Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Friday, August 06, 2004

For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory (washingtonpost.com)

For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory (washingtonpost.com): "For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2003; Page C01

Anthony C. Zinni's opposition to U.S. policy on Iraq began on the monsoon-ridden afternoon of Nov. 3, 1970. He was lying on a Vietnamese mountainside west of Da Nang, three rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle in his side and back. He could feel his lifeblood seeping into the ground as he slipped in and out of consciousness.

He had plenty of time to think in the following months while recuperating in a military hospital in Hawaii. Among other things, he promised himself that, "If I'm ever in a position to say what I think is right, I will. . . . I don't care what happens to my career."

That time has arrived.

Over the past year, the retired Marine Corps general has become one of the most prominent opponents of Bush administration policy on Iraq, which he now fears is drifting toward disaster.

It is one of the more unusual political journeys to come out of the American experience with Iraq. Zinni still talks like an old-school Marine -- a big-shouldered, weight-lifting, working-class Philadelphian whose father emigrated from Italy's Abruzzi region, and who is fond of quoting the wisdom of his fictitious "Uncle Guido, the plumber." Yet he finds himself in the unaccustomed role of rallying the antiwar camp, attacking the policies of the president and commander in chief whom he had endorsed in the 2000 election.

"Iraq is in serious danger of coming apart because of lack of planning, underestimating the task and buying into a flawed strategy," he says. "The longer we stubbornly resist admitting the mistakes and not altering our approach, the harder it will be to pull this chestnut out of the fire."

Three years ago, Zinni completed a tour as chief of the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East, during which he oversaw enforcement of the two "no-fly" zones in Iraq and also conducted four days of punishing airstrikes against that country in 1998. He even served briefly as a special envoy to the Middle East, mainly as a favor to his old friend and comrade Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Zinni long has worried that there are worse outcomes possible in Iraq than having Saddam Hussein in power -- such as eliminating him in such a way that Iraq will become a new haven for terrorism in the Middle East.

"I think a weakened, fragmented, chaotic Iraq, which could happen if this isn't done carefully, is more dangerous in the long run than a contained Saddam is now," he told reporters in 1998. "I don't think these questions have been thought through or answered." It was a warning for which Iraq hawks such as Paul D. Wolfowitz, then an academic and now the No. 2 official at the Pentagon, attacked him in print at the time.

Now, five years later, Zinni fears it is an outcome toward which U.S.-occupied Iraq may be drifting. Nor does he think the capture of Hussein is likely to make much difference, beyond boosting U.S. troop morale and providing closure for his victims. "Since we've failed thus far to capitalize" on opportunities in Iraq, he says, "I don't have confidence we will do it now. I believe the only way it will work now is for the Iraqis themselves to somehow take charge and turn things around. Our policy, strategy, tactics, et cetera, are still screwed up."

'Where's the Threat?'

Anthony Zinni's passage from obedient general to outspoken opponent began in earnest in the unlikeliest of locations, the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was there in Nashville in August 2002 to receive the group's Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award, recognition for his 35 years in the Marine Corps.

Vice President Cheney was also there, delivering a speech on foreign policy. Sitting on the stage behind the vice president, Zinni grew increasingly puzzled. He had endorsed Bush and Cheney two years earlier, just after he retired from his last military post, as chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq.

"I think he ran on a moderate ticket, and that's my leaning -- I'm kind of a Lugar-Hagel-Powell guy," he says, listing three Republicans associated with centrist foreign policy positions.

He was alarmed that day to hear Cheney make the argument for attacking Iraq on grounds that Zinni found questionable at best:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said. "There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

Cheney's certitude bewildered Zinni. As chief of the Central Command, Zinni had been immersed in U.S. intelligence about Iraq. He was all too familiar with the intelligence analysts' doubts about Iraq's programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. "In my time at Centcom, I watched the intelligence, and never -- not once -- did it say, 'He has WMD.' "

Though retired for nearly two years, Zinni says, he remained current on the intelligence through his consulting with the CIA and the military. "I did consulting work for the agency, right up to the beginning of the war. I never saw anything. I'd say to analysts, 'Where's the threat?' " Their response, he recalls, was, "Silence."

Zinni's concern deepened as Cheney pressed on that day at the Opryland Hotel. "Time is not on our side," the vice president said. "The risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of action."

Zinni's conclusion as he slowly walked off the stage that day was that the Bush administration was determined to go to war. A moment later, he had another, equally chilling thought: "These guys don't understand what they are getting into."

Unheeded Advice

This retired Marine commander is hardly a late-life convert to pacifism. "I'm not saying there aren't parts of the world that don't need their ass kicked," he says, sitting in a hotel lobby in Pentagon City, wearing an open-necked blue shirt. Even at the age of 60, he remains an avid weight-lifter and is still a solid, square-faced slab of a man. "Afghanistan was the right thing to do," he adds, referring to the U.S. invasion there in 2001 to oust the Taliban regime and its allies in the al Qaeda terrorist organization.

