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March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it? "Hubris" takes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital ques March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it? "Hubris" takes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital questions about how the Bush administration came to invade Iraq. Filled with new revelations, "Hubris" is a gripping narrative of intrigue that connects the dots between George W. Bush's expletive-laden outbursts at Saddam Hussein, the bitter battles between the CIA and the White House, the fights within the intelligence community over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the startling influence of an obscure academic on top government officials, the "real "reason Valerie Plame was outed, and a top reporter's ties to wily Iraqi exiles trying to start a war. Written by veteran reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn, this is the inside story of how President Bush took the nation to war using faulty and fraudulent intelligence. It is a news-making account of conspiracy, backstabbing, bureaucratic ineptitude, journalistic malfeasance, and, especially, arrogance.


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March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it? "Hubris" takes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital ques March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it? "Hubris" takes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital questions about how the Bush administration came to invade Iraq. Filled with new revelations, "Hubris" is a gripping narrative of intrigue that connects the dots between George W. Bush's expletive-laden outbursts at Saddam Hussein, the bitter battles between the CIA and the White House, the fights within the intelligence community over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the startling influence of an obscure academic on top government officials, the "real "reason Valerie Plame was outed, and a top reporter's ties to wily Iraqi exiles trying to start a war. Written by veteran reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn, this is the inside story of how President Bush took the nation to war using faulty and fraudulent intelligence. It is a news-making account of conspiracy, backstabbing, bureaucratic ineptitude, journalistic malfeasance, and, especially, arrogance.

30 review for Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I already have a Working Theory about how the hell we got dragged in to this one. It's controversial! Because - for example - I don't think Bush or Blair lied! Which is one thing everyone says they did. I explained this elsewhere but I'll recycle it here again. The year is 2002, the scene is Somewhere in Washington. The President speaks: Bush : "We need to find out about Iraq - what's Saddam up to? I know, we'll ask the CIA." CIA : "The Prez wants to know about Iran. No! Iraq. Sorry. Okay, I know I already have a Working Theory about how the hell we got dragged in to this one. It's controversial! Because - for example - I don't think Bush or Blair lied! Which is one thing everyone says they did. I explained this elsewhere but I'll recycle it here again. The year is 2002, the scene is Somewhere in Washington. The President speaks: Bush : "We need to find out about Iraq - what's Saddam up to? I know, we'll ask the CIA." CIA : "The Prez wants to know about Iran. No! Iraq. Sorry. Okay, I know, we'll ask our agents in Iraq. Oh shit, we don't have any, Saddam killed them all. Okay, we'll ask all these Iraqi exiles who fled Saddam. They still have contacts, they'll know." First Iraqi exile : "Hey, the CIA are asking me about what Saddam is doing. I haven't been there for 15 years but my cousin says they've got rid of all those chemical weapons they used on those Kurds and they don't have anything else, the Americans could kick their ass any day." Second Iraqi exile: "why do the CIA what to know about Saddam all of a sudden? Hey, maybe they're going to get rid of him!" First guy: "Hey do you think if they did we could get jobs in the new government? After all we can speak English - that's got to be a big plus!" Second guy - "You're a genius. Now then, how can we encourage the Americans to boot him out?" Iraqi exiles to CIA agent : "We spoke to our cousin and Saddam has huge stockpiles of chemical weapons aimed at your bedroom and enough nuclear weapons to blow up the planet nine times over. Plus they routinely torture all Christians, and Osama bin Laden has married saddam's daughter and they have twins." CIA agent to CIA boss : "These Iraqis are feeding us a crock of shit." CIA boss: "Yeah, I know it. But I also know how to keep my job." CIA to President : "Mr President, our careful sifting of information from our many sources of intelligence on the current deplorable Iraqi regime suggests that they have huge stockpiles of chemical weapons aimed at your bedroom and enough nuclear weapons to blow up the planet nineteen times over. Plus they routinely torture all Christians, and Osama bin Laden gets the pick of all Christian virgins born there. Plus they have more oil than somewhat." Bush : "You sure about this? OK, we're gonna invade." So, strictly speaking, I don't think Bush and Blair ever lied. they just strenuously avoided hearing anything which might have upset their pretty world-restructuring applecart, Like when kids put their fingers in their ears & go "lalalala can't hear you" but more sophisticated. But really, I kind of need to read a real actual book about the whole horror story so it may as well be this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    There are two basic plot strands here, and they are executed very well: the manipulation of intelligence, and the repeated use of disproven, debunked, and outright fabricated intelligence by the Bush White House to sell the war against Iraq to the American people; and the CIA leak case, which involved a bit of that fabricated and debunked intelligence. What seems clear is that although Iraq either having WMDs or engaging in WMD development programs was the main public rationale for the war, the There are two basic plot strands here, and they are executed very well: the manipulation of intelligence, and the repeated use of disproven, debunked, and outright fabricated intelligence by the Bush White House to sell the war against Iraq to the American people; and the CIA leak case, which involved a bit of that fabricated and debunked intelligence. What seems clear is that although Iraq either having WMDs or engaging in WMD development programs was the main public rationale for the war, the White House didn’t especially care whether this was true or not, based on the rush to war before inspections were given a chance to play out, on the nonchalance with which the initial invasion approached the search for WMDs and the securing of potential WMD sites, and on the shrugs given by Cheney and Bush as more and more time passed and no WMDs turned up. Rather, Bush and Cheney had bought into the neocon dream of remaking the Middle East, beginning with regime change and democracy in Iraq. But that would have been a much tougher sell to the American people and to Congress, so deception had to be used. The leak of an undercover CIA operative’s name stemmed from fabricated documents out of Italian intelligence purporting to show that Iraq had tried to, or was trying to, acquire 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger. The purpose of acquiring that much uranium would have been to make a nuclear weapon. Cheney asked the CIA to delve into the matter in 2002. Valerie Wilson was a CIA operative whose husband, a former U.S. ambassador to Gabon, had knowledge of African uranium, so she suggested he come and speak to the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division. After hearing his talk, they asked him to go to Niger and take a closer look, which he did, concluding that a uranium deal of that size would have been almost impossible to pull off or hide. Yet the claim “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” still made it into Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech. The British intelligence was based on the same fabricated Italian documents the CIA had seen. Bush was in effect laundering the claim via British sources, so that people hearing the claim who knew of the Italian documents wouldn’t necessarily know they were what was being referred to. But the claim about uranium kept popping up in the press, causing Joe Wilson to write a New York Times piece in July 2003 titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” The claim had been debunked, Wilson said, and he assumed Cheney had been informed of his trip, so why was the administration continuing to use inaccurate intelligence? He argued that Congress should investigate Bush’s use of the Niger charge. Wilson’s appearances in the media sent the White House into a rage. Determined to discredit him, Scooter Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, and Karl Rove, Bush’s senior adviser, both got to leaking the identity of Valerie Wilson and insisting she, not Cheney, was responsible for Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger. Rove leaked to two reporters, Libby leaked to two reporters, and deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage leaked to two reporters. In total, five reporters received leaks from at least three administration officials. Only one leak would result in Valerie Wilson’s public outing (Armitage’s leak to columnist Robert Novak, which Novak confirmed with source Karl Rove). Note that a leak can be a criminal offense whether or not the leak results in a public outing. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel investigating the leak, ultimately decided not to charge Libby, Armitage, or Rove under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which required proving they knew Wilson was a covert CIA employee, a bar deemed too high to prove in court. Nor did he charge them under the Espionage Act. This was a World War I-era statute that makes it a crime to communicate any information relating to the “national defense” to any person not authorized to receive it. (The law also has a provision that allows government officials to be charged for “gross negligence” for failing to protect national defense information with which they have been entrusted.) But that law had rarely been used, and some legal experts worried that doing so in this case could create a dangerous precedent. It would effectively turn the archaic statute into a de facto Official Secrets Act – the law in Great Britain that makes it a crime to disclose any classified information. That would be a major and disturbing development, both for the news media and for the public. It would have a chilling effect on investigative reporting relating to national security and government excesses and abuses. In the end, Fitzgerald chose not to take that road. Libby had dissembled most severely; he had lied to FBI interviewers, perjured himself before the grand jury, and obstructed justice, attempting to shield his boss, Cheney, who had told him that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division. This is an excellent examination of the various details of the leak investigation. Having followed it in real-time and read multiple subsequent accounts, I still find it complex and sometimes confusing, and there are yet things we don’t know about it. In an Afterword, the authors briefly discuss the surge in the Iraq war and the Libby trial. Readers looking for thorough discussions of either the war itself, or the trial, should find sources other than this book. It’s important to note that Fitzgerald was a famously close-lipped prosecutor, never saying publicly any more than was necessary, never bringing up a name unless a person was implicated in something. Fitzgerald never spouted off, never said anything casually. So it was significant that in his closing argument at trial, he chose to assert, “There is a cloud on the vice president … That cloud remains because this defendant obstructed justice.” The cloud also hung “over the White House.” After Libby had been convicted, Fitzgerald spoke to reporters outside the courthouse and was asked about the cloud. “There was a cloud there,” he said, “And by Mr. Libby obstructing justice and lying about what happened he had failed to remove a cloud. Sometimes when people tell the truth, clouds disappear. Sometimes they don’t.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Carbone

