|08/06/04||COUP D'ETAT: The Real Reason Tenet and Pavitt Resigned from the CIA on June 3rd and 4th|
Bush, Cheney Indictments in Plame Case Looming
by Michael C. Ruppert
additional reporting by
Wayne Madsen from Washington
(c) Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness
JUNE 8, 2004 1600 PDT (FTW) – Why did DCI George Tenet suddenly resign on June 3rd, only to be followed a day later by James Pavitt, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations (DDO)?
The real reasons, contrary to the saturation spin being put out by major news outlets, have nothing to do with Tenet's role as taking the fall for alleged 9/11 and Iraqi intelligence “failures” before the upcoming presidential election.
Both resignations, perhaps soon to be followed by resignations from Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage, are about the imminent and extremely messy demise of George W. Bush and his Neocon administration in a coup d'etat being executed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The coup, in the planning for at least two years, has apparently become an urgent priority as a number of deepening crises threaten a global meltdown.
Based upon recent developments, it appears that long-standing plans and preparations leading to indictments and impeachment of Bush, Cheney and even some senior cabinet members have been accelerated, possibly with the intent of removing or replacing the entire Bush regime prior to the Republican National Convention this August.
FTW has been documenting this Watergate-like coup for more than fifteen months and almost everything we will discuss about recent events was by us predicted in detail in these pages. Please see our stories “The Perfect Storm – Part I” (March 2003); “Blood in the Water” (July 2003); “Beyond Bush – Part I” (July 2003); “Waxman Ties Evidentiary Noose Around Rice and Cheney” (July 2003); and “Beyond Bush – Part II” (October 2003).
There were two things we didn't get right. One was the timing. We predicted the developments taking place now as likely to happen after the November election, not before. Secondly, we did not foresee the sudden resignations of Tenet and Pavitt. Understanding the resignations is the key to understanding a deteriorating world scene and that America is on the precipice of a presidential and constitutional crisis that will ultimately dwarf the removal of Richard Nixon in 1974.
So why did Tenet and Pavitt resign? We'll explain why and we will provide many clues along the way as we make our case.
HIGH CRIMES AND REALLY STUPID MOVES
Shortly after the “surprise” Tenet-Pavitt resignations, current and former senior members of the U.S. intelligence community and the Justice Department told journalist Wayne Madsen, a former Naval intelligence officer, that they were directly connected to the criminal investigation of a 2003 White House leak that openly exposed Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA officer. What received less attention was that the leak also destroyed a long-term CIA proprietary intelligence gathering operation which, as we will see, was of immense importance to US strategic interests at a critical moment.
The leak was a vindictive retaliation for statements, reports and actions taken by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, which had deeply embarrassed the Bush administration and exposed it to possible charges for impeachable offenses, including lying to the American people about an alleged (and totally unfounded) nuclear threat posed by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Conservative columnist Robert Novak, the beneficiary of the leak, immediately published it on July 14, 2003 and Valerie Plame's career (at least the covert part) instantly ended. The actual damage caused by that leak has never been fully appreciated.
Wilson deeply embarrassed almost every senior member of the Bush junta by proving to the world that they were consciously lying about one of their most important justifications for invading Iraq: namely, their claim to have had certain knowledge, based on “good and reliable” intelligence, that Hussein was on the brink of deploying a nuclear weapon, possibly inside the United States. It was eventually disclosed that the “intelligence” possessed by the administration was a set of poorly forged documents on letterhead from the government of Niger, which described attempts by Iraq to purchase yellowcake uranium for a nuclear weapons program.
It has since been established by Scott Ritter and others that Iraq's nuclear weapons program had been dead in the water and non-functioning since the first Iraq war.
Wilson was secretly dispatched in February 2002, on instructions from Dick Cheney to the CIA, to go to Niger and look for anything that might support the material in the documents. They had already been dismissed as forgeries by The International Atomic Energy Agency, the CIA, and apparently everyone else who had seen them. The CIA cautioned the administration, more than once, against using them. Shortly thereafter, Wilson returned and gave his report stating clearly that the allegations were pure bunk and unsupportable.
