thumbnail of Focus 580; A Pretext of War: 9-11, Iraq, and the Abuse of Americas Intelligence Agencies
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In this hour a focus will be talking with investigative reporter James Bamford. He's written a lot about American intelligence gathering and has known for a couple of books that he has done about the National Security Agency Body of Secrets and The Puzzle Palace those books and when he wrote them particularly the earlier book very little had been written about the NSA. It was one of the most secret of all of our intelligence gathering agencies and he was really the first reporter and one of the few who has written extensively about the NSA. He has also written on national security issues for other publications including The New York Times magazine The Washington Post Magazine and The L.A. Times Magazine. Before that he was a Washington investigator producer for ABC is World News Tonight and he has a distinguished visiting professor at the has been distinguished visiting professor at University of California Berkeley. Right now he's making his home in Washington. And we will talk in this part of the show about his new book which looks at America and terrorism how it is the United States performed
how the government performed on the day of the terrorist attacks September 11th about our failure to anticipate those attacks and also about the way that intelligence was used perhaps misused to justify the war in Iraq. The book is titled A Pretext for War. It's published by Doubleday. It's just out now just recently out. And as we talk this morning with James Bamford we certainly welcome questions. I expect we'll have a lot of them and callers can help us by being brief and making room for others. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 we do also have a toll free line and that one's good anywhere that you can hear us. 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5. That's the number that the toll free 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5 and locally 3 3 3 9 4 5. Mr. Bamford Hello. Hi how are you. I'm fine thanks and thanks very much for talking with us again. The as I mentioned here the book has this three major
sections. It looks at what happened how the government responded specifically on that day. It also looked at the failure to anticipate the attacks and then the third section is about Iraq. And I'd like I expect probably we want to concentrate maybe mainly on two and three but I just do want to ask you a couple of questions about that first about that first day about that day and about that first section. Once it was known that these planes that some planes had been hijacked and particularly after the very first plane hit the first tower of the Trade Center. Could anything have been done at that point to stop the other planes. Well had everything been in the right place at the right time with a lot of preparation. It's possible but the problem was there was total chaos that was going on at that point. At this
moment there was only 14 there only 14 jet fighters protecting the entire continental United States from seven different bases and ironically the two bases closest to the two most are the largest and the most important city Washington D.C. and New York City were some 200 miles away from each of those. So even though they were alerted they never were able to intercept the aircraft in time. And ironically according to the hearings this morning the pilots who took off in their fighters from Langley Air Force Base which is down and Virginia around the Norfolk area when they were flying up to Washington they didn't even know what their mission was. Se thought that it was some cruise missile from the Atlantic that they were looking for so nobody even told them what the object of their mission to Washington was.
Well that's another thing that's really striking as you write in the section of the book is how slowly the news about the attacks came to be known by people in government. Not only are we talking about the White House but members of Congress and also people at CIA and NSA and also striking is that in at least in some cases people when they heard the news just went on with what they were doing. That's right. It was quite amazing. I mean nothing like this had ever happened before and the washing was caught totally unprepared and went into almost an instant state of chaos. For example the president himself sitting in a classroom and and Florida and he was told about the not only talked about the the second plane crash but told by his chief of staff that the country is under attack. And yet for seven minutes he continued just to sit
there in a little chair in a second grade class and it was. Really astounding to a lot of people especially among the victims that the are the relatives of the victims that the president can actually just sit there for seven full minutes while the country was under attack he never once called for. Where is the secretary of defense or what's the status of NATO or what are we doing to prevent this. Or give me Conley's Rice on the phone. And it seemed like he was just days or for seven full minutes and then he slowly reacted after that. In Congress it was a similar incident. There was no alert through Congress. Some people sat at their desks while other people ran out into the sidewalks and eventually it looked like one of the planes were heading was going to be heading for the Capitol and then the Capitol was evacuated and you had senators and congressmen that were just wandering around the streets. Not knowing
where to go. Eventually they were taken up to the top floor of the Capitol police officer. They have a sort of a decrepit building down near the Capitol and they were all taken up. The ones they could round up they were taken out to top floor of the building and the only they could do. Defensively was just pull down the shades so it was rather ineffective. And then later on several of the senior members of Congress were taken to one of the secret locations a place called Mount Weather which was about 20 minutes by helicopter south of Washington. Ironically there was a place for Congress to be evacuated to outside of Washington. It was a very large sort of secret location underneath the Greenbrier hotel in West Virginia but that location had been discovered by the press early in the 90s and by 2001 it had simply become a tourist attraction so Congress is
basically without a place to go. Let's see just one further point here that what again is what's striking about the way the government responded is once once the response there was a response. What they did was they activated the system that had been designed. For that day if and when the United States would be attacked by the Soviet Union. So in other words they responded to the attack as if it was World War Three which you know maybe it would have been difficult to know exactly what was going on at the time but at least you would think that there would have been some awareness that the Cold War was over and probably this was not world war 3 but maybe the issue is that there was no other system in place to activate so they went with the one that they had. Well that's exactly what they did there was only one thing left in terms of a emergency and that was a contingency and government plan and it had never been.