But he didn't see any need to invade Iraq. He didn't think Hussein was much of a worry anymore. "He was contained," he says. "It was a pain in the ass, but he was contained. He had a deteriorated military. He wasn't a threat to the region."

But didn't his old friend Colin Powell also describe Hussein as a threat? Zinni dismisses that. "He's trying to be the good soldier, and I respect him for that." Zinni no longer does any work for the State Department.

Zinni's concern deepened at a Senate hearing in February, just six weeks before the war began. As he awaited his turn to testify, he listened to Pentagon and State Department officials talk vaguely about the "uncertainties" of a postwar Iraq. He began to think they were doing the wrong thing the wrong way. "I was listening to the panel, and I realized, 'These guys don't have a clue.' "

That wasn't a casual judgment. Zinni had started thinking about how the United States might handle Iraq if Hussein's government collapsed after Operation Desert Fox, the four days of airstrikes that he oversaw in December 1998, in which he targeted presidential palaces, Baath Party headquarters, intelligence facilities, military command posts and barracks, and factories that might build missiles that could deliver weapons of mass destruction.

In the wake of those attacks on about 100 major targets, intelligence reports came in that Hussein's government had been shaken by the short campaign. "After the strike, we heard from countries with diplomatic missions in there [Baghdad] that the regime was paralyzed, and that there was a kind of defiance in the streets," he recalls.

So early in 1999 he ordered that plans be devised for the possibility of the U.S. military having to occupy Iraq. Under the code name "Desert Crossing," the resulting document called for a nationwide civilian occupation authority, with offices in each of Iraq's 18 provinces. That plan contrasts sharply, he notes, with the reality of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. occupation power, which for months this year had almost no presence outside Baghdad -- an absence that some Army generals say has increased their burden in Iraq.

Listening to the administration officials testify that day, Zinni began to suspect that his careful plans had been disregarded. Concerned, he later called a general at Central Command's headquarters in Tampa and asked, "Are you guys looking at Desert Crossing?" The answer, he recalls, was, "What's that?"

The more he listened to Wolfowitz and other administration officials talk about Iraq, the more Zinni became convinced that interventionist "neoconservative" ideologues were plunging the nation into a war in a part of the world they didn't understand. "The more I saw, the more I thought that this was the product of the neocons who didn't understand the region and were going to create havoc there. These were dilettantes from Washington think tanks who never had an idea that worked on the ground."

And the more he dwelled on this, the more he began to believe that U.S. soldiers would wind up paying for the mistakes of Washington policymakers. And that took him back to that bloody day in the sodden Que Son mountains in Vietnam.

A Familiar Chill

Even now, decades later, Vietnam remains a painful subject for him. "I only went to the Wall once, and it was very difficult," he says, talking about his sole visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall. "I was walking down past the names of my men," he recalls. "My buddies, my troops -- just walking down that Wall was hard, and I couldn't go back."

Now he feels his nation -- and a new generation of his soldiers -- have been led down a similar path.

"Obviously there are differences" between Vietnam and Iraq, he says. "Every situation is unique." But in his bones, he feels the same chill. "It feels the same. I hear the same things -- about [administration charges about] not telling the good news, about cooking up a rationale for getting into the war." He sees both conflicts as beginning with deception by the U.S. government, drawing a parallel between how the Johnson administration handled the beginning of the Vietnam War and how the Bush administration touted the threat presented by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. "I think the American people were conned into this," he says. Referring to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the Johnson administration claimed that U.S. Navy ships had been subjected to an unprovoked attack by North Vietnam, he says, "The Gulf of Tonkin and the case for WMD and terrorism is synonymous in my mind."

Likewise, he says, the goal of transforming the Middle East by imposing democracy by force reminds him of the "domino theory" in the 1960s that the United States had to win in Vietnam to prevent the rest of Southeast Asia from falling into communist hands.

And that brings him back to Wolfowitz and his neoconservative allies as the root of the problem. "I don't know where the neocons came from -- that wasn't the platform they ran on," he says. "Somehow, the neocons captured the president. They captured the vice president."

He is especially irked that, as he sees it, no senior officials have taken responsibility for their incorrect assessment of the threat posed by Iraq. "What I don't understand is that the bill of goods the neocons sold him has been proven false, yet heads haven't rolled," he says. "Where is the accountability? I think some fairly senior people at the Pentagon ought to go." Who? "That's up to the president."

Zinni has picked his shots carefully -- a speech here, a "Nightline" segment or interview there. "My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice," he said at a talk to hundreds of Marine and Navy officers and others at a Crystal City hotel ballroom in September. "I ask you, is it happening again?" The speech, part of a forum sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Association, received prolonged applause, with many officers standing.

Zinni says that he hasn't received a single negative response from military people about the stance he has taken. "I was surprised by the number of uniformed guys, all ranks, who said, 'You're speaking for us. Keep on keeping on.' "

Even home in Williamsburg, he has been surprised at the reaction. "I mean, I live in a very conservative Republican community, and people were saying, 'You're right.' "

But Zinni vows that he has learned a lesson. Reminded that he endorsed Bush in 2000, he says, "I'm not going to do anything political again -- ever. I made that mistake one time."

