July 29, 2015
Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran
Posted on Feb 27, 2007
JAMES HARRIS: That was your former boss, the shock and awe campaign. I’m still shocked and I’m awed.
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: [laughs] He shocked and awed all of us.
JAMES HARRIS: As a means of understanding the level of deceit that you claim took place and I agree took place before the war. Because it, the things that are going on in and around Iran sound a lot like the things that went on in 2002…
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Sure do.
Square, Site wide
JAMES HARRIS: And I always note Scott Ritter, because I spoke to him, and I couldn’t believe that we didn’t take the advice of people like him that were saying that there’s nothing there, there’s nothing. Can you describe for us a typical day, if we went in around March, we’re approaching that anniversary, we went in around March of ‘03. What was it like in The Pentagon?
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Well, I worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and up until mid February I was in Near East South Asia, which is the office that owns the Office of Special Plans, they were our sister office. And so Iraq is one of the areas. And there’s a great degree of excitement, there’s a, we didn’t know when we would invade Iraq, and many people thought it would be in February, late February, early March and it actually was like I think march 23 is when we actually conducted that attack on Baghdad and that kind of thing. Most people in the Pentagon, there’s 23,000 people work in the Pentagon. Most of those people were as in the dark as any of the Americans. They believed what they read in the papers, and what they read in the papers, particularly The New York Times and The Washington Post had been, for the most part, planted by The Administration. We know this now, the whole Congress knows this now, they’ve had a number of hearings publicly faltered, I think even the DODIG [Department of Defense Inspector General] just recently faltered, Doug Feith and his whole organization for planting and providing misleading stories, many of which were later leaked on purpose to the press. A friendly press, of course, Judith Miller was not hostile to the intentions of this administration. They wanted to go into Iraq, and they intended to go into Iraq. We did go into Iraq, and all that was really needed was to bring onboard the American people, and to bring onboard the Congress. But not necessarily to declare war. Congress has never been asked to declare war on Iraq. And they won’t be asked to declare war on Iran even though we will conduct that war. These guys had an agenda. In fact, one of the things that I did learn as a result of having my eyes opened in that final tour in the Pentagon is that neo-conservatives, their foreign policy is very activist, you could say that’s a nice way to say it, very activist, it’s very oriented towards the Untied States as a benevolent dictator, a benevolent guiding hand for the world, particularly the Middle East. And it’s very much a pro-Israel policy, and it’s a policy that says, we should be able to do whatever we want to do, if we see it in our interest. Now, Americans don’t see any value, most Americans, 75 percent of Americans want the troops home now. They don’t see any value to having our troops in Iraq. They didn’t see any value in that in 2002. But, they had a story sold to them, which was of course that Saddam Hussein somehow was involved with 9/11, had WMDs, and was a serious threat, an imminent threat, a grave threat to the United States.
JAMES HARRIS: For those people that think somehow that government officials, even though you work for the government, were complicit in this effort to move into Iraq. I want you to be clear, as a worker there, you were doing what you thought was right at the time. Is that a safe thing to say?
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: We were doing, I’ll tell ya, there’s two parts of how the story is sold, how the propaganda was put forth on the American people, and how it’s been put forth on them today in terms of Iran. You have political appointees in every government agency, and they switch out every time you get a new president, and that’s totally normal. Usually those, the numbers increase after every president, they always get a few more. So Bush was no different. He brought in a number of political appointees: Doug Feith, certainly Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. But also a number of political appointees at what you would call a lower level, like my level - Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel level. And they’re not military officers, they’re civilians. And they’re brought in, and this is where the propaganda was kind of put together, this is where the so-called alternative intelligence assessments were put together by the civilian appointees of the Bush Administration. Most of which, in fact, probably all of the Pentagon shared a neo-conservative world vision, which has a particular role for us, and that included the topping of Saddam Hussein, and it includes the toppling of the leadership in Tehran. These guys are the ones doing it, they’re doing it. They’re putting all the propaganda, they’re spreading stories, planting stuff in the media. They’re doing that to people in The Pentagon, the Civil Service core in The Pentagon, which is about half of them, and the other half which are uniformed military officers serving anywhere from three to four, five years, sometimes tours in The Pentagon. We’re looking at regular intel, we’re looking at the stuff the CIA and the DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency produces. And that stuff never said, that stuff never said Saddam Hussein had WMDs, had a delivery system, was a threat to the United States. It never said that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 or that Saddam Hussein worked with Al Qaeda. That intelligence never said that.
JAMES HARRIS: Did they tell you to shut up?