An acronym for like it was on September 11th and it was the first time the US had ever gone to virtually full alert the type of alert you would go to would a nuclear war. The very first time the country ever gone to that level of pre nuclear attack alert and the president was flown to Otis Air for I mean to Omaha Nebraska where he was. Right down to the emergency command center were the nuclear war would be fired from the vice president was in the in the bunker at the White House. The bomb proof bunker there were all the steps that were taken were were the type of steps that would have been taken if we were about to go to a nuclear war. The. Didn't merges the airborne command post was put on alert and put into the air thing called Nightwatch and it's rather amazing that one saw that thing. Once all that scenario was
played out the question was well who do we attack. Once we're all set to attack and that was a question we had the whole the whole contingency in government plan an operation. And yet nobody knew who to attack if we were going to attack anyway. The the administration continues to state that al-Qaida and terrorism generally is still a threat and that there is the very real possibility that there could be another terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States of course we don't know where or when but they say that we should not should not assume that all that it could never happen again if it did happen again it would happen tomorrow would we would our response do you think with the government from science do you think be better any better than it was on September 11th of 2001. Well you hope so but the problem is you never really know until an event happens. But they have
certainly corrected a number of the problems. Now there is many more planes and 17 planes available in case of an attack they are focused now looking inward as well as outward. There is a linkage between the NORAD's and in domestic airline flights and so there's a lot of other factors that are in place now that weren't in place before and those factors presumably would it would help prevent a similar type of attack. But the problem is is that al-Qaeda usually learns also from from past experience and. So the next time they attack probably won't be in the same way it will be in a different way so the real question is whether we're prepared in other ways that I might want to attack. I have a couple callers here and I promised one promised them I'll get right to them in just a second let me just go ask one one big question. And certainly we can get into more detail that has to do
with what is by anybody's standards a spectacular failure of intelligence and that is the failure to anticipate the attacks of 9/11. Since that time a lot of people have asked the question could they have been prevented. Congress has asked journalist have asked Demick said asked now we have the. The 9/11 Commission looking at much the same question. And now you're having the opportunity to think about this and talk to a lot of people and research it. Do you have an answer to that question. Could the attacks have been prevented. Well I think it's impossible to give you or anybody give a concrete answer that I think the real answer to the question couldn't much more have been done that could have led to possibly discovering the plot and so forth and I think the answer to that is agreement by almost everybody to look at this. For one thing the the CIA was
very. It was approaching the whole issue of al Qaeda and a very strange way they were using only one technique and that's covert operations. They were trying to get the Pakistani intelligence service to help get them adn they were they hired a group of X anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan to try to track him and find out where he was going and so forth and they were sending a lot of money and weapons up to the men in the suit up in the northern part of Afghanistan who was in charge of a group called the Northern Alliance. It was only going to control 10 percent of the country but they were sending a lot of money and weapons as a way in order to see if he could retake Afghanistan and then they would be able to get that money back so they had all these sort of crazy schemes in order to try to get bin Laden. But the one thing they never did do was ever try to infiltrate al Qaeda.
