Conflict Developing?

1615307612 "In its report on Thursday, the acting inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble, found that the work done by the Pentagon team, which was assembled by Douglas J. Feith, a former under secretary of defense for policy, was “not fully supported by the available intelligence.”"  NY Times


A damaging document like the Department of Defense Inspector General report on the misdeeds of the Office of Special Plans could not have been released without the express and personal permission of the Secretary of Defense.

That means that Bob Gates himself released the report in the certain knowledge that it would cause a furor in the media, in the Congress and in the White House.  At the same time a rebuttal of the IG’s report has been prepared in the Pentagon.  This would be a normal precaution on the part of DoD hedging against the "blowback" that the bureaucracy knew would occur as soon as the IG report became public. 

Nevertheless, it is becoming clear that Mr. Gates is "dragging his feet" over making a propaganda case against Iran on the basis of the available evidence of Iranian interference in American operations in Iraq as well as its insistence on continuation of its nuclear program.  Gates is widely quoted as believing that everyone should calm down about Iran, and that the evidence of Iranian intractability has been overstated.

A book of "evidence" of Iranian malfeasance has been prepared for public release as part of the "information operation" (propaganda).  Those who have seen it (including Gates) think it is "weak."

For Gates to "drag his feet" in the midst of "the Year of Iran" (attributed to John Hannah – the VP’s Middle East man) is a major problem for the Cheney/Bush Administration’s goals in regard to Iran.

It will not be politically possible for Bush to fire Gates.  He will have to live with having chosen him.   How far will the drift toward disagreement over this proceed?  pl

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18 Responses to Conflict Developing?

  1. matt says:

    If history is any guide, I don’t think Mr. Gates has a chance. (not happy about that of course.) What other indications have there been that calmer, cool, rational minds EVER prevail with this bunch?

  2. Dan Tompkins says:

    In the context of the “Year of Iran,” folks should be aware that there’s already massive pushback on the ‘Net to Michael Gordon’s peace on Iranian contribution to IEDs. Among the complaints:
    1) Overuse of anonymous sources, all with the same ax to grind;
    2) Weird stats: the Iranian-assisted IEDs are held accountable for up to 25% of US casualties in the last 3 months of ’06: but most of those casualties came in Sunni areas, and it seems unlikely that Iran would be arming the opponents of Shiites’
    3) An admission in the article that the IEDs are primarily defensive, i.e. used to prevent US Army from entering certain areas. That makes their role not wholly defensible, but ambiguous.
    4) Michael Gordon’s history: Michael Massing’s Feb 2004 dissection of bad reporting on WMDs (NYReview of Books) said,
    “In retrospect, the September 8, 2002, article by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction seems one of the most serious cases of misreporting in the entire run-up to the war. The piece provided a major boost to the administration’s case for war—and proved to be wrong in almost every detail”
    Dan Tompkins

  3. Dan Tompkins says:

    Michael Gordon’s piece, not peace. Freud would be intrigued.
    The article was: “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says” 2/10
    As Massing points out, Jonathan Landay of Knight -Ridder / McClatchy did the responsible journalist work of kicking the tires of Pentagon claims, locating experts who said the evidence was far shakier than Gordon and Miller implied.
    Dan Tompkins

  4. pb says:

    What if it is just a ploy–make it appear that he highly disapproves of the tactic. New OSP now has renewed credibility.

  5. dan says:

    According to the info being relayed from the Baghdad briefing regarding Iran’s activities, they are attributing 170 coalition force deaths since June 2004 to equipment supplied via Iran. That’s a tad fewer than 6 per month.
    Since the handover of “sovereignty” to the Iraqis there have been some 2400 coalition troop deaths, which suggests that if every scrap of information and detail is accurate, this is still less than 10% of the coalition fatality count during that time period.
    From the piccies shown on the BBC of the briefing document, there is already one potentially very glaring informational error; I’m not an expert, but I suspect that Iran uses the Islamic system for dating the year, not the Roman system.