In spite of this, unaware of the booby traps laid all around them, the entire power core of the Bush administration jumped on the Niger documents as on a battle horse and charged off into in a massive public relations blitz. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz and others – to varying degrees – insisted, testified, and swore that they knew, and had reliable, credible and verified intelligence that Saddam was about to deploy an actual nuclear device built from the Niger yellowcake.
It was full court media press and they successfully scared the pants off of Most Americans who believed that Saddam was going to nuke them any second.
George Bush made the charge and actually cited the documents in his 2003 State-of-the-Union address, even after he had been cautioned by George Tenet not to rely on them. In a major speech at the United Nations, Colin Powell charged that Iraq was on the verge of deploying a nuke and had been trying to acquire uranium. Dick Cheney charged in several speeches that Saddam was capable of nuclear terror. And shortly before the invasion, when asked in a television interview whether there was sufficient proof and advance warning of the Iraqi nuclear threat, a smug and confident Condoleezza Rice quipped, “If we wait for a smoking gun, that smoking gun may be a mushroom cloud over an American city.” Rice was lying through her teeth.
By July of 2003, as the Iraqi invasion was proving to be a protracted and ill-conceived debacle, executed in spite of massive resistance from within military, political, diplomatic and economic cadres, there was growing disgust within many government circles about the way the Bush administration was running things. The mention of Wilson's report came in July though his name was not disclosed. It suggested corroborative evidence of criminal, rather than stupid, behavior by the administration. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
“A senior CIA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 – 10 months before Bush's nationally televised speech – that an agency source who had traveled to Niger could not confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country.”
Note the reference to an Agency source.
It was inevitable that Wilson would move from no comment, to statements given on condition of anonymity, and finally into the public spotlight. That he did, in a July 6th New York Times Editorial titled “What I Didn't Find in Africa.”
On July 14th Novak published the column outing Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. As a result, any criminal investigation of the Plame leak will also go into the Niger documents and any crimes committed which are materially related to Plame's exposure.
Instead of retreating, Wilson advanced. In September he went public, writing editorials and granting interviews which thoroughly exposed the Bush administration's criminal use of the documents, Cheney's lies about the mission, and all the other lies used to deceive the American people into war.
At the moment he went on the record, Wilson became another legally admissible, corroborative evidentiary source; a witness available for subpoena and deposition, ready to give testimony to the high crimes and misdemeanors he has witnessed.
First Clue: James Pavitt was Valerie Plame's boss. So was George Tenet.
HOW THE TRAP WAS SET
Conflicting news reports suggest that perhaps several sets of the documents were delivered simultaneously to several recipients. I could find only one news story (out of almost 60 I have reviewed) which indicated just when the Niger papers were first put into play. One of the most fundamental questions in journalism, “when?” was omitted from every major press organization's coverage except for a single story from the Associated Press on July 13th.
“ [T]he forged Niger government documents,
The fall of 2001. That means that the documents were created no more than three and a half months after September 11th.
The earliest press report mentioning the documents was a March 7, 2003 story in The Financial Times. On that day, Mohammed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency reported to the UN Security Council that the documents were forgeries. The story contained a revealing paragraph.
“The allegation about the uranium purchase first
Canada's Globe and Mail reported on March 8, 2003:
“[T]he forgeries were sold to an Italian
The documents were turned over to the IAEA
“In fact, the IAEA says, there is no credible
“Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has
The Chicago Tribune reported on March 13, 2003,
The Washington Post gave yet a different story, also on March 8, 2003:
“Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery
The documents had been given to the U.N.
“The CIA, which had also obtained the documents,
“'It's something we're just beginning to look at,'
“The phony documents – a series of letters
What if it wasn't a foreign intelligence service? I had been suspicious that a Watergate-like coup was forming immediately after reading the first few stories about the documents. I was convinced when the AP reported on March 14, 2003 (just days before the Iraqi invasion) that the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee had called for an FBI investigation of the documents' origins. The Boston Globe reported two days later that the Senator was specifically seeking to determine whether administration officials had forged the documents themselves to marshal support for the invasion.