The CIA kept saying it was too hard too difficult too dangerous. We just couldn't. We just won't be able to penetrate al Qaeda which was a very big mistake because it wasn't really that hard or it wasn't really that dangerous. And example of that was that same summer summer of 2001 when the CIA was saying we can't possibly penetrate al Qaeda. Eight Americans including John Walker Lindh had actually not only penetrated al Qaeda they were at that moment all together. Eight people eight Americans. They need a born Americans who are actually in bin Laden's training camp and they were having one on one meetings with bin Laden. There were little learning bits and pieces of the plot. I mean they were trying to were they were picking up bits and pieces of the plot and so forth so you know if if you can get eight Americans who without a lot of difficulty managed to get into
bed months training camp and have one on one meetings with them none and that the CIA not only didn't get in there not even they didn't even try to get in there I think that's a that's a religious. So there are a lot of things that's one of the. The key things that the CIA could have done another thing was the CIA completely lost track of the two of the key leaders in the terrorists. Now I don't want to attack they were. They followed him all the way to Kuala Lumpur and then they completely lost track of them. And at that point they flew to the United States. And what makes the situation even worse was that the time they found out that those two people had us visas so obviously that they were going to fly to the United States. Yet the CIA never passed that information on to the FBI for a year and a half until the August before the September attack and by then it was way too late so there were numerous things
if you look at this these events as I write about my book that could've pushed the CIA or the FBI into a direction where they could have maybe picked up bits and pieces of the plot maybe have disrupted it or prevented it or whatever. We'll never know that but we will know that they certainly could have done a lot better job than they did in this our focus 580 We're talking with investigative reporter James Bamford. He is new book is titled A Pretext for War 9/11 Iraq and the Abuse of America's. Diligence agency that takes a look at how the American government responded to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 failures to have any kind of warning that the attacks are going to take place and also looks at the way that intelligence was used to make the case for the Iraq war. The book is published by Doubleday. And we have callers and would welcome others 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 4 Champaign-Urbana toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5
and we'll start in here we have a caller first in line in Champaign an online one. A lot of depressive things have come out since 9/11 I guess. There are already there that seem to be pointing to the demise of our democracy and perhaps this attack is going to lead to our undoing given our reaction to it or or the administration that was in power when it happened. It seems like the Project For A New American Century was just waiting for something that they could compare it to Pearl Harbor. And you know I guess we just haven't really been aware of what's going on at the Pentagon because of course it's a huge secret budget and everything's classified but it seems like the military industrial complex along with the government it's just it doesn't it. It's now an excuse for and a fascist empire but in a way perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration but I'm I'm just wondering your reaction to it. But I
also want to ask about. I mean I did before the war began al Qaeda put out some kind of a statement of some of the dead. And I remember that it seemed to be saying we don't support Saddam Hussein and then we hear the secretary of state and the other one Mr. Mr. Powell Mr. Powell Yes trying to interpret that for us and which he's totally turning it around and saying This means that al-Qaida is with Saddam Hussein. I mean if you listen to what I said he's no I'm not for this secular leader. It seems as if al Qaeda really would just as soon have taken out Saddam Hussein as the Bush family. And we did it for them and now they're cleaning up. I mean the relations between those who oppose the Saudi government. With tears in Iraq to oppose Saddam Hussein appear to me be pretty clouds that we seem to have been
completely in the dark about that. Agreeable was what you said in particularly the sort of fascist turn that's taking place when you deny American citizens any right to legal counsel which is being done by a couple of people that were arrested at the BIA and the other person that was arrested and kept in prison without any right to counsel whatsoever going up before the Supreme Court now but they get pretty pretty close to fascism. And I think the arguments in favor of that are extremely weak. The fact that the fact that they are involved in an ongoing war or whatever there's been plenty of times when we've brought people to court for terrorism and tried him and convicted him from the Oklahoma bombing. People to many other incidents of terror. So there's no question that
you can take them to court prosecute them and put them in jail or whatever you want to do but this administration takes the opposite viewpoint it seems to fly in the face of the Constitution so I'm very worried about that also in regard to the Pentagon. The people who are running the Pentagon are the people who have been pushing this war from the very beginning. And the it's somewhat frightening because these people have been pushing this war from the very beginning they've actually been pushing it since nineteen ninety six. In 1996 the same people who were basically the architects of this war at the Pentagon. Got together and decided to become consultants to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and they drafted a plan it was called a clean break and that plan was basically to have a Middle East war for Israel to launch a Middle East war in which they overthrow Saddam Hussein and replace him with a puppet that was friendly to both the United
States and Israel at the time they were the person they had in mind was like Magellan B who was sort of a darling of the neoconservative movement for a very long time and the person sort of doesn't need to take over Iraq after after Saddam Hussein and one of the key points that endeared him to this group was the fact that he was going to recognize Israel as one of his first. Move. Upon taking over the country so they had. This is Douglas Feith who was the who's currently the undersecretary of defense for policy one of the top officials in the Pentagon the number three official and one of the key architects of the war Richard Perle who was head of the Defense Policy Board who had an extremely powerful position in directing Pentagon policy and Deva ones or who's currently the vice president's Middle East advisors they were all part of this group that made this plan and womanizer
in January 2001 wrote a paper in which he one of the things he said and there was a crisis is our opportunities and that apparently is what happened. Netanyahu rejected this war plan. It sat on the shelf for many years. 9:1 came along and that was the crisis that led to an opportunity and the opportunity was to do the plan they had they had planned years earlier overthrow Saddam Hussein replace him with a. A puppet who was a favor to the United States and Israel. So that's sort of the genesis of the thinking that went into this war and you know I think it's an enormous conflict of interest when you have people who have been planning this for years and then use an opportunity in order to implement it. Do you think there is any possibility of neglect in terms of national security to have if you can't happen in order to use it. I mean I think one would have dared say that two years ago.
I'm sorry. I wouldn't have dared even contemplate that two years ago. Well even today it's difficult to Compean contemplate that people can for India logical reasons want to get rid of rid of some country declare war on a country and then use an excuse a pretext to carry that out but that's just what happened. They used the pretext of weapons of mass destruction which there was never any evidence that. That Iraq currently had these massive weapons of mass destruction these were all dissolved fraud that was coming. Defectors mainly provided by mentality again. He was the person who wanted to be the president of Iraq and he kept supplying all this phony information to the the same people at the Pentagon Feis and Perle and these other people and they were rejecting the real intelligence that was coming from the CIA which was saying a lot of this does not look very good a lot of this is not very credible.
They're rejecting that and instead they were looking at the phony evidence coming from this little group in the Pentagon. I need to jump in here of the dog forgive me as I have another person holding him were already at our midpoint here. I want to reduce our guest. We're talking with James Bamford He's an investigative reporter who's written a lot about national security issues. He's written cover stories for The New York Times magazine Washington Post Magazine The L.A. Times Magazine. He was formerly the Washington Best get a reporter for ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. His new book if you'd like to read more on the subject in some detail is titled A Pretext for War and it's published by Doubleday 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 will be next to a caller. A nearby community a Belgium line number four. Hello. Good morning. I have an A don't now I'm to finish my question. Then a dog is not a close relative that worked for Nasser for 20 plus years in a same army and we never
whenever asked whom we vote for we never got an answer. Government went on for years after he had retired quite some time then we found out that that's one point ten toes a bit about their mindset in that organization you don't tell anybody whether you're a janitor or the leader or what you are in that organization. Even if you worked there. The observation though is that today the 9/11 Commission came out and said out to and Saddam had no connection and the first thing our dear leader had to say is I know better and why do I know better. Because I know better. Now the question is. Does he get his information. Well I think regarding your first comment is it. A subject I know very well since I've written the only two books on the National Security Agency NSA and the old joke was that NSA stood for no such agency. Precisely and for the people inside the Ford never say anything.