  6. says:

    Dear PAt,
    I guess the question we want answered is this: Gates is dragging his feet because he is against attacking Iran or he is dragging his feet becuase he wants the case to be air tight?
    If its the latter he is on a fool’s errand. All he has to do is read this blog and all the information made available on it, to learn everything he needs to know about the history and physics of shaped charges the Iranians are allegedly supplying the Shia and the Bathists. Does anyone but me believe the Iraqis can do this all by themselves?
    I wonder now as the surge begins with ill-equpped American and Iraqi troops and is being written off as a disaster in the making, could it be King George knows that and is using Iran, in part, to divert this country’s attention away from the continuing bloodbath in Baghdad?
    Michael Singer

  7. Mad Dogs says:

    It will be “interesting” to see how this latest iteration of magically produced casus belli sells with the now Democrat-controlled Senate.
    As Pat and the other commenters have highlighted, the MSM-based (let’s repeat the false stuff until the repetition magically makes it real) information warfare campaign (like a political campaign ya think?) against us is well underway.
    The betting line right at the moment in Sin City is that the Cheney Administration will be able to start another conflict ’cause there ain’t nobody, including the Senate, with the real power to stop ’em.
    The Cheney mindset is analogous to that old Soviet adage: “How many divisions does the Pope Senate have?”
    Gonna be a tad bit “interesting” to see if the Democrat-controlled Senate will pre-emptively legislate that Junya and crew cannot go to war with Iran.
    Again, the betting line right now (as starkly illustrated by the blocked Irag – No Escalation vote) is that McConnell and the rest of his litter of Repug weasels will be able to block via filibuster any Democratic attempt to tie Junya’s and Deadeye’s hands on Iran.
    The PNAC plan is still operative! To wit: Let’s spin the ME into chaos ’cause the status quo for the last 50 years ain’t bought us anything.
    Like the ever-reality-denying gambler who has already tossed snake-eyes and lost the food money, these folks believe that with just one more throw of the dice, all their dreams will come true. Can you say “let’s lose the mortgage money too”?

  8. meletius says:

    This is cutting-edge analysis, way, way ahead of any curve I’ve seen.
    If true, it’s of enormous significance.
    Who has done an “ideological history” profile of Gates? What’s his level of neo-con infection? Any reason to think anti-bodies are present?
    What’s his connection/indebtedness to the “Jimmy” Baker side of the GOP, given he was an Iraq Study Group member?

  9. robt willmann says:

    A toothless tiger.
    A slip of the tongue.
    Two little expressions in our wonderful language, but foreboding to Iraq, Iran, and the people — us, our military, Arabs, and Persians.
    I will be blunt, because of the hideous death and destruction that has happened in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine since 2002, and that may expand to Iran.
    Simply put, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s report lets the perpetrators off the hook, in the Review of Pre-Iraqi War Activities of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
    The promoters of the military and violent action by the U.S. in the Middle East since 2001 are concerned about only one thing: the lawyer who has the final authority to decide whether to ask a federal grand jury to return a criminal indictment. Since there is no longer an Independent Counsel law, through which some present and former members of the Bush jr. administration were investigated by Lawrence Walsh in the Iran-Contra scandal, that person is the Attorney General of the United States. And he will not investigate and will not seek the indictment of anyone related to the fraud and false pretenses under which the war and current violence were brought.
    So Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and the other hucksters so artfully placed in the bureaucratic decision-making process are now rolling on the floor laughing. Not only are they in no danger of being investigated by an independent, competent trial lawyer with access to a grand jury, but the inspector general (IG) gives the opinion that the “alternative intelligence assessments”,
    a polite name for “the fraud”, were “not illegal or unauthorized”. The IG’s executive summary claims that because the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Wolfowitz) directed that Feith and his cronies run the scam, it was therefore “authorized”. This means the IG could have said that the actions were “unauthorized” but “legal”, or, “authorized” but “illegal”.
    I would not take the IG’s bald conclusion that the “actions” by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy were not “illegal” as being the last word or authoritative. There are a number of broadly worded federal laws that cover all sorts of bad conduct, including fraud. And the federal crime of conspiracy does not require that the object of the conspiracy happen or even be possible.
    The title “Inspector General” is an impressive one, but belongs to a toothless tiger. And as an aside, the section of the law creating an inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security is so limiting that the IG there is a toothless lapdog.
    What does the IG recommend be done about this part of the un-intelligence that misled the public about going to war?
    Three guesses. And the first two don’t count.
    The toothless tiger says, perhaps somewhat mush-mouthed,
    “We believe that the continuing collaboration between the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will significantly reduce the opportunity for the inappropriate conduct of intelligence activities outside of intelligence channels. As a result, we are not making any recommendations.” Executive Summary, p. 2.
    In other words . . . nothing.
    Do all of the families of the dead, maimed, and crippled soldiers, and the taxpayers, understand what “their” federal government is going to do about the fraud that helped launch the Iraq War? They know now.
    The link in the above post to the NY Times article of February 10 demonstrates that the newspaper is still helping the promoters of the war. Although the executive summary does not so state, the NY Times says that the IG’s report “found that while the Feith team did not violate any laws or knowingly mislead Congress, it made dubious interpretations . . . .” Perhaps the Times was allowed to see the classified report that we the people were not. But an average teenager would be amused by the claim that the Feith “team” did not “knowingly” mislead Congress. This admits that the team did mislead Congress, but it was done–how?–by accident? Was “the team” so heavily sedated that it did not possess conscious awareness that it was misleading Congress?
    Alas, the NY Times even leaves us to speculate who the members of the “Feith team” were. But the article can sweep the whole thing under the rug by saying that the IG’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee “set off a two-hour partisan clash.” Don’t worry folks, this is not about an obscene fraud and the resulting human suffering; it’s just politics, and there are lots of equally good arguments on both sides.
    The coverup of the prewar propaganda is almost complete.
    Just in time for Iran.
    But what about that slip of the tongue?
    On February 2, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Gen. Peter Pace gave a news briefing.
    Gates says in his response to the first question that–
    “With respect to Iran, first of all, the president has made clear; the secretary of State has made clear; I’ve made clear — nobody is planning — we are not planning for a war with Iran.”
    He had to correct himself when he said “nobody is planning”
    (for a war with Iran).
    When Gates says that “we” are not planning for a war, we the people should not put too much faith in that denial.
    But if he can’t say that “nobody” is planning for a war with Iran, then who is?
    Three guesses. And all three count.

