Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Billings Outpost - Bush’s neocon cadre falls apart

The Billings Outpost: "Bush’s neocon cadre falls apart
By JIM LARSON
The Billings Outpost


The Pentagon cadre that once dominated American policy in the Middle East has disintegrated.
The decline of public support for the war and a widening Pentagon spy scandal have coincided with the departure or reassignment of several key Defense Department policy-makers, men who helped to formulate the Bush doctrine of preemptive war.

In August 2004 CBS news reported that the FBI was conducting an espionage investigation inside the office of the Secretary of Defense. Roughly one year later, the FBI arrested Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin. He allegedly handed highly classified documents to a pro-Israeli lobbying group that in turn passed the documents to the government of Israel, a 26-page indictment said. The indictment referred to, but did not name, other officials of the Defense Department, the federal government and foreign officials.

Mr. Franklin had close ties to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and to Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, the CBS report said. Both men left the Pentagon after the FBI investigation became public. Mr. Wolfowitz moved to head the World Bank, and Mr. Feith resigned, citing the need to spend more time with his family.

Mr. Franklin had been brought from the Defense Intelligence Agency to work in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, a group formed in October 2002 to provide policy planning for Iraq, according to sourcewatch.org.

Deputy undersecretary William Luti oversaw the OSP. In terms of influence, Mr. Luti’s operation came to rival the CIA and the DIA as a source of pre-invasion intelligence and analysis, analysis that found its way to the president through the vice president’s office. A former Navy captain, Mr. Luti had worked in the vice president’s office before moving to the Pentagon, the Asia Times said.

UPI reporter Richard Sale cited a congressional memo that called Mr. Luti’s staff a loose group of acolytes and hired hands for Vice President Richard Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, but the group was more than a mere collection of sycophantic brains for hire.

They shared a common vision of America’s role in the Middle East, and Israel was the main component of that vision. America’s role was to shore up the region’s one true democracy while simultaneously opposing the governments of those nations that posed a real threat to Israel. The 9-ll attack galvanized the group, and they set their sights on Iraq. Their rise to power and ideological underpinning was documented in a New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh called “Selective Intelligence.”

Hersh noted that OSP Director Abram Shulsky studied under neoconservative icon Leo Strauss, who viewed the world as a place where isolated liberal democracies lived in constant danger from hostile foreign elements. Those elements had to be confronted vigorously by strong leaders, employing deception if necessary.

Along with Mr. Shulsky, Mr. Luti had been credited with making the neoconservative vision prevail over the views of the CIA and the State Department. One Pentagon adviser said, “Shulsky and Luti won the policy debate. They beat ’em – they cleaned up against State and the CIA,” Mr. Hersh reported.

In addition to the OSP, Mr. Luti oversaw the Pentagon’s Near East/South Asia Office. Working in that office was Richard Rhode. Both Mr. Rhode and Mr. Luti were frequently mentioned in FBI interviews, wrote Mr. Sale, citing federal law enforcement officials. The interviews dealt chiefly with the nature and extent of Mr. Rhodes contacts with Israel.

Mr. Luti was reassigned in the wake of the espionage investigation. Mr. Rhodes is on administrative leave, Mr. Sale wrote, attributing the information to two former senior U.S. intelligence officials.

At Defense Mr. Luti reported to Undersecretary Feith, the Pentagon’s No. 3 man.

Gen. Tommy Franks described Mr. Feith as academically well qualified for his position, but also as a theoretician with impractical ideas. In his autobiography Gen. Franks said that the undersecretary had a reputation among the Pentagon’s uniformed officers for “confusing abstract memoranda with results in the field.”

As the Pentagon prepared for an invasion of Iraq, tension built between Gen. Franks’ staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In an effort to deal with his senior planners’ growing resentment towards Mr. Feith, the general told them, “I’ll worry about OSD, all of them – including Doug Feith, who’s getting a reputation around here as the dumbest f___ing guy on the planet.”

One of the unluckiest guys in the nation’s capital turned out to be the Iran analyst who worked in Mr. Feith’s office. When Mr. Franklin approached Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee with classified information, they were already under surveillance by the FBI. Caught red-handed, Mr. Franklin began to cooperate with the FBI.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were indicted just a few weeks after Mr. Franklin’s arrest. That indictment contained additional charges against Mr. Franklin, and according to an August 2004 Knight Ridder story the investigation extends beyond the mid-level analyst.

Citing three sources close to the investigation, the story by Warren P. Strobel described a probe that had been going on for more than two years and had focused on other civilians in the Secretary of Defense’s office.

Investigators were also trying to determine if Pentagon officials gave highly classified American intelligence to the Iraqi National Congress, which in turn may have passed the information to Iran. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi denied that his group had done anything wrong. Both investigations centered on Mr. Feith’s office.

In addition to these inquiries, the FBI has been reviewing past counter-intelligence probes that did not result in prosecutions. Among those investigated were Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith and Pentagon insider Richard Perle, the Asia Times reported.

While working for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1978, Mr. Wolfowitz was investigated for passing a classified document to Israel that dealt with an arms sale to an Arab government. The probe was eventually dropped.

Mr. Feith was fired from President Reagan’s National Security Council in 1982 for leaking classified data to Israel, according to former counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro, the UPI story said.

A close adviser to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Perle was picked up by an FBI wire tap as he discussed classified information with an Israeli embassy official in 1970. He was a member of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson’s staff at the time, Mr. Lobe wrote.

Mr. Perle resigned from the chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board in 2003, Jim Lobe reported in the Asia Times.

Mr. Perle quit the board after it was revealed that he had worked as a consultant to Global Crossing, a bankrupt telecommunications company that was attempting to obtain Pentagon approval to be sold to a group of Asian investors, CBS news reported.

He had also advised investors at a conference held by Goldman Sachs on the implications of possible U.S. conflicts with Iraq and North Korea. He had attended a Defense Intelligence Agency briefing on the matter just three weeks before, the Los Angeles Times said.

Mr. Perle has worked within the American defense establishment for more than 30 years, and he has assisted and mentored Mr. Luti, Mr. Feith and Mr. Wolfowitz over the decades. His departure marked the beginning of the decline of the group that one author called “the Vulcans.”

As the wreckage of the neoconservative derailment at the Pentagon settles, the Bush administration has lowered its expectations for what can be acheived in Iraq, according to the paper China View.

One senior U.S. official involved in policy formulation told the paper that what the administration had hoped to achieve had never been realistic. It had begun a process of reevaluation, and its goal now was to ensure that a constitution is put in place that can be easily amended later so that Iraq can achieve democracy. "