Monday, May 28, 2007

Shaha Riza's security clearance

* Blumenthal:
"Wolfowitz's vision promised nothing less than a rupture with the entire world order. By one decisive act of will, all that existed -- all -- would be transformed. After a brief, very brief, interval, collective happiness and universal harmony would be ushered in. With shock and awe, change would roll in mighty waves, pounding all with its unceasing force.
Originally, Wolfowitz aspired to be deputy secretary of state. But the newly named secretary, Colin Powell, had observed Wolfowitz as a Cheney aide during the Gulf War opposing his various positions, and rejected him. Instead, he deployed Washington lawyer and former Reagan chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, acting as his representative, to offer Wolfowitz the consolation prize of ambassador to the United Nations. Leaving the cockpit of action for a place despised by neoconservatives would have been a cruel punishment. Wolfowitz was suspended in a void. The Kremlin-like politics of the Bush transition determined his fate.

Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, staffed by a close Cheney friend, favored by social conservatives for his hostility to gays in the military as a member of the Armed Services Committee, emerged as the first choice for secretary of defense. He was to be part of a two-for-one package. Richard Armitage, armed with Pentagon experience, would be his deputy and run the department. But after Powell eclipsed Bush in the press conference where his nomination as secretary of state was announced, Cheney immediately understood that the Coats scenario threatened his intention to become the most powerful vice president in history. While Coats was dim, Armitage was adept. And this combination empowered Powell, potentially giving him dominion over not only State but also Defense. Once this prospect loomed, Cheney, whose clashes with Powell went back to the Gulf War, sought an alternative. Meanwhile, the neoconservative press sounded the alarm. The Weekly Standard ran an article headlined: "The Long Arm of Colin Powell: Will the Next Secretary of State Also Run the Pentagon?" Coats cooperated by undermining himself. His interview with President-elect Bush was a combustible mix of bad chemistry. The dreary Coats didn't laugh at Bush's jibes and instead declared his skepticism about "Star Wars" missile defense and complained about Powell. Instantly, he fell through the trapdoor, shipped to Germany as ambassador.

Donald Rumsfeld, who had been secretary of defense under Gerald Ford, wanted to be director of the CIA. His longtime rival, the elder Bush, opposed his appointment to the position he himself had once held. Bad blood had flowed through their relationship since the Ford years, when Rumsfeld had systematically sidelined Bush. In 1988, Rumsfeld endorsed Sen. Bob Dole for the Republican presidential nomination against Vice President Bush. When he won, Bush cut Rumsfeld out of the administration. At dinner parties in Chicago, where Rumsfeld worked as a corporate executive, he entertained with vicious derision of Bush as a hopeless wimp, according to someone who was at several of these affairs.

With Coats out, Cheney, Rumsfeld's former deputy, moved him in as secretary of defense, establishing a broad basis for Cheney's empire. Rumsfeld did not want to accept Armitage as his deputy because he was Powell's best friend, and Powell snapped up Armitage for himself. The lines were being drawn for the internal Cold War that would play out over the first term between Powell and Cheney. But where did that leave Wolfowitz?

Wolfowitz thought that he ought to be director of the CIA. But as soon as he advanced himself, his estranged wife, Clare, wrote a private letter to President-elect Bush saying that he could not be trusted. This embittered letter remained a closely guarded secret, although a former high official of the CIA told me about it. Chris Nelson also reported it on April 16 in his widely respected, nonpartisan foreign policy newsletter: "A certain Ms. Riza was even then Wolfowitz's true love. The problem for the CIA wasn't just that she was a foreign national, although that was and is today an issue for anyone interested in CIA employment. The problem was that Wolfowitz was married to someone else, and that someone was really angry about it, and she found a way to bring her complaint directly to the President. So when we, with our characteristic innocence, put Wolfowitz on our short-list for CIA, we were instantly told, by a very, very, very senior Republican foreign policy operative, 'I don't think so.' It was then gently explained why, purely on background, of course. Why Wolfowitz's personal issues weren't also a disqualification for DOD we've never heard." The Daily Mail of London also reported on his wife's letter at the time that Wolfowitz was appointed president of the World Bank in 2005. Asked about it by the newspaper, Clare Wolfowitz did not deny it, saying, "That's very interesting but not something I can tell you about."

President-elect Bush summoned George Tenet, the holdover CIA director. "I guess this is the end," Tenet told a colleague as he headed out the door, that colleague told me. When he returned, a surprised Tenet said, "He wants me to stay until he can find someone better."

Cheney and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who had been Wolfowitz's Wolfowitz before he became Cheney's Cheney -- his student when Wolfowitz taught at Yale and his assistant when Wolfowitz served under Cheney at the Pentagon -- intervened. Cheney guided Wolfowitz to a safe harbor as deputy to Rumsfeld. But Rumsfeld was unenthusiastic and hesitated. Wolfowitz told him to decide on the spot or he would go to the United Nations, so Rumsfeld took him.

Once in place, Wolfowitz became an indispensable node of the neoconservative cell. He brought in his coterie of neocons to staff an intelligence operation, the Office of Special Plans, outflanking the CIA by circulating its own reports around regular channels to the office of the vice president (run by Libby). Now Wolfowitz was at the center of an embedded Team B.
Wolfowitz's girlfriend, Riza Shaha, a Tunisian-Saudi British citizen, London School of Economics educated, Arab feminist, neoconservative and intimate of the circle of favored Iraqi exile Chalabi, was his perfect partner. He had her detailed at one point to a defense contractor, SAIC, and she reported back to the World Bank, where she said that conditions were just fine in Iraq for bank loans."

Meanwhile, Clemons was on Goyette's show (10mins), asking again whether Riza Shaha is a spy - given that she somehow, magically, apparently, got a security clearance... It's difficult not to wonder if the same gig was going on re the Dickersons in Sibel's case - particularly given that Wolfowitz and Dickerson operated in the same circles...


Yankee Doodle said...


It's funny how certain names keep coming up again and again.

lukery said...

funny... or dangerous.