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Open Edit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-05-07 02:10 PM
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OUTING THE CIA (leveymg Thread - Part 2)
Edited on Mon Feb-05-07 02:17 PM by rosesaylavee

OUTING THE CIA (Pt. 2): Cheney, Libby and the Attempted Destruction of Counter-Proliferation.
by leveymg

Ambassador Wilson wasn’t the only target of the outing of Valerie Plame. Plame’s employer was. Virtually from the day Bush-Cheney took power, it worked to systematically undo the CIA’s weapons control regime and counter-proliferation programs that targeted the so-called Axis of Evil countries purchasing nuclear technologies from Pakistan.

More than anything else, the real effect of the Bush-Cheney Administration's actions was the destruction of the CIA Counter-Proliferation Division (CPD), where Valerie Plame worked in the Iran and Iraq units.

The intentional exposure of Valerie Plame on July 14, 2003 wasn’t just a personal vendetta or attempt to silence critics, it was the culmination of a program to undermine the work of a U.S. intelligence program that had been tracking a global nuclear proliferation network centered in Pakistan, run by A.Q. Khan, and financed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Countries.

A.Q. Khan was outed by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage in 2001, who also had a central role in the outing of Valerie Plame in 2003. Not satisfied with those disclosures, as James Risen tells us in State of War, in 2004 someone at Langley "accidentally" transmitted the entire list of the CPDs agent network inside Iran to a double-agent, who promptly turned that over to Iranian intelligence.

Why would anyone do this? Let’s go back to 1997.

CPD, Valerie Plame, and the A.Q. Khan Network

For decades, until Bush-Cheney came to power, one of the highest priorities of American intelligence was to penetrate and neutralize a network of nuclear proliferation run by A.Q. Khan. See, Part 1, ...

Until June 1, 2001, when it was revealed in an article published in Rupert Murdoch's The Financial Times of London, the Khan program was perhaps the most secret CIA operation, according to George Tenet, known outside CIA only by the President. The Financial Times that day quoted Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage as saying the U.S. was tracking trade in nuclear and missile technologies between Pakistan and North Korea, the investigation centered "on people who were employed by (Pakistan's) nuclear agency and have retired." See, Stephen Fidler and Edward Luce, "US Fears North Korea Could Gain Nuclear Capability Through Pakistan," Financial Times (London), 1 June 2001, Front Page-First Section, p. 1; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, 31 May 2001,, cited at ... .

After Khan was outed and his network shut-down, selected details about the program emerged. Douglas Jehl of the New York Times wrote in 2004 that former CIA Director George Tenet acknowledged that the Agency's monitoring of Khan extended back at least to 1997. Jehl writes: ... ; reprinted at: /...
In recent paid speeches, Mr. Tenet has given new details about the C.I.A.'s role in unraveling the Khan network, according to people who attended the sessions. The speeches to private groups have been delivered on ground rules that they remain off the record, but a tape recording of a speech given in Georgia in September was provided to The Times by someone who was there.

In that speech, Mr. Tenet said that the C.I.A.'s role had stretched back to 1997, and that he had kept it secret in the government from everyone but President Bill Clinton and President Bush. Describing a "hidden network that stretched across three continents," he said: "Working with British colleagues, we pieced together his subsidiaries, his clients, his front companies, his finances and manufacturing plants. We were inside his residence, inside his facilities, inside his rooms. We were everywhere these people were."

Mr. Tenet called the agency's role "one of the greatest success stories nobody ever talks about."

Khan’s relationship with the Agency may have actually long predated 1997, the year we are told by David Corn that Valerie Plame returned from undercover assignments abroad to headquarters CPD, where was assigned to the Iran unit. Plame had that assignment until early 2001, when she was reassigned to Iraq WMD.

While some details remain classified, we can trace the Agency’s interaction with A.Q. Khan and map out how it intersected with key events in the career of Valerie Plame. As we see above, Plame’s hiring into the Iran unit coincides with both the earliest acknowledged penetration of Khan and his network’s first shipment to Iran of advanced model of Pakistani gas centrifuge, known as the P-2. As was explained in Part 1 of this series, the Agency used this device -- which requires a number of highly-specialized, difficult to manufacture components available only from a small number of suppliers in certain countries.

