. We are vulnerable. We have lost the insulation and safety that we enjoyed since the founding of our nation. In and age of globalism, easy transportation, instant bank transfers, and Internet communications, we remain at risk from those who would do us irreparable harm. Outlaw regimes and terrorist groups pursuing weapons of mass destruction are dangers we simple cannot ignore. In September, President Bush unveiled the National Security Strategy of the United States. And it is constructed on three pillars.


First, we will defend the peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorist and outlaw regimes. Second, we will preserve the peace by fostering an era of good relations among the world’s great powers. And third, we will extend the peace by seeking to extend the benefits of freedom and prosperity across the globe. Now built into this first pillar, defending the peace, is the not-so-new doctrine of anticipatory self-defense.

And I believe that it is important to point out that anticipatory self-defense is more than just preemption. Our vision is to create a balance of power that favors freedom. And as the President says in his cover letter to the Strategy, we seek to create conditions in which all nations and societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty.
In short, our vision combines moral clarity with extreme vigilance. We seek peace with freedom-loving countries and we hold tyrannical regime accountable for their actions and those of any proxy terrorist groups they host or support. Now before I say more about what we mean by anticipatory self-defense, I want to say a little bit about the evolution of the National Security Strategy over the past year. In other words, how did we get where we are today? Well, as Abraham Lincoln once admonished, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.” So, too, on September 20th, 2001, the President began a series of remarkable speeches in which he wisely challenged us to disenthrall ourselves from the outmoded rules, procedures and techniques of the past and to begin to think and act anew.

He addressed the American people before a joint session of Congress and clearly articulated that the goal of terrorism is the destruction of democracy, liberty, and freedom. He said, and I quote, “On September 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against the country. Americans have known the casualties of war but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.”

“Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day. And night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.” Now, outlining the American response, the President was clear that the United States would fight to defend liberty and uphold freedom. Our actions would neither be limited to a single terrorist group, nor single terrorist safe haven.
He said, “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist groups of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” On January 29th, in his State of the Union address, the President said, “I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

And on June 1 at West Point, the President addressed the next generation of those on the front lines of our country’s defense. There he explained why cold doctrines of deterrence and containment were no longer valid. He said, “New threats require new thinking. Deterrence, the promise of massive retaliation against nations means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators, with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.”

The defense of the United States and its nearly 300 million citizens cannot be predicated on the insincere words of dictators alone. Speaking for the cadets, the President said, “We cannot put our faith in the world of tyrants who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties and then systematically break them. If we wait for the threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long.”
Indeed in a new world and dangerous world, where enemies grant safe haven to terrorists and where terrorists aim not to kill just five or 10 but 500 or 10 thousand, the United States can no longer afford to absorb the first blow. The Fletcher School’s own Michael Glennon has aptly noted that, “Modern weapons of mass destruction make the risk of a terrorist group’s first strike far more devastating than was imaginable at the formation of the U.N.” The United States must be unceasingly vigilant in our defense. As the President said at West Point, “We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.” Now let me be clear, though, anticipatory self-defense is not about unrestrained use of unilateral military action. It is about heading off threats to liberty and freedom before they emerge.

And speaking before the United Nations General Assembly on the 12th of September of this year, President Bush called for the deliberations to be more than talk and resolutions to be more than wishes. He said, “If the U.N. is to remain relevant and not go the way of the feckless League of Nations, then it must be willing to enforce its own Chapter Seven resolutions.”

President Bush’s speeches over the past year have outlined the need for anticipatory self-defense crystallized in the new National Security Strategy but the concept is not new. As Condoleezza Rice said in a recent speech, “There has never been a moral or legal requirement that a country wait to be attacked before it can address existential threats.” Anticipatory self-defense is consistent with the goal of making the world more secure.

With sufficient warning of 9/11 or any other recent terrorist attacks, is there any doubt that the United States should have the right to act first in the defense of thousands of Americans in the World Trade Center and in the Pentagon or holiday makers in Bali? Anticipatory self-defense means that the United States reserves the right to break up terror networks but also to hold accountable nations that harbor terrorists and the tyrants who encourage them.


On October 5th Babbel(?) and official Iraqi government newspaper published by Saddam’s son and alluded to today by Paul Wolfowitz at his luncheon address, urged the Iraqis to “Strike at U.S. interests wherever they may be.” Iraqi television has shown Saddam urging his nuclear mujahideen(?) to defeat the enemy. So we can no longer turn a deaf ear to the far away threats and incitement.

A few years ago we received similar pronouncement from Osama bin Laden. International law does not require that the United States absorb a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attack before responding to an imminent threat. The risk of inaction, as Paul Wolfowitz said today, outweighs the risk of action.

