I just heard the name of this group tonight.
A quick google turned up a little:
It was disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency is trying to figure out, among other things, how we came to the questionable conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed massive stocks of illegal weapons. The CIA will surely look into the activities of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, an intelligence nodule created by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to provide a hawkish counterforce against the other spy services. The Pentagon’s extreme threat assessment, which relied heavily on dubious reports from Iraqi defectors, carried the day in the White House.
On Capitol Hill, Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee agreed that the panel would look into a Pentagon office that was set up by pro-invasion hard-liners to process intelligence from Iraqi exile groups that the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department regarded as untrustworthy.
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the committee’s senior Democrat, said a preliminary inquiry by bipartisan staffers had found that news reports were credible that the Pentagon’s “Office of Special Plans” had failed to share some intelligence with regular intelligence agencies and had provided information directly to Bush that wasn’t verified through proper channels.
But the broader US agenda went slyly unspoken. The task now was to prove a case against Saddam based on WMD possession charges alone or in combination with evidence on his collaboration with al-Qaeda. The problem was that neither the CIA nor the DIA nor anyone else could come up with proof positive of either. Enter the by-now-infamous Pentagon Office of Special Plans (OSP) set up shortly after September 11, 2001, under the direction of under secretaries of defense Douglas Feith and William Luti and led by Abram Shulsky. This small group of a handful of analysts had no first-hand intelligence resources of its own. It relied on CIA and DIA reports and its good connections with Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC). In particular, the OSP was persuasive in giving weight to INC intelligence distrusted by the CIA and the State Department’s intelligence unit. The upshot is that the OSP’s analyses were found credible by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. CIA cautions were set aside.
Even as the committee sped the pricey bill to the House floor, where it is likely to be taken up in early July, it engaged in a sharp colloquy over emerging reports that the Pentagon’s civilian leaders have set up a special intelligence analysis office that allegedly has shaded CIA and other intelligence estimates to conform to preconceived strategic policies hatched by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and White House officials.
The subject was first broached by the committee’s ranking Democrat, David Obey of Wisconsin, but some Republicans expressed concern that “subjective” interpretation of intelligence data, in support of pre-cooked policy preferences, could plunge the nation needlessly into dangerous military ventures.
Chairman C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., acknowledged that “this issue was discussed in a classified setting” before the spending bill was shuttled to Thursday’s public markup session. “Intelligence must never be politicized,” he said, to fit preconceived policy options. As a result of reports that this might have been the case in the run-up to the Iraq war, Young indicated that his committee intended to look into whether Rumsfeld’s innocuously named “
Office of Special Plans” at the Pentagon had massaged intelligence information to justify the administration’s policy preferences.
In the lead up to the war on Saddam, the Pentagon’s controversial Now, the CIA’s George Tenet is at the helm of a review to determine how the intelligence community performed in its prewar assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs, according to a report in the New York Times. Office of Special Plans successfully competed with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency for the ear of the President.
The central figure in the review, which will be undertaken by a panel of retired CIA agents, may well be the Special Plans office.
According to a recent report in the New Yorker magazine, the unique operations of this office were conceived in the wake of 9/11 by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Special Plans interpreted data gathered by other intelligence agencies but also concentrated on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by
According to the New Yorker article, Special Plans was expressly formed in order to find evidence that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that could potentially threaten the U.S. Critics say that this “politicizing” of the intelligence function was not a good thing.
However, in the resulting credibility tug-of-war, the CIA disputed these accounts, pointing out misstatements and inconsistencies in I.N.C. defector versions.
But Rumsfeld and his colleagues fought back, judging, according to the New Yorker, that the CIA was unable to perceive the reality of the situation in Iraq.
According to the Department of Defense, the group was first created in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to supplement the war on terrorism; it was designed to sift through all the intelligence on terrorist activity, and to focus particularly on various al-Qaida links. By last fall it was focusing almost exclusively on Iraq, and often leaking doomsday findings about Saddam’s regime. Those controversial conclusions are now fueling the suspicion that the obscure agency, propelled by ideology, manipulated key findings in order to fit the White House’s desire to wage war with Iraq.
“Everything we’ve seen since the war has confirmed intelligence community suspicions about its the
Office of Special Plans’ sources of information,” says Greg Thielmann, who ran military assessments at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research until he retired in October. “The rosy assumption about troops being greeted with flowers and hugs – that came from that stream of intelligence. The assurance that they knew exactly where the weapons of mass destruction were, or that Iraq was ready to employ chemical and biological weapons in battle within 45 minutes of an order – all of those stories have proven wrong.”