To see what a country of interest is doing with centrifuge plans and prototype assemblies provided by Mr. Khan, the CIA tracked the flow of specialized tubes, bearings, magnets, and other hard to find replacement parts.

Plame’s transfer from the CPD Iran unit to the then far smaller Iraq desk would have coincided with the exposure of the Khan network by the newly-installed Bush Administration, climaxed by the publication on June 1, 2001 of an article published in the Times of London by Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage, all but naming Khan as the head of Pakistan’s trade nuclear trade with North Korea. That certainly tipped off Iran that the CIA was also aware of its dealings with Khan, forcing a halt to undercover work by Plame and her colleagues at CPD who might have been identified by the Khan operation. According to Corn: In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division. (About this time, she moved in with Joseph Wilson; they later married.) She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter. Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD's modest Iraq branch. But that summer--before 9/11--word came down from the brass: We're ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

Working alongside or within JTFI was the Iraq Issues Group, headed by the former long-time CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Richard Grenier. After Cheney first told his assistant, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby about Plame, Libby contacted Grenier at JTFI. On June 11, Grenier was called out of a meeting with George Tenet to take a call from Libby, who wanted to know more about what Plame did at the Agency. ... /

As reported here last March, Grenier “had been working in Pakistan for many years, a position that would make him familiar with A.Q. Khan's activities . . .” I went on to challenge some reports that had downplayed Plame’s involvement in matters related to the A.Q. Khan, that were said to be “peripheral” to her work within CPD:

See, ; ... court filing revealing Mr. Grenier's knowledge of Ms. Plame sheds new light on how the CIA's nuclear counterproliferation activities were connected to counter-terrorism operations in South Asia, and some new clues to Plame's role at CIA.

It has been reported that Plame's primary assignment at the time of her outing in the summer of 2003 was Iran's nuclear program. If Grenier's knowledge of Plame's role was gained during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, it might indicate that Grenier simply worked down the hall from Plame. On the other hand, the two may have had a closer acquaintance. If Grenier had been working with Plame earlier, this would have much broader implications for Plame's role within the Agency and might suggest possible additional motives for the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) to ruin her career.

It has been suggested that the underlying purpose of Plame's exposure was to remove her from a position where she reported on Iranian nuclear programs. The dominant view within the CIA of Iranian capabilities and intentions in the period 1997-2003 concluded that Iran had made little progress toward developing nuclear weapons. This occurred during a period after Iranian President Khatemi, relying on back-channel assurances from the Clinton Administration, apparently put a halt to Iran's relationship with Pakistani nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan which had started in the mid-1980s. CIA assessments had reflected a tension between competing sources, as did reporting on the subject.

A January 17, 2000 New York Times article coauthored by James Risen and Judith Miller, for instance, illustrates this same deep split on the issue. That report said that while Iran had not yet developed an indigenous nuclear weapons capability, the CIA had circulated a report warning that Iran might have acquired nuclear materials from former Soviet republics, perhaps sufficient to construct a bomb, and might be in the process of developing intercontinental missiles. It chronicles the often alarmist minority view within the Agency about Iran's nuclear program:

"With limited intelligence about the Iranian program and Russian nuclear proliferation, the intelligence agencies have been reluctant to draw hard conclusions about Iran's nuclear potential.

"In 1992, for example, The New York Times reported that a draft C.I.A. report said Iran could develop a nuclear weapon by 2000. The next year, the agency calculated that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in 8 to 10 years, according to a paper by W. Seth Carus, a defense analyst at the National Defense University.

"In 1995, another C.I.A. assessment concluded that Iran was three to five years from having a nuclear weapon, according to a knowledgeable former American official. But the former official criticized the analysis for relying too heavily on information from Israeli intelligence, which has had an interest in convincing the United States that Iran poses a strategic threat.

It seems likely that Plame may have worked with Grenier at some point on issues of common interest, such as Pakistani-Iranian nuclear ties.

Prior to her outing in July 2003, Plame may have briefly returned to work on Iran issues as she was transitioned out of CPD. What is clear, however, is that while she worked with Grenier in the Iraq Task Force, she was at the center of conflict over the interpretation of the aluminum tubes that some analysts argued offered proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear program. Corn continued:

“. . . (Valerie) Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming — wrongly — were for a nuclear weapons program. . . .
When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator — to rise up a notch or two — and then return to secret operations.

