Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction

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On February 6, 2004, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13328 establishing the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. The White House portrayed the Commission as bi-partisan and independent, but it was immediately criticized for the composition of the appointees to the commission, its limited reach, its timing and its tightly mandated direction.

Initial Criticisms

The members were all either past or present deeply connected political insiders, some having been appointed to significant intelligence positions, and/or were noteworthy academians from respected Universities with large portfolios in Policy, both Domestic and International. Not one lifelong member of America's Intelligence Community was appointed to the Commission. (Admiral Studeman may at first glance seem to be an exception to this because of his long service in Naval Intelligence, but his appointment to the NSA by GHW Bush while still serving in the Active Military and his subsequent promotion to Deputy DCI upon retirement belie this analysis)

The Commission was not given subpoena power, nor unlimited reach into the executive branch's records.

Not only did the establishment of the Commission come too late for their findings to be issued before the 2004 Presidential Elections, Congress has also enacted Intelligence Reform before the Commission has issued their findings.

The executive order was tightly focused on just the intelligence community's mistakes, seemingly placing all blame for the false claims regarding Iraq's weapons capabilities on their shoulders, absolving the Legislative and Executive Branches of the United States Government from their own responsibility for the War Upon Iraq having been entered into under the false pretexts of Iraq's possession and current manufacturing of WMDs.

More than one Bush Administration spokesperson has compared the WMD Commission to the Warren Commission[1][2][3], the government investigation of the Kennedy Assassination, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone.

Leakage in March, 2005

On March 9, 2005, the New York Times published an article which wrote that their interviews with persons who have been briefed on the commission's deliberations and soon to be released conclusions have revealed that the intelligence data on Iran's weapons production capability is not complete enough to make firm judgements about its composition, eventhough President Bush and his newly appointed DI at the CIA, Porter Goss, have recently made public statements, purporting to be factual, that the Iranian Government is actively pursuing Nuclear Weapon Development.

The article also stated that the report will also be critical of North Korean's Nuclear capability intelligence.

Excerpts from the article:

"A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work.
The Bush administration has been issuing increasingly sharp warnings about what it says are Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons. The warnings have been met with firm denials in Tehran, which says its nuclear program is intended purely for civilian purposes.
The most complete recent statement by American agencies about Iran and its weapons, in an unclassified report sent to Congress in November by Porter J. Goss, director of central intelligence, said Iran continued ‘to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.’
In its report, the panel is also expected to be sharply critical of American intelligence on North Korea...
One person who described the panel's deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as ‘scandalous,’ given the importance and relative openness of the country, compared with such an extreme case as North Korea.

Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt, Data Lacking on Iran's Arms, U.S. Panel Says, NY Times, March 9, 2005

Commission Members

Laurence Hirsh Silberman (Larry) - co-chairman:

The NY Times reported on 2004.02.15 that "several liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers have attacked what they call his severe partisanship on and off the bench in episodes including the Iran-contra affair, the Whitewater investigation and accusations of sexual misconduct against President Bill Clinton."

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Presently the minority leader of the Senate, officially questioned the bias of Silberman on the Senate Floor, while he was minority whip on February 11, 2004. It was entered into the Congressional Record on Pages S974-S978 (FAS link)

Silberman is alleged to have played an integral role in the October Surprise, and in 1987 after his appointment to the DC circuit Court of Appeals, decided with Judge Kenneth Starr that the Independent Council statute was unconstitutional in an appeal filed by Oliver North. This decision that was quickly overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision. Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist later assigned Silberman along with another Reagan appointee to the DC Court of Appeals, David Sentelle, to review the Iran/Contra convictions of Oliver North and John M. Poindexter. Both Judges decided in 2-1 decisions to overturn those convictions. Rehnquist, originally a Nixon appointee to the Supreme Court, was subsequently appointed to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Reagan.

Charles Spittal Robb (Chuck) - co-chairman:

  • Education:
  • Resume:
    • United States Marine Corps
      • 1961-70 Active Duty, achieved the rank of major. Assignments included military social aide at the White House (Johnson), and Vietnam combat infantry company command.
      • 1970-1991 Marine Corps Reserve, retired as a Lt. Colonel
    • law clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th circuit (Judge John D. Butzner, Jr.), 1973-74
    • practicing attorney, 1974-78
    • Virginia lieutenant governor, 1978-82
    • governor of Virginia, 1982-86
    • Democratic senator from Virginia, 1988-2001; served on Senate Intelligence Committee and Committee on Armed Services
    • George Mason University Distinguished Professor of Law & Public Policy, 2001-present
    • Board of Trustee for the MