The Iran-related report [issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee] focuses on the series of meetings in Rome held over three days in December 2001. The U.S. was fighting in Afghanistan and working on initial planning for the Iraq war.
Then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley authorized the meetings. Two Pentagon employees, one of whom worked for then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, went to Rome to meet with two Iranians - one a current member of the security service, the second a former member. Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian middleman already dismissed by the CIA as untrustworthy, also attended, as did a representative from an unspecified foreign government's intelligence service. Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon official and an analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, arranged the meeting and attended.
In one meeting, Ghorbanifar pressed for a change of government in Iran and, on a napkin, outlined a plan to do that, saying he would need $5 million to set it in motion, according to the report.
The report said Hadley failed to fully inform then-CIA Director George Tenet and then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage about the meeting. But Hadley and the Pentagon were within their rights to conduct the meeting, the report said.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Hadley notified all parties concerned appropriately.
But the report said Defense Department officials refused to allow "potentially useful and actionable intelligence" to be shared with intelligence agencies, even in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz briefed the head of the DIA on the Iranian intelligence but would not let him discuss it, the report said.
[UPDATE - 9:48AM - Who can forget Laura Rozen's brilliant piece on what transpired in Rome? I did! And I'm an idiot for not putting this in sooner.]
CIA sources are unconvinced. “They drag these guys out and say they’re from the Revolutionary Guard,” Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA director for Europe, told me. “In fact, they’re actually from some rug store. In any city, it’s an industry.”
Anyone who claims that there is no truth to the charge that the Bush Administration "cooked" the intelligence and failed to heed the warnings of the intelligence community can be refuted with one simple point--the people in charge weren't smart enough to figure out that they were being manipulated by Iran:
Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.
Now we know why they want to attack Iran--they're mad that the Iranians made them look like the fools the really are. Nothing is done in the service of the greater good or the interests of the country; everything these people do is a reaction best described as a pants-wetting fit of inconsolable rage personified by red, rosy cheeks, flustered huffing, and prodigious foot stomping. These men are morally bankrupt, emotionally stunted, and traumatically immature grown children with serious issues.
Were we appeasing them before we were against appeasing them? That's rhetorical question number one. Number two is, who is stupid enough to think that anything useful would come out of a back channel to the Iranian government? And rhetorical question three is, when does anyone see real, meaningful accountability and punishment for their horrendous judgement?
When Blue Girl and I were screaming in the wilderness against legions of doubters and deniers, we sure could have used a great deal of this information. What has come out in the last few days would have been enormously useful to us, even though we kind of already knew in the first place.
Who knew it would be THIS bad?
Bush's press secretary, Dana Perino, said the problem was flawed intelligence heading into the war. "We had the intelligence that we had, fully vetted, but it was wrong. And we certainly regret that," she said.
According to Rockefeller, the problem was that the Bush administration concealed information that would have undermined the case for war. "We might have avoided this catastrophe," he said.
However, the report found that intelligence substantiated most of the administration's statements about Iraq before the war. But officials often did not mention the level of dissension or uncertainty in the intelligence agencies about the information.
Two Republicans, Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, endorsed the report.
The committee's five other Republicans, however, assailed it as a partisan exercise. They accused Democrats of covering for their own members, including Rockefeller and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who made similar statements about Iraq based on the same intelligence the Bush administration used.
The McClatchy story adds a few more details:
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.
The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.
According to the Senate report, the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity unit concluded in 2003 that Ledeen "was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar."
The counterintelligence unit said, however, that Ledeen's association with Ghorbanifar "was widely known, and therefore it should be presumed other foreign intelligence services, including those of Iran, would know."
Stephen Cambone, then the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, shut down the counterintelligence investigation after only a month, the Senate report said.
Congratulations, Michael Ledeen. You were played like a chump by a figure with no credibility whatsoever. You and the rest of your ilk did the greatest disservice possible to your country--you had a hand in sending thousands of US troops to their death because you were driven by ideology not patriotism. None of the men involved in this debacle can call themselves patriots, ever. They are stripped of that right by the judgement of history.
If someone bumps into Ledeen, ask him. What's it like to be king of the chumps today? With all of that blood on your hands?
Ask all of them that question. Their answers should consist of silence and shame, and nothing more. They are miserable, shameful failures and their public service has been a disgrace of epic proportions.