    Hubris is the best book on how the Bush Administration brought us to war in Iraq. Its also exceptional at describing the intelligence "failure" and the entire sordid Valerie Plame affair. The book is written by Michael Isikoff, the Newsweek reporter who broke the Monica Lewinski scandal, so you understand right away that he has no partisan axe to grind. The book is a very hard look at how Bush had a clear determination to invade Iraq; how they built a case on flimsy evidence, fears, paranoia, an Hubris is the best book on how the Bush Administration brought us to war in Iraq. Its also exceptional at describing the intelligence "failure" and the entire sordid Valerie Plame affair. The book is written by Michael Isikoff, the Newsweek reporter who broke the Monica Lewinski scandal, so you understand right away that he has no partisan axe to grind. The book is a very hard look at how Bush had a clear determination to invade Iraq; how they built a case on flimsy evidence, fears, paranoia, and jingoism; how the evidence was NEVER even remotely acceptable to certain people inside the CIA or other facets of the intelligence community; how the Niger/yellowcake rumor was not even remotely credible, nor plausible; how the press just lapped it all up; and how Rove, Libby and Cheney did all they could to obliterate anyone who had the nerve to question their decision to go to war, including Valerie Plame, who's husband, Joe Wilson, investigated the Niger/yellowcake connection and found 0 (and this cannot be overstated- ABSOLUTELY ZERO) evidence to suggest that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. And at the center of this entire affair is the complete sham of WMDs in Iraq; how the evidence was bad prior to invading and just kept getting worse every day up to the invasion. By the time the troops rolled into Iraq many in the intelligence community doubted Iraq had any biological or chemical weapons, let alone any quantity to the US. And by the time the US got into Iraq and "investigated" the WMDs, the truth was clear: Iraq had no WMDs, did not have the ability to make WMDs, and had no plan to make WMDs. The book ends on a very hard, in-your-face realization: We went to war for no reason on zero evidence and had seen thousands upon thousands killed, and yet nobody - not one person -had been held accountable for this incredible failure. Not one prosecution, not one person was fired; not a single, solitary person who DECIDED to invade Iraq has suffered for that decision. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to read how this decision was made; how we tied ourselves in knots; how the intelligence community saw what it wanted to see and then IGNORED those who were telling the truth; how the Democrats rolled over; how Bush lied; how millions fell for it; and how this tale was spun so as to ensure this war. This book is especially gripping to those who, initially, supported the war but have grown dishearten by its progress. This book explains why you were lied to and how those lies brought us here. Its been 6 years since we invaded Iraq.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Clif

    It's not over yet. The disastrous American invasion of Iraq lingers 13 years later. Enough time has passed for a thorough analysis of the events that led up to the war and here it is. Michael Isikoff dispassionately lays out the entire sorry sequence of events from before 9/11 through the conviction of "Scooter" Libby for the crime done by Karl Rove in blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Wilson with the idea of getting even with her husband, Joseph, for destroying the claim that Saddam Hussein It's not over yet. The disastrous American invasion of Iraq lingers 13 years later. Enough time has passed for a thorough analysis of the events that led up to the war and here it is. Michael Isikoff dispassionately lays out the entire sorry sequence of events from before 9/11 through the conviction of "Scooter" Libby for the crime done by Karl Rove in blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Wilson with the idea of getting even with her husband, Joseph, for destroying the claim that Saddam Hussein was trying to get yellowcake uranium from Niger. All the details are here. All of the outrageous statements such as "we don't want the smoking gun to turn into a mushroom cloud" so memorably voiced by Condoleeza Rice. If you lived through the farcical mad rush to war conducted by the Bush administration you will immediately recognize many of the things told of in this account while the incidents that may not have been clear to you at the time will become understandable. Carefully avoiding accusations, Isikoff lets the facts speak for themselves and there is nothing to even remotely excuse the flagrant disregard of evidence against the claims of the Bushies, even when provided by the CIA, the FBI or foreign intelligence services. The statements of people known to be suspect are taken as gospel. Was evidence obtained under torture, no matter, it must be true. A war was desired, justification was in the minds of a group of neo-conservatives with an agenda, beyond that all was a smoke screen to fool the public. It worked. You should finish this book with outrage. Not one of the perpetrators of a deliberate war against a country that did not attack us, not one of the arrogant people whose abuse of power has resulted in over 4000 American dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, has any regrets. Dick Cheney notoriously says he would do it all again. The powerful who should be in prison as war criminals, who ran over the Constitution with a torture program, who unleashed the Justice Department on innocent Americans even as they released the "Defense" Department on innocent Iraqis, sit in comfortable retirement and, in the case of Dick Cheney, endlessly appear on talk shows while the many dead for whom they are responsible are, of course, unable to speak at all. Oh, and Scooter? He was convicted of lying to a grand jury, nothing else, nothing to do with the war. And he was pardoned by the man at the top, George W. Bush. Hubris goes on my bookshelf as a reference. If you hear claims made by those who engineered the terrible Iraq war at no cost to themselves, this is the place to look to put those claims to the test.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    4.5 stars. A fascinating, detailed and well-researched effort. And yet it's still hard to believe that this actually happened, and not even that long ago! And we're still dealing with the effects today, even as ANOTHER disasterous administration makes it's bid to maintain it's power.... 4.5 stars. A fascinating, detailed and well-researched effort. And yet it's still hard to believe that this actually happened, and not even that long ago! And we're still dealing with the effects today, even as ANOTHER disasterous administration makes it's bid to maintain it's power....