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this article. "

CBS News | Gen. Zinni: 'They've Screwed Up' Iraq War Strategy Flawed

CBS News | Gen. Zinni: 'They've Screwed Up' | May 24, 2004�14:04:39: "Gen. Zinni: 'They've Screwed Up'

May 21, 2004



Iraq War Strategy Flawed

"Regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. ... it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this?"
Gen. Anthony Zinni

(CBS) Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and outspoken military leaders of the past two decades.

From 1997 to 2000, he was commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command, in charge of all American troops in the Middle East. That was the same job held by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf before him, and Gen. Tommy Franks after.

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Bush administration thought so highly of Zinni that it appointed him to one of its highest diplomatic posts -- special envoy to the Middle East.

But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq, and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty -- and that the time has come for heads to roll. Correspondent Steve Kroft reports.
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“There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.”

Zinni spent more than 40 years serving his country as a warrior and diplomat, rising from a young lieutenant in Vietnam to four-star general with a reputation for candor.

Now, in a new book about his career, co-written with Tom Clancy, called "Battle Ready," Zinni has handed up a scathing indictment of the Pentagon and its conduct of the war in Iraq.

In the book, Zinni writes: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

“I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning,” says Zinni. “The president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the ground. … He got the latter. He didn’t get the first two.”

Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the message to Congress: “This is, in my view, the worst time to take this on. And I don’t feel it needs to be done now.”

But he wasn’t the only former military leader with doubts about the invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations.

Zinni believes this was a war the generals didn’t want – but it was a war the civilians wanted.

“I can't speak for all generals, certainly. But I know we felt that this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively contained. The no-fly, no-drive zones. The sanctions that were imposed on him,” says Zinni.

“Now, at the same time, we had this war on terrorism. We were fighting al Qaeda. We were engaged in Afghanistan. We were looking at 'cells' in 60 countries. We were looking at threats that we were receiving information on and intelligence on. And I think most of the generals felt, let's deal with this one at a time. Let's deal with this threat from terrorism, from al Qaeda.”

One of Zinni's responsibilities while commander-in-chief at Centcom was to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq. Like his predecessors, he subscribed to the belief that you only enter battle with overwhelming force.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought the job could be done with fewer troops and high-tech weapons.

How many troops did Zinni’s plan call for? “We were much in line with Gen. Shinseki's view,” says Zinni. “We were talking about, you know, 300,000, in that neighborhood.”

What difference would it have made if 300,000 troops had been sent in, instead of 180,000?

“I think it's critical in the aftermath, if you're gonna go to resolve a conflict through the use of force, and then to rebuild the country,” says Zinni.

“The first requirement is to freeze the situation, is to gain control of the security. To patrol the streets. To prevent the looting. To prevent the 'revenge' killings that might occur. To prevent bands or gangs or militias that might not have your best interests at heart from growing or developing.”

Last month, Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that he hadn't anticipated the level of violence that would continue in Iraq a year after the war began. Should he have been surprised?

“He should not have been surprised. You know, there were a number of people, before we even engaged in this conflict, that felt strongly we were underestimating the problems and the scope of the problems we would have in there,” says Zinni. “Not just generals, but others -- diplomats, those in the international community that understood the situation. Friends of ours in the region that were cautioning us to be careful out there. I think he should have known that.”

Instead, Zinni says the Pentagon relied on inflated intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles, like Ahmed Chalabi and others, whose credibility was in doubt. Zinni claims there was no viable plan or strategy in place for governing post-Saddam Iraq.

“As best I could see, I saw a pickup team, very small, insufficient in the Pentagon with no detailed plans that walked onto the battlefield after the major fighting stopped and tried to work it out in the huddle -- in effect to create a seat-of-the-pants operation on reconstructing a country,” says Zinni.

“I give all the credit in the world to Ambassador Bremer as a great American who's serving his country, I think, with all the kind of sacrifice and spirit you could expect. But he has made mistake after mistake after mistake.”
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What mistakes?

“Disbanding the army,” says Zinni. “De-Baathifying, down to a level where we removed people that were competent and didn’t have blood on their hands that you needed in the aftermath of reconstruction – alienating certain elements of that society.”

Zinni says he blames the Pentagon for what happened. “I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,” he says.

“But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That's what bothers me most.”

Adds Zinni: “If you charge me with the responsibility of taking this nation to war, if you charge me with implementing that policy with creating the strategy which convinces me to go to war, and I fail you, then I ought to go.”

Who specifically is he talking about?

“Well, it starts with at the top. If you're the secretary of defense and you're responsible for that. If you're responsible for that planning and that execution on the ground. If you've assumed responsibility for the other elements, non-military, non-security, political, economic, social and everything else, then you bear responsibility,” says Zinni. “Certainly those in your ranks that foisted this strategy on us that is flawed. Certainly they ought to be gone and replaced.”

Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as "the neo-conservatives" who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq.

“I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” says Zinni.

“And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn't criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I'm not interested.”

Adds Zinni: “I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the secretary to do. And I don't believe there is any serious political leader, military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn't know where it came from.”

Zinni said he believed their strategy was to change the Middle East and bring it into the 21st century.

“All sounds very good, all very noble. The trouble is the way they saw to go about this is unilateral aggressive intervention by the United States - the take down of Iraq as a priority,” adds Zinni. “And what we have become now in the United States, how we're viewed in this region is not an entity that's promising positive change. We are now being viewed as the modern crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world.”
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Should all of those involved, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, resign?

“I believe that they should accept responsibility for that,” says Zinni. “If I were the commander of a military organization that delivered this kind of performance to the president, I certainly would tender my resignation. I certainly would expect to be gone.”

“You say we need to change course -- that the current course is taking us over Niagara Falls. What course do you think ought to be set,” Kroft asked Zinni.

“Well, it's been evident from the beginning what the course is. We should have gotten this U.N. resolution from the beginning. What does it take to sit down with the members of the Security Council, the permanent members, and find out what it takes,” says Zinni.

“What is it they want to get this resolution? Do they want a say in political reconstruction? Do they want a piece of the pie economically? If that's the cost, fine. What they’re gonna pay for up front is boots on the ground and involvement in sharing the burden.”

Are there enough troops in Iraq now?

“Do I think there are other missions that should be taken on which would cause the number of troops to go up, not just U.S., but international participants? Yes,” says Zinni.

“We should be sealing off the borders, we should be protecting the road networks. We're not only asking for combat troops, we’re looking for trainers; we’re looking for engineers. We are looking for those who can provide services in there.”

But has the time come to develop an exit strategy?

“There is a limit. I think it’s important to understand what the limit is. Now do I think we are there yet? No, it is salvageable if you can convince the Iraqis that what we're trying to do is in their benefit in the long run,” says Zinni.

“Unless we change our communication and demonstrate a different image to the people on the street, then we're gonna get to the point where we are going to be looking for quick exits. I don't believe we're there now. And I wouldn't want to see us fail here.”
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Zinni, who now teaches international relations at the College of William and Mary, says he feels a responsibility to speak out, just as former Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup voiced early concerns about the Vietnam war nearly 40 years ago.

“It is part of your duty. Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result,” says Zinni.

“I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed? It’s leading down a path where we're not succeeding and accomplishing the missions we've set out to do.”

60 Minutes asked Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz to respond to Zinni's remarks. The request for an interview was declined.

Stephen Green: Serving Two Flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration

Stephen Green: Serving Two Flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration: "A CounterPunch Special Report
Serving Two Flags
Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration
By STEPHEN GREEN

Since 9-11, a small group of "neo-conservatives" in the Administration have effectively gutted--they would say reformed--traditional American foreign and security policy. Notable features of the new Bush doctrine include the pre-emptive use of unilateral force, and the undermining of the United Nations and the principle instruments and institutions of international law....all in the cause of fighting terrorism and promoting homeland security.

Some skeptics, noting the neo-cons' past academic and professional associations, writings and public utterances, have suggested that their underlying agenda is the alignment of U.S. foreign and security policies with those of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing. The administration's new hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict certainly suggests that, as perhaps does the destruction, with U.S. soldiers and funds, of the military capacity of Iraq, and the current belligerent neo-con campaign against the other two countries which constitute a remaining counterforce to Israeli military hegemony in the region--Iran and Syria.

Have the neo-conservatives--many of whom are senior officials in the Defense Department, National Security Council and Office of the Vice President--had dual agendas, while professing to work for the internal security of the United States against its terrorist enemies?

A review of the internal security backgrounds of some of the best known among them strongly suggests the answer.

Dr. Stephen Bryen and Colleagues

In April of 1979, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert Keuch recommended in writing that Bryen, then a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, undergo a grand jury hearing to establish the basis for a prosecution for espionage. John Davitt, then Chief of the Justice Department's Internal Security Division, concurred.

The evidence was strong. Bryen had been overheard in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop, offering classified documents to an official of the Israeli Embassy in the presence of the director of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was later determined that the Embassy official was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington. Bryen refused to be poly-graphed by the FBI on the purpose and details of the meeting; whereas the person who'd witnessed it agreed to be poly-graphed and passed the test.

The Bureau also had testimony from a second person, a staff member of the Foreign Relations Committee, that she had witnessed Bryen in his Senate office with Rafiah, discussing classified documents that were spread out on a table in front of an open safe in which the documents were supposed to be secured. Not long after this second witness came forward, Bryen's fingerprints were found on classified documents he'd stated in writing to the FBI he'd never had in his possession....the ones he'd allegedly offered to Rafiah.