After she was exposed and became the center of the biggest political scandal since Watergate, Plame finally retired from the Agency in November 2005.

One thing we can plainly see about Plame’s career at CIA - it was intertwined with the Agency’s efforts to monitor A.Q. Khan’s dealings with Iran. When that operation was blown by Armitage, Iran lost its international suppliers for centrifuge equipment. This was a very good thing as it cut off international parts for Khan's centriguges. It also forced Iran to attempt to manufacture components domestically, which it reportedly has not done with great success. See,,,2000303,0 ... .
The really bad thing, however, is that in rolling up Khan’s global network, CIA CPD lost an inside view into what was going on in Iran. That had the effect of clearing the field for certain alternative sources of information about Iran’s nuclear program, such as the National Council for Resistance in Iran, an front group for the MEK, a terrorist group sponsored by Paul Wolfowitz, Ahmed Chalabi and the AEI’s Michael Ledeen.

In mid-August 2002, after Valerie Plame had cleaned out her desk at the CPD Iran unit, NCIR issued claims that Iran had dug a big hole in Natanz, where it intended to install centrigues. But, this wasn’t exactly news to the CIA. ... In December 2002, however, Mark Hibbs reported (no online copy) that the United States had briefed the IAEA on the purpose and location of Natanz before the NCRI allegations, at the optimal time to buy maximally incriminating satellite photographs:

For about a year, analysts at U.S. intelligence agencies and national laboratories, in part based on high-resolution reconnaissance imagery, and supported by procurement information , have been hardening suspicions that Iran was building a clandestine uranium enrichment plant in Natanz and a heavy water production facility in Arak, Western officials told NuclearFuel.

About six months ago, sources said, a limited amount of crucial information from the U.S. findings, including the precise geographical coordinates of the sites, was provided to the IAEA. Officials there said the agency then tasked a handful of Vienna personnel to examine the data using commercial satellite photos of the two locations. Mark Hibbs, “U.S. Briefed Suppliers Group in October on Suspected Iranian Enrichment Plant,” Nuclear Fuel 27:26, December 23, 2002, p. 1.

CHENEY – A Question of Motive

When Bush-Cheney took power, the CIA unit where Valerie Plame worked presented the principal institutional roadblock in the way to military attacks on the three “Axis of Evil” countries – Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In order to pursue them, the Administration had to work systematically to deconstruct the Division's highly successful CIA counter-proliferation program started by Bush 41 that had, under the Clinton Administration, effectively neutralized the atomic bomb programs of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

The program of deconstructing CIA counter-proliferation made considerable progress. By late 2002, as the invasion of Iraq neared, nobody at CIA could say with certainty that the Chinese-made aluminum tubes interdicted would be used for. The agents and network that had once dealt with Khan were gone. Nonetheless, Plame flew to Jordan, where she interviewed Iraqi scientists and other sources. She concluded the tubes had other uses, but could not definitively counter other voices -- including external contractors, such as those working for Wade Cunningham's MZM, who were falsely claiming the aluminum stock was proof that Saddam was building Khan P-2 design centrifuges to "reconstitute" his nuclear program. The resulting CIA report was a toss-up, and the invasion advocates won the debate: ... Although China, SENTENCE DELETED , a shipment of about 2,000 tubes had already been sent DELETED. In DELETED June, 2001, the tubes arrived DELETED authorities, DELETED, seized DELETED. A DELETED intelligence assessment disseminated on July 2, 2001 said DELETED personnel had inspected the tubes DELETED and said, "The tubes are constructed from high strength aluminum (7075-T6) and are manufactured to the tight tolerances necessary for gas centrifuges. The dimensions of the tubes match those of a publicly available gas centrifuge design from the 1950s, known as the Zippe centrifuge."12 The assessment concluded that "the specifications for the tubes far exceed any known conventional weapons application, including rocket motor casings for 81 -mm multiple rocket launchers."

Then, in early summer 2003, as it became evident that no WMD program was going to be unearthed in Iraq, Dick Cheney ordered his underlings to again go on the offensive. Destroy the complaining voices coming out of what remained of CIA Counter-Proliferation Division. That may have seemed at the time to Cheney, Libby and their confederates at WHIG to be a mere mopping-up exercise.

