10/22/2005

Daily Kos: David Wurmser's turning: the last throes of the neocons?

David Wurmser's turning: the last throes of the neocons?
by jorndorff
Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 10:26:08 PM CDT

Two days ago, Raw Story reported that David Wurmser is reportedly a second cooperating witness in the Valerie Plame affair. Subsequent research shows that Wurmser has been questioned three additional times in separate investigations for his role in leaks of classified information. More inside.

Raw Story reported:
[T]hose close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney's office to discredit the agent's husband.

Research shows that at the time of the outing of Valerie Plame, Wurmser was an aide to John Bolton. Not until mid-September of that year did Wurmser, a former Middle East expert at the American Enterprise Institute, move into his role as an advisor to Cheney, perhaps as a reward for his involvement in the outing of Valerie Plame.


Additional research shows that Wurmser, despite being a behind-the-scenes player in the administration, has been questioned during investigations three times previously for his role in leaking classified information.


Wurmser at the Policy Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group

The first instance comes from his position previous to serving as Bolton's aide, while working with Michael Maloof under Doug Feith at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia (NESA) desk.


Mother Jones explains Wurmser's position in the PCTEG:
The unofficial, off-site recruitment office for Feith and Rhode was the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank whose 12th-floor conference room in Washington is named for the dean of neoconservative defense strategists, the late Albert Wohlstetter, an influential RAND analyst and University of Chicago mathematician. Headquartered at AEI is Richard Perle, Wohlstetter's prize protege, the godfather of the AEI-Defense Department nexus of neoconservatives who was chairman of the Pentagon's influential Defense Policy Board. Rhode, along with Michael Rubin, a former AEI staffer who is also now at the Pentagon, was a ubiquitous presence at AEI conferences on Iraq over the past two years, and the two Pentagon officials seemed almost to be serving as stage managers for the AEI events, often sitting in the front row and speaking in stage whispers to panelists and AEI officials. Just after September 11, 2001, Feith and Rhode recruited David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for AEI, to serve as a Pentagon consultant.


Wurmser would be the founding participant of the...secret intelligence unit at the Pentagon, set up in Feith's office, which would be the nucleus of the Defense Department's Iraq disinformation campaign that was established within weeks of the attacks in New York and Washington. While the CIA and other intelligence agencies concentrated on Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda as the culprit in the 9/11 attacks, Wolfowitz and Feith obsessively focused on Iraq. It was a theory that was discredited, even ridiculed, among intelligence professionals. Daniel Benjamin, co-author of The Age of Sacred Terror, was director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council in the late 1990s. "In 1998, we went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq," he says. "We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact." Indeed, that was the consensus among virtually all anti-terrorism specialists.


In short, Wurmser, backed by Feith and Rhode, set out to prove what didn't exist.

The NYT reported:
They were initially denied access, for example, to the most highly classified documents in the Pentagon computer system. So Mr. Maloof returned regularly to his previous office in the Department of Defense, where he still could get the material. "We scoured what we could get up to the secret level, but we kept getting blocked when we tried to get more sensitive materials," Mr. Maloof said. "I would go back to my office, do a pull and bring it in."

This accompanying graphic shows the PCTEG's role in greater detail:


Link to full-size graphic

The two-man PCTEG was disbanded in the summer of 2002, at which time Wurmser moved on to advise John Bolton at the State Department. Before the duo was disbanded, certain conclusions were made:
Maloof and David Wurmser...claimed they had found evidence that Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups, as well as secular Islamic countries, cooperate to harm the United States despite their many differences.

The PCTEG continued, however, with the help of members from the newly-established OSP and increasingly narrowed its focus almost exclusively on ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Later that summer into the fall, the new PCTEG members would present its findings to Rumsfeld, Tenet, Hadley and Libby.


Almost two years after the PCTEG was shut down, the DIA opened an investigation of the original two-man group.


From the UPI:
The investigation is trying to determine if the two-man unit leaked sensitive CIA and Pentagon intercepts to the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, which passed them on to the government of Iran, Pentagon and US intelligence offiiclas said.

