Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Saturday, March 26, 2005

James Risen, New York Times: 2-man Version of the CIA - Maloof and Wurmser

2-man committee put Iraq in spotlight / Senate panel probes whether they exaggerated threat: "

2-man committee put Iraq in spotlight
Senate panel probes whether they exaggerated threat
James Risen, New York Times
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Washington -- Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, a two-man intelligence team set up shop at the Pentagon, searching for evidence of links between terrorist groups and host countries.

The men, Michael Maloof and David Wurmser, culled classified material, much of it uncorroborated data from the CIA. "We discovered tons of raw intelligence," said Maloof. "We were stunned that we couldn't find any mention of it in the CIA's finished reports."

They recorded and annotated their evidence on butcher paper hung like a mural around their small office. By the end of 2001, they had constructed a startling new picture of global terrorism.

Old ethnic, religious and political divides between terrorist groups were breaking down, the two men warned, posing an ominous new threat. They saw alliances among a wide range of Islamic terrorists, and theorized about a convergence of Sunni and Shiite extremist groups and secular Arab governments. Their conclusions, delivered to senior Bush administration officials, connected Iraq and al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and the hijackers of Sept. 11.

In doing so, the team also helped set off a controversy over the shaping of intelligence that continues today.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating whether the unit -- named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group by its creator, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy -- exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq to justify the war.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies found little evidence to support the Pentagon's view of an increasingly unified terrorist threat or links between Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and still largely dismiss those ideas. Foreign Islamic fighters have sought haven in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion, and some Sunnis and Shiites have banded together against the occupiers, but the agencies say that is the result of anger at America and chaotic conditions, not proof of prewar alliances.

With the conflict becoming bloodier this spring, President Bush has found himself forced to explain again how the war on terror led to Baghdad.

Some critics argue that some of the first steps were taken by Feith's little intelligence shop. Whether its findings influenced the thinking of policymakers or merely provided talking points that buttressed their long-held views, the unit clearly played a role in the administration's evolving effort to define the threat of Iraq -- and sell it to the public.

Unable to reach a consensus on Iraq's terrorist ties because of the skepticism of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the administration turned its focus to the peril posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as the central rationale for war.

Feith said his team was not involved in the analysis related to Iraq's illicit weapons. But, he said in an interview, terrorism and Iraq's weapons became linked in the minds of top administration officials. After Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks that followed it, he said, the administration "focused on the danger that Iraq could provide the fruits of its WMD programs to terrorists."

In public statements, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alluded to connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. Bush also warned of the risks that Hussein would share his illicit weapons with terrorists.

Some intelligence experts charge that the Feith unit had a secret agenda to justify a war with Iraq and was staffed with people who were handpicked by conservative Pentagon policymakers to arrive at preordained conclusions.

Feith defended his analysts, saying, "I would be happy to have anybody come in and examine the quality of the work."

He and his team were closely linked to Richard Perle, then chairman of a Pentagon advisory group and a leading neoconservative who had long advocated toppling Hussein and was a vocal critic of the CIA.

"I think the people working on the Persian Gulf at the CIA are pathetic," Perle said in an interview. "They have just made too many mistakes. They have a record over 30 years of being wrong." He added that the agency "became wedded to a theory" that did not leave room for the possibility that Iraq was working with al Qaeda.

When Perle was a top defense official in the Reagan administration, Maloof, a former journalist, worked as his investigator, assembling evidence that the Soviet Union was stealing Western technology. Wurmser, a Middle East expert who had written a book that attacked the Clinton administration and the CIA for their handling of Iraq, had worked at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank where Perle was a resident scholar. Feith had been Perle's deputy at the Pentagon.

The team's conclusions were alarming: Old barriers that divided the major Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, were coming down, and these groups were forging ties with one another and with secular Arab governments in an emerging terrorist war against the West.

Those findings were at odds with years of analysis produced by the CIA. The agency was skeptical that governments as diverse as those in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iran could be linked to a cohesive terrorist network.

The CIA and the DIA believed that the Feith team had exaggerated the significance of reported contacts between extremist groups and Arab states, including Iraq. The CIA saw little evidence, for example, that the Sunni- dominated al Qaeda and the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah had worked together on terrorist attacks. And there was little proof, the agencies said, that Hussein was working on terror plots with bin Laden.

Maloof defends the team's analysis: "We had to justify every single connection we made. But the intelligence community had preconceived notions, and if the information didn't fit in ... then they simply ignored it."

In late 2001, Maloof and Wurmser briefed top Pentagon officials. Maloof also met with Perle at his home.

That session was interrupted by a call from Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group. At Maloof's request, Perle asked Chalabi, now a member of the interim government of Iraq, to have his staff provide Maloof information gleaned from defectors and others. The request was unusual, because Feith's analysts were supposed to review intelligence, not collect it.

Chalabi at that time had a lucrative contract to provide information on Iraq exclusively to the State Department, which would send it along to the intelligence agencies. And he was a risky source: Some of the information his group provided was incorrect or fabricated, intelligence officials now believe.

By early 2002, the team had completed a 150-page briefing and slide presentation for Feith.

Soon afterward, Wurmser moved to the State Department and then joined Cheney's staff.

Maloof's Pentagon career was damaged in December 2001, when his security clearances were revoked. He was accused of having unauthorized contact with a foreign national, a woman he had met while traveling in the Republic of Georgia whom he eventually married. Maloof said he complied with all requirements to disclose the relationship.

Several intelligence professionals say he came under scrutiny because of suspicions that he had leaked classified information in the past to the news media, a charge that Maloof denies. An appeals board reinstated his clearances after Feith and Perle wrote letters to the DIA. But the intervention angered some officials, and a second agency panel reversed course in April 2003. Maloof is now on paid leave.

In August 2002, Feith took his team to the CIA. Agency officials were skeptical of the team's conclusions, according to one agency official who attended the briefing.

The main dispute was over whether the reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda meant that Iraq had been sponsoring the group's terrorist operations.

On Sept. 16, 2002, Feith's team briefed Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and I. Lewis Libby, a senior aide to Cheney. By that time, Cheney was already talking publicly about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.

But the Bush administration ultimately decided that the terrorism link was not strong enough to use as the central justification for war with Iraq. Instead, the administration focused on Hussein's illicit weapons, relying on assessments by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

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SundayMirror.co.uk - CAMILLA BANNED FROM WHITE HOUSE - (Is Wolfie Next?)


Feb 20 2005

Dubya bars Camilla from White House ..because she is a divorcee

By Paul Gilfeather Political Editor

GEORGE Bush has banned Camilla Parker Bowles from the White House - because she is a divorcee.

The unprecedented snub has effectively sabotaged Charles's plan to take his bride on a Royal tour of America later this year.

The trip would have been the pair's first official tour as a married couple.

But the US President - a notoriously right-wing Christian and reformed alcoholic - told aides it was "inappropriate" for him to be playing host to the newly-weds, who are both divorcees.

The decision was made even though the late President Ronald Reagan was divorced.

A Government insider said: "It was relayed to us from Washington that Mrs Parker Bowles would not be welcome at the White House.

"The Americans are aware that the visit will be subject to a lot of media attent ion and did not want the President drawn into what they view to be a public relations exercise.

"It's now uncertain if the visit will even go ahead."

Insiders point out that hosting a lavish Royal dinner for Charles and Camilla would be bad PR for President Bush because while Princess Diana is still much loved by many Americans, her ex-husband is seen and dull and aloof - and bothhe and Camilla are widely blamed for the break-up of his marriage.

The trip, which has been planned for three years, was being portrayed as a "trade mission" and Charles and Camilla were expected to dine with Mr Bush and his wife Laura at the White House.

Mr Bush's shock decision is the latest in a sting of crises to hit the couple. Charles was forced to abandon plans for a Windsor Castle wedding on April 8 after he discovered the Royal Family would have to let other couples get married there too.

The blunder saw the couple hastily switch the venue to the register office at Windsor Guildhall, sending the Queen into a rage. She summoned Charles to Buckingham Palace and torpedoed his plans for a swanky reception at Windsor Castle.

Charles's trip to the US would have been his first State visit to America since Princess Diana's death seven years ago.

The prince wants to win acceptance for Camilla and believed the US public might have taken her to their hearts if the visit was planned properly. The source said: "The potential fall-out from this decision could be massive.""

Navy SEALs.com - Federal Agents Guard Wolfie While He is "Shacking Up"

Navy SEALs.com - Articles: Viewing Article: "This being Washington, there's a political undercurrent to the gossip: Turns out that some Iraq war foes in the diplomat-heavy neighborhood south of American University don't seem to appreciate that Wolfowitz regularly spends the night at Riza's home. Two residents told us that Wolfowitz's guards wait in a car outside until he departs early in the morning.

"They kind of picked the wrong place, if they want to be private about it. I don't know if it could be more public if it were on 16th and K streets," said one neighbor, who declined to be identified, citing a desire to maintain cordial relations with Riza. "It's an international neighborhood and he's the icon for a fabulously expensive, tragic war. It's the one thing we talk about now."