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ross McKenrick

    OMG. This is such a painful read! Blow by blow--the story of an incredibly disastrous administration. I actually haven't finished it yet (Chap 17) but the only concillation is that the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation is getting underway and all the assholes are really squirming now. How did these guys (and gals) get re-elected?? How did they escape prison?? Criminals. All. OMG. This is such a painful read! Blow by blow--the story of an incredibly disastrous administration. I actually haven't finished it yet (Chap 17) but the only concillation is that the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation is getting underway and all the assholes are really squirming now. How did these guys (and gals) get re-elected?? How did they escape prison?? Criminals. All.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    Despite its inflammatory title, this is a solid, detailed account of the manipulation of intelligence and the intelligence process before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is very good on the individual pieces of intelligence, and it goes way in depth on the Plame/Wilson/Niger/yellowcake scandal. The authors hold their judgments through most of the book, although it is clear that they believe (rightly) that key figures of the Bush administration believed that Saddam has weapons and couldn' Despite its inflammatory title, this is a solid, detailed account of the manipulation of intelligence and the intelligence process before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is very good on the individual pieces of intelligence, and it goes way in depth on the Plame/Wilson/Niger/yellowcake scandal. The authors hold their judgments through most of the book, although it is clear that they believe (rightly) that key figures of the Bush administration believed that Saddam has weapons and couldn't be convinced otherwise; they then manipulated and rewired the intelligence process to give them that result. The authors are meticulous about how this story was put together and how it fell apart in the aftermath. I have a few problems with the book, but overall it is a strong account of the lead-up to war. Recommended for anyone looking to learn more about the intelligence on WMD and AQ-IQ links before the 2003 invasion.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Brimmer