Essentially, Maloof and Wurmser were passing classified information to Chalabi. Though, the New York Times (in the above-mentioned article) mentions that Chalabi illegally sent intelligence directly to Feith & the PCTEG as well:
At the end of 2001, Mr. Maloof and Mr. Wurmser briefed top Pentagon officials as well as John R. Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security and a veteran of the [AEI]. Mr. Maloof also met with Mr. Perle at his suburban Washington home. As chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an advisory group, he had security clearance.


That session was interrupted by a call from Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group. At Mr. Maloof's request, Mr. Perle asked Mr. Chalabi, now a member of the interim government of Iraq, to have his staff provide Mr. Maloof information gleaned from defectors and others. The request was unusual, because Mr. Feith's analysts were supposed to review intelligence, not collect it. And Mr. Chalabi at that time had a lucrative contract to provide information on Iraq exclusively to the State Department, which would send it along the intelligence agencies.


Mr. Maloof later met with [a] member of the Iraqi National Congress's staff. As it turned out, Mr. Chalabi was a risky source: some of the information his group provided was incorrect or fabricated, intelligence officials now believe.

Also questioned in the "Maloof-Wurmser investigation" were Lt. Col. William Bruner (an active duty officer who served as a liason between OSP and Chalabi) and senior officials at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia desk's Office of Special Plans. The OSP formed after the PCTEG disbanded its two-man group in order to further sex up intelligence.


Maloof's security clearances were revoked in December 2001 on unrelated matters (Source), leaving Wurmser as the lone official in the group with the clearance to access classified information. Two years later, Maloof would be under investigation once again, this time for allegedly taking part in a gun-running scheme in Liberia. (Source)


The two-man team would also be investigated by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for their role in establishing dubious links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Reportedly, the DIA shared its findings with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence but Republican members of the Committee would later describe the allegations against the NESA, OSP and PCTEG as 'urban myths' and 'conspiracy theories.'

However, the Senate Armed Services Committee had found otherwise. Sen. Levin (D-MI) concluded that Feith's office had put together "selective reinterpretations of intelligence." Some in the Committee disagreed, including Sen. John Warner (R-VA) who preferred to wait until the Intelligence Committee's investigation was completed.

Wurmser's questioning in the AIPAC case

From the WaPo:
Investigators have specifically asked about a group of neoconservatives involved in defense issues, including Feith, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Iraq and Iran specialist Harold Rhode and others at the Pentagon. FBI agents also have asked current and former officials about Richard Perle of the defense board and David Wurmser, an Iran specialist and principal deputy assistant for national security affairs in Cheney's office, according to sources familiar with or involved in the case.


...


Wurmser, Feith and Perle were co-authors of a 1996 policy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." It called for removing Hussein from power in Iraq as part of a broad strategy to transform the region and remove radical regimes.

Larry Franklin, who is at the center of the case, worked in Feith's office. Laura Rozen wrote of Franklin:
He was part of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, which provided much-disputed intelligence on Iraq; he courted controversial Iraqi exile politician Ahmad Chalabi, who contributed much of that hyped and misleading Iraq intelligence; and he participated with a Pentagon colleague and former Iran/contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar in a controversial December 2001 meeting in Rome--which, in a clear violation of US government protocol, was kept secret from the CIA and the State Department.


Wurmser's alleged leak of a Colin Powell letter

The New Republic recently reported:
At the State Department, diplomatic security launched an investigation into David Wurmser, an aide to John Bolton, for leaking a letter from Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Pentagon objecting to the Syria Accountability Act. The letter ended up being the basis for a story in The Jerusalem Post."

It is not known when this investigation began. Meyrav Wurmser, David's wife, just happens to be a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.


If Raw Story is correct in their report that Wurmser has turned, this could lead to a load of damning information. As you see, Wurmser is as hardcore a neoconservative one can find and has direct knowledge of a vast subset of the intelligence manipulations which led the US to war.


We now know that Fitzgerald is deeply investigating the Niger forgeries, on top of the original leak of Plame's identity. Presumably, Wurmser (along with Hannah) have solidified conspiracy charges against those involved in the attempt to discredit Wilson by outing Plame


Daily Kos: David Wurmser's turning: the last throes of the neocons?

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