9/27/2005

The Billings Outpost - Bush’s neocon cadre falls apart

The Pentagon cadre that once dominated American policy in the Middle East has disintegrated.

The decline of public support for the war and a widening Pentagon spy scandal have coincided with the departure or reassignment of several key Defense Department policy-makers, men who helped to formulate the Bush doctrine of preemptive war.

In August 2004 CBS news reported that the FBI was conducting an espionage investigation inside the office of the Secretary of Defense. Roughly one year later, the FBI arrested Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin. He allegedly handed highly classified documents to a pro-Israeli lobbying group that in turn passed the documents to the government of Israel, a 26-page indictment said. The indictment referred to, but did not name, other officials of the Defense Department, the federal government and foreign officials.

Mr. Franklin had close ties to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and to Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, the CBS report said. Both men left the Pentagon after the FBI investigation became public. Mr. Wolfowitz moved to head the World Bank, and Mr. Feith resigned, citing the need to spend more time with his family.

Deputy undersecretary William Luti oversaw the OSP. In terms of influence, Mr. Luti’s operation came to rival the CIA and the DIA as a source of pre-invasion intelligence and analysis, analysis that found its way to the president through the vice president’s office. A former Navy captain, Mr. Luti had worked in the vice president’s office before moving to the Pentagon, the Asia Times said.

UPI reporter Richard Sale cited a congressional memo that called Mr. Luti’s staff a loose group of acolytes and hired hands for Vice President Richard Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, but the group was more than a mere collection of sycophantic brains for hire. ..

Hersh noted that OSP Director Abram Shulsky studied under neoconservative icon Leo Strauss, who viewed the world as a place where isolated liberal democracies lived in constant danger from hostile foreign elements. Those elements had to be confronted vigorously by strong leaders, employing deception if necessary...

n addition to the OSP, Mr. Luti oversaw the Pentagon’s Near East/South Asia Office. Working in that office was Richard Rhode. Both Mr. Rhode and Mr. Luti were frequently mentioned in FBI interviews

Mr. Luti was reassigned in the wake of the espionage investigation. Mr. Rhodes is on administrative leave, Mr. Sale wrote, attributing the information to two former senior U.S. intelligence officials.

Mr. Perle has worked within the American defense establishment for more than 30 years, and he has assisted and mentored Mr. Luti, Mr. Feith and Mr. Wolfowitz over the decades. His departure marked the beginning of the decline of the group that one author called “the Vulcans.”

As the wreckage of the neoconservative derailment at the Pentagon settles, the Bush administration has lowered its expectations for what can be acheived in Iraq

The Billings Outpost

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