    It was kind of shocking to see the foundation for the current Republican administration being laid in the last. The right wing echo chamber amplified by right wing media and pundits. The disregard for contrary information. The political attack on persons not normally considered fair game. The politicization of intelligence and its weaponization against dissent. The elevation of ideology above actual facts on the ground. Its all there in proto-form. This book demonstrates yet again that you don't It was kind of shocking to see the foundation for the current Republican administration being laid in the last. The right wing echo chamber amplified by right wing media and pundits. The disregard for contrary information. The political attack on persons not normally considered fair game. The politicization of intelligence and its weaponization against dissent. The elevation of ideology above actual facts on the ground. Its all there in proto-form. This book demonstrates yet again that you don't know where you are unless you know where you've been.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    [This is a well-researched book, but I found the extensive attention given to the 'Valerie Wilson' episode to be a little too much for me] hu·bris ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/ noun 1. excessive pride or self-confidence. A FLIMSY FOUNDATION - But the public case had been built on a flimsy foundation: a faulty and misleading National Intelligence Estimate; the phony Niger charge; the false claims of fabricating defectors such as Curveball; the White House Iraq Group’s spin campaign; the misleading media reports seeded [This is a well-researched book, but I found the extensive attention given to the 'Valerie Wilson' episode to be a little too much for me] hu·bris ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/ noun 1. excessive pride or self-confidence. A FLIMSY FOUNDATION - But the public case had been built on a flimsy foundation: a faulty and misleading National Intelligence Estimate; the phony Niger charge; the false claims of fabricating defectors such as Curveball; the White House Iraq Group’s spin campaign; the misleading media reports seeded by the manipulative Iraqi National Congress; the disputed aluminum tubes; the CIA white paper that concealed intelligence agency dissents; Rice’s “mushroom cloud”; the imaginary Atta-in-Prague story that obsessed Cheney, Wolfowitz, Libby, and Feith; the flawed Powell presentation; and Bush’s overstated (if not overheated) rhetoric that exceeded the actual and exaggerated intelligence. "SELLING" THE WAR - Bush and his aides were looking for intelligence not to guide their policy on Iraq but to market it. The intelligence would be the basis not for launching a war but for selling it. - There was no doubt. Information from intelligence analysts or other experts in or out of government that contradicted or undermined the operating assumptions of the get-Saddam crowd was ignored or belittled. POLITICS A KEY FACTOR IN TIMING - The campaign calendar was driving the timing of the vote on Iraq. “The election was the anvil and the president was the hammer. That was when we had the most leverage.” USE FEAR - Unnamed administration officials, according to the article, were worrying that “the first sign of a ‘smoking gun’ might be a mushroom cloud.” USE THE PRESS TO REINFORCE YOUR AGENDA - Millions of Meet the Press viewers could be forgiven for not realizing that Cheney was citing an article based on information that had come from his own administration. CHANGE YOUR RATIONALE IF THINGS DON'T WORK OUT - The president was not talking about actual stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, the prewar claim. He was now talking about a program to develop weapons. INTEL: ALUMINUM TUBES - Turner had seized on a single piece of intelligence: intercepted faxes indicating Iraq was seeking to purchase 60,000 aluminum tubes from Hong Kong. Why Iraq wanted the tubes was unclear. - Yet Turner’s analysis was based on a questionable assumption: that the tubes sought by the Iraqi were suitable only for centrifuges and could not be used for anything else. - ...the Iraqis had been buying the tubes fairly openly, sending out multiple purchase orders and faxing them to international suppliers, and then haggling over the prices. The Iraqis had even advertised for the tubes on the Internet. None of that seemed consistent with a secret nuclear weapons program. - A CIA officer involved in the tubes episode called it a “perfect coming together of arrogance, incompetence, and basic human error. These screw-ups happen all the time, just not with consequences this enormous.” - Perhaps more important, IAEA inspectors, now back in Iraq, had rushed to the country’s Nasser 81 mm rocket production facility and found 13,000 complete rockets—all made from the same aluminum tubes that the administration had been claiming were for nuclear centrifuges. NICE TUBES YOU HAVE THERE - Why had the Iraqis needed such high-strength tubes for rockets? - All the Iraqis told a consistent story: the rockets had been falling short. The problem was the propellant. But changing the propellant—the obvious solution—wasn’t an option. The propellant was produced at a facility run by a friend of one of Saddam’s sons. So to avoid interfering with the flow of business to a regime crony, the engineers devised a Rube Goldberg solution: lower the mass of the rockets and use tubes that had a higher strength than otherwise necessary. That was why the Iraqis had been using the Internet to procure tubes with unusually precise specifications. NOT ALL ARE CONVINCED - Daschle...wasn’t sure what to make of the photographs. In and of themselves, they didn’t mean anything. You couldn’t see much: they were blurry pictures of buildings or warehouses that could be anything. He later admitted that he was “embarrassed” that he hadn’t challenged Cheney. Daschle had once been a photo analyst intelligence officer in the Air Force. It had been his job to interpret photos. But here was Cheney telling the four leaders of Congress what they were looking at. - “It’s pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot and are hot to go see it another way.” - retired Marine General Anthony Zinni IRAN INVOLVED? - The [Iraqi National Congress] official in charge of this program, which was designed to shape public opinion in the United States, was Aras Habib, the same Chalabi aide suspected by the CIA of being an Iranian agent. CIA officials aware of this, such as Maguire, wondered whether Iranian intelligence was working through the INC to influence American policy. But they sounded no alarms. SADDAM NOT THE SOURCE OF ALL TERRORISM - for (reporter) Mylroie, the handiwork of the Iraqi dictator. “Everything, everything, everything was connected to Saddam,” said her former collaborator Daniel Pipes. “She became monomaniacal on the subject.” - Within hours of the al-Qaeda strike, Rumsfeld was asking if Saddam could be targeted as well as Osama bin Laden. The next day, Bush...asked him to look for evidence that Saddam had staged 9/ 11. When Clarke replied, “Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this,” Bush said, “I know, I know, but… see if Saddam was involved. Just look.” SADDAM AND BIN LADEN WERE NOT GOLFING BUDDIES - Why would Saddam pass along his chemical and biological know-how—presumably his most cherished possessions—to a terrorist group that owed its allegiance to someone else? For years, bin Laden had railed about “apostate” Arab states led by “infidel” leaders who failed to follow the words of the Prophet. Saddam was clearly one such leader. His secular Baathist regime would have to fall for bin Laden to achieve his goal of a new Islamic caliphate. CIA OFFICER VALERIE WILSON - Counterproliferation Division (CPD) of the Directorate of Operations were mounting espionage operations aimed at obtaining intelligence on weapons of mass destruction programs around the globe. They also were plotting covert actions that might thwart these programs. A particularly busy unit in the CPD at this time was the Joint Task Force on Iraq, charged with digging up information on the top priority: Iraq’s WMD programs. Its chief of operations was a career officer named Valerie Wilson. - Her job was to find the evidence of Saddam’s clandestine efforts that Bush, Cheney, Libby, and other administration officials desired. VALERIE WILSON'S HUSBAND, AMBASSADOR JOSEPH WILSON - Wilson first garnered headlines for defying Saddam Hussein during the run-up to the first Persian Gulf War...The Iraqis were demanding that the U.S. Embassy force American citizens who had taken refuge at the U.S. ambassador’s residence to register at an Iraqi government office. Failure to comply was punishable by death...Wilson refused to turn over the 40 Americans under his protection, and he appeared at an off-the-record press conference wearing a hangman’s noose. If Saddam “wants to execute me for keeping Americans from being taken hostage, I will bring my own fucking rope,” he told the journalists WILSON DE-BUNKS THE NIGER YELLOWCAKE AND HIS WIFE'S GETS COVER BLOWN - “I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says, and I quote, ‘Wilson’s wife is fair game.’ ” - the idea that her identity would be exposed in the course of a political tussle rankled the rank and file. INTEL: YELLOWCAKE IN NIGER - And all this would happen because [Valerie Wilson's] husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had challenged Bush’s use of a particularly lousy and misleading piece of intelligence to persuade (some might say, scare) Americans. - Niger, a landlocked, drought-ridden nation of 12 million in the sub-Sahara desert, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has one principal economic product: a vast store of uranium deposits. - [documents] purportedly showed that Iraq and Niger had signed a deal in July 2000 for Niger to sell Saddam’s regime 500 tons of yellowcake uranium. - Years later, the FBI would conclude that La Signora, with the assistance of the Niger Embassy’s first counselor, Zakaria Yaou Maiga, had forged the papers and then passed them along to Martino to sell to his intelligence agency contacts. “It was a financial scam,” a senior FBI official familiar with the bureau’s investigation said in 2006. - Baute, using Google and public domain records, had been able to do quickly what the CIA had failed to do for a year: ascertain that the Niger papers were a hoax. - The State Department’s INR thought such a deal was unlikely because a French consortium tightly controlled Niger’s uranium industry. - And any such sale would have required multiple levels of approval from the Nigerien bureaucracy going all the way up to the prime minister. A secret sale, Wilson saw, would have been difficult, too, for it would have required the movement of thousands of barrels. - Niger was heavily dependent on foreign aid and would not risk jeopardizing its good relations with Washington by permitting such a transaction. NOT MUCH USE FOR URANIUM IF YOU DON'T HAVE A NUCLEAR PROGRAM - Nor did the Iraq Survey Group uncover any other evidence of an active nuclear program. Team members inspected the enormous Taiwatha nuclear facility outside Baghdad and other nuclear sites. They found a decayed infrastructure, aging machine tools, and other equipment that hadn’t been used for years. - And with no active nuclear weapons program, Iraq had had no need for hundreds of tons of yellowcake. INTEL: ATTA (OF 9/11 INFAMY) MET WITH IRAQIS IN PRAGUE? - Feith's exploitation of the Atta-in-Prague allegation was a case of true believers twisting skimpy intelligence reports to create illusions of proof. - “We knew right away that’s not Atta,” said one U.S. counterterrorism official who examined the photo when it arrived at Langley. INTEL: AL-LIBI'S CHANGING STORY - In the intelligence community, few issues at the time were more contentious than the question of whether the CIA or the FBI should be in charge of interrogating al-Qaeda suspects arrested overseas or picked up in Afghanistan. Al-Libi became a test case. - “They literally came into the room, strapped him to a stretcher, and wrapped his feet, his hands, and his mouth in duct tape,” said a senior FBI official. A hood was placed over his head. The stretcher with al-Libi was then loaded into a pickup truck, which drove right onto a cargo plane that promptly took off. “The fucking guy just disappeared,” said another top FBI agent. “We were pissed.” - Whatever happened to al-Libi while he was in Egyptian custody—and there has never been a public investigation—within a few weeks he changed his story about Saddam and al-Qaeda. INTEL: (SOURCE) 'CURVEBALL' WAS NOT A TRUSTWORTHY SOURCE - Some of his old friends described him as a “great liar” and “con artist.” A CIA investigator working with the Iraq Survey Group said, “People kept saying what a ‘rat’ Curveball was.” And an ISG team member later told the Los Angeles Times, “They were saying, ‘This guy? You’ve got to be kidding.’ ” INTEL: MOBILE BIOWEAPONS TRAILERS? - An NSC staffer later recalled the excitement stirred within the White House by these intelligence reports: “We really thought the trailers were the smoking gun. When I saw that, I thought, ‘We got him.’ We were like, ‘The bastard, we nailed his ass.’ - In mid-May, a team of DIA contractors in Iraq examining the trailers had concluded that the trailers were not biological weapons labs. These results had been e-mailed back to Washington by the contractors—and ignored. - The trailers were, he later said, “not a proper piece of work.” They had been poorly assembled; the welding was substandard, the materials were inferior. There was no way, he thought, that they could have been used for microbiological work. INTEL: SADDAM'S UAVs FOR MUNITIONS DELIVERY - a highly detailed photo that appeared to show one of Saddam’s UAVs that could be used to deliver chemical and biological agents. But Levine noticed something: the UAV had an insignia on it. He asked one of Rice’s aides about it. It was a Czech flag, he was told. This UAV had been on display at a German air show. What, Levine asked, did this have to do with Iraq? The answer: This UAV is like the ones we believe Saddam has. Like? Not the real thing? Levine shook his head. THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE (NIE) ON IRAQ - Only after the war began—when it was too late—would the NIE prompt hard questions about how the intelligence community had produced such a flawed document. - Bush hadn’t asked for the NIE, nor—as the White House would later acknowledge—did he even read it. Nor would most members of Congress. Senate aides would later calculate that no more than a half-dozen or so members actually went to the secure room where the highly classified NIE was kept under lock and key before the upcoming vote on Bush’s Iraq resolution. BAD INTEL PRACTICES - Cheney’s aides were reading raw transcripts straight from the National Security Agency. - the vice president’s office urgently wanted him to come up with evidence that Saddam had maintained arsenals of weapons of mass destruction—so much so that, just as Cheney and Libby had done before the war, the vice president’s aides were rummaging through top secret, unprocessed intelligence - “They were reaching down and reading raw intelligence and putting their own meaning on it,” said a CIA official familiar with the incident. WMDs IN 'CAVES' - the vice president’s aides sent a message to Kay and the ISG: check out this overhead photograph. It showed what looked like the opening of a tunnel on the side of a hill in Iraq. This could be where the WMDs were hidden, Cheney’s office said—in caves. - When Kay and several of his analysts took a look at the photo, they burst out laughing. They knew exactly what was in the picture. - Because the water table was fairly high, these trenches would fill with water and become sources of drinking water for cows. The vice president’s staff hadn’t discovered the elusive WMDs; it had found a bovine watering hole. LITTLE CONCERN FOR POST-INVASION - And when the two talked briefly about postinvasion Iraq, Bush remarked that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Blair agreed. - Wolfowitz took a sharp swipe at Shinseki. “The notion that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq,” he said, is “wildly off the mark.” He added, “[ I] t is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself.” - I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators and that will help us to keep requirements down.” - The study noted that the most likely development would be for political parties to emerge based on ethnic, tribal, and religious identities and free elections among ethnically based political parties could actually “increase divisions rather than mitigate them.” And—worse—armed militias would likely be a problem. - The paper’s overall conclusion was troubling: “The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace in Iraq is real and serious.” 'SLAVE OF UNFORESEEN AND UNCONTROLLABLE EVENTS' - Senator Bob Graham, explaining his opposition to the (Iraq War) resolution, quoted Winston Churchill: - “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy, but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” POST-INVASION BAD IDEAS (DE-BAATHIFICATION) - Bremer issued Order Number One: a sweeping directive for the de-Baathification of Iraqi society. - By dissolving the Army, the Bush administration, State Department adviser David Phillips subsequently wrote, had “committed one of the greatest errors in the history of U.S. warfare: It unnecessarily increased the ranks of its enemies.” - The dissolution of the Army, Maguire later said, “disenfranchised people with guns, and it got rid of the technocrats—the people who ran the society—because it was a militarized society. - The Arabic word used in official documents to describe the de-Baathification decree was ijtithaath. It meant to uproot by root and branch, like a weed. But the connotation for many Iraqis was annihilation or eradication. To many Iraqis, Maguire later explained, it sounded like the Final Solution. SO WHY WASN'T SADDAM FORTHCOMING ABOUT HIS LACK OF WMDs? - But Duelfer let them down. His report was more definitive—and more damning—than Kay’s findings. Saddam’s WMD capability, it said, “was essentially destroyed in 1991.” - So why hadn’t Saddam cooperated completely with the UN inspectors to prove he had no WMD programs? Duelfer personally concluded that Saddam had been engaged in an impossible double game: trying to persuade the West that he had no WMDs while maintaining enough ambiguity that his historical foe, Iran, couldn’t be certain that was true. SO WHY DIDN'T THE CIA CHALLENGE THE INTELLIGENCE PRESENTED? - “Iraq and the WMD came hard on the heels of 9/ 11—after we’re accused of not having enough information and of not connecting dots,” said Stanley Moskowitz, the chief of CIA congressional affairs, shortly before his death in 2006. “It put the agency in the psychology of ‘Oh shit, we can’t be too timid.’ NO HEADS ROLLED - But there has been no accountability for those who were wrong about Iraq—about the threat or about what would come after the invasion. Bush fired no one. Nobody resigned in disgrace. There were no consequences. *** BONUS - Jon Stewart interviews reporter Judy Miller (whose reporting helped push untrue info about Iraq): http://youtu.be/924DT22tSWE