The request was not nearly as significant to me as who it had come from – Jay Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Rockefellers. An oil dynasty was calling for an investigation of a bunch of oil men. Somebody was screwing up big time.
Seymour Hersh dropped a major bombshell that went virtually unnoticed, 54 paragraphs deep into an October 27, 2003 story for the New Yorker titled “The Stovepipe.”
“Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is
“Another explanation was provided by a former
He became more forthcoming in subsequent months,
Hersh's revelation provided corroboration for something I and others, like the Renowned political historian Peter Dale Scott, had been suspecting for a long time. The CIA was fighting back. This was a well orchestrated, long-term covert operation – exactly what the CIA does all over the world.
POINT OF NO RETURN
Willing disclosure of the identity of a covert operative is a serious felony under Federal law, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 makes it a crime for anyone with access To classified information to intentionally disclose information identifying a covert operative. The penalties get worse for doing it to a deep cover Direcorate of Operations (DO) case officer (as opposed to an undercover DEA Agent).
After John Ashcroft was forced to recuse himself from the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, was transferred to Washington and appointed special prosecutor in the Plame case.
Robert Novak, rightly standing by the journalistic code of ethics, has steadfastly refused to identify his White House source. We would do the same thing in his shoes. The investigation is nearing a climax with pending issuance of criminal indictments. Press reports citing sources close to the investigation have directly and indirectly pointed fingers at Dick Cheney and his Chief of Staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as suspects.
Second clue: The criminal investigation of the Plame leak was [initiated] after a September 2003 formal request from the CIA, approved by George Tenet.
Not only was Plame's cover blown, so was that of her cover company, Brewster, Jennings & Associates. With the public exposure of Plame, intelligence agencies all over the world started searching data bases for any references to her (TIME Magazine). Damage control was immediate, as the CIA asserted that her mission had been connected to weapons of mass destruction.
However, it was not long before stories from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's Principal founders.
According to additional sources interviewed by Wayne Madsen, Brewster Jennings was, in fact, a well-established CIA proprietary company, linked for many years to ARAMCO. The demise of Brewster Jennings was also guaranteed the moment Plame was outed.
It takes years for Non-Official Covers or NOCs, as they are known, to become really effective. Over time, they become gradually more trusted; they work their way into deeper information access from more sensitive sources. NOCs Are generally regarded in the community as among the best and most valuable of all CIA operations officers and the agency goes to great lengths to protect them in what are frequently very risky missions.
By definition, Valerie Plame was an NOC. Yet unlike all other NOCs who fear exposure and torture or death from hostile governments and individual targets who have been judged threats to the United States, she got done in by her own President, whom we also judge to be a domestic enemy of the United States.
Moreover, as we will see below, Valerie Plame may have been one of the most important NOCs the CIA had in the current climate. Let's look at just how valuable she was.
According to an April 29, 2002 report in Britain's Guardian, ARAMCO constitutes 12% of the world's total oil production; a figure which has certainly increased as other countries have progressed deeper into irreversible decline.
ARAMCO is the largest oil group in the world, a state-owned Saudi company in partnership with four major US oil companies. One of them is ExxonMobil which gave up one of its board members, Condoleezza Rice, when she became the National Security Advisor to George Bush. All of ARAMCO's key decisions are made by the Saudi royal family while US oil expertise, personnel and technology keeps the cash coming in and the oil going out. ARAMCO operates, manages, and maintains virtually all Saudi oil fields – 25% of all the oil on the planet.
It gets better.
According to a New York Times report on March 8th of this year, ARAMCO is planning to make a 25% investment in a new and badly needed refinery to produce gasoline. The remaining 75% ownership of the refinery will go to the only nation that is quickly becoming America's major world competitor for ever-diminishing supplies of oil: China.
Almost the entire Bush administration has an interest in ARAMCO.