What’s the deal?
Fellow Dopers, ( I hope that I’m worthy of the appellation Doper), what do you know about this group and when did you know it?
Are they beneficial to the interests of the US or just to the interests of neo-con hawks?
It sounds like an agency that was created in the wake of 911, to take all raw data that was collected regarding al queda and sift through it to gather intel on the scope of the movements activities.
Shunting it over to Iraq is not such a long shot as Iraq was labeled as one of the sanctuarys that al queda was happily using.
Depending on weather or not the other agencies were giving the president the straightdope or simply waffling and not taking a position that would bite em in the butt , may have been a reason for shifting its mandate towards anything that Rummy want to know about now.
This is unsupported at the moment on my part, but I imagine that the Office of Special Plans would have been one of the agencies pushing hard for that assessment.
Heck, perhaps it was
the agency pushing for such an assessment. Lords knows most of the CIA and State Department seemed to hold the notion in contempt.
Googling to follow.
Just about everything you need to know was published in the New Yorker in an expose by Seymour Hersh (
mirrored here by commondreams.org)
a few samples:
They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal—a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. In the past year, according to former and present Bush Administration officials, their operation, which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has brought about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community. These advisers and analysts, who began their work in the days after September 11, 2001, have produced a skein of intelligence reviews that have helped to shape public opinion and American policy toward Iraq. They relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi. By last fall, the operation rivalled both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency, the D.I.A., as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda. As of last week, no such weapons had been found. And although many people, within the Administration and outside it, profess confidence that something will turn up, the integrity of much of that intelligence is now in question.
Last October, in a speech in Cincinnati, the President cited the Kamel defections as the moment when Saddam’s regime “was forced to admit that it had produced more than thirty thousand liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. . . . This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and is capable of killing millions.” A couple of weeks earlier, Vice-President Cheney had declared that Hussein Kamel’s story “should serve as a reminder to all that we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself.”
The full record of Hussein Kamel’s interview with the inspectors reveals, however, that he also said that Iraq’s stockpile of chemical and biological warheads, which were manufactured before the 1991 Gulf War, had been destroyed, in many cases in response to ongoing inspections. The interview, on August 22, 1995,was conducted by Rolf Ekeus, then the executive chairman of the U.N. inspection teams, and two of his senior associates—Nikita Smidovich and Maurizio Zifferaro. “You have an important role in Iraq,” Kamel said, according to the record, which was assembled from notes taken by Smidovich. “You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq.” When Smidovich noted that the U.N. teams had not found “any traces of destruction,” Kamel responded, “Yes, it was done before you came in.” He also said that Iraq had destroyed its arsenal of warheads. “We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons,” Kamel explained later in the debriefing. “I don’t remember resumption of chemical-weapons production before the Gulf War. Maybe it was only minimal production and filling. . . . All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.”
Kamel also cast doubt on the testimony of Dr. Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994. Hamza settled in the United States with the help of the I.N.C. and has been a highly vocal witness concerning Iraq’s alleged nuclear ambitions. Kamel told the U.N. interviewers, however, that Hamza was “a professional liar.” He went on, “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions. He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.”
AFAIK, it was Hersh’s article that originally brought the OSP into the public eye.
So, it goes something like this:
1 - CIA and DIA maintain (all along) that Hussein’s regime has no significant WMD or links to terrorist groups
2 - Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz are not satisfied with this, and creat the OSP to ‘re-analyze’ the data produced by the CIA and DIA
3 - OSP does was it was created to do, and decides (for example) that INC claims are reliable where everyone else thought they were ludircous (INC = Iraqi National Congress, a group of defectors who stood to gain a lot from a US invasion of Iraq)
4 - Admin now ‘believes’ Iraq has WMD and ties to al-Quaeda
5 - Speeches
6 - War.
The full record of Hussein Kamel’s interview with the inspectors reveals, however, that he also said that Iraq’s stockpile of chemical and biological warheads, which were manufactured before the 1991 Gulf War, had been destroyed, in many cases in response to ongoing inspections
To selectivley quote a source like this is the same as lying!
If Bush used this source to claim WMD without giving the full quote then there is no arguement that he lied.
So who has the upside to this?
It sounds kinda fishy.
There has to be a pro side, elsewise why would Wolfowitz’ve benn allowed to create it?
Sounds like he was allowed to create it in the aftermath of 9/11 (11/9 damnit - its a uk thing) when all you had to do was say it was to counter terrorism.