Nevertheless, following the refusal of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to grant access by Justice Department officials to files which were key to the investigation, Keuch's recommendation for a grand jury hearing, and ultimately the investigation itself, were shut down. This decision, taken by Philip Heymann, Chief of Justice's Criminal Division, was a bitter disappointment to Davitt and to Joel Lisker, the lead investigator on the case, as expressed to this writer. A complicating factor in the outcome was that Heymann was a former schoolmate and fellow U.S. Supreme Court Clerk of Bryen's attorney, Nathan Lewin.

Bryen was asked to resign from his Foreign Relations Committee post shortly before the investigation was concluded in late 1979. For the following year and a half, he served as Executive Director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and provided consulting services to AIPAC.

In April, 1981, the FBI received an application by the Defense Department for a Top Secret security clearance for Dr. Bryen . Richard Perle, who had just been nominated as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, was proposing Bryen as his Deputy Assistant Secretary! Within six months, with Perle pushing hard, Bryen received both Top Secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) and Top Secret-"NATO/COSMIC" clearances.



Loyalty, Patriotism and Character

The Bryen investigation became in fact the most contentious issue in Perle's own confirmation hearings in July, 1981. Under aggressive questioning from Sen. Jeremiah Denton, Perle held his ground: "I consider Dr. Bryen to be an individual impeccable integrity....I have the highest confidence in [his] loyalty, patriotism and character."

Several years later in early 1988, Israel was in the final stages of development of a prototype of its ground based "Arrow" anti-ballistic missile. One element the program lacked was "klystrons", small microwave amplifiers which are critical components in the missile's high frequency, radar-based target acquisition system which locks on to in-coming missiles. In 1988, klystrons were among the most advanced developments in American weapons research, and their export was of course strictly proscribed.

The DOD office involved in control of defense technology exports was the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) within Richard Perle's ISP office. The Director (and founder) of DTSA was Perle's Deputy, Dr. Stephen Bryen. In May of 1988, Bryen sent a standard form to Richard Levine, a Navy tech transfer official, informing him of intent to approve a license for Varian Associates, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts to export to Israel four klystrons. This was done without the usual consultations with the tech transfer officials of the Army and Air Force, or ISA (International Security Affairs) or DSAA (Defense Security Assistance Agency.

The answer from Levine was "no". He opposed granting the license, and asked for a meeting on the matter of the appropriate (above listed) offices. At the meeting, all of the officials present opposed the license. Bryen responded by suggesting that he go back to the Israelis to ask why these particular items were needed for their defense. Later, after the Israeli Government came back with what one DOD staffer described as "a little bullshit answer", Bryen simply notified the meeting attendees that an acceptable answer had been received, the license granted, and the klystrons released.

By now, however, the dogs were awake. Then Assistant Secretary of Defense for ISA, (and now Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage sent Dr. Bryen a letter stating that the State Department (which issues the export licenses) should be informed of DOD's "uniformly negative" reaction to the export of klystrons to Israel. Bryen did as instructed , and the license was withdrawn.

In July, Varian Associates became the first U.S. corporation formally precluded from contracting with the Defense Department. Two senior colleague in DOD who wish to remain anonymous have confirmed that this attempt by Bryen to obtain klystrons for his friends was not unusual, and was in fact "standard operating procedure" for him, recalling numerous instances when U.S. companies were denied licenses to export sensitive technology, only to learn later that Israeli companies subsequently exported similar (U.S. derived) weapons and technology to the intended customers/governments.

In late1988, Bryen resigned from his DOD post, and for a period worked in the
private sector with a variety of defense technology consulting firms.



Bryen and the China Commission

In 1997, "Defense Week" reported (05/27/97) that, ...." the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence reaffirmed that U.S.- derived technology from the cancelled [Israeli] Lavi fighter project is being used on China's new F-10 fighter." The following year, "Jane's Intelligence Review" reported (11/01/98) the transfer by Israel to China of the Phalcon airborne early warning and control system, the Python air-combat missile, and the F-10 fighter aircraft, containing "state-of-the-art U.S. electronics."

Concern about the continuing transfer of advanced U.S. arms technology to the burgeoning Chinese military program led, in the last months of the Clinton Administration, to the creation of a Congressional consultative body called the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The charter for the "The China Commission", as it is commonly known, states that its purpose is to...."monitor, investigate, and report to the Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the Peoples Republic of China." The charter also reflects an awareness of the problem of "back door" technology leaks: "The Commission shall also take into account patterns of trade and transfers through third countries to the extent practicable."

It was almost predictable that in the new Bush Administration, Dr. Stephen Bryen would find his way to the China Commission. In April 2001, with the support of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) Bryen was appointed a Member of the Commission by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Last August, his appointment was extended through December of 2005.

Informed that Bryen had been appointed to the Commission, the reaction of one former
senior FBI counter-intelligence official was: "My God, that must mean he has a "Q
clearance!" (A "Q" clearance, which must be approved by the Department of Energy, is the designation for a Top Secret codeword clearance to access nuclear technology.)