The Boston Globe reported that in 2001 ARAMCO had signed a $140 million multi-year contract with Halliburton, then chaired by Dick Cheney, to develop a new oil field. Halliburton does a lot of business in Saudi Arabia. Current estimates of Halliburton contracts or joint ventures in the country run into the tens of billions of dollars.
So do the fortunes of some shady figures from the Bush family's past.
As recently as 1991 ARAMCO had Khalid bin Mahfouz sitting on its Supreme Council or board of directors. Mahfouz, Saudi Arabia's former treasurer and the nation's largest banker, has been reported in several places to be Osama bin Laden's brother in law. However, he has denied this and brought intense legal pressure to bear demanding retractions of these allegations. He has major partnership investments with the multi-billion dollar Binladin Group of Companies and he is a former director of BCCI, the infamous criminal drug-money laundering bank which performed a number of very useful services for the CIA before its 1991 collapse under criminal investigation by a whole lot of countries.
As Saudi Arabia's largest banker he handles the accounts of the royal family and – no doubt – ARAMCO, while at the same time he is a named defendant in a $1 trillion lawsuit filed by 9/11 victim families against the Saudi government and prominent Saudi officials who, the suit alleges, were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.
Both BCCI and Mahfouz have historical connections to the Bush family dating back to the 1980s. Another bank (one of many) connected to Mahfouz – the InterMaritime Bank – bailed out a cash-starved Harken Energy in 1987 with $25 million. After the rejuvenated Harken got a no-bid oil lease in 1991, CEO George W. Bush promptly sold his shares in a pump-and-dump scheme and made a whole lot of money.
Knowing all of this, there's really no good reason why the CIA should be too upset, is there? It was only a long-term proprietary and deep-cover NOC – well established and consistently producing “take” from ARAMCO (and who knows what else in Saudi Arabia). It was destroyed with a motive of personal vengeance (there may have been other motives) by someone inside the White House.
From the CIA's point of view, at a time when Saudi Arabia is one of the three or four countries of highest interest to the US, the Plame operation was irreplaceable.
Third clue: Tenet's resignation, which occurred at night, was the first “evening resignation” of a Cabinet-level official since October 1973 when Attorney General Elliott Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, resigned in protest of Richard Nixon's firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Many regard this as the watershed moment when the Nixon administration was doomed.
Given that energy is becoming the most important issue on the planet today, if you were the CIA, you might be a little pissed off at the Plame leak. But there may be justification to do more than be angry. Anger happens all the time in Washington. This is something else.
One of the most important intelligence prizes today – especially after recent stories in major outlets like the New York Times reporting that Saudi oil production has peaked and gone into irreversible decline – would be to know of a certainty whether those reports are correct. The Saudis are denying it vehemently but they are being strongly refuted by an increasing amount of hard data. The truth remains unproven. But the mere possibility has set the world's financial markets on edge. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi came to Washington on April 27th to put out the fires. It was imperative that he calm everybody's nerves as the markets were screaming, “Say it ain't so!”
Naimi said emphatically that there was nothing to worry about concerning either Saudi reserves or ARAMCO's ability to increase production. There was plenty of oil and no need for concern.
FTW covered and reported on that event. Writer and energy expert Julian Darley noted that there were some very important ears in the room, listening very closely. He also noted that Naimi's “scientific” data and promises of large future discoveries did not sit well many who are well versed in oil production and delivery.
[See FTW's June 2nd story, “Saudi's Missing Barrels” and our May 2003 story, “Paris Peak Oil Conference Reveals Deepening Crisis.” In that story FTW editor Mike Ruppert was the first to report on credible new information that Saudi Arabia had possibly peaked.]
If anybody has the real data on Saudi fields it is either ARAMCO or the highest levels of the Saudi royal family.
