Sunday, October 23, 2005

Crips and Blood
Big Time!

Newsweek has an interesting backgrounder on the environment around the office of the Vice President in regards to its obsessive search for finding just the right pieces of intel to fix onto the facts in the lead-up to the Iraq war. The story's subhead pretty much says it all:
Gang fight: How Cheney and his tight-knit team launched the Iraq war, chased their critics—and set the stage for a special prosecutor's dramatic probe.

Here's a tidbit:
When Bush was elected in 2000, Cheney—who had been impressed with Libby's political savvy and mastery of detail—tapped him as his No. 2. Libby was perhaps the group's most relentless digger. An intense former litigator, he acted as a conduit for Cheney's obsessions. Soon after 9/11, Libby began routinely calling intelligence officials, high and low, to pump them for any scraps of information on Iraq. He would read obscure, unvetted intelligence reports and grill analysts about them, but always in a courtly manner. The intel officials were often more than a little surprised. It was unusual for the vice president's office to step so far outside of channels and make personal appeals to mere analysts. "He was deep into the raw intel," says one government official who didn't want to be named for fear of retribution. (Cheney's office declined to comment on specific questions for this story, beyond saying that the vice president and his staff are cooperating with Fitzgerald's probe.)

Behind their backs, their detractors dubbed Cheney and his minions "the commissars." The vice president and Libby made three or four trips to CIA headquarters, where they questioned analysts about their findings. Agency officials say they welcomed the visits, and insist that no one felt pressured, though some analysts complained that they suspected Cheney was subtly sending them the message to get in line or keep their mouths shut.


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