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Absolutely! [Laughs] That’s a funny thing, and of course, here’s how it worked. Once the Office of Special Plans was set up formally, now they were informally set up prior to the fall of 2002, but formally they became an office with office space and that whole bit. And the first act to follow that setup of the Office of Special Plans, we had a staff meeting, and our boss, Bill Ludy, who was the boss of Special Plans technically, not in reality but on paper. And he announced to us that from now on, action officers, staff officers such as myself and all my peers, at least in that office, and I presume this went all the way through the rest of policy, but we were told that when we needed to fill in data, putting it in papers that we would send up, doing our job, as we did our daily job, we were no longer to look at CIA and DIA intelligence, we were simply to call the Office of Special Plans and they would send down to us talking points, which we would incorporate verbatim no deletions, no additions, no modifications into every paper that we did. And of course, that was very unusual and all the action officers are looking at each other like, well that’s interesting. We’re not to look at the intelligence any more, we’re simply to go to this group of political appointees and they will provide to us word for word what we should say about Iraq, about WMD and about terrorism. And this is exactly what our orders were. And there were people [Laughs] a couple of people, and I have to say, I was not one of these people who said, “you know, I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna do that because there’s something I don’t like about it, it’s incorrect in some way.” And they experimented with sending up papers that did not follow those instructions, and those papers were 100 percent of the time returned back for correction. So we weren’t allowed to put out anything except what Office of Special Plans was producing for us. And that was only partially based on intelligence, and partially based on a political agenda. So this is how they did it. And I’ll tell you what, civil servants and military people, we follow orders, okay. And we buy into it. And we don’t suspect that our leaders are nefarious, we don’t suspect that. They, they quite frankly have to go a long way to prove to us that they are nefarious. That’s how it worked, and I imagine it’s working much the same way there in terms of Iran.
JOSH SCHEER: Obviously you’ve been in the military for quite a while. Has this every happened to your knowledge in any other [administration’s] Pentagon, where political appointees have the power to just control the…
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Sure, well sure, Vietnam is filled with examples. And Daniel Ellsberg’s information and his Pentagon paper that he released factual information that contradicted what political appointees at the top of the Pentagon were saying to Congress and saying to the American people. Yeah, this is typical of how it works. Now, having said that, most people who serve and wear the uniform or give a career of service to the military, whether civilian, civil service or military, we don’t think that our bosses will do that. We don’t think that our military will do that. But in fact history is full of examples of bald-faced lies being told to sell particular agendas. Often times those agendas include war making, certainly in Vietnam they did, under LBJ and a few other presidents. Look at the thing that Reagan did. I mean, I actually don’t dislike Reagan, he deployed very few troops overseas, but when he went in to that little island down there… what is the name of that island that he invaded, Grenada. [Laughs] Remember that? Remember the Invasion of Grenada.
JOSH SCHEER: All eight hours?
JAMES HARRIS: It was a short one.
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: I mean, God, shortly thereafter, come to find out, well actually, some of the stuff they said about the threat and the Cubans and all that wasn’t really true. So politicians and their politically appointed military leaders will lie, historically do lie when it has to do with making war, particularly making a war that they want. And what has happened in the Bush Administration is the war that they want was Iraq. And the war that they want is Iran, and the war that they want is Syria, okay? That’s the war they want. They don’t want Vietnam. I don’t know why, they don’t want Vietnam, they want these places, this is what the neo-conservatives are particularly interested in. So we have war. And they make up stories and we’re seeing the exact same thing in terms of Iran, which is quite alarming because it seems as if we can’t stop this, we can’t prevent this.
JOSH SCHEER: You were talking about these political appointees and pushing us into war. Why haven’t people like Paul Wolfowitz, I mean these guys seem to feather their own nests.
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: [Laughs] That’s an understatement.
JOSH SCHEER: They lead us into war, Mark Zell, Doug Feith’s partner was in bed with Chalabi. It falls apart and then it seems that these guys disappear into the woodwork. What happens?
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Well, a big part of what happens is these guys have top cover, the names of the top cover are Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. These guys like what Wolfowitz has done. And here’s the other thing. While we as American citizens do not like being lied to, particularly being lied to into a stupid quagmire that makes no sense. We don’t’ like being lied to. Congress doesn’t like being lied to. However, many in Congress, and certainly in this administration agree, and this is Democrats and Republicans, like the idea that we have gone into Iraq, we have built four mega bases, they are complete. Most of the money we gave to Halliburton was for construction and completion of these bases. We have probably, of the 150,000, 160,000 troops we have in Iraq probably 110,000 of those folks are associated with one of those four mega bases. Safely ensconced behind acres and acres of concrete. To operate there indefinitely, no matter what happens in Baghdad, no matter who takes over, no matter if the country splits into three pieces or it stays one. No matter what happens, we have those mega bases, and there’s many in Congress and certainly in this administration, Republican and Democrat alike that really like that. Part of the reason I think that we went into Iraq was to reestablish a stronger foothold than we had in Saudi Arabia, but also a more economical, a more flexible, in terms of who we want to hit. If you want to hit Syria, can you do it from Iraq? Of course you can. And now you can do it from bases that will support any type of airplane you want, any number of troops in barracks. I mean we can do things from Iraq. And this is what they wanted. So, yeah, we don’t like being lied to. But quite frankly, many people in the Congress, and certainly this administration, when they call Iraq a success, they mean it, and this is why.
We’re in Iraq to stay. And can we strike Iran from Iraq? Well, I don’t know if we’ll do that next week, but we can.
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