The answer to the Saudi peak question will determine whether Saudi Arabia really can increase production quickly, as promised. If they can't, then the US economy is going to suffer bitterly, and it is certain that the Saudi monarchy will collapse into chaos. Then the nearby US military will occupy the oilfields and the U.S. will ultimately Balkanize the country by carving off the oil fields – which occupy only a small area near the East coast. That U.S. enclave would then provide sanctuary to the leading members of the royal family who will have agreed to keep their trillions invested in Wall Street so the US economy doesn't collapse.
So far the Saudis haven't had to prove that they could increase production due to convenient terror attacks at oil fields, and more “debates” within OPEC.
Fourth clue: Bush and Cheney have both hired or consulted private criminal defense attorneys in anticipation of possible indictments of them and/or their top assistants in the Plame investigation. On June 3, just hours before Tenet suddenly resigned, President Bush consulted with and may have retained a criminal defense attorney to represent him in the Plame case.
According to various press reports Bush has either retained or consulted with Powerhouse attorney Jim Sharp, who represented Iran-contra figure retired Air Force Major General Richard Secord; Enron's Ken Lay; and Watergate co-conspirator Jeb Stuart Magruder. All three were facing criminal rather than civil charges. Either way, a clear signal has been sent that Bush expects to be either called to testify (which was a precursor in Watergate to a criminal indictment of Richard Nixon) or be named as a defendant. Either way, the President's men are falling faster than their counterparts fell in Watergate, and the initial targets are much higher up the food chain.
Cheney's attorney is Terrence O'Donnell, a partner of the Williams and Connolly law firm. O'Donnell worked for then White House chief of staff Cheney in the Ford administration and as General Counsel for the Pentagon when Cheney was Defense Secretary under the first President Bush. He has been representing the Vice President in criminal and civil cases involving Cheney's chairmanship of Halliburton. These include a Justice Department investigation of Halliburton for alleged payment of bribes to Nigerian political leaders and a stockholders' fraud law suit against Halliburton. O'Donnell also represented former CIA director John Deutch when he was accused of violating national security by taking his CIA computer home and surfing the Internet while it contained hundreds of highly-classified intelligence
SPRINGING THE TRAP
Now, seemingly all of a sudden, Bush and Cheney are in the crosshairs. Cheney has been questioned by Fitzgerald within the last week.
The CIA Director's job by definition, whether others like it or not, is to be able to go to his President and advise him of the real scientific data on foreign resources (especially oil); to warn him of pending instability in a country closely linked to the US economy; and to tell him what to plan for and what to promise politically in his foreign policy. In light of her position in the CIA's relationship with Saudi Aramco, the outing of Valerie Plame made much of this impossible. In short, the Bush leak threatened National Security.
Former White House Counsel and Watergate figure John Dean, writing for the prestigious legal website findlaw.com on June 4th made some very ominous observations that appear to have gone unnoticed by most.
“This action by Bush is a rather stunning and
“But from what I have learned from those who
“If so – and if the person revealed the leaker's
“If Bush is called before the grand jury, it is
“Perhaps Bush may have knowledge not only of the
“On this subject, I spoke with an experienced
“What advice might Bush get from a private
“I raised the issue of whether the President
“That may not stop Bush from trying to invoke
“Suffice it to say that whatever the meaning of
Last and final clue: Under Executive Privilege, a principle intended to protect the constitutional separation of powers, officials in the Executive Branch cannot give testimony in a legal case against a sitting President. The Bush administration has invoked or threatened to invoke the privilege several times. Dick did it over the secret records of his energy task force and George Bush tried to use it to prevent Condoleezza Rice from testifying before the 'Independent' Commission investigating September 11th.
Former officials of the Executive Branch are, however, free to testify if they are no longer holding a government office when subpoenaed or when the charges are brought.
[To learn more about Executive Privilege visit www.findlaw.com]
The Bush administration has proved itself to be an insular group of inept, dishonest and dangerous CEO's of the corporation known as America. They have become very bad for business and the Board of Directors is now taking action. Make no mistake, the CIA works for “The Board” – Wall Street and big money. The long-term (very corrupt and unethical) agenda of the Board, in the face of multiple worsening global crises, was intended to proceed far beyond the initially destructive war in Iraq, toward an effective reconstruction and a strategic response to Peak Oil. But the neocons have stalled at the ugly stage: killing hundreds of thousands of people; destroying Iraq's industrial and cultural infrastructure as their own bombs and other people's RPGs blow everything up; getting caught running torture camps; and making the whole world intensely dislike America.