But with regards to the comments both by Bush and Cheney recently Cheney made similar comments on Tuesday that there is a link between there has been a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It's been rejected not just by the nine on one commission. It's been rejected by the FBI and the CIA everybody has looked at this has rejected it and the fact is the president could actually come out and and still make these claims and faces and face of all the credible rejection of that information just shows to either he's totally out of touch with what's really going on in the world or he's clinging to the last straws that he has on his justification for for this war. I mean he's totally lost all justification with regard to weapons of mass destruction. Even his own.
Chief weapons inspector David Kay came back and so we all made a mistake. So the only he has left is his connection with al-Qaeda and that's been taken away from him so I think he's just ignoring reality and hoping that he's going to his face in the people who get virtually 100 percent of their news from Rush Limbaugh and these other groups. You know it just is more more fodder for them to talk about Dell DELL ignore the comments of the commission and the FBI and the CIA and just say well President Bush said this and you know he's basically just appealing to his base. There seems mean exactly pretty serious from the very first day he was ordered to correct it. Thank you. Thanks for the call. The on this issue of the quality of intelligence about Iraq about any kind of Iraq al Qaeda connection or weapons of mass destruction it seems that the White House has fairly consistently been saying we made the best
decisions we could based on the information that we were given by CIA and other agencies that whose job it is to conduct that intelligence now. The CIA at least publicly has been good enough not to contradict the president. But you had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people who were willing to be willing to talk to you maybe not necessarily on the record about this issue. So did the White House indeed just make the best out of the intelligence they were given or was their reading of that intelligence selective or was there some indeed pressure put on the intelligence gatherers to deliver the kind of intelligence that the White House wanted and would allow them to make the case for going to war. Well. It was a combination of those but primarily that the fact that they were using very selective intelligence just to back up the claim that they were making
the big tragedy in the US I think is that George Tenet who was director of Central Intelligence had a great opportunity to sort of save the country from a lot of this agony we're going through now including the war by resigning. Back in one thousand sorry back in 2002 and going before Congress and ever making public somehow making public the fact that the administration is doing this. He was very offended by this apparently early on because what he did was he tried to get the White House to eliminate some of the phony intelligence including the reports about Saddam Hussein getting uranium from West Africa from the country of the year. Any success succeeded in getting that removed from the president's speech and says Cincinnati. It was October November of 2002. But it seems like right after
that that's when he caved in because he never again apparently did any kind of heavy objecting to what the administration was saying. And it got to it got so bad that by the time of January 2003 when the president made his State of the Union address not only did Tenet not get the same information taken out of that speech incredibly Tenet even failed to read the speech and you can imagine the director of central intelligence not even reading the president's State of the Union address the State of the Union Address is going to use intelligence to justify the war that he's about to launch. And Tenet never even bothered to read it so it seems like it that in that period in the fall of 2002 he made a decision either through pressure or just because he wanted to be a team player not to object and to just go along with whatever the Pentagon
which was at that point was supplying a lot of the intelligence whatever the Pentagon was was dishing out. Well just a couple of weeks ago Mr. Tenet resigned he said that it was for personal reasons but it didn't seem to be anybody in Washington really. Believe that. But they seem to seem to be saying that he was anticipating the fact that there would just be more and more bad news and that he wanted to get out of there before that happened I suppose some people would say that it was finally he was he was taking the hit and saying all right fine it was our fault. Go do so. Do you think though that there was a personal a kind of personal failure of leadership on Mr. Tenet's part. Well certainly he should have resigned a long time earlier. I mean if nothing else simply because he you know he's like the captain of the Titanic and he's run into three icebergs by now. It's time to change a command of the ship and that's the situation I was in. He was there during 9/11 one which was of intelligence
