Rachel Maddow is looking to ruffle feathers, going where Obama or Congress wouldn’t dare to tread, in publicizing the “deceptions” of the Bush Iraq Team which launched a long and costly war.
Because of a ten year mainstream media whitewash, it’s been generally accepted that “mistakes” resulted in a war that claimed over 4,800 US troops. But this week, MSNBC will rock the boat, suggesting false pretenses took us to war, meaning the nation should start debating consequences.
Rachel Maddow is teasing there will be great “political upset” when the documentary Hubris: The Selling of The Iraq War airs on Monday Feb. 18.
If proven deliberate, the Iraq WMD intel debacle could constitute domestic and international war crimes. Someone must have had a long fight behind the scenes to get this controversy on the air because most of the facts have been readily available for years through indie media, articles (and even in drips and drabs on MSNBC). A book version of Hubris was co-authored by David Corn and Michael Isikoff in 2007.
Perhaps most striking is the way most media has ignored Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a top level Bush administration insider who has offered to testify directly against Dick Cheney and others. So what actionable allegations will Maddow present?
Plamegate was just one WMD related scandal resulting in conviction. Scooter Libby lied to investigators, taking the fall for Vice President Cheney before having his sentence commuted by President Bush. But that story is old, so what’s new, what’s different?
Running With Curveball’s Lies
The saga of ‘Curveball’ also creeped out into US media in fits and starts. If networks truly wanted ratings or public trust, they’d have fought over blockbuster exclusives showing how the Iraq war was built on shameful lies. But we saw the opposite – a reluctance to report basic facts about the sole “eyewitness” claiming to be an “Iraqi chemical engineer”.
Curveball (aka Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi) was the main reason given for the US invasion of Iraq. In truth, the Iraqi exile had no bio-weapons knowledge, but fed claims about mobile labs to the BND (German intelligence) knowing the Bush administration was itching for war.
Officials within the BND, CIA and DIA all surmised Curveball was lying. These dissents were somehow “lost in the shuffle”, the supposed honest “mistake” that gave us the war. But there are plenty of whistleblowers saying otherwise and even naming names, if the media and Congress should begin to listen.
MSNBC has promoted this TV special with a graphic showing Iraq Team principals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice dramatically walking down a Texas dirt path. But Colin Powell isn’t in the shot. This means MSNBC may be editorially sympathetic to Powell’s point of view. They will include interviews with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s Chief of Staff.
Powell’s former sideman has been blowing the whistle since 2005, even offering to testify against Cheney, Tenet and deputy CIA director John McGlaughlin, claiming the Office of the Vice President breached protocol, making agents within the CIA do Cheney’s bidding.
We’ll hear Secretary Powell did doubt Curveball and the White House. Wilkerson described these reservations on PBS in 2006, which put Powell in the position of either outing Cheney and the Iraq Team who set him up, or keeping his mouth shut to protect them. Hiding his own skeletons, Powell did not speak out, rolling over for the “hoax” that ruined his career.
Col. Wilkerson has admitted he personally brought graphic artists to the White House to “sex up” the WMD diagrams Powell would use, based off cocktail napkin drawings made as Curveball received expert coaching. Wilkerson has always said he would take responsibility for his part in the charade.
But then in 2011, another Wilkerson interview with Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald brought more disturbing revelations to light. Just as the US stood on the brink of war, Powell rejected Scooter Libby’s 50-page report, calling it “bullshit” as he threw it into the trash.
Col. Wilkerson said his boss sent word he would refuse to sign off on the WMD evidence. But within an hour, George Tenet unveiled “compelling” new evidence tying Iraq to the 9/11 attacks. Powell was told of a new link between Saddam and bin Laden, a high-level al Qaeda terrorist had admitted everything. This was the clincher for Powell, who would go out to make the fateful speeches to Congress and the UN that would sanction the war and destroy his credibility.
Beating Lies Out Of “The Libyan”
Powell wasn’t told for over a year that it was actually a Libyan detainee named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who was tortured and punched in the face for 15 minutes in a secret Cairo “rendition” site, before agreeing yes, he had witnessed a meeting between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda.
But al-Libi recanted everything, admitting he lied to save his life. By 2009, al-Libi was found dead in a Libyan prison cell after human rights attorneys took an interest in him. But the CIA knew al-Libi made it up long before, according to a classified report filed way back in August 2002. The FBI officials who first aprehended al-Libi also believed he had lied, but they were dismissed from the case in a turf dispute.