Michael Ledeen, Consultant on Chaos

If Stephen Bryen is the military technology guru in the neo-con pantheon, Michael Ledeen is currently its leading theorist, historian, scholar and writer. It states in the website of his consulting firm, Benador Associates, that he is "...one of the world's leading authorities on intelligence, contemporary history and international affairs" and that...."As Ted Koppel puts it, 'Michael Ledeen is a Renaissance man....in the tradition of Machiavelli.'" Perhaps the following will add some color and texture to this description.

In 1983, on the recommendation of Richard Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. His immediate supervisor was the Principle Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Noel Koch. Early in their work together, Koch noticed with concern Ledeen's habit of stopping by in his (Koch's) outer office to read classified materials. When the two of them took a trip to Italy, Koch learned from the CIA station there that when Ledeen had lived in Rome previously, as correspondent for The New Republic, he'd been carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel.

Some time after their return from the trip, Ledeen approached his boss with a request for his assistance in obtaining two highly classified CIA reports which he said were held by the FBI. He'd hand written on a piece of paper the identifying "alpha numeric designators". These identifiers were as highly classified as the reports themselves....which raised in Koch's mind the question of who had provided them to Ledeen if he hadn't the clearances to obtain them himself. Koch immediately told his executive assistant that Ledeen was to have no further access to classified materials in the office, and Ledeen just ceased coming to "work".

In early 1986, however, Koch learned that Ledeen had joined NSC as a consultant, and sufficiently concerned about the internal security implications of the behavior of his former aide, arranged to be interviewed by two FBI agents on the matter. After a two hour debriefing, Koch was told that it was only Soviet military intelligence penetration that interested the Bureau. The follow-on interviews that were promised by the agents just never occurred.

Koch thought this strange, coming as it did just months after the arrest of Naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard on charges of espionage for Israel. Frustrated, Koch wrote up in detail the entire saga of Ledeen's DOD consultancy, and sent it to the Office of Senator Charles Grassley, then a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which had oversight responsibility for, inter alia, the FBI.

A former senior FBI counter-intelligence official was surprised and somewhat skeptical, when told of Koch's unsuccessful attempts to interest the Bureau in an investigation of Ledeen, noting that in early 1986, the Justice Department was in fact already engaged in several on-going, concurrent investigations of Israeli espionage and theft of American military technology.



Machiavelli in Tel Aviv

Koch's belated attempts to draw official attention to his former assistant were too late, in any event, for within a very few weeks of leaving his DOD consultancy in late 1984, Ledeen had found gainful (classified) employment at the National Security Council (NSC). In fact, according to a now declassified chronology prepared for the Senate/House Iran-
Contra investigation, within calendar 1984 Ledeen was already suggesting to Oliver North, his new boss at NSC...." that Israeli contacts might be useful in obtaining release of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon." Perhaps significantly, that is the first entry in the "Chronology of Events: U.S.- Iran Dialogue", dated November 18,1986, prepared for the Joint House-Senate Hearings in the Iran-Contra Investigations.

What is so striking about the Ledeen-related documents which are part of the Iran-Contra Collection of the National Security Archive, is how thoroughly the judgements of Ledeen's colleagues at NSC mirrored, and validated, Noel Koch's internal security concerns about his consultant.

- on April 9, 1985, NSC Middle East analyst Donald Fortier wrote to National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane that NSC staffers were agreed that Ledeen's role in the scheme should be limited to carrying messages to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres regarding plans to cooperate with Israel on the crisis within Iran, and specifically that he should not be entrusted to ask Peres for detailed operational information;

- on June 6, 1985, Secretary of State George Shultz wrote to McFarlane that, "Israel's record of dealings with Iran since the fall of the Shah and during the hostage crisis [show] that Israel's agenda is not the same as ours. Consequently doubt whether an intelligence relationship such as what Ledeen has in mind would be one which we could fully rely upon and it could seriously skew our own perception and analysis of the Iranian scene."

- on 20 August, 1985, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense informed Ledeen by memorandum that his security clearance had been downgraded from Top Secret-SCI to Secret.

- on 16 January, 1986, Oliver North recommended to John Poindexter "for [the] security of the Iran initiative" that Ledeen be asked to take periodic polygraph examinations.



- later in January, on the 24th, North wrote to Poindexter of his suspicion that Ledeen, along with Adolph Schwimmer and Manucher Ghorbanifar, might be making money personally on the sale of arms to Iran, through Israel.

During the June 23-25, 1987 joint hearings of the House and Senate select committees' investigation of Iran-Contra, Noel Koch testified that he became suspicious when he learned that the price which Ledeen had negotiated for the sale to the Israeli Government of basic TOW missiles was $2,500 each.