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    This is another book in a long series on the march toward war in Iraq. It is one of the better of these volumes. One key passage lays out the message of this book (page 410): "What had gone wrong? Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice and other administration officials had set themselves up by using the most dramatic and forceful rhetoric in persuading the nation that was necessary. They had approached the invasion of Iraq as though it were a political campaign. They pushed aside doubt, they e This is another book in a long series on the march toward war in Iraq. It is one of the better of these volumes. One key passage lays out the message of this book (page 410): "What had gone wrong? Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice and other administration officials had set themselves up by using the most dramatic and forceful rhetoric in persuading the nation that was necessary. They had approached the invasion of Iraq as though it were a political campaign. They pushed aside doubt, they exaggerated, they shared information with the public selectively." Juxtapose the above quotation with the author's statement, speaking to the hubris of the Administration in the run up to war (page 15): ". . .Bush, Cheney, and a handful of other senior officials already believed that they had enough information to know what to do about Iraq. . .They were drop-dead sure of their presumptions: Iraq was a danger, Saddam had to go, and war was the only option that would achieve this policy goal. They did not need intelligence to reach these conclusions - or to test them." Their decision to go to war was based, in the end, on (page 17) ". . .unproven, dubious assumptions and sketchy and, in many respects, phony intelligence. But it ultimately rested on a strong core belief: we know what we're doing." Many of the stories included in this volume are well know, but there is a wealth of detail describing each, with many interviews obviously building the stories. As usual, when dependent on so many sources, one must always know that some of these sources are using their interviews for their own ends. That stated, though, the thrust of observations of this book are so consistent of others that this caveat cannot discredit the overall thrust of the book. Key stories that come to life here: reporters like Judy Miller serving as mouthpieces of the Administration and, in the process, serving the Administration's needs to persuade the American people that war was necessary; the rationale for going after Valerie Plame Wilson (told in perhaps too much detail, given the many other issues that the book addresses); the use of Ahmad Chalabi as a key source to justify war; the strained theories of Laurie Mylroie trying to convince people that there was a tight, close linkage between Iraq and al-Qaeda (outside of the White House and other conspiracy theorists, her work has not generated much resonance); the strange tale of how an obviously bogus allegation about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger came to be in a State of the Union message and become a part of the rationale for war; the tale of how aluminum tubes that were physically incapable of serving in a nuclear program were still judged to be proof of Saddam's nuclear program; the revelation that key Administration personnel--including Condoleezza Rice--never read the full intelligence estimates that revealed the grave doubts about many of the contentions used to justify the war; and so on and so on. This is a dispiriting bookin that it raises the question: How did so many smart people end up leading the country into such a war, on the basis of such flawed information? The authors use the Greek term hubris as takeoff point. Does their argument work? This is an issue for each reader to decide upon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I became so angry reading this book. Not that any of this is new information at this point, just that it's so infuriating to read all the details and machinations of how the invasion of Iraq was engineered by the Neo-Cons. So anxious to depose Saddam Husssein, so obsessed with blaming him for all the problems in the world, that they had to invent reasons to take him out. Some top Bush II officials were enthralled with the notion that Saddam might have master-minded the Oklahoma City bombing! GW I became so angry reading this book. Not that any of this is new information at this point, just that it's so infuriating to read all the details and machinations of how the invasion of Iraq was engineered by the Neo-Cons. So anxious to depose Saddam Husssein, so obsessed with blaming him for all the problems in the world, that they had to invent reasons to take him out. Some top Bush II officials were enthralled with the notion that Saddam might have master-minded the Oklahoma City bombing! GW Bush asked Richard Clarke to find evidence that Saddam was behind 9-11, even after being told that Al Qaeda was responsible. Bush even considered a provocative attack on Iraq to serve as an excuse for a military response, in case the hysterical warnings about WMDs didn't convince the public about the need to invade. This book did a good job of sorting out some of the most convoluted and puzzling aspects of this saga, i.e. George Tenant going against some of the experts in his own CIA, then letting the CIA take the blame when Bush went against their advice; the appalling grand-standing of Judith Miller; the unquestioning devotion to Ahmed Chalabi; the Scooter Libby - Valerie Plame situation; the Powell speech at the UN. This book makes the reader contemplate how such deceitful, conniving, clueless people became the leaders of our nation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mark Pace

