"It was total propaganda. They went to the CIA. They went to the Pentagon, to Doug Feith, and said, Give us talking points so we can go to war. And that's when Tenet's "slam dunk" came in. He says, yes, we can sell this case to the American people. But the Middle East is complicated, and that's why they got away with it."
-- Robert Baer, Former CIA Operative, April 6, 2007
CIA operative Robert Baer comes out and admits (in no uncertain terms) that the administration LIED us (Americans) into a war of aggression. Also worth noting; MSNBC's Chris Matthews in this Hardball interview states the obvious: "Fighting an aggressive war is a war crime." Posted by StopTheLie on youtube
Aired on MSNBC, April 6, 2007
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A report by the Pentagon's inspector general discounts claims by top Bush administration officials before the war in Iraq that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda worked together in Iraq. The report was released on a day when Vice President Cheney continued to defend the existence of an al Qaeda-Iraq connection on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Let's listen to Rush and Dick.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHENEY: Remember Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Jordanian terrorist, al Qaeda affiliate, ran a training camp in Afghanistan for al Qaeda, then migrated - after we went into Afghanistan and shut him down there, he went to Baghdad, took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene, and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Those are the talking points of Scooter Libby. Scooter Libby wrote those talking points before he left, and they were given to him by Doug Feith. And now the vice president reads them as if they're the truth today. Are they true, what he was saying?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, absolutely not. You know, I don't know what these guys are on. There were contacts between Saddam Hussein and Qaeda in '94 and '95. We knew about them. They didn't go anywhere...
MATTHEWS: But couldn't you say that about any Arab country?
BAER: Any Arab country. It means it's meaningless. We know they went nowhere. We had an inside track on this. You know, and the famous Atta-Ani (ph) meeting in Prague where...
MATTHEWS: Never happened.
BAER: Never happened. The FBI and the CIA said categorically it never happened. Yet they continued to run with this story, convince 70-some percent of Americans Saddam--it's a lie. This is--this is truly the big lie.
MATTHEWS: Well, you had the vice president saying it, and he does have a credibility in the way he talks. He has this sort of avuncular fashion. He seems like a middle-of-the-roader. He seems like a Leon Panetta or a Lee Hamilton, a non-partisan guy. He's extremely committed to this war policy. And yet he comes across with that "we" and "We now know" and--it works!
MATTHEWS: It's scary, but it works.
BAER: It's nonsense. They know where Zarqawi was. He was in Pakistan...
MATTHEWS: He wasn't al Qaeda.
BAER: He wasn't al Qaeda. And it's just--it's nonsense. It was a mistake. And the officers who supposedly handled the relations between Saddam and bin Laden have come out and now work for American authorities in Iraq...
MATTHEWS: Let's talk about how this happened. We went to war for a lot of reasons. I mean, I don't think we'll ever get to the bottom of it for 10 or 20 years, but the president wanted to go. The vice president wanted to go. The intellectuals wanted to go, the neocons, so-called. They all wanted to go for all different reasons. But they made the case we were going to go with the American middle, which (INAUDIBLE) for this war, by saying there was a nuclear threat. Then they suggested this kind of amorphous connection to 9/11 that somehow--remember the country music--remember how you felt--and all that? It was a--it was a continuous drumbeat of the way to get even for what happened to us in New York and in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon was to go hit them hard in Iraq, that somehow--you know what I mean? They did it over and over for almost two years there. What do we do with that kind of propaganda efforts...
BAER: It was total propaganda. They went to the CIA. They went to the Pentagon, to Doug Feith, and said, Give us talking points so we can go to war. And that's when Tenet's "slam dunk" came in. He says, yes, we can sell this case to the American people. But the Middle East is complicated, and that's why they got away with it. It was...
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you for a metaphor. I've been trying to struggle with this, and it's always tricky. Were the people cooking up, like Doug Feith, the people who cooked up the intel and Scooter Libby, when they hand it to their principals, like Cheney, who's a rational guy, Cheney, and the president's I think rational--were they like a bartender who kept serving a drunk beer, just keep giving them what they wanted? I mean, who wanted it? Who wanted the bad intel? Who said, Give me that...
BAER: Cheney did. He goes to the Situation Room and said, We know Saddam's a bad guy. Give me stuff. And they...
MATTHEWS: Give me a case.
BAER: They bring in what they could and they--this isn't good enough. I can't sell a war on this. I want everything. And then he cherry-picked this--this trash. This intelligence was trash on Saddam...
MATTHEWS: Well, who wrote the Colin Powell statement to the U.N.?
Who put that together?
BAER: The CIA did. But the CIA...
MATTHEWS: Why? If they didn't believe it, why'd they do it?
BAER: Because they were ordered to. They dipped into the tangential intelligence which was unconfirmed, and they said, If you really want it, here it is. We don't trust it. These are my--I know these guys. They're all my colleagues.
MATTHEWS: You know, fighting an aggressive war is a war crime. Objectively. You can't just fight a war because you don't like another country. You have to have some reason for it...
MATTHEWS: ... some self-defense reason.
BAER: The crime hasn't even...
MATTHEWS: Did we fight a war just for aggressive reasons? Or was there a self-defense aspect...
BAER: We fought a war on a lie. And that's the important issue, on a lie.
BAER: The administration's, the White House's. It was not the CIA's.
It was not the Pentagon's. This stuff was ordered top-down.
MATTHEWS: What is George Tenet going to say in his book, when it comes out in a couple of weeks? Is he going to say, they made me do it?
BAER: Tenet is a political servant of Washington. He will come in and say, this is what they wanted. I served the president, this executive branch. I was an employee of...
MATTHEWS: Who is the CIA director responsive to, under the Constitution, under our form of government?
BAER: The president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: So, if the president says the moon is made of blue cheese, he's supposed to say that?
BAER: Got to. And then they put it in the national intelligence estimate October 2002, gave it to Congress. And then they went out to the press and sold this.
I mean, look, "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" were--took point on this.
MATTHEWS: Why would some young person with a good education ever want to serve an agency like CIA, if they were told what you just said, that the purpose of our Central Intelligence and Defense Intelligence is to mouth the words the president wants spoken, and not to defense this country?
BAER: The attrition rate is horrendous at the CIA as of today. People are leaving in--they're calling me, looking for jobs. And, you know, if they're calling me, they're in trouble.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, whatever you think about it, we need intelligence. We need it more than ever.
BAER: And, by the way, this director is much better than anyone in the past. He's really trying to control...
MATTHEWS: Will he stand up against the ideologues in this administration, the Scooter Libbys and the Doug Feiths?
BAER: No. The Pentagon is still preeminent.
MATTHEWS: So, they still call them up and tell them what they want?
BAER: They have all the money. They have the satellites. They have got the intercepts.
MATTHEWS: You know, I wish Capitol Hill--you know, it's spending a lot of time on the U.S. attorneys issue. I wish they would start calling people like Doug Feith and Scooter, who knows people up there, and say, how did we get in this war? Just for the history books, just to get it written down--nobody is going to jail. What happened?
BAER: Somebody has got to be held responsible. We're going to there 10 years from now. There's going to be tens of thousands killed.
MATTHEWS: That's the...
MATTHEWS: The worst thing you can say about this policy is, it's very hard to deal with it now. The worst thing you can say, we went into a boxed canyon, and now there is no good way out.
BAER: There is no way out.
MATTHEWS: And that's the problem. That wasn't good policy...
BAER: Trillions and trillions of dollars, and people.
MATTHEWS: ... to put us where we can't get out.
BAER: Can't get out.
MATTHEWS: You're supposed to take us where we're in a stronger position, with more options.