complete intelligence disaster and then he was there in the lead up to the Iraq war which again was another disaster because it was a total intelligence failure of allowing the country to go to war based on wrong intelligence and finally nobody predicted this. Occupation was going to lead to the crisis we have now. So yeah I mean it was funny at times when he should resign simply because he didn't do the job correctly but I think he should have resigned back in 2002 more in protest than anything out to protest what he saw apparently was the president trying to con the nation into into a war based on phony intelligence. One of the claims of the administration made was that Iraq was interested in building nuclear weapons and that they made this argument that Iraq had
tried to buy uranium from new share and after some time after that a man named Joseph Wilson who was an ambassador came out and publicly said no this is this is bunk the information they have is not correct it's a clear forgery. There's there's no indication that that happened and that that point apparently the administration decided to attempt to discredit him. And according to. To him and this book that now he's written recently in the process of trying to research his background they stumble across the fact that his wife was a CIA operative and that information went to a columnist Robert Novak it was published and now the story has continued to unfold from there and at this point there is an investigation going into who it was that provided Robert Novak with that information about Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie Plane being in that the CIA and he in his book points back to the staff of the vice president. I wonder if you have any insight about this and whether
in any time soon you think that there's going to be some answer provided to that question of who it is that told Robert Novak that Joe Wilson's wife was in the CIA. I don't really have any inside information on that it's just just from talking to people and reading what's been done so far it looks like they may come out the summer with some answer. In the past traditionally it's been very difficult to get a positive outcome on an investigation into a leak. But in this case it may be different because they're really aggressively going after this and they're interviewing people under oath. And I think putting people on lie detectors and things like that. So there's a big chance that they may have an answer in the form of an indictment this summer some time and most of speculation is that it revolves around the little prick of neoconservatives.
You are in the vice president's office or at the Pentagon someplace and they were the people who would have number one have the knowledge because they would have had access to that kind of information. And number two they would have had the political motivation to try to discredit Wilson by releasing that information which was very damaging to his wife's career. Let's go back here to the phones. Urbana. Why one love. Yeah. Part of your title of your book is The Abuse of America's intelligence agencies. And there are an ex-CIA agent has been out there. I've heard on talk radio implying that the CIA has often been amused misused by politicians. And your book is more or less leading up to the Iraq war.
But I was wondering if you had anything that might put it into context. You know in terms of politicians misusing the intelligence agencies to question the wisdom of the use in the past. It has been used by politicians over the years to try to get them to give the intelligence that they want called cooking the books and so forth. It's happened in the past it happened during the Vietnam War and several other times but never on this scale never on the scale where you had basically an alternative intelligence agency forming to take the place of the CIA and to displace the CIA's information. But in this case it was very blatant. I interviewed people at the CIA people who
didn't want their name revealed revealed but they told me on background that it was very blatant what was going on there there was one person I talked to who worked in the section that actually looked for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and they weren't finding anything in terms of hard intelligence. And at one point the boss of that section came in and color very together and said. Look at the president wants to go to war it's your job to give him a reason to go to war. And other times a vice president come into the CIA and put pressure on people to try to find something. There was constant pressure on them to define things that weren't there and when they were able to find these things the Pentagon using these defectors provided by argument challenged he came up with the phony information information about the mobile weapons labs for example and other things that all turned out to be phony in the end.
And so this is probably the most uncertain having written about intelligence for 25 years is certainly the most blatant and abusive misuse of intelligence I've ever seen. But I but are you saying that. I mean I got the impression that some of these covert operations that presidents have made the CIA get into. I mean it's sounds as if it's a covert black box kind of thing. There's no there's no ethical consideration. But if it's just what is the information you know out there what is the real intelligence data. That's that's that's the part that they want to keep sacrosanct is that exact kind of what you're saying if my questions clear.
