Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Iraq war disaster: bitter infighting among US elite: "Opportunities for revenge are coming thick and fast. The failure to predict and plan for an aggressive Iraqi insurgency following the fall of Saddam, and the horror of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs, have already tarnished the standing in the White House of the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his senior aides. The Chalabi raid is another blow and another cue for Mr Rumsfeld's enemies to go on the attack.... the Pentagon was not even consulted by the top US civilian in Iraq, Mr Bremer, before last week's raid on the home of its former protege, although a meeting was held involving both State Department officials and the National Security Council. Earlier in the week, Mr Rumsfeld had seemed unaware that INC funding of $335,000 per month from Congress was to be cut off."

"The prisoner abuse scandal is a disaster for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and co, because few people believe we're just talking about military police carrying this out. It must go further up, and Seymour Hersh's investigations (in the New Yorker) are demonstrating that. Military intelligence officers were involved.... Infighting over Iraq within the Bush administration and on Capitol Hill has reached such a pitch and ferocity that, according to one official within the Coalition Provisional Authority, Washington DC is now referred to as "Sunni Triangle, West"."

"The Abu Ghraib prison scandal, in the minds of many Bush administration officials and formerly sympathetic congressmen, has all but destroyed the possibility of a happy ending to the American occupation of Iraq. According to one retired general: "We've gone from 'failure is not an option' to failure, of some kind, being the only option." ... From the State Department in Foggy Bottom, to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, lengthy briefings are being granted. Rivals, particularly if they work at the Pentagon, are being ruthlessly disparaged. For three weeks anonymous officials from the CIA have filled the pages of the New Yorker with detailed observations of extreme interrogation procedures endorsed by senior civilians at the Department of Defence. It was this gung-ho approach, post-September 11, they argue, that led eventually to the horrors of Abu Ghraib."

"According to the intelligence officers cited by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, a secret unit - the special access programme - was then set up to operate in Afghanistan, by-passing the Geneva Conventions when in pursuit of "high-value" targets and interrogating al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. A former intelligence officer suggests that 200 officials were "completely read into the programme" including Mr Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senior leadership of the CIA, said the intelligence officer quoted, began to object when "special access programme" (SAP) methods, including nudity, "stress positions" and forms of humiliation, were transferred from Afghanistan to Iraq and the Abu Ghraib."

In other words, it is not the media that has exposed the Administration and done it quite likely fatal damage, it is the US elite. The situation is comparable to the Nixon era. Nixon could be guilty of all manner of crimes, but a disciplined media could cover for him as long as necessary. If, however, he oversteps the line and loses the confidence of the US elite, then he can be destroyed. It appears as though the State Department, the military, the CIA and sections of the corporate media, apprehending the magnitude of the Iraq disaster, are determined to sheet home the blame to the neo-conservative clique that is responsible. One wonders how Bush and the neo-cons can survive this kind of assault.

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