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Senator calls report 'devastating condemnation' of Office of Special Plans
Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: Thursday February 8, 2007
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Contrary to speculation and some earlier reports, the Department of Defense Inspector General's office did not exonerate the controversial Office of Special Plans, which has been accused of cooking pre-war intelligence on Iraq, nor did it exonerate its-then chief overseer, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

According to a statement released by Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) Thursday night to RAW STORY, the IG's report is a "devastating condemnation of the activities of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy." In a separate statement, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, states that whether the intelligence activities "were authorized or not, it appears that they were not in compliance with the law."

Levin called the report "very damning" in a Friday AP review, saying it 'depicts a Pentagon that purposely manipulated intelligence in an effort to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda in the runup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.'

Citing excerpts from the IG's unclassified executive summary of the classified report, Levin's statement shows that Feith is not alone to share the blame for creating a parallel intelligence channel that the IG describes as "inappropriately performing Intelligence Activities of developing, producing, and disseminating that should be performed by the Intelligence Community."

Pointing the finger higher up and directly at former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, the IG concluded, according to Levin's statement, that Feith's "inappropriate activities were authorized by the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense."

Although recently replaced by Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld continues to occupy an office in the Pentagon. Wolfowitz is now the head of the World Bank, while Feith is a visiting professor at Georgetown University.

A Glimpse:

Specifically addressed in the IG's executive summary and cited in Levin's statement is the much-touted alleged connection between Iraq and al-Qaida that the Bush administration, and, in particular, Vice President Dick Cheney, used as one of the selling points to build their case for war against Iraq:

"The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers."

In his statement, Levin has said that he will work to have the full report declassified and made available to the public.

An earlier report by RAW STORY, summarizing some of the issues regarding the Office of Special Plans and surrounding Feith, appears directly below, followed by Levin's and Rockefeller's full statements.

Pentagon Inspector General to release investigation into secretive pre-war Iraq intelligence group

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Former Undersecretary Feith says he hasn’t seen report

Update: A source close to Senate Intelligence Committee says the Committee will now be receiving the classified version of the Pentagon's report on the Office of Special Plans Thursday evening, adding that the summary to be made public will be released Friday.

A long awaited Pentagon Inspector General's report into the Office of Special Plans and its activities surrounding pre-war intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war has been completed, RAW STORY has learned.

According to sources close to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the classified version of the Pentagon IG's report will be released to committee members Friday. Two to three declassified pages may also be concurrently released to the public.

A Senate aide on the committee, while not commenting on particular questions regarding the IG’s report, confirmed that a major focal point involves former Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Policy Douglas Feith – a keystone of the Administration’s intelligence on Iraq and director of the notoriously secretive Pentagon Office of Special Plans from September 2002 to June 2003.

Feith announced his resignation in January 2005, a week after the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh accused him of working with Israeli officials to select potential targets for a preemptive Iran strike.

It remains unclear how objective the Inspector General’s report will be, given that the Pentagon was tasked with investigating itself. It’s also uncertain just how much light two to three declassified pages will shed on questions surrounding what many consider a rogue Pentagon intelligence unit created to feed the White House information favoring a case for war.

For his part, Feith says he has not been privy to the IG's findings.

I “haven't seen a copy of the IG report,” Feith wrote in an email to RAW STORY in the early hours on Wednesday. “I requested a copy but the IG's office chose not to provide one.”

Asked in a three point email about his thoughts on the Office of Special Plans, Feith – who now teaches at the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service – responded, “I'll save my thoughts on question three for another time.”

Repeated attempts to reach the IG's office in time for publication proved fruitless. In the past, the IG's office responded to questions by saying the IG was conducting a “review,” not an “investigation.”

Either way, the Pentagon has told the Senate Intelligence Committee to expect the report Friday.

Phase II of the Intelligence Committee's own investigation will likely be completed sometime this spring or summer.

Investigating pre-war Iraq intelligence

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Iraq intelligence failures was to be done in two phases. Phase I, which focused exclusively on the failures of the Central Intelligence Agency, was released in July 2004. However, Phase II, which looked into the Office of Special Plans, its members, and Bush Administration officials, remains largely incomplete.

The Phase II investigation was delayed in large part because the Pentagon specifically refused to address Feith’s role and the Office's activities, stonewalling the Senate's efforts.

Even with a then-Republican Chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Defense Department attorneys were unwilling to cooperate. Instead of issuing subpoenas, however, Roberts asked the Pentagon Inspector General to conduct his own investigation.

The Pentagon's IG agreed to review the prewar intelligence activities relating to the Office of Special Plans, as well as Feith’s particular role, in November 2005. One of two senators who requested the inquiry, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), said the probe sought to ascertain whether Feith "provided a separate channel of intelligence, unbeknownst to the CIA, to the White House."

The Office of Special Plans

The report on the secretive Office of Special Plans and its coterie of controversial players is perhaps the most awaited section of the Phase II report.

Led by Feith, the group's members also included Larry Franklin, who pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents regarding Iran to a Washington-based Israeli lobby in 2005; prominent neoconservative and Iran-Contra intermediary Michael Ledeen; and Middle East expert Harold Rhode, who purportedly sought to purge the Pentagon of anyone opposing the group’s hawkish Iraq agenda.