Now our intelligence agencies play a very important role in warning us about looming threats. Again, as Michael Glennon has noted, “With modern methods of intelligence collection, such as satellite imagery and communications intercepts, it is now unnecessary to absorb an attack before concluding a lawless regime’s hostile intent.”

Now intelligence alone is not enough to protect us. Often times we have suffered from what we might call failure of imagination. A few years ago a well-known columnist published an essay in which he said, and noted several of these failures of the imagination. For example, three years after the first flight at Kitty Hawk, a well respected scientist at the time declared, “No possible combination of known substances, known forms of machine, and known forms of force, can be united in a practicable machine by which men shall fly long distances through the air.”

In 1922, Franklin Roosevelt said, “It is unlikely that an airplane or a fleet of them could ever successfully sink a fleet of Naval vessels under battle conditions.” In 1945, MIT’s Vanever(?) Bush told the Senate that it would not be feasible “for a very long period of time to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of hitting a city.” He said, “I think we can leave that out of our thinking.”

At the fall of the Soviet Union, we saw just how much we underestimated the Soviet’s biological weapons’ capability. Its scope was nothing short of huge. In the years leading to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, international agencies certified Saddam Hussein in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Only after a defector escaped from Iraq in 1991, did the world learn that Saddam systematically had put together a nuclear weapons program and was within a few years of building a nuclear weapon.

Just four years ago both Pakistan and India surprised us when they tested nuclear weapons. India is the world’s largest democracy and Pakistan is trying to return to democracy. But in the case of tyrannies like Iraq, we have to ask whether or not we can afford to wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard fitting for a western courtroom, not a standard we should apply to terrorists trying to kill Americans in very large numbers.
Now the United States will not treat the powers invested in anticipatory self-defense lightly. Condoleezza Rice has spoken recently and clearly that “It must be treated with great caution.” Earlier this month she told a New York audience that “The numbers of cases in which it might be justified will always be small. It does not give a green light to act first without exhausting other means including diplomacy.”

Preemptive action does not come at the beginning of a long chain of effort. The threat must be very grave and the risks of waiting must far outweigh the risks of action. In other words, before the United States military engages in any act of anticipatory self-defense, our diplomats will seek to ensure our safety through peaceful means. We will consult with our allies in their capitols and in the halls of the U.N. We will monitor the rhetoric of opponents and take their threats seriously.

We’ll especially focus on any statements which indicate that the country or terrorist group hosted within it considers itself at war with the United States. We’ll look at the historical record of a country’s development and use of weapons of mass destruction. We’ll also assess the country’s motive for doing great harm to the United States and our allies. We will not settle for deals based on promises alone but will judge our adversaries on the reality of their actions.

We will not differentiate between a direct attack upon the United States or its citizens and an attack made by terrorist proxy. Any country that provides safe haven, financing or facilities to terrorists who kill Americans will come under close scrutiny. Now, Iraq is one case where the United States is making these judgments. Saddam Hussein has started two wars that killed upwards of one million people.

He has systematically impoverished one of the richest countries on earth in the relentless pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. The U.N. has already passed 13 separate resolutions calling for Iraq to abide by her commitments and not obstruct U.N. weapons inspectors. He overtly funds suicide bombers that not only undermine Middle East peace but also taken American lives.

Iraq’s relation with Al Qaeda go back a decade. They have harbored Al Qaeda operatives in Baghdad and provided chemical and biological warfare training to Al Qaeda. An even more potent threat is posed by Saddam’s threat for weapons of mass destruction. And according to the dossier released by the British government, when U.N. inspectors left in 1998, they could not account for 360 tons of chemical agents including one and a half tons of BX nerve gas.

They could not account for growth media capable of producing 85 hundred liters of anthrax. They could not account for 30 thousand artillery shells and other munitions capable of delivering chemical and biological agents. Again, as the President said on 12 September at the U.N. General Assembly, “We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass destruction even when the inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that they stopped when they left?”

The history, the logic and the facts lead one to one conclusion, Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. Now we very much hope the conflict with Iraq can be avoided. But we cannot in good conscience sacrifice our liberty or safety by turning a blind eye to a grave and growing danger.

As the President said in the National Security Strategy, “We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
Now we live in a dangerous new world and we cannot turn our backs from it. In this new world with 21st-century dangers, “The purpose of our actions,” the President has said, “will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. We have to protect the American people from the threats that the new century brings while embracing its opportunities for increased knowledge, freedom, and prosperity. A great nation can do both things.”
Thank you."