Monday, April 24, 2006

60 Minutes ...

Been on vacation ....it was enjoyable. Hope you all didn't miss me too much.

Original article and active links at : http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/008284.php


By now you've probably seen or heard about the 60 Minutes segment with the interview with Tyler Drumheller, the now-retired CIA officer who was head of covert operations in Europe during the lead up to the Iraq War.

I just got off the phone with Drumheller. But before we get to that, let's run down the key points in the story.

First, Drumheller says that most folks in the intelligence community didn't think there was anything to the Niger-uranium story. We knew that in general terms; but we hadn't heard it yet from someone so closely involved in the case itself. Remember, the CIA Station Chief in Rome, the guy who first saw the documents when they were dropped off at the US Embassy in October 2002, worked for Drumheller.

Second, Drumheller told us a lot more about the case of Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister, who the CIA managed to turn not long before the war broke out. Drumheller was in charge of that operation. The White House, as Drumheller relates it, was really excited to hear what Sabri would reveal about the inner-workings of Saddam's regime, and particularly about any WMD programs. That is, before Sabri admitted that Saddam didn't have any active programs. Then they lost interest.

Now, if you didn't see the episode you can catch most of the key facts in this story at the 60 Minutes website.

But here's an angle I'm not sure we're going to hear much about.

Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence.

So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs?

Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels.

Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story?

Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee?

I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently.

Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely.

Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report.

Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing.

"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.

What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.

-- Josh Marshall


This document is available online at this url.

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