Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Interview with CIA Officer: Cheney lied about Pakistan's nukes, for MIC profit.

I've been promising an article from my interview with ex-CIA intelligence officer, Richard Barlow, for months now. RawStory published the first piece today.

Barlow was the CIA's key expert on Pakistan's nuclear program - he engineered sting operations and arrests of key AQ Khan personnel. For his efforts, Barlow was retaliated against - he says that Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz and Hadley "viciously tried to destroy my life, personally and professionally... in truly extraordinary ways that no one had ever seen before or since—at least not until the Wilsons (Joe, Valerie) were victims of the same people years later."

Barlow was recently featured in a BBC documentary about AQ Khan called "The Nuclear Walmart" which highlights that the US government was fully aware of the development of Pakistan's nuclear program, as well as Pakistan's proliferation to countries like North Korea and Iran - and sat by quietly and did nothing.

Barlow argues that the military-industrial-complex is so powerful that it dwarfs serious national/global security concerns such as the spread of nuclear technology to America's 'enemies': "They sold out the world for an F-16 sale."


In 1993, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY) told Seymour Hersh “If what Barlow says is true, this would have been a major scandal of Iran-Contra proportions, and the officials involved would have had to resign.” We now know that Barlow was indeed telling the truth- but the officials involved - Cheney, Hadley, Wolfowitz and Libby didn't resign - they've been running the country for the last six years.

From the article:
In the era of Ronald Reagan, intelligence officer Richard Barlow was an analyst for the CIA, monitoring Pakistan's nuclear program. In 1989, he moved over to the Pentagon, where he worked for then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. Barlow lost that job when he raised objections to his bosses about senior Pentagon officials lying to Congress concerning Pakistan’s emerging nuclear program.

In an interview with RAW STORY conducted over several weeks, the onetime intelligence officer revealed new details about intelligence on Pakistan’s nuclear program—and efforts by the US to quash attempts to stop development. Barlow's story also casts light on recent efforts by the current administration to keep information from Congress on Iraq and other matters.
When Richard Barlow joined the CIA in 1985 as a counter-proliferation intelligence officer with particular expertise on Pakistan, he quickly realized that Pakistan was continuing to develop its nuclear program, and that some of its clandestine and illegal procurement activity was occurring within the US.

It didn't take Barlow long to realize that US officials knew what Pakistan was doing. According to Barlow, individuals at the State Department later actively facilitated procurement, tipping off targets of sealed arrest warrants in undercover operations and illegally approving export licenses for restricted goods.
Pakistan, Barlow said, had been breaking US nuclear export laws regularly since 1985, and the responsible individuals in the US intelligence and law enforcement communities knew it. Having just approved a multi-billion dollar aid package, Solarz and others in Congress—including Senator Larry Pressler, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee—were outraged to learn about Pakistan's violations of their laws. Solarz was appalled that information had been hidden from Congress.

In contrast, those who had willfully misled Congress were horrified that Barlow had told the truth. They tried to undercut Barlow's testimony but to no avail. Barlow’s classified testimony was unimpeachable.
Barlow says he continued to be engaged in trying to arrest more Pakistani nuclear agents. He also encountered similar activity to before regarding lying to Congress about Pakistan's nuclear program in order to keep aid flowing, but now there was a significant difference: The Afghan war was over, so there was no Cold War “justification” for continuing to shovel money at Pakistan. This time, he believes, it was simply about profit.

"They sold out the world for an F-16 sale," Barlow says.

By then, Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons.

"They had nuclear weapons at the time, and we knew they did,” Barlow remarks. “The evidence was unbelievable. I can't go into it—but on a scale of 1 to 10, in terms of intelligence evidence, it was a 10 or 11. It doesn't get any better than that.”

Barlow asserts that in 1988 and 1989, Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush illegally certified that Pakistan was free of nuclear weapons in order to keep funds flowing.
In fact, US and foreign intelligence and news reports indicated that the Pakistanis had in fact modified their F-16’s for nuclear delivery and had been conducting training exercises where they practiced dropping nuclear weapons from the F-16s. Nonetheless, Barlow says, Pentagon officials lied to Congress under oath, saying that the planes couldn't be used for nuclear purposes without a radical overhaul well beyond the industrial capabilities of Pakistan.

Barlow says he then learned that Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Hughes had delivered testimony willfully falsified by officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He realized that Hughes had lied to Solarz' committee because earlier in 1989 he had prepared a comprehensive paper on this very issue for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

“All the top experts had looked at this question in detail for years, and it was a cold hard engineering question,” Barlow says. “There was no question about it—the jets could easily be made nuke-capable, and we knew that Pakistan had done just that."

Barlow says he tried again to inform his bosses that the congressional testimony was false. He was effectively fired two days later.
Go read the rest.

It'd be remiss of me not to mention Sibel Edmonds, because, ya know, that's what I do - but there are some eerie parallels with the Edmonds & Barlow cases - and both of them touch on the cases of Joe and Valerie Wilson.

From my interview with Mathieu Verboud, director of the film Kill The Messenger, about Sibel's case (particularly the nuclear black market element):
Luke Ryland: What about the connection between Sibel Edmonds and Valerie Plame - what can you tell us about that?

Mathieu Verboud: Apart from the complexities of these matters, we have something wonderful here: a PATTERN! Richard Barlow knows too much about nuclear stuff. Hadley goes after him. Plame knows too much about nuclear stuff. Grossman and Hadley go after her. Edmonds knows too much about nuclear stuff. Did Grossman, as some believe, go after her? Well.. anything is possible.

Marc Grossman and Steve Hadley! With these two guys, we’re not faraway from the Neocon little Mafia at the Pentagon, those people who called the shots about the war in Iraq, namely Perle and Feith. Feith and his infamous Office of Special Plans...
To be clear, Barlow doesn't see the same connections between his case and the Edmonds or Plame cases - but he does think that his case is somewhat similar to Joe Wilson's case - at least to the extent that the same people attempted to inflict similar heavy-handed retaliation on both Wilson and Barlow.

With any luck, Rich will be joining us in the comments here this evening and might be able to answer any questions. Barlow is a Dailykos newbie - and there might be some associated technomological issues.

I'll have some more instalments from the interview with Barlow in the near future.

(see dailykos, DU)

(thanks very much to my team of editors)


tas said...

Good job on the Raw article.

lukery said...

thnx Tas - did i hear that you have one coming up too?

«—U®Anu§—» said...

God Luke, I lived through all this and tried to forget it as quickly as I could, because it's a raging river of new evil and excrement. As the days go by it returns in my memory, little by little. Yes, the U.S. government sat back and did nothing as hostile nations developed their nuclear programs, but our government's role was far from benign. Indeed, the U.S. government provided everything that was needed, by every means, including illegal trade. That's why I was loathe to see the return of such people as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith--and BUSH. Dubya had the nads to talk about an "axis of evil," but stopped short of saying the nuclear programs these countries and others developed was courtesy of help they received from the United States. That's part of the bomb Sibel can drop, and why she's been gagged.