  10. Yohan says:

    Bush cabinets, even more so than other cabinets, are all about strong personalities, not traditional institutional powers. Before W’s first term, the National Security Adviser played a very strong role and indeed the SecDef was supposed to answer to the NSA. This didn’t happen in W’s first or second term because Rummy had such a strong personality while Rice has such a weak personality. Rummy’s close association with the other strong personality of the cabinet, that of Dick Cheney who occupies the normally powerless office of the Vice Pres., also contributed to Rummy’s ability to bypass or run over Rice at the NSC. Without Rummy, and with a different NSA and the same belligerent Cheney, it might be possible that a new cabinet alliance could form that would be able to cut Gates out of the loop should he prove to be uncooperative on Iran.
    Bush and his cabinet might go around and undermine Gates so much that he gives up, like Powell before him, and acquiesces to the Iran War. The pro-war faction does very few things well, but playing unorthodox bureaucratic games to get what they want while pushing opponents to the side is definitely one of them.

  11. walrus says:

    Col. Lang you have asked an excellent question: “Why has Gates permitted the release of this report right now?”
    I guess the obvious answer, at least to a slow thinker like me, is to highlight the Administrations track record in fabricating intelligence in the hope that such actions will not be repeated in respect of Iran.
    I guess I’m hoping that maybe Gates hasn’t drunk the Kool aid and will successfully argue against attacking Iran.
    However, if there is a purported Iranian attack on American forces, then Gates will have to go with the flow.

  12. Chris Marlowe says:

    My guess is that Gates is Bush 41’s new man to counter Cheney’s expansionist war policies. He probably said to 43: take the ISG plan. 43 said no, but I’ll take Gates in Defense.
    Cheney sees the window of opportunity closing for Israel and the US, especially with the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies, and their demand for oil. The pro-Israeli right-wing irredentists are worried about the long-term viability of Israel, so they want to use US military strength to create an on the ground fait accompli. This would involve internal Palestinian strife (Fatah and Hamas civil war) so that the Palestinians cannot provide a united front against their desire to define a border with Israel. You can read about what Elliott Abrams has been up to here:
    Cheney wanted to create an oil grab so that even if the US is in economic decline, it would have effective control over more oil, benefiting US oil companies. China wants to keep the money in Chinese state-owned companies; no one believes in buying oil on spot markets. (China, with all its attempts at getting oil from Venezuela and Africa, still imports 59% of its oil from the volatile ME.)Cheney knows that he has a deadline to meet his goals:1/19/09. Unless he is able to meet his ground goals, it is unlikely that any US president, Republican or Democrat, will continue his policies. He could very well be put on trial for war crimes if he doesn’t win this one.
    Bush 41 and Gates think that Cheney has cast a spell over the not-too-bright Bush 43, and that Rice is totally useless. (“American diplomacy” has become an oxymoron under her watch.) In the Defense Department, Rumsfeld’s leftovers are still doing their planning for Operation Iranian Freedom, Operation Chinese Freedom, Operation Russian Freedom and Operation Korean Freedom. Gate’s job is to neutralize them without openly opposing them and Cheney.
    In addition, Gate’s job is to slow down their impetus so that they cannot flush the US completely down the toilet before 1/19/09. Their worry is that all these wars will completely wreck the US economy, bringing down that house of cards which is called the US dollar.
    They see what Cheney and defense refuse to recognize: bring down the dollar, and you bring down America. If the Bush administration starts going after the Chinese, accusing them of being anti-American and supporting terrorism, we can kiss the US and the dollar goodbye. The Chinese will see this as an Armageddon move, and will dump their dollars on the world’s markets before the missiles and bombers start flying.