There's also been annoyance in the quiet enclave over the attention drawn by his round-the-clock security detail and visits by other top officials to Riza's house. "They do a lot of entertaining," our source said.

As a rule, the Defense Department does not comment on the protection assigned to higher-ups, but one knowledgeable official, who declined to be identified because security procedures are involved, told us yesterday that Wolfowitz is assigned 24-hour protection everywhere he goes -- including his own home -- because he is a target of threats.

Wolfowitz, 61, and Riza, who's said to be in her mid-fifties, are both divorced. They have declined to publicly discuss their relationship but share a desire to democratize the Middle East. Riza, an Oxford-educated British citizen, was born in Tunisia and grew up in Saudi Arabia. She's known for her expertise on women's rights and has been listed on the bank's Web site as a media contact for Iraq reconstruction issues."

the Mail online | Sex Charged Scandals Slam Wolfie's Chance For World Bank

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Will a British divorcee cost 'Wolfie' his job?: "Will a British divorcee cost 'Wolfie' his job?

12:08pm 20th March 2005

Nomination: Paul Wolfowitz was a controversial choice for the World Bank
The appointment of George Bush's leading hawk as head of the World Bank was heading for a crisis over his relationship with a senior British employee.
Influential members of staff at the international organisation have complained to its board that Paul Wolfowitz, a married father of three, is so besotted with Oxford-educated Shaha Riza he cannot be impartial.

Extraordinarily, they claim she played a key role in pushing the 61-year-old Pentagon official into the Iraq War. And the row comes amid claims that Wolfowitz's wife Clare once warned George Bush of the threat to national security any infidelity by her husband could cause.

A British citizen - at 51, eight years younger than Wolfowitz's wife - Ms Riza grew up in Saudi Arabia and was passionately committed to democratising the Middle East when she allegedly began to date Wolfowitz.
She studied at the London School of Economics in the Seventies before taking a master's degree at St Anthony's College, Oxford, where she met her future husband, Turkish Cypriot Bulent Ali Riza, from whom she is now divorced.

After they moved to America, Shaha worked for the Iraq Foundation, set up by expatriates to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. She subsequently joined the National Endowment for Democracy, created by President Ronald Reagan to promote American ideals.

Bulent Riza said Shaha started to "talk to Paul" about reforming the Middle East. And New Yorker magazine's respected commentator Paul Boyer observed that a senior World Bank official "named Shaha Ali Riza" was an "influence".

Downing Street 'furious' at nomination

Wolfowitz became known around the world as one of the fiercest proponents of invasion of Iraq. The Mail on Sunday has learned that Downing Street is "furious" about his nomination, fearing his hardline attitude could alienate large sections of the international community.

But it is his tangled private life that could stop him taking up the World Bank post.

Critics say it would be impossible for Wolfie - as he is nicknamed by Bush - to make independent decisions when his lover, who works on Middle Eastern and North African issues, is so committed to overthrowing Middle Eastern regimes.

"His womanising has come home to roost," a Washington insider said. "Paul was a foreign policy hawk long before he met Shaha but it doesn't look good to be accused of being under the thumb of your mistress."

One of his opponents at the bank said: "Unless Riza gives up her job, this will be an impossible conflict of interest."

National security risk

Wolfowitz married Clare Selgin in 1968. But they have lived separately since 2001, after allegations of an affair with an employee at the School of Advanced International Studies where he was dean for seven years.

According to one Republican Administration insider, Clare was so upset by rumours about the affair that she wrote to then President Elect Bush, saying if the story were true it could pose a national security risk.

Yesterday, she refused to comment on whether her husband had been unfaithful before their separation, saying: "I really do not want to share this with you."

She also refused to confirm her marital status - reports of his appointment repeatedly describe Wolfowitz as divorced but The Mail on Sunday has been unable to find any records. Asked if she is separated or divorced, Clare replied: "That's my business."

On the claim that she wrote a letter to Bush, she said: "That's very interesting but not something I can tell you about."

A friend of Wolfowitz insisted last night that he had not been unfaithful: "Paul and Clare have been separated since 2001. It is my understanding they are now legally separated."

By tradition, the United States picks the bank's president, but the decision must be approved by its board. The US has a 16 per cent vote, but Europe collectively has about 30 per cent.

The bank's staff association has told executives it has been swamped with complaints from employees about Wolfowitz.

However, Wolfowitz's only comment on the complaints has been a terse statement issued through a Pentagon spokesman. He said: "If a personal relationship presents a potential conflict of interest, I will comply with bank policies to resolve the issue.""