Like most knee-jerk reactions it has proved to be deficient in practise
*Originally posted by Publius *
**This is unsupported at the moment on my part, but I imagine that the Office of Special Plans would have been one of the agencies pushing hard for that assessment.
Heck, perhaps it was
the agency pushing for such an assessment. Lords knows most of the CIA and State Department seemed to hold the notion in contempt.
Googling to follow. **
While it has been
labelled that there has been a dearth of evidence. If Ansar al-Islam is/was connected to AQ then Iraq is connected to AQ through them. However, Hussein and the Baathists still would not be.
Labelled so is different than actually so.
Well, if they get $6 million to put Lee Majors back together, watch out!
I guess it’s undisputed then.
The OSP is a shady intel agency created to justify neo-con foreign policy initiative. The OSP doesn’t serve the interests of the US. It is only serves the interests of the neocons.
The OSP is one of the more Orwellian things we’ve yet to see from the US government.
Since it’s undisputedly harmful, why aren’t more people disturbed by it?
Oh, I find it quite disturbing. In fact, I find it disturbing any time that the government decides to add another arm of bureacracy under the guise of national security. This nation spends more than the rest of the world combined for “defense.” No way we need MORE levels of bureaucracy. Wasn’t this administration going to fix the intel problems that kept us from stopping 9/11? Instead, it creates a new group of neocons who add to the problem.
What a joke, 'cept it ain’t funny.
For the same reason more people aren’t disturbed by Bush’s lying about a nonexistent IAEA report, or Bush’s lying about Saddam’s mobile biolabs that aren’t, or Bush’s lying about aluminum tubes for gas centrifuges, or a lot of other stuff –
people can’t get disturbed about stuff they don’t know about.
Does anyone know what good the OSP was supposed to bring?
Rumsfeld has said it was intended to take a second look at intelligence reports to make sure that other intel analysts were not missing something.
Why they couldn’t hire more analysts at CIA, DIA, or whereever else, I don’t know.
Oh wait, I do know. Professional intel analysts usually don’t have an axe to grind.
s a result a special operation was established within the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Special Plans. This cadre of handpicked officials was charged with collecting, vetting, and disseminating intelligence information outside of the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that information collected by this office was, in some instances, not shared with established intelligence agencies and, further, passed on to the National Security Council and the President not having been vetted with anyone other that certain OSD political appointees. Perhaps most troubling of all, the articles claim that the purpose of this operation was not only to develop intelligence supporting the cadre’s pre-held views about Iraq, but to intimidate analysts in the established intelligence organizations to produce information that supported policy decisions which they had already decided to propose.
Where’s the upside?
Rep. Ellen Tauscher Says CIA Director Tenet Should Testify Before Armed Services Committee
A third item I believe should be examined is the role of the Office of Special Plans in the Department of Defense and whether it complemented, competed with, or detracted from the role of other United States intelligence agencies respecting the collection and use of intelligence relating to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and war planning. I also think it is important to understand how having two intelligence agencies within the Pentagon impacted the Department of Defense’s ability to focus the necessary resources and manpower on pre-war planning and post-war operations.
Whither art thou SDMBGD proponents of the OSP? Is it that much of a pariah that not even
december will present the upside(s) and/or necessity of the group?
Wolfowitz Committee Instructed White House To Use Iraq/Uranium Reference
The Committee in question is the OSP. It looks like we could be headed for a THIRD administration mea culpa here; maybe even one with a touch of reality to it.
Am I wrong in thinking that this signifigant?
I have to note that
Chalabi’s name is closely associated with this fiasco.
From everything I have read the
#1 rule in intelligence circles is “never let the tail wag the dog.” In other words you must look at all of the facts and build a picture of what is going on by what the facts tell you. NEVER should you start with a supposition and then gather together data to support it. Even the most neutral investigator will end up accepting data that supports the “pet” theory and ignoring data that might suggest another interpretation. The established agencies know and practice this.
Now we hear that a separate “intelligence” group was formed, given a pet theory (Saddam has WMD and AQ ties) and told to mine the data of the other intelligence agencies for information that would support this theory.
They have essentially admitted all of this now.
This is precisely what the “traitors” among us have been saying all along. The Bush White House misused intelligence and essentially invented a case for war by accepting any shred of information that supported their preconceived notions and ignoring the volumes of information that plainly disproved it.
They created a department to do just that. They have now admitted that they did so. How can anyone continue to say that this administration did not invent the case for war out of whole cloth? No one in the media seems to have the wit or courage to put the beads all on one string but by their own admissions this is precisely what they set out to do and what they then did.