  13. John Howley says:

    The fifth resolve of Sen Byrd’s proposed Senate Resolution 39 reads as follows:
    “…that any offensive military action by the United States against another country shall occur only after the Congress has authorized such action.”

  14. ali says:

    I’m very suspicious about this. It’s not impossible that Qods Force are handing out munitions to the Sunni insurgents. The Iranians are subtle chaps; they’ll arm them and happily slaughter them later. But a well equipped light machine shop can make an EFP. Iraq is full of trained military engineers. The insurgency has always been entrepreneurial in nature and has demonstrated in the past a ability to innovate rapidly in technical matters. Just Email them the blueprints and leave them to it, a very deniable way of “disseminating the technology”. That’s about how thin this is. If the Iranians move it will be in Maysan, Basra and Baghdad not the peripheral Sunni Jihad KZ of al Anbar.
    Our allies the Saudis have been supplying a steady flow of human ordinance to Iraq for a couple of years. Recently the rhetoric has moved up a gear. We have Saudi clerics declaring the Iraqi Shi’a heretics, their government frankly stating they’ll intervene on the Sunni side (knowing wink, pregnant pause… if the US leaves) and Al Turki their specialist in insurgent support dragged home from DC. It would be very odd if the Saudis weren’t preparing for a clash with the Iranians by proxy in Iraq. Laying down a network independent of their less than trustworthy US allies.
    This year the insurgents have been knocking down about one helicopter a week. Now either we have a new intensity of close air support or they’ve all suddenly got the knack or there are some new special ops guys going round passing that on.

  15. zanzibar says:

    I was struck by your comments this morning on Blitzer’s show that Feith, et al went to the discard pile of raw intelligence that the intelligence agencies had proven were untrue and kept shoving in their face to get them to “fix the intelligence to support the policy decision” made to invade and occupy Iraq. So at the end of the day the intelligence agencies delivered what the Decider and Shooter wanted.
    Now we have Gates “dragging his feet” on Iran. But wont these guys go with the same play and keep the pressure on Gates and the intelligence agencies to provide the “incriminating evidence” on Iran to support the policy decision with respect to Iran they have already made? This keeps the plausible deniability going for themselves as they would be deemed to have done something “inappropriate but not illegal” as they can always pass the blame on to Gates’ DoD and the intelligence agencies. As we have seen with Gen. Casey, etc these folks would rather get another star or medal than speak their conscience in the best interests of our country. Would not Gen.Hayden and Gates ultimately acquiesce and give the Decider what he wants?
    On another note would Congress have authority to investigate in depth the “fixing” of the Iraq intelligence and could they prosecute since we know Atty Gen Alberto is only focused on running the clock and will stall any prosecutions. No Pat Fitzgerald will be on any such case. And the recent Patriot Act has contained in it the ability for Gonzales as Atty Gen to fire US attorneys and their replacements need not be confirmed by the Senate and as a result current investigations are going to run aground.

  16. 4 billion says:

    just in from the front,
    “The new surge has got off to an equally uncertain start. Six American helicopters have been downed in the last three weeks and ???the crackdown could not begin last Monday because too few Iraqi troops turned up??? — the same problem that bedevilled last summer’s push.”
    The Australian
    if people were not dying, this would be really funny.
    If only Bushney would not turn up for work.

  17. lester says:

    I’m guessing some here remeber the “safe house documents” found on zarqawi, the ones that outlined a plan to get the US to go to war with iran in order to give the sunni insurgency some space. I guess the conspiracy nuts were right after all: PNAC = Al queda.
    matt comment 1 – I think you’re right. No matter what Gates is made of he doesn’t have a very good chance. how our half dead five times deferred idiot vp wields so much power over people I’ll never know, but he does.

  18. Charles says:

    Lester, re: “how our half dead five times deferred idiot vp wields so much power over people I’ll never know, but he does.”
    I think it works like this. You get into power, or very near power, or in a position to reliably influence power, and then the people who paid to put you there are then given their return on investment.
    If the people who put you in power are already powerful, well organized and connected, as in Big Oil, or in 43’s case, Kathryn Harris and the Supremes, why your powers are synergistically leveraged in all possible directions and spheres, generating positive returns on investment, and attracting yet more “investment”, and fervent efforts to protect your capital assets.
    Twas ever thus

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