North Korea and the Khan Network

When the A.Q. Khan network was made public in 2001, the focus was on North Korea’s nuclear program. Like Iran, no sooner did Pyongyang reach an agreement with the Clinton Administration suspending its nuclear program than Khan entered from a side door, offering an alternative means to produce weapons-grade materials. We also learned in 2006 at the time of first live test of North Korea’s bomb that the technologies that were peddled to North Korea didn't work.

Since the 1960s North Korea had a perfectly good Soviet-built graphite reactor spewing out loads of plutonium and old Chinese-based plans for a plutonium bomb, major components of which were already completed when the Clinton Administration negotiated a suspension of the NK nuclear program.

A.Q. Khan appeared on the scene in the late 1990s, and sold NK a completely different technology -- centrifuges to produce enriched uranuim. Pyongyang essentially wasted million of scarce hard dollars to acquire this new system, which is incompatible with their existing plutonium-based program, which was under seal by the IAEA.

As referenced above, In his first State of the Union speech, President Bush identified North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as the “Axis of Evil’. Then, on June 1, the Bush Administration publicly accused NK of cheating -- based on the Khan equipment. Not surprisingly, North Koreans promptly kicked international inspectors out, and repossessed their plutonium fuel rods, from which they completed work on an atomic bomb. For reasons we can only speculate about, that test last October fizzled. The depletion of funds and the defection of some of their top scientists no doubt had something to do with it. See,

Another casualty of the Bush Administration's outing of the Khan network was a similar program directed at Iran. Khan sold the Iranians plans and some components for a style of centrifuge -- the P-2 -- that was different from the older P-1 models, which use steel casings, the Iranians had been working with for nearly twenty years. The P-2 is about twice as efficient, but the parts are much harder to obtain and manufacture, which in effect, again slowed down the customer's program.

As James Risen's book reveals at page 193, after outing Khan, the Bush Administration rolled up what remained of the CIA network inside Iran by releasing the names of the agents inside that country to a known double-agent. This, of course, prompted Iran to pursue a much more secretive program, one that is far more difficult to track than it had been in the late 1990s. After Cheney and Libby outed Plame, they then had Porter Goss burn what was left of the CIA's Iran network. There would be little alternative intelligence sources to those being rolled out by the shop at the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (OSP).

That was the idea, anyway, but the FBI busted Larry Franklin, instead, and the OSP-AIPAC plot was halted. See, Part 1.

IRAQ – The Issue Was Aluminum Tubes, Not Yellowcake

The A.Q. Khan network proliferated plans and components for uranium enrichment centrifuges and other nuclear technologies all over the world during the 1990s until the Bush Administration "outed" Khan in 2002.

Khan is known to have offered the P-2 centrifuge to Libya, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. A centrigue assembly was unearthed in Iraq after the invasion, but found to pre-date the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq did have the rudiments of a nuclear program. The CIA was tracking the global trade in the specialized components required for this type of device. The P-1 and P-2 came to be trace indicators for nuclear proliferation efforts of several countries of interest to the CIA.

One of the characteristics of the P-2 is that it requires high-strength aluminum tubes. The older P-1 style uses an annealed steel casing, which is heavier (it won't spin as fast) but more durable. The P-2 requires lots of spare aluminum tubes, which corrode quickly in a highly corrosive environment of uranium hexafloride gas.

In 2002, central to the claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program was interception of a shipment to Iraq of a stock of aluminum tubing. As Richard Grenier testified in the Libby trial last week, the issue of whether this aluminum tubing was for use in gas centrifuges was central to debate within the CIA Counter Proliferation Division (CPD) in which Grenier and Plame worked.

The final verdict was that the tubes had other uses, particularly as short-range rockets, which were not forbidden Iraq. This left the Niger Yellow Cake -- disputed by Wilson and his allies within CPD -- as one of the few fall-back positions the Administration could publicly use to justify the assertion that Saddam was rebuilding his nuclear program.

According to Grenier, in late 2002 and early 2003, the Niger Yellowcake question was not a subject of serious discussion within the CPD Iraq task force. This is because few who read Wilson's report took seriously the charge that Iraq had actually managed to obtain uranium from Niger. That issue had already been disposed of when Wilson visited Niger in early 2002. That followed a similar 1999 Mission that Wilson carried out for the CIA in which he investigated both Iranian and Pakistani (i.e. AQ Khan) efforts to obtain yellowcake from Niger. That trip is referenced in the CIA “unnamed” (Wilson) Debrief that Grossman & Ford passed about .