    Solid reporting and detailed information. Hindsight is 20/20, and the book seems to ignore the difficulty of making decisions in real time without the luxury of hindsight. There seems to be two clear sides of this issue A) Faulty intelligence given to the White House led to an unneeded war. B) The Bush Administration only used intelligence that supported its preconceived decision to invade Iraq. Or a combination of the two. I agree more with the A thinking while the authors strongly argue B and go Solid reporting and detailed information. Hindsight is 20/20, and the book seems to ignore the difficulty of making decisions in real time without the luxury of hindsight. There seems to be two clear sides of this issue A) Faulty intelligence given to the White House led to an unneeded war. B) The Bush Administration only used intelligence that supported its preconceived decision to invade Iraq. Or a combination of the two. I agree more with the A thinking while the authors strongly argue B and go out of their way to keep the focus off the intelligence community and on Bush, Cheney, Rice and crew. But there's enough information in the book about the entire debacle to inform anyone who reads this. It's an important read for those wanting to learn more about the Iraq war, but be sure it's not your only source of information as it downplays a lot of information that explains Bush and company's decision.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Frank Kohn

    A bit tedious, and there's way too much ink spent on the Valerie Plame affair, but still a useful primer on how a majority of the American populace (me included) was duped into supporting the military intervention in Iraq. From the dubious rationale for the invasion (aluminum tubes + yellowcake from Niger = mushroom clouds!) to the early days of the botched occupation, the authors provide staggering detail from government officials and other witnesses that reveal an administration all too gung-h A bit tedious, and there's way too much ink spent on the Valerie Plame affair, but still a useful primer on how a majority of the American populace (me included) was duped into supporting the military intervention in Iraq. From the dubious rationale for the invasion (aluminum tubes + yellowcake from Niger = mushroom clouds!) to the early days of the botched occupation, the authors provide staggering detail from government officials and other witnesses that reveal an administration all too gung-ho to launch a war. Not recommended, however, for those suffering from outrage fatigue.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peterod0922

    A strong account of the idiocy which has led us into the Iraq war. It does stay pretty much to the narrative of what the two authower were able to uncover on their own, and doesn't make too many leaps with the evidence into motives. However the evidence they are able to uncover is damning enough. If you are looking for the deeper reasons of "why", there are probably other books which would be of more interest (e.g Greg Palast's work). A strong account of the idiocy which has led us into the Iraq war. It does stay pretty much to the narrative of what the two authower were able to uncover on their own, and doesn't make too many leaps with the evidence into motives. However the evidence they are able to uncover is damning enough. If you are looking for the deeper reasons of "why", there are probably other books which would be of more interest (e.g Greg Palast's work).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam Sanford

    This book presents overwhelming evidence that the Bush and Cheney decided to go to war in Iraq a long time ago, even before 9/11, and details exactly how they strong-armed intelligence officials into delivering any scraps that could be distorted into evidence in favor of the predetermined decision to invade. They lied, they covered up their lies, they got away with it, and it is happening again.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    This book was informative but at the same time it was depressing. I have never really seen a more appropriate title to a book other than the dictionary. I was upset that people could be so blinded by their own beliefs that rational objective thinking is ignored because it doesn't mesh with what they believe. This book was informative but at the same time it was depressing. I have never really seen a more appropriate title to a book other than the dictionary. I was upset that people could be so blinded by their own beliefs that rational objective thinking is ignored because it doesn't mesh with what they believe.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Darrell Fisher

    I don't care what side of the political aisle one might be in. You have to read this book. Our government lied to us in so many ways it will startle you. We cant allow any administration to have this much control of the entire system. George Bush was technically King for 8 years I don't care what side of the political aisle one might be in. You have to read this book. Our government lied to us in so many ways it will startle you. We cant allow any administration to have this much control of the entire system. George Bush was technically King for 8 years

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sulzby

    Excellent and a must-read about the Bush years. The best source on why the outing of NOC (non official cover) CIA officers is a crime--hence, the outing of Valerie Plane Wilson (ref. movie and book, Fair Game). I wrote a full review earlier but once again Goodreads "lost it. Excellent and a must-read about the Bush years. The best source on why the outing of NOC (non official cover) CIA officers is a crime--hence, the outing of Valerie Plane Wilson (ref. movie and book, Fair Game). I wrote a full review earlier but once again Goodreads "lost it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Raimo Wirkkala

    Excellent reporting tied together by a compelling narrative. A cautionary account of what can happen when the ruthless and dishonest lead the incurious.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bill Manzi