Well I mean again just looking back at one of the other key abuses took place during the during the time of Ronald Reagan when his death the CIA was still Casey and. Again they tried to get around to using intelligence because of the law against the CIA helping the Contras in Nicaragua. So that's why they had Oliver North for work work for the National Security Council. Sort of form his own little intelligence unit and an go around the CIA and perform these operations to sort of bypass the law. And that's sort of what was happening in this case except it's on a much much larger scale sort of you know a lieutenant colonel in the National Security Council says in the end the senior officials in the Department of Defense who are creating the separate little intelligence unit to bypass the CIA and provide the
intelligence that they wanted to have intelligence that wasn't real that was based on justice. Imaginary information and test it on to the White House and so forth. So that's why I'm saying I'm saying they're abusing intelligence by bypassing the normal intelligence channels using the CIA which was formed to be an impartial arbiter of intelligence not to politicize it and going to the Pentagon which was politicizing it and using it to their advantage. Well I guess I guess what I was trying to say is aren't they aren't they inherently politicizing the CIA when they when they ask them to attempt to assassinate Castro for example I mean that kind of an operation. Well that's maybe misusing the CIA but it's not really politicized. They're using it. They were using it for to try to accomplish the purpose using a
legal method at the time assassination and they were using it to some degree you could argue politicizing it by trying to get it to carry out the president's desires to give it to Castro and that's another example of the Bay of Pigs when it was heavily politicized. There's been numerous instances of this in the past but you know using it to try to overthrow Castro is one extreme. Using it to launch a war against Iraq is another level of the other thing. Just have 10 minutes left in this part of focus 580 Our guest is James Bamford He's an investigative reporter. He's written two books about the NSA National Security Agency the only books really that exist about the NSA Body of Secrets and The Puzzle Palace and has a new book out titled pretext for war which links takes a look at American intelligence and 9/11 Iraq a terrorism book is published by Doubleday. We have some other callers here we'll go next to Champagne County in line too.
Well HI I'M TRYING TO BE FAST COMPANY five bullet points are you rather spot on on Limbaugh and I tuned in to see what his lead story was and he's talking about receiving an email from a staffer at the commission saying that they're using one paragraph and they're taking in all of them. Context about the I'm supposedly a zone between al-Qaida and Saddam regime and the frightening thing was that group of people throughout the country who who get 100 percent of the news that way is playing right to it exactly. What do you think Tenet's going to do. He was so docile as you're pointing out for so long and this is actually the first host mentioned that the CIA has never publicly contradicted I guess until yesterday when the CIA guy was saying you know we agree with the staff report that there's no credible evidence of collusion on on on the on the 9 1 1 but also it went on and further says that basically you turned down and any major collaboration and it was only with the SA faction and then in the Kurdish region
that you actually did anything. And there's a lot of stuff floating around about the saccharine and I thought I'm sorry. Yeah. There are people that say he's already dead and and you know this idea of them killing Berg and being wanting to publicly take credit for it with a hood over his head. I mean if you're publicly taking credit for an assassination like that don't you like pull the hood off and say well the sea really is me. I mean I think you know I don't know what what you make of that but I want to comment on the fact that what Tenet might do is he going to take a book deal we're hearing a lot about another book deal but. But I wonder whether he would Northrop Grumman and get out of you know high priced board of directors job or whether he's going to actually talk about what it was like. I can't imagine that he's not going to do a book at some point. He's got an awful lot to say and he's got a lot to you know it's just got a lot to explain about what went on during that period of time and I think the best way to do that in a coherent way is not just you know 20
minute talk show or something but right is writing a long book so I think that almost certainly be one of his projects the question I think really is whether he's going to come out before the election or after the election in terms of speaking his mind about what went on during his time as director of central intelligence. So I think that's the biggest fear that the administration has I think the administration was enormously petrified when they found out that Tenet was leaving because. The last two people left. Paul O'Neill former secretary of the Treasury and Richard Clarke both came out who Richard Clarke was the former and the head of counterterrorism at the White House. Both came out with books extremely critical of Bush and I think that's one of things are very afraid of George Tenet especially the timing of his leaving and I think the other thing is that he's one of the few He's really the only person in the
ministration who knows where all the bodies are buried and he's got a number of knife wounds in his back for having been stabbed by this administration. So I think that's extremely worrying to them is that he's like a wounded tiger and they don't know quite what's going to happen. I want to get back to the reaction in Afghanistan some of the hearing yesterday was talking again about why didn't we preemptively do something sooner. And you don't hear it much but the guy that's invested in Afghanistan right now he's sort of the Viceroy there is Solomon Calzaghe. Yeah. And he he was working with Iran negotiating but he was taking money from Unocal going to go shake with the tone of the Bonn one that was in the lead up to all this so there were a lot of things that the Bush administration was apparently willing to overlook. And I just. Wanted to know if you had a comment. Well they did. There was a fair amount of activity between the administration and Afghanistan
prior to the September 11th attacks. The administration has had authorized quite a bit of money to be paid to to the hell of an on the on the drug war to get them to halt their activity during the in terms of growing poppies and so forth. So there was a lot of money that went to him and there was a fair amount of negotiations that went on between a number of companies and the Vaal involvement of the U.S. government to some degree in the whole idea of this oil pipeline across Afghanistan. So they certainly weren't treating them as states they were about to invade or anything and and in the days leading up to September 11th they weren't you know treating them you know. Favored Nation the right thing but that it was far from the tree like North Korea.