In all likelihood, Plame was well aware of the aluminum tubes issue, as this was the actual focus of interest at CPB during early 2003. It may be significant that Cheney’s lawyer, Richard Addington, was also interested in the Khan network in conjunction with the White House effort to counter Wilson, as a memo that came out at trial yesterday shows. -... /
"W: It says Dept of Navy v Egan. Supreme Court Addington
W Two lines down declassify (it says AQ Khan in between)

W You recall reviewing these notes. You referred to Navy V Egan
A: I cited it, I didn't hand him a copy of it. He has ADD, but I'm sure that must refer to me.

Why did Cheney's lawyer focus on Khan in June 2003? We can conclude it may have had to do with Plame's work on the aluminum tubes issue, the tale-tale indicator that someone was operating the P-2 centrifuge, which eats up replacement aluminum tubes.

As we've seen, the CIA had been well aware of the proliferation activities of the AQ Khan network, with particular interest in monitoring the tell-tale trade in P-2 components. David Corn tells us that in 1997, a couple years after she was first hired into CIA, Valerie Plame was given a choice of WMD monitoring assignments -- North Korea or Iran. She chose the latter. Both countries were approached at about this time by the Khan network with designs and components for the P-2, an offer that didn't work out well for the customers.

Recall that this was at a time that the Clinton Administration had worked out an inspections agreement with both countries. Before the Khan sales, North Korea had a plutonium program using their old Soviet-provided reactors. Iran, meanwhile, had been using P-1 type centrifuges for 15 years. Yes, Plame would have certainly known about the Khan deals and been at the center of the debate about Iraq and Iran WMD programs within CIA.

In 2002-03, the Administration wanted badly to change the Agency's consensus assessment about the Iran, Iraq and North Korea nuclear programs -- neither Iran nor Iraq was anywhere near being able to build a bomb, CPB had concluded, North Korea had been sidetracked -- Plame would, indeed, have to be neutralized.

The Other Motive: Joe wasn’t Cheney’s true target, Valerie and the CIA were.

The Administration and its allies in the intelligence community justified the destruction of the CPD’s Iran and North Korea programs as a way to put Khan back into the bottle, while simultaneously creating a casus belli for confrontation with Khan's customers. This had the effect of cutting short the IAEA inspections agreements that had been reached with both countries. It also allowed North Korea to realize sooner than they would have that their bomb design and manufacture was defective, and the Iranians response as to disperse their and redouble their nuclear program.
Outing CIA CPD (Brewster-Jennings was a front) had the effect of doing away with competing intelligence sources -- sources that were being uncooperative in building the Administration's false case for attacking Iraq AND Iran.

In effect, the Bush-Cheney Administration’s exposure of Plame and her role at CIA was intended to finish the job of outing the CPD unit where she worked. Naming her as an undercover CIA agent in WMD gave away everyone else she was known to have worked with here and abroad.

In other words, by identifying Plame, the defendant made it easy for foreign intelligence to identify others within CPD, and their agent networks, with whom she was observed to have had contact over the years, in Iran and elsewhere.

Think about the scale and seriousness of the crimes that Cheney and Libby had just committed when they outed Plame. When no WMD were found in Iraq, they were screwed, if nothing was done. The Administration had been caught red-handed manipulating the U.S. into an illegal, unjustified war.
They say that if you're in a hole, keep digging until you start to see light or feel heat. The only thing that might possibly save Dick and Scooter in June 2003 was to parlay the WMD threat of another country into a real war.

The last war is always forgotten as soon as a new one starts.

Target Iran, which had a real nuclear program, albeit one that the CIA had concluded was some five years away from completion. There weren't many other options left.


Libby isn't Fitz’s true target, Cheney is.

That's been the operating premise for many of us from the beginning of the Libby trial. Everything that's been said by each and every witness buttresses the case for a conspiracy indictment against Cheney.

I believe a jury, in the event that he is eventually put on trial, would convict Dick Cheney on charges of Treason.
2007. Mark G. Levey

Part 2 of leveymg's post. Submitted by rosesaylavee.
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