The lead torturer was Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, a strong ally in George Tenet’s off-the-books rendition program, later appointed vice-president of Egypt by Hosni Mubarak. Suleiman continued relations with Leon Panetta through the Obama years, dying mysteriously in a US hospital last July along with a wealth of secrets.
Will Maddow’s special show how illegal torture, rendition and secret alliances with dictatorships gave us the crucial lies that steamrolled all resistance to the Iraq War? And if so, why didn’t MSNBC air these reports as they first broke? Why now? What’s changed?
It’s possible Rachel Maddow may have pushed for more latitude in a new contract. The timing suggests Maddow and other MSNBC staff were given a longer leash after Obama’s re-election, a bold move leftward for the network. MSNBC has also made headlines for regularly topping the ratings of Fox News and Sean Hannity, with Maddow making gains in key demographics. Also completed just last week was full transfer of MSNBC parent NBCUniversal, away from GE, who has defense interests, to Comcast, the media and communications colossus.
But one wonders if Maddow may have asked for more editorial freedom in a contract renegotiation – her previous contract reportedly expired just around November. If you watch her show every day, you might have noticed Ms. Maddow, right around this time, getting more forceful against Republicans and Democrats alike. Here she savages John McCain for “grasping for relevance” hyping Benghazi, and here she questions the legality of Obama’s drone program.
Also adding intrigue were two earlier MSNBC appearances by Col. Wilkerson, alleging Bush-era lawbreaking in interviews by guest hosts who probably did not yet have a deal in place with MSNBC. Typically, network contracts grant final editorial control to the bosses, but also prevent anchors from ever talking about the process, policies, censorship, or bad-mouthing the network in any way.
Subbing for Keith Olbermann in 2010, then-guest host Lawrence O’Donnell tapped Col. Wilkerson for a rare, eye-popping interview about illegal torture and Karl Rove’s book admitting knowledge of military secrets beyond his clearance.
But it was two years ago this week on a pilot MSNBC show featuring Cenk Uygur which for the first time on cable TV, blew open the Curveball story, interviewing Col. Wilkerson who ”absolutely” accused Dick Cheney of duplicity, setting up Powell with false information about Iraq’s WMD program.
This is when America should have begun the debate on accountability, but nothing happened. Instead, Cenk Uygur’s deal with MSNBC quickly fell apart, because MSNBC was concerned with Uygur’s propensity to go too aggressively after establishment figures. Instead of signing a million dollar contract and “toning it down”, Cenk walked away.
How Many Whistleblowers Will it Take?
We’ve been reporting here the long list of Bush administration insiders talking for years about crimes, lies and cover ups: Counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton, Cheney Mid East advisor David Wurmser, DOJ veteran J. Gerald Hebert, Retired Army Maj. General Antonio Taguba, General Barry McCaffrey, CIA Veteran Robert Baer, and White House Secretary Scott McClellan all spoke publicly about the lies and deceit in the lead up to the invasion.
Maddow’s TV special promises many more, including some who still believe the evidence today. But the media firewall still holds strong, including print. Ex-CIA analyst Melvin Goodman recently called out the Washington Post for sheepishly accepting excuses from the memoirs of Rumsfeld, Rice and Tenet while burying well-publicized debunkings.
In her own words, Condi Rice was saying as early as 2003:
“All that I can tell you is that if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence in the NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the President”.
This acknowledges the holes in the case for war, but blames it on others as she went along for the ride. Similarly, speaking to Al Jazeera, Colin Powell said he was simply passing along the intel that everyone else had vouched for, noting “it is a blot on my record”.
Powell seemed shocked that no one in media or government tried to reverse course:
“Six months later the intelligence community is still standing behind their original judgments even though nothing has been found.”
Recalling his astonishment on learning it was all wrong, Powell blustered:
“Imagine how I felt the day they finally came in and said to me, well we don’t have four independent sources for that biological warfare van, it’s one guy, and he’s loopy, and he’s in a German jail, and we’ve never talked to him. Hello?…”
Cross posted from OpedNews.com
Caricature from DonkeyHotey licensed under Creative Commons. Original picture changed by MyFDL editor due to copyright considerations