We just about the point we have to finish I want to just want to ask you real quick and this is another question and I'm not sure if you have information on this but I guess I'm interested in what's going on with Mr. Shah Libby the man who was the leader of the Iraqi National Congress and was very close to people in the Department of Defense provided a lot of information to them about Iraq which turned out to be wrong. And now just a couple of weeks ago was accused of providing secret information intelligence for information that he gleaned from someone in the government to the government of Iran something that he denied. He does have a little bit of a shady background. If I remember correctly actually wanted for bank fraud in Jordan he's a fugitive from justice in Jordan. So there are some questions about about his character. Do you have any information about about this supposedly information that he passed on to the Iranians. Well actually in my book I focus quite a bit on the mentality and the background how he and I became friends with the neoconservatives
back in the 80s and also the 90s they were grooming him to be the successor to Saddam Hussein. He was dealt with by the CIA in the early 90s as a potential opponent of Saddam Hussein and he was given money and and support but that all ended in the mid 1990s because they found out that they couldn't trust in the contracts the information was giving and they couldn't trust just him with the money they were giving giving to them so run the mid 1990s I think both the CIA and the State Department broke off any kind of contact with them. But he was the darling of the neoconservatives and and when the Bush administration took office he became you know sort of the heir apparent in Iraq and he kept this place of honor very few people that get to sit in the. And the
Presidents gallery right behind the First Lady during the president's State of the Union address and that's where mentality was sitting. So these people overlook the fact that he was basically a fraud and a con man always. Most of the adult life. Including that bank fraud conviction and in Jordan and went ahead full steam with trying to use his information and put him in power and now it's all hitting them in the face. And I'm sorry you know I'm going to have if I may have to jump in on this point having asked the question and not giving enough time to answer because I'm I'm at the end of the time and I've got to stop. I just have enough time to say Mr. Bamford thanks very much and we really appreciate you talking with us both a great show and thanks for having me on. Our guest James Bamford He's an investigative reporter whose book is titled A Pretext for War. It's out now it's published by Doubleday.
Program
Focus 580
Episode
A Pretext of War: 9-11, Iraq, and the Abuse of Americas Intelligence Agencies
Producing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media
Contributing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip-16-5h7br8mr8n
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Description
Description
with James Bamford, investigative journalist
Broadcast Date
2004-06-17
Genres
Talk Show
Subjects
Law; intelligence agencies; Iraq; War; Government; Foreign Policy-U.S.; Military; National Security; Human Rights; International Affairs
Media type
Sound
Duration
00:51:21
Embed Code
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Credits
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-a25019bccba (unknown)
Format: audio/mpeg
Generation: Copy
Duration: 51:17
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-5748ce3c176 (unknown)
Format: audio/vnd.wav
Generation: Master
Duration: 51:17
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Citations
Chicago: “Focus 580; A Pretext of War: 9-11, Iraq, and the Abuse of Americas Intelligence Agencies,” 2004-06-17, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-5h7br8mr8n.
MLA: “Focus 580; A Pretext of War: 9-11, Iraq, and the Abuse of Americas Intelligence Agencies.” 2004-06-17. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-5h7br8mr8n>.
APA: Focus 580; A Pretext of War: 9-11, Iraq, and the Abuse of Americas Intelligence Agencies. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-5h7br8mr8n