Originally published in the Moscow Times on Feb. 4, 2004.
The confession by the Bush Administration's chief arms investigator that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction before the war has sent a thunderbolt of puzzlement through the pundits and politicians of the Anglo-American elite. "How could the intelligence reports have been so wrong?" they cry, wringing their hands in consternation. "Independent" commissions filled with Establishment worthies are now in the offing, as the architects of the war – and their media sycophants – pledge to resolve this disturbing mystery.
But of course there is no "mystery." Anyone with a passing acquaintance of recent history knows exactly how, and why, the intelligence data concerning Iraq's nonexistent WMD came to be used as a justification for military aggression. Indeed, this history is so open, so transparent and so widely available – in news reports, unclassified government documents, think-tank publications, etc. – that a cynic might suspect that these government-appointed "investigations" are actually designed to obscure the already evident truth.
It began in 1976, when CIA Director George Bush established a new intelligence analysis unit called "Team B." Championed by top Ford White House officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush unit was packed with hardcore ideologues – including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle – bent on "proving" a predetermined conclusion: that regular CIA assessments of the Soviet Union were "too soft," ignoring the "imminent threat" of Soviet aggression and the Kremlin's ever-increasing political and economic might.
At every turn, the B-teamers cooked and distorted intelligence data to fit their agenda. Scare stories were regularly leaked to credulous journalists to whip up public fear; legislators were plied with "top-secret" briefings to win Congressional support for massive increases in military spending. During the Reagan-Bush years, the B-Teamers and their acolytes spread throughout the corridors of power, where they launched covert operations and proxy wars around the world, always citing "credible evidence" of "imminent threats" – such as Ronald Reagan's famous warning that tiny Nicaragua, then besieged by a U.S.-backed terrorist army, could invade the sacred American heartland of Texas "in a matter of hours."
As it turned out, even the "softest" CIA assessments vastly underestimated the weakness and instability of the Soviet regime. Team B's wildly inflated perversions of reality were exposed as perhaps the most incompetent, ignorant – and costly – intelligence failures in U.S. history. For in addition to the lives and money wasted fighting phantom threats "to America's very survival," the now thoroughly B-Teamed CIA armed and funded a horde of Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, schooling them in "asymmetric warfare" and terrorist operations. No doubt the B-Teamer's ideologically blinded "intelligence" told them that the Western-hating jihadists would never turn this training against their American paymasters.
The end of the Soviet Union found Team B still entrenched in the White House. In 1992, Bush, now president, directed Cheney, now Pentagon chief, and his deputy, Wolfowitz, to draw up a plan for America's strategic future. Despite the collapse of the Communist enemy, the plan called for – what else? – massive increases in military spending and a more aggressive, unilateral "pre-emptive" posture against perceived threats to American interests, with "vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf Oil" listed as the first priority, the New York Times reports. The objective, openly stated, was American dominance over global economic and political development in all spheres.
The Cheney-Wolfowitz plan was then refined by the B-Teamers during the Clinton interregnum in such groups as the Project for the New American Century, whose activities have been well-detailed in these pages. When George W. Bush took office, he restored Team B to glory and enshrined PNAC's plan as the official national security strategy of the United States, adding a new imperative to establish "the single sustainable model of national success" – Bush-Enron crony capitalism – in every land. After Sept. 11 Rumsfeld created a new "Team B" at the Pentagon: the Office of Special Plans, packed with hard-line ideologues bent on "proving" a predetermined conclusion: that regular CIA assessments of Iraq were "too soft," ignoring the "imminent threat" of Saddam's aggression and his vast arsenal of WMD, The New Yorker reports.
At every turn, the OSP cooked and distorted intelligence data to fit their agenda. Scare stories were regularly leaked to credulous journalists to whip up public fear; legislators were plied with "top-secret" briefings to win Congressional support for the invasion. Rumor, hearsay, and forgeries were "stovepiped" directly to the White House, bypassing professional analysts. Anything that contradicted the Bush Regime's ideological delusions was ruthlessly pruned away. Anything that flattered their desire for war – no matter how specious, how false – was eagerly embraced.
So there's no mystery in the current situation. It's how "Team Bush" has always operated. They pervert intelligence to suit their needs – and their greeds. When they're proved wrong – at a horrendous cost in blood and money – they never admit it, never apologize. They simply break out the whitewash, blame someone else – usually the very intelligence services they've suborned – and lumber on in their brutal quest for dominance: ignorant, incompetent and untouchable to the end.