Wednesday, February 25, 2004
The Hijacking of the Pentagon
(or a Post in Which American Leftist Links to American Conservative)
If you haven't read this interview with Karen Kwiatkowski yet you should really check it out. Kwiatkowski was a conservative Republican career analyst transferred to the Pentagon's office for Near East South Asia during the period in which the neoconservatives were preparing to invade Iraq. Kwiatkowski's disgust with the crass politicization of policy that she witnessed led to her resignation. Her testimony provides an insider's confirmation of allegations the left has long assumed to be true, that the neoconservative's Office of Special Plans did not serve to create policy, rather, to create propaganda. According to Kwiatkowski, the OSP's output was an evolving bulleted list of talking points that was to be used verbatim in all internal reports regarding Iraq and terrorism. Furthermore, she contends as this list was modified, changes did not track the truth as ascertained by our intelligence services, rather, changes tracked reports in the mainstream media. So for instance the talking point about Mohammed Atta meeting with Iraqi agents was dropped not when, say, the CIA discovered that it wasn't true, but when the Washington Post ran a story treating the tale as highly dubious-- a scandalous dynamic given that this list was to be used to source internal policy documents.
Here's Kwiatkowski on the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq:
One of those reasons is that sanctions and containment were working and everybody pretty much knew it. Many companies around the world were preparing to do business with Iraq in anticipation of a lifting of sanctions. But the U.S. and the U.K. had been bombing northern and southern Iraq since 1991. So it was very unlikely that we would be in any kind of position to gain significant contracts in any post-sanctions Iraq. And those sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.
The second reason has to do with our military-basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing. And also there was dissatisfaction from the people of Saudi Arabia. So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter — to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important — that is, if you hold that is America’s role in the world. Saddam Hussein was not about to invite us in.
The last reason is the conversion, the switch Saddam Hussein made in the Food for Oil program, from the dollar to the euro. He did this, by the way, long before 9/11, in November 2000 — selling his oil for euros. The oil sales permitted in that program aren’t very much. But when the sanctions would be lifted, the sales from the country with the second largest oil reserves on the planet would have been moving to the euro.
The U.S. dollar is in a sensitive period because we are a debtor nation now. Our currency is still popular, but it’s not backed up like it used to be. If oil, a very solid commodity, is traded on the euro, that could cause massive, almost glacial, shifts in confidence in trading on the dollar. So one of the first executive orders that Bush signed in May  switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.
A couple of months ago, American Conservative ran a three part feature in which Karen Kwiatkowski tells her story in more detail: Part I: In Rumsfeld’s Shop, Part II: Conscientious Objector, Part III: Open Door Policy. Fascinating reading, she pretty much lays out the whole history of the Office of Special Plans. I don't know why this series didn't get more play in blogs -- maybe just not in blogs I read, given its source. (Actually, I had a fun time poking around on American Conservative -- I had no idea of the extent to which real conservatives are pissed off at Bush and at neoconservatives ... check this shit out, and this)