November 3, 2005
national debate, which the indictment of Irving Lewis Libby for
perjury and obstruction of justice has aroused in the mass media,
has failed to address the most basic questions concerning the
deep structural context, which influenced his felonious behavior.
The most superficial explanation was that Libby, by exposing
Valerie Plame (a CIA employee), acted out of revenge to punish
her husband Wilson for exposing the lies put forth by Bush about
Iraq's "importation" of uranium from Niger. Other journalists
claim that Libby acted to cover up the fabrications to go to
war. The assertion however raises a deeper question -- who were
the fabricators of war propaganda, who was Libby protecting?
And not only the "fabricators of war", but the strategic
planners, speech-makers and architects of war who acted hand
in hand with the propagandists and the journalists who disseminated
the propaganda? What is the link between all these high- level
functionaries, propagandists and journalists?
Equally important given the
positions of power which this cabal occupied, and the influence
they exercised in the mass media as well as in designing strategic
policy, what forces were engaged in bringing criminal charges
against a key operative of the cabal?
Libby's rise to power was part
and parcel of the ascendancy of the neo-conservatives to the
summits of US policymaking. Libby was a student, protégé,
and collaborator with Paul Wolfowitz for over 25 years. Libby
along with Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Douglas Feith, Kagan, Cohen,
Rubin, Pollack, Chertoff, Fleisher, Kristol, Marc Grossman, Shumsky
and a host of other political operators were long term believers
and aggressive proponents of a virulently militaristic tendency
of Zionism linked with the rightwing Likud Party of Israel. Early
in the 1980's, Wolfowitz and Feith were charged with passing
confidential documents to Israel, the latter temporarily losing
his security clearance.
The ideologues begin their
"Long March" through the institutions of the state.
In some cases, advisers to rightwing pro-Israel congressmen,
others in the lower levels of the Pentagon and State Department,
in other cases as academics or leaders of conservative think
tanks in Washington during the Reagan and Bush senior regimes.
With the election of Bush in 2001, they moved into major strategic
positions in the government, and as the principal ideologues
and propagandists for a sequence of wars against Arab adversaries
of the Israeli State. Leading neocons, like Libby, drew up a
war strategy for the Likud government in 1996, and then recycled
the document for the US war against Iraq before and immediately
after 9/11/01. Along with their rise to the most influential
positions of power in the Bush administration, the neocons attracted
new recruits, like New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
What is striking about the
operations of the 'cabal' is the very open and direct way in
which they operated: former Director of the National Security
Agency (under Reagan) Lt. General William Odom, retired Marine
General Anthony Zinni, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (former chief
of staff of Powell), retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski,
National Security Adviser to President George Bush (the First)
Brent Scowcroft, and numerous disenchanted officials, including
veterans of the intelligence agencies, high level observers,
and former diplomats openly criticized the neocon takeover of
US policy and the close relationship between them and Israeli
In the run-up to the invasion
of Iraq, Wolfowitz and Libby were the architects of the military
strategy for Rumsfeld and Cheney, their bosses. Douglas Feith
established the "Office of Special Planning" to fabricate
the lies to justify the war. Judith Miller, David Frum and Ari
Fleisher served to disseminate the lies and war propaganda through
articles, interviews, press conferences, and speechwriting for
The neocons pushed to manipulate
and marginalize many of the key institutions in the US imperial
state. To circumvent intelligence from the CIA that didn't promote
the Israeli agenda of war with Iraq, neocon Douglas Feith (number
3 in the Pentagon) established the Office of Special Planning,
which fabricated propaganda and channeled it directly to the
President's Office bypassing and marginalizing any critical review
from the CIA. Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld marginalized the leading
generals, promoting nondescript "loyalists" and outsiders
to the top positions, and discarding any advice which opposed
or conflicted with their plans for war with Iraq. The Secretary
of State referred to a speech prepared for him by Libby as "bullshit"
because of its falsehoods. His chief aide, Colonel Wilkerson
has written disparagingly of the cabal, which marginalized the
State Department including his boss Powell.
The prosecution of Libby however reveals the intense internal
struggle over the control of the US imperial state between the
neocons and the traditional leaders of its major institutions.
Along with the indictment of Libby by a grand jury at the request
of the special prosecutor, the FBI has arrested the two leading
policy makers of the most influential pro-Israeli lobby (AIPAC)
for spying for the State of Israel. These are not simply isolated
actions by individual officials or investigators. To have proceeded
against Libby and AIPAC leaders , they had to have powerful institutional
backing; otherwise the investigations would have been terminated
even before they began.
The CIA is deeply offended
by the neocon usurpation of their intelligence role, their direct
channels to the President, their loyalty to Israel. The military
is extremely angry at their exclusion from the councils of government
over questions of war, the disastrous war policy which have depleted
the armed forces of recruits, devastated troop morale, and the
neocons' grotesque ignorance of the costs of a colonial occupation.
It is no wonder that General Tommy Frank referred to Douglas
Feith as "the stupidest bastard I have ever met."
The current institutional war
recalls an earlier conflict between the rightwing Senator Joseph
McCarthy and the Defense Department. At the time during the mid
1950's, Senator McCarty was accumulating power first by purging
trade unions, Hollywood, the universities, and promoting likeminded
conservative officials. He successfully extended his investigations
and purges to the State Department and finally tried to do the
same to the military. It was here that Senator McCarthy met
his Waterloo, his attack backfired, the Army stood its ground,
refuted his accusations and discredited his fabrications and
grab for power.
In the meantime, the neocons
are not at all daunted by the trials of their colleagues in AIPAC
and the Vice President's office: they are pressing straight ahead
for the US to attack Syria and Iran, via economic sanctions and
military bombing. On October 30, 2005 the former head of the
Israel Secret Police (Shin Bet) told AIPAC to escalate their
campaign to pressure in the US to attack Iran (Israel National
News.com). There was a near unanimous vote in the US Congress
in favor of economic sanctions against Syria. Despite mass demonstrations,
and because of a 'captured' congress, it appears paradoxically
that the only force capable of defeating the neocon juggernaut,
like the earlier Joe McCarthy, are powerful voices in the state
threatened by new disastrous wars not of their making.
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at
Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year membership in
the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless
in brazil and argentina and is co-author of Globalization
Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry Veltmeyer, Social
Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina,
will be published in October 2005. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org