These jerks are doing real damage to their masters' interests.
But (not surprisingly) Tenet and the CIA were and remain much better at covert operations and planning ahead than the Bush administration ever was. Tenet and Pavitt actually prepared and left a clear, irrefutable and incriminating paper trail which not only proves that they had shunned and refused to endorse the documents, the CIA also did not support the nuke charges and warned Bush not to use them.
Where are those documents now? They're part of the Justice Department Plame investigation – and they're also in the hands of the Congressman who will most likely introduce and manage the articles of impeachment, if that becomes necessary: Henry Waxman (D), of California. If you would like to see how tightly the legal trap has been prepared, and how carefully the evidence has been laid out, I suggest taking a look around Waxman's web site at: www.house.gov/waxman/.
There are a multitude of signs that the Bush administration is being “swarmed” in what is becoming a feeding frenzy as opposition is surfacing from many places inside the government, including the military. The signs are not hard to find.
The June 3rd issue of Capitol Hill Blue, the newspaper published for members of Congress, bore the headline “Bush Knew About Leak of CIA Operative's Name”. That article virtually guaranteed that the Plame investigation had enough to pursue Bush criminally. The story's lead sentence described a criminal, prosecutable offense: “Witnesses told a federal grand Jury President George W. Bush knew about, and took no action to stop, the release of a covert CIA operative's name to a journalist in an attempt to discredit her husband, a critic of administration policy in Iraq.”
A day later, on June 4th Capitol Hill Blue took another hard shot at the administration. Titled “Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides”, the story's first four paragraphs say everything.
“President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic
“In meetings with top aides and administration
“Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a
'It reminds me of the Nixon days,' says a
The attacks have not stopped. On June 8th, the same paper followed with another story headlined, “Lawyers Told Bush He Could Order Suspects Tortured”.
Journalist Wayne Madsen, a Washington veteran with excellent access to many sources has indicated for this story that the Neocons have few remaining friends anywhere. All of this is consistent with a CIA-led coup.
Madsen reported that the Plame probe comes amid another high-level probe of Pentagon officials for leaking classified National Security Agency cryptologic information to Iran via Iraqi National Congress head Ahmed Chalabi. FBI agents have polygraphed and interviewed a number of civilian political appointees in the Pentagon in relation to the intelligence leak, said to have severely disrupted the National Security Agency's ability to listen in on encrypted Iranian diplomatic and intelligence communications.
Chalabi's leak has once again forced Iran to change equipment, resulting in impaired U.S. intelligence gathering of Iran's sensitive communications. The probe into the Chalabi leak is centering on Pentagon officials who have been close to Chalabi, including Office of Net Assessment official Harold Rhode, Director of Policy and Plans officials Douglas Feith and William Luti, Undersecretary for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. In addition, some former Pentagon advisers are also targeted in the probe.
Many press reports throughout 2003 indicated that Chalabi, distrusted and virtually discarded by the CIA, had been resurrected and inserted into the Iraqi political mix on the orders of Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the Other Neocons listed above.
Abu Ghraib and Torture
A former CIA official told Madsen that between the Plame leak and the Abu Ghraib torture affair, the Bush administration is facing something that will be “worse than Watergate.”
PLANNING FOR SUCCESSION
If both Bush and Cheney are removed or resign, what happens? Madsen reported that lobbyists and political consultants in Washington are dusting
One lobbyist said he will soon pay a call on Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who, as President pro tem of the Senate, is second in line to House Speaker Dennis Hastert to become President in the event Bush and Cheney
It is one of the greatest ironies of the Plame affair that the Bush administration, spawned and nurtured by oil, might have committed suicide by
That being said, they have to go. FTW wishes that it was as certain that what will come after them will be better.