    A well researched and ultimately compelling indictment of the Bush 43 rationale for the invasion of Iraq. For those that continue to espouse support for the Iraqi debacle a book like this, with actual details that are pretty hard to refute, is like exposing Count Dracula to sunlight. Isikoff demolishes the WMD rationale for invasion thoroughly; in doing so he brings to light not just "intelligence failures" but the subtle, and not so subtle, pressure on the intelligence community to conform to p A well researched and ultimately compelling indictment of the Bush 43 rationale for the invasion of Iraq. For those that continue to espouse support for the Iraqi debacle a book like this, with actual details that are pretty hard to refute, is like exposing Count Dracula to sunlight. Isikoff demolishes the WMD rationale for invasion thoroughly; in doing so he brings to light not just "intelligence failures" but the subtle, and not so subtle, pressure on the intelligence community to conform to pre-existing theories on Saddam Hussein brought into the new Administration by the likes of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the President. The book covers the serial incompetence involved in planning the Iraq war, and how specifically the intelligence community was compromised by the strong desire of the Administration to go to war. War apologists generally try to skirt details, since they are so damning; Isikoff gives you those details in several key areas. Want to recollect how the Administration twisted the fact sets on the "tubes" they accused Iraq of purchasing for centrifuges? Isikoff not only shows you what nonsense that was, but more importantly that the Administration was aware of the problems with the conclusions they were trying to sell the public. A favorite tactic? Leak "inside information" to selected journalists, and then go on Meet the Press and cite those very same news stories as "evidence" of Saddam's WMD Program(s). "So there was Cheney on television citing the Times. He said that he could not reveal intelligence sources, but with the Times story, “it’s now public that, in fact, [Saddam] has been seeking to acquire” the tubes for his nuclear weapons enterprise. We know this, Cheney claimed, “with absolute certainty.” Millions of Meet the Press viewers could be forgiven for not realizing that Cheney was citing an article based on information that had come from his own administration. And Cheney went further by remarking that he could not say whether or not Saddam already had a nuclear weapon, leaving that an open possibility. It was a disingenuous remark, for no U.S. intelligence analyst at the time believed that Saddam had his hands on a nuclear bomb." Many folks were astounded by the outrageous claims, but many went along for the ride." "A CIA officer involved in the tubes episode called it a 'perfect coming together of arrogance, incompetence, and basic human error. These screw-ups happen all the time, just not with consequences this enormous." It was not just Cheney, although his complicity in the misinformation campaign was critical. The President sold nonsense enthusiastically. ”Bush and Blair also talked about the aluminum tubes. The president assured the prime minister the IAEA was wrong to conclude that the tubes were for artillery rockets, not for a nuclear program. Bush insisted that the specifications of the tubes indicated they were indeed right for a nuclear centrifuge. And when the two talked briefly about postinvasion Iraq, Bush remarked that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Blair agreed." The Niger yellowcake debacle, in which, despite repeated entreaties from the CIA, the Administration continued to perpetrate the lie that Iraq had attempted to purchase a vast sum of "yellowcake" for its nuclear program, is covered with great specificity. Another detail that war apologists, and the Bush Administration prefer to forget. The pressure to ignore contrary intel on the yellowcake claim is covered in great detail, leading to the famous use of the sixteen words in a Bush State of the Union Address. A national embarrassment. The Bush Administration attempt to dump that fiasco at the feet of the CIA is fairly easily set aside. "Eleven days previously, the White House had blamed the CIA for the sixteen words. Now aides were aware of documents showing that the national security adviser, the deputy national security adviser, and the chief speechwriter had ignored clear warnings from the CIA." Eventually the White House would have to acknowledge that the clear and unambiguous warnings were ignored. The CIA, eager to please, gave warnings but did not do the independent job that should be expected from them. They seemed to realize, at some level, that the Administration was selling snake oil, but ultimately were compromised themselves, especially Director George Tenet. A good snippet from the book gets right to the fundamental question of what the intel actually showed, with Tenet not able to answer a simple question from Joe Biden:"But when Biden and other committee members pressed Tenet on the sourcing for these claims, they got little in the way of answers. During the questioning, a committee staff member slipped Biden a note with a suggested query, and Biden put this question to Tenet: What “technically collected” evidence did the CIA have of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? What the staffer had in mind was physical proof: radioactive emissions from nuclear sites, electronic intercepts, samples of biological agents. Anything that would be hard and irrefutable. “None, Senator,” Tenet replied. There was a hush in the room. Oh my God, the staffer thought. “ ‘None, Senator’—that answer will ring in my ears as long as I live,” the aide remarked later. Biden appeared bothered. He asked Tenet, “George, do you want me to clear the staff out of the room?” It was a way of asking if Tenet possessed superclassified information, some technical evidence that was so black, so secret, that it couldn’t be shared." How did we get to the idea of invading Iraq? Maybe the most important piece of this outrageous series of lies by the Administration was the role of Ahmad Chalabi, and his direct connection to the State of Iran. Chalabi led the Administration by the nose, and even when he was exposed as a total fraud continued to enjoy political support from within the Administration. And what was the connection with Iran, and their intelligence services? "In late May, Iraqi police, supported by American soldiers, raided the Baghdad home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi, who had become a member of the Iraqi interim governing council created by the U.S. government. U.S. troops seized computers, records, and rifles from two offices of Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. An Iraqi judge said the raids were part of an investigation of assorted crimes: torturing people, stealing cars, seizing government facilities. One of the arrest warrants was for Aras Habib, the INC’s intelligence director. Habib had run the group’s controversial “intelligence collection program,” which had supplied fabricating defectors and bogus information to dozens of media outlets before the war. He also had been suspected by the CIA of being an Iranian agent for years—ever since Bob Baer and Maguire had dealt with him in the mid-1990s." "As for Habib, he vanished around the time of the raid on the INC headquarters. His suspicious disappearance raised an intriguing and significant question: Had the fellow responsible for slipping bogus INC “intelligence” on Iraq’s supposed WMDs to U.S. officials and journalists—information concocted to start a war—done so at the behest of Iranian intelligence? Had the U.S. government and the American public been the target of an Iranian intelligence operation designed to nudge the United States to war? These were questions U.S. intelligence agencies never seriously investigated." Chalabi's role is one of the greatest outrages of the adventure, and must lead to an examination of the geo-political ramifications of the war. That piece is not covered in the book, but any discussion of the war should reference the fact that the regional player most positively impacted by the U.S. invasion of Iraq was Iran. The Shia assumption of power in Iraq, and the direct connection of many of the new members of the Iraqi government to Iran, made this connection easy to discern not only while it was happening, but before the invasion as well. The neo-cons displayed a shocking lack of even the most fundamental understanding of the regional equilibrium, and how this invasion would tip that equilibrium over in a very negative way for the United States. We continue to suffer the ill effects to this very day, with the ironic twist that many of the same neo-cons who advocated the Iraqi debacle today decry the potential for regional hegemony by Iran. Of course the Iraqi debacle contains not only the Bush Administration cooking the intel books to justify invasion, but also displaying some of the greatest incompetence in managing Iraq as an occupying power after the fall of the Saddam regime. The book highlights some of the greatest errors committed, but is not strong on post war management. For that I will re-read Bob Woodward's "State of Denial". Isikoff gives a very detailed examination of the so called Valerie Plame affair, with Bush Administration officials blowing the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson in an attempt to discredit her husband, a vocal critic of the Bush Administration on the interpretation of the so called "Niger-Iraq Yellowcake" intel. Maybe a bit much on this subject, but certainly shows the mindset that brought us to this disaster. A highly recommended book by an author not afraid to bring the light of day to the dishonest and incompetent handling of the Iraq debacle by the Bush Administration.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Syed Gilani

    The book is somehow, extended version of Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack but have a few unique angles, and it is different in a way where it asks questions and analyzes the actions of the political players. The book portrays the classic cowboy culture, where you shoot first, and ask questions later. In the case of Iraq war, the administration had the plan to shoot already and they wanted to find, and cook the proof to justify the plan. The fundamental question, asked by the authors is, "What made The book is somehow, extended version of Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack but have a few unique angles, and it is different in a way where it asks questions and analyzes the actions of the political players. The book portrays the classic cowboy culture, where you shoot first, and ask questions later. In the case of Iraq war, the administration had the plan to shoot already and they wanted to find, and cook the proof to justify the plan. The fundamental question, asked by the authors is, "What made Saddam different from other dictators and worth an invasion?" and the first answer by the then President Bush is, "I don’t like assholes who lie to the world?” Vice President, Dick Cheney had age-old and fixed views on Saddam Hussein since the first Persian Gulf War. The authors aver, that Cheney seemed obsessed with Iraq. Then there are other people, such as Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas J. Feith, Zalmay Khalilzad, and John P. Hannah, plotting, conspiring and lying to unbridle a war, and going to every length to eliminate any obvious, probable and possible obstruction. There was no opposing force, or army to fight back because Iraqi army "troops were eagerly awaiting an invasion—so they could surrender." Their objective is to create Chaos, and destroy Iraq. There was no plan of reconstruction, in fact, when State Department, organize groups to study the post war Iraq and prepared 135 tasks to be accomplished in post-invasion phase, the study was simply trashed. Freedom and Democracy? Not a chance, there was no intention, not even a thought to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq, but the plan was to install a dictator, called Ahmed Chalabi, who have been struggling to restore monarchy in Iraq. Then there was Anabasis project, from its inception, “a precursor and a complement to war—not a substitute”, organized by John R Maguire and a team of his officers in which the CIA have effectively recruited a Sufi Muslim religious Leader, "Shaikh Muḥammad al-Muḥammad al-Kasnazani", his two sons Nehru and Gandhi, and thousands of followers across Iraq. Kasnazani is the leader of the largest Sufi order in Iraq, the Kasnazani order. He hailed from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The headquarters of the Kasnazani sect of Sufism, is near the Duluaiya River and the town of Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and is the site of a twice-a-week gathering for the religious ceremony. The book tells the tale of intelligence community’s inability to gather any information inside Iraq, effectiveness of Saddam Hussain’s security apparatus, against the preying eyes of clandestine organizations such as CIA. Then, there is the series of betrayals of American government to the Iraqi people in the past, leading to the genocide of Kurds and others. In mid 90s, American government encouraged uprising against Saddam and once people did rise, the American Governments betrayed them and threw them under the bus, this time, Saddam used the horrific methods and weapons to crush them, and slayed thousands of them.