Upon inquiring with his DOD colleagues, he learned the lowest price the U.S. had ever received for the sale of TOWs to a foreign government had been a previous sale to Israel for $6,800 per copy. Koch, professing in his testimony that he and his colleagues at DOD were not in favor of the sale to begin with, determined that he--Koch--should renegotiate the $2,500 price so that it could be defended by the "defense management system." In a clandestine meeting on a Sunday in the first class lounge of the TWA section of National Airport, Koch met over a cup of coffee with an official from the Israeli purchasing mission in New York, and agreed on a price of $4,500 per missile, nearly twice what Ledeen had "negotiated" in Israel.

There are two possibilities here--one would be a kickback, as suspected by his NSC colleagues, and the other would be that Michael Ledeen was effectively negotiating for Israel, not the U.S.

Like his friend Stephen Bryen (they've long served together on the JINSA Board of Advisors) Ledeen has been out of government service since the late1980s....until the present Bush Administration. He, like Bryen, is presently a serving member on the China Commission and, with the support of DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, he
has since 2001 been employed as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans OSP). Both involve the handling of classified materials and require high-level security clearances.



The Principals: Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith

One might wonder how, with security histories like these, Messrs. Bryen and Ledeen have managed to get second and third chances to return to government in highly classified positions.

And the explanation is that they, along with other like-minded neo-conservatives, have in the current Bush Administration friends in very high places. In particular, Bryen and Ledeen have been repeatedly boosted into defense/security posts by former Defense Policy Council member and chairman Richard Perle (he just quietly resigned his position), Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

As previously mentioned, Perle in 1981 as DOD Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy (ISP) hired Bryen as his Deputy. That same year, Wolfowitz as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff hired Ledeen as a Special Advisor. In 2001 Douglas Feith as DOD Under Secretary for Policy hired, or approved the hiring of Ledeen as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans.

The principals have also assisted each other down through the years. Frequently. In 1973 Richard Perle used his (and Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson's) influence as a senior staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to help Wolfowitz obtain a job with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In 1982, Perle hired Feith in ISP as his Special Counsel, and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy. In 2001, DOD Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz helped Feith obtain his appointment as Undersecretary for Policy. Feith then appointed Perle as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. In some cases, this mutual assistance carries risks, as for instance when Perle's hiring of Bryen as his Deputy in ISP became an extremely contentious issue in Perle's own Senate appointment hearings as Assistant Secretary.

Every appointment/hiring listed above involved classified work for which high-level security clearances and associated background checks by the FBI were required. When the level of the clearance is not above generic Top Secret, however, the results of that background check are only seen by the hiring authority. And in the event, if the appointee were Bryen or Ledeen and the hiring authority were Perle, Wolfowitz or Feith, the appointee(s) need not have worried about the findings of the background check. In the case of Perle hiring Bryen as his deputy in 1981, for instance, documents released in 1983 under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Department provided extraordinarily high clearances for Bryen without having reviewed more than a small portion of his 1978-79 FBI investigation file.



RICHARD PERLE: A HABIT OF LEAKING

Perle came to Washington for the first time in early 1969, at the age of 28, to work for a neo-con think tank called the "Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy." Within months, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson offered Perle a position on his staff, working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And within months after that--less than a year--Perle was embroiled in an affair involving the leaking of a classified CIA report on alleged past Soviet treaty violations.

The leaker (and author of the report) was CIA analyst David Sullivan, and the leakee was Richard Perle. CIA Director Stansfield Turner was incensed at the unauthorized disclosure, but before he could fire Sullivan, the latter quit. Turner urged Sen. Jackson to fire Perle, but he was let off with a reprimand. Jackson then added insult to injury by immediately hiring Sullivan to his staff. Sullivan and Perle became close friends and co-conspirators, and together established an informal right-wing network which they called "the Madison Group," after their usual meeting place in--you might have guessed--the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop.

Perle's second brush with the law occurred a year later in 1970. An FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli Embassy picked up Perle discussing with an Embassy official classified information which he said had been supplied to by a staff member on the National Security Council. An NSC/FBI investigation was launched to identify the staff member, and quickly focused upon Helmut Sonnenfeldt. The latter had been previously investigated in 1967 while a staff member of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, for suspected unauthorized transmission to an Israeli Government official of a classified document concerning the commencement of the 1967 war in the Middle East.

In 1981, shortly before being appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (ISP)--with responsibility, inter alia, for monitoring of U.S. defense technology exports, Richard Perle was paid a substantial consulting fee by arms manufacturer Tamares, Ltd. of Israel. Shortly after assuming that post, Perle wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army urging evaluation and purchase of 155 mm. shells manufactured by Soltam, Ltd. After leaving the ISP job in 1987, he worked for Soltam.



PAUL WOLFOWITZ : A WELL PLACED FRIEND

In 1973, in the dying days of the Nixon Administration, Wolfowitz was recruited to work for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). There was a certain irony in the appointment, for in the late 1960's, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Wolfowitz had been a student and protege of Albert Wohlstetter, an influential, vehement opponent of any form of arms control or disarmament, vis a vis the Soviets. Wolfowitz also brought to ACDA a strong attachment to Israel's security, and a certain confusion about his obligation to U.S. national security.