Another prominent member was Ahmed Chalabi, who headed up the Iraqi National Congress – an Iraq opposition group created by the Rendon Group, a defense contractor for the U.S. military, after the first Gulf War.

Although he was wanted for embezzlement in Jordan and a suspected Iranian spy, the Administration presented Chalabi as a credible anti-Saddam leader. Chalabi was later found to be a primary source of bogus intelligence provided to the Pentagon and U.S. reporters, including Judith Miller, then writing for The New York Times.

The Office of Special Plans was created by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. On an organizational level, Feith ran the operation, which then purportedly “cooked” and filtered intelligence that favored an Iraq invasion. More specifically, the OSP was tasked with finding intelligence that fit the administration's anti-Iraq policy and was treated as a favored and separate intelligence channel by the Office of the Vice President.

While the US intelligence community struggled to check a hawkish Executive Branch set on going to war, the OSP funneled questionable information directly to the White House, bypassing standard channels and operational procedures and deploying its own “off book teams” into the region without notifying special forces already on the ground.

A history of espionage allegations

Compounding concerns over a self-investigating Defense Department are a history of confessed and alleged espionage by members of the OSP.

A previous investigation by RAW STORY revealed an apparent “revolving door policy” at the Pentagon which allowed officials whose clearances had been revoked to return to powerful positions in US government.

Feith's access to classified information and any possible wrongdoing can likely be laid at the feet of more senior officials in the Bush Administration – namely former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – who would have been forced to overrule Pentagon background checks to reissue Feith's clearances after he was booted from the National Security Council for espionage allegations in the mid-1980s.

According to the Washington Post, Feith faced questioning in 2004 on allegations that he or other officials may have passed classified information to an Iraqi politician or a pro-Israeli lobby group.

Asked if he was still under investigation by the FBI or if he was cleared, Feith responded, “Still? There never was such an investigation.”

Iran specialist Larry Franklin – who worked directly under Feith – pleaded guilty in 2005 to conspiracy to pass classified information to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israeli lobby group, and illegal possession of national defense information. Feith has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing in the case.

In 1978, former Rumsfeld Deputy Paul Wolfowitz was investigated for allegedly passing a classified document on proposed US weapons sales to Israel through the same pro-Israeli lobby. The inquiry was later dropped. Wolfowitz now serves as president of the World Bank.

Wolfowitz, who at the time was working for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, was brought into that position by conservative political adviser Richard Perle, who was also questioned in connection with the Franklin case.

A Bush appointee, Perle most recently served as chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board but resigned his chairmanship after the Franklin case broke. According to an FBI wiretap, Perle discussed classified information with the Israeli embassy when he was a foreign policy aide for Senator Henry M. Jackson in 1970; in 1978, the New York Times reported that he inappropriately accepted classified data from a CIA official, again as Jackson’s aide.

Larisa Alexandrovna is the Managing Investigative News Editor for Raw Story and regularly reports on intelligence and national security matters. She can be reached at [email protected]

Related Raw Story articles:

Senate Intelligence chairman quietly 'fixed' intelligence, and diverted blame from White House over Iraq

Senate Intelligence Committee stalling pre-war intelligence report

Denials mark Ledeen’s account of past and present scandal

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Senator Levin's statement:

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The Department of Defense Inspector General has issued a devastating condemnation of the activities of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, which was led by Douglas Feith, and the Department of Defense. Those activities supported the Bush administration's misleading case for war againstIraq. According to the Inspector General's unclassified executive summary of the report:

"The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers."

The Inspector General also stated that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy “was inappropriately performing Intelligence Activities of developing, producing, and disseminating that should be performed by the Intelligence Community.”

The Inspector General concluded that these “inappropriate” activities were authorized by the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

The conclusions of the Department of Defense Inspector General support the analysis and conclusions of a report I issued on October 21, 2004, entitled “Report of an Inquiry into the Alternative Analysis of the Issue of an Iraq-al Qaeda Relationship.” My report documented a number of actions taken by the office of Under Secretary Feith to produce misleading alternative intelligence analyses of the alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to help make the case to go to war against Iraq.

Senior administration officials, including Vice President Cheney, made numerous public statements that reflected the views of the Feith alternative analysis, which were inconsistent with the analysis and judgments of the Intelligence Community. Indeed, Vice President Cheney said the principal Feith office assessment was the “best source of information” on the alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

I will work to have the entire report declassified, since it contains important information that the public is entitled to have.

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Senator Rockefeller's statement:

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“The Inspector General’s report makes it clear in plain language that the actions of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy were inappropriate.

“Individuals in that office produced and disseminated intelligence products outside of the regular intelligence channels. These intelligence products were inconsistent with the consensus judgments of the Intelligence Community. This office did this without coordinating with the Intelligence Community and as a result policy makers received distorted intelligence.

“Section 502 of the National Security Act of 1947 requires the heads of all departments and agencies of the U.S. government involved in intelligence activities ‘to keep the congressional oversight committees informed.’

“The IG has concluded that this office was engaged in intelligence activities. The Senate Intelligence Committee was never informed of these activities. Whether these actions were authorized or not, it appears that they were not in compliance with the law.

“In the coming days, I will carefully review all aspects of the report and will consult with Vice Chairman Bond to determine whether any additional action by the Senate Intelligence Committee is warranted.”

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