  22. 5 out of 5

    HATeRPhARi

    This book is incredibly well researched and very well written, and for this it deserves significant praise. The book is, as I see it, split into two sections. The first section (Chapters 1 - 12) tell the story of the spin of the Iraq War. The book goes into excruciating detail on the ins and outs of how the White House lied the United States into a war with Iraq; it details every major argument the White House makes in justifying the invasion, and the story of the intelligence that these argument This book is incredibly well researched and very well written, and for this it deserves significant praise. The book is, as I see it, split into two sections. The first section (Chapters 1 - 12) tell the story of the spin of the Iraq War. The book goes into excruciating detail on the ins and outs of how the White House lied the United States into a war with Iraq; it details every major argument the White House makes in justifying the invasion, and the story of the intelligence that these arguments rely on (or do not rely on). The book also spends some time talking about the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, as it relates to these main arguments (What exactly were the aluminum tubes used for? Are there WMDs in Iraq? Does Iraq have the capability of launching chemical attacks from unmanned UAV drones?). These chapters are an absolutely incredible read, and should be read by everyone, especially by those who want to understand why people say the Bush White House lied the United States into Iraq. The second section of the book (Chapters 13 - 19) I found were largely uninteresting. Throughout the book, you learn that White House officials (Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Richard Armitage, mainly) leak to various reporters the identity of a CIA agent who is currently working undercover. These seven chapters are dedicated entirely to the fallout of this leak, leading to a lot of chapters that essentially say "This reporter reported this thing at this date, while that one reported that ... ". Even worse, it leads to chapters surrounding the ensuing legal case which describe who knew what pieces of information at what time and what prosecutors were doing over the course of their investigation. While these investigations are undoubtedly a part of the Iraq controversy from a historical perspective (it lead to the indictment of Scooter Libby on several charges), it is by no means an important part of the overarching Iraq story, in my view. It was a joy to read the first section of this book, and a chore to read the second. To understand how the US ended up invading Iraq, read Chapters 1 - 12. These are an absolutely definitive resource for the matter. If you would like the larger historical timeline, read Chapters 13 - 19. If that larger timeline is not important to you, skip straight to the Afterword to find out what happens to everyone in the end (spoiler alert: not much).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Lefevre

    Enough time has passed between the run up to the Iraq War to today for solid histories to be written. Isikoff and Corn have written the definitive history of the U.S. political causes of the war. How did America stumble into the disaster that was the Iraq War. Most of us know broad outlines of the misinformation and disinformation that were used to sell it to America. This takes is behind the scenes in detail. Most notably we see in detail the incestuous relationships between government officials Enough time has passed between the run up to the Iraq War to today for solid histories to be written. Isikoff and Corn have written the definitive history of the U.S. political causes of the war. How did America stumble into the disaster that was the Iraq War. Most of us know broad outlines of the misinformation and disinformation that were used to sell it to America. This takes is behind the scenes in detail. Most notably we see in detail the incestuous relationships between government officials and the press the feeds the run up to a war. While this book covers the "how" of selling the invasion of Iraq. Another book is needed for the "why." This book gives lip service to the naive neo-con "establish democracy" in the Middle East explanation, it's not the least bit convincing. I strongly recommend this book for those interested in the politics of war and journalistic ethics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Osborneinri

    This was such a depressing read. Well written and well researched, it tells the story of the falsehoods, fabrications, misinterpretations, and remarkable strategic blunders that led to the second war in Iraq. Our president, his Vice President, and their team lied to the American people and Congress in order to get the war they wanted. Thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars later, where are we? This ought to be mandatory reading, but it rightfully will outrage and depress most citizens who This was such a depressing read. Well written and well researched, it tells the story of the falsehoods, fabrications, misinterpretations, and remarkable strategic blunders that led to the second war in Iraq. Our president, his Vice President, and their team lied to the American people and Congress in order to get the war they wanted. Thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars later, where are we? This ought to be mandatory reading, but it rightfully will outrage and depress most citizens who love the country we used to be.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    Listened to the audiobook, I really like Stefan Rudnicki - however the Country of Niger is mispronounced throughout the book and it kind of drove me nuts; it's pronounced like "nee-ZHER" not "NYE-jur", and the people are nee-ZHER-ien. Any time he referenced a person from Niger it sounded like he was talking about someone from Nigeria. Other than that, the content of the book was great, and well written. Listened to the audiobook, I really like Stefan Rudnicki - however the Country of Niger is mispronounced throughout the book and it kind of drove me nuts; it's pronounced like "nee-ZHER" not "NYE-jur", and the people are nee-ZHER-ien. Any time he referenced a person from Niger it sounded like he was talking about someone from Nigeria. Other than that, the content of the book was great, and well written.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    This book was thorough, detailed, and engaging. It's about a topic I felt I already knew well but contained a vast amount of detail that slipped by me in the moment. I thought the back half of the book dragged a bit when it became bogged down in the minutia of the Valerie Wilson saga, but I was glad to know more about that than I had before. This book was thorough, detailed, and engaging. It's about a topic I felt I already knew well but contained a vast amount of detail that slipped by me in the moment. I thought the back half of the book dragged a bit when it became bogged down in the minutia of the Valerie Wilson saga, but I was glad to know more about that than I had before.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe Lyons

    I was an Air Force planner for missions against Iraq. I bought these lies dutifully and was horrified when I discovered that our government could risk the lives of so many for their agendas. This is a great book that opened my eyes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Afshin Afshar

    A captivating recount of the events and decisions and that led to the Iraq war. What did go wrong? Was it the Bush administration's predetermined decision to topple Saddam or false intelligence that led the country into a was which would last over a decade? A captivating recount of the events and decisions and that led to the Iraq war. What did go wrong? Was it the Bush administration's predetermined decision to topple Saddam or false intelligence that led the country into a was which would last over a decade?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The incompetence and lies told by Bush for a personal vendetta that cost Americans thousands of lives and billions of dollars needs to open all our eyes to do our own research and hold our government accountable.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hal Ruffner

    Insightful and a truly disgusting story. Must read for all Americans.

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