In 1978, he was investigated for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government, to an Israel Government official, through an AIPAC intermediary. An inquiry was launched and dropped, however, and Wolfowitz continued to work at ACDA until 1980.

In 1990, after a decade of work with the State Department in Washington and abroad, Wolfowitz was brought into DoD as Undersecretary for Policy by then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. Two years later, in 1992, the first Bush Administration launched a broad inter-departmental investigation into the export of classified technology to China. O particular concern at the time was the transfer to China by Israel of U.S. Patriot missiles and/or technology. During that investigation, in a situation very reminiscent of the Bryen/Varian Associates/klystrons affair two years earlier, the Pentagon discovered that Wolfowitz's office was promoting the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles.

In this instance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aware that Israel had already been caught selling the earlier AIM 9-L version of the missile to China in violation of a written agreement with the U.S. on arms re-sales, intervened to cancel the proposed AIM (-M deal. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time was General Colin Powell, currently Secretary of State.

Wolfowitz continued to serve as DoD Undersecretary for Policy until 1993, well into the Clinton Administration. After that, however, like most of the other prominent neo-conservatives, he was relegated to trying to assist Israel from the sidelines for the remainder of Clinton's two terms. In 1998, Wolfowitz was a co-signer of a public letter to the President organized by the "Project for the New American Century." The letter, citing Saddam Hussein's continued possession of "weapons of mass destruction," argued for military action to achieve regime change and demilitarization of Iraq. Clinton wasn't impressed, but a more gullible fellow would soon come along.

And indeed, when George W. Bush assumed the Presidency in early 2001, Wolfowitz got his opportunity. Picked as Donald Rumsfeld's Deputy Secretary at DoD, he prevailed upon his boss to appoint Douglas Feith as Undersecretary for Policy. On the day after the destruction of the World Trade Center, September 12, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz raised the possibility of an immediate attack on Iraq during an emergency NSC meeting. The following day, Wolfowitz conducted the Pentagon press briefing, and interpreted the
President's statement on "ending states who sponsor terrorism" as a call for regime change in Iraq. Israel wasn't mentioned.



Douglas Feith: Hardliner, Security Risk

Bush's appointment of Douglas Feith as DoD Undersecretary for Policy in early 2001 must have come as a surprise, and a harbinger, even to conservative veterans of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administration. Like Michael Ledeen, Feith is a prolific writer and well-known radical conservative. Moreover, he was not being hired as a DoD consultant, like Ledeen, but as the third most senior United States Defense Department official. Feith was certainly the first, and probably the last high Pentagon official to have publicly opposed the Biological Weapons Convention (in 1986), the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (in 1988), the Chemical Weapons Convention (in 1997), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (in 2000), and all of the various Middle East Peace agreements, including Oslo (in 2000).

Even more revealing perhaps, had the transition team known of it, was Feith's view of "technology cooperation," as expressed in a 1992 Commentary article: "It is in the interest of U.S. and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them. Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby."

What Douglas Feith had neglected to say, in this last article, was that he thought that individuals could decide on their own whether the sharing of classified information was "technical cooperation," an unauthorized disclosure, or a violation of U.S. Code 794c, the "Espionage Act."

Ten years prior to writing the Commentary piece, Feith had made such a decision on his own. At the time, March of 1972, Feith was a Middle East analyst in the Near East and South Asian Affairs section of the National Security Council. Two months before, in January, Judge William Clark had replaced Richard Allen as National Security Advisor, with the intention to clean house. A total of nine NSC staff members were fired, including Feith, who'd only been with the NSC for a year. But Feith was fired because he'd been the object of an inquiry into whether he'd provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The FBI had opened the inquiry. And Clark, who had served in U.S. Army counterintelligence in the 1950's, took such matters very seriously.....more seriously, apparently, than had Richard Allen.

Feith did not remain unemployed for long, however. Richard Perle, who was in 1982 serving in the Pentagon as Assistant secretary for International Security Policy, hired him on the spot as his "Special Counsel," and then as his Deputy. Feith worked at ISP until 1986, when he left government service to form a small but influential law firm, then based in Israel.

In 2001, Douglas Feith returned to DoD as Donald Rumsfeld's Undersecretary for Policy, and it was in his office that "OSP", the Office of Special Plans, was created. It was OSP that originated--some say from whole cloth--much of the intelligence that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have used to justify the attack on Iraq, to miss-plan the post-war reconstruction there, and then to point an accusing finger at Iran and Syria.....all to the absolute delight of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


Reason for Concern

Many individuals with strong attachments to foreign countries have served the U.S. Government with honor and distinction, and will certainly do so in the future. The highest officials in our executive and legislative branches should, however, take great care when appointments are made to posts involving sensitive national security matters. Appointees should be rejected who have demonstrated, in their previous government service, a willingness to sacrifice U.S. national security interests for those of another country, or an inability to distinguish one from the other.

Stephen Green is a freelance journalist in Vermont. He can be reached at: green@counterpunch.org"