Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon is bringing relentless pressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive of war with Iraq, according to former CIA officials. Key officials of the Department of Defense are also producing their own unverified intelligence reports to justify war. Much of the questionable information comes from Iraqi exiles long regarded with suspicion by CIA professionals. A parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation, in the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J.
If T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") had been a 21st-century neoconservative operative instead of a British imperial spy, he'd be Ahmed Chalabi's best friend. Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), is front man for the latest incarnation of a long-time neoconservative strategy to redraw the map of the oil-rich Middle East, put American troops -- and American oil companies -- in full control of the Persian Gulf's reserves and use the Gulf as a fulcrum for enhancing America's global strategic hegemony. Just as Lawrence's escapades in World War I-era Arabia helped Britain remake the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, the U.S. sponsors of Chalabi's INC hope to do their own nation building.
It's hard to imagine a place seeming farther from the White House
than State Street in Montpelier, Vermont. A bucolic hamlet nestled alongside the
Winooski River, Montpelier, a town of 8,000, must be the only state capital
without a McDonald's. On a brisk May morning, the sun glints blindingly off the
gold-domed capitol building. Shops along State Street sell the latest issues of Yoga and Feng Shui, while boutiques with names like Moon Mountain and
Cool Jewels offer beads and crystals. Independent bookstores abut the
headquarters of Vermont's Progressive Party, the funky Capitol Grounds
coffeehouse, and, of course, a Ben & Jerry's.
It's bigger than Big Brother. Call it, well, titanic brother.
Only hours before President Bush called for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, Senator Ted Kennedy stuck one of the lone discordant notes in what was otherwise a symphony of support for the idea. "The question," said Kennedy, "is whether shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic is the way to go."
In his 11-minute speech to the nation, Bush noted that the United States needs the new security agency as it "[leads] the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror." Titanic it is, a $37 billion new cabinet department with up to 200,000 employees with unprecedented power to snoop into, poke around, and investigate virtually every aspect of American life.
For Tom Ridge, President Bush's homeland-security director, the storm clouds over his relationship with Congress began gathering almost as soon as his appointment was announced nine days after September 11. From the very beginning, a bipartisan chorus was raised about Ridge's lack of political clout and budget authority, not to mention his utter lack of operational power. And from that beginning the White House made clear that Ridge -- as a presidential adviser whose office was created by executive order and not by statute -- would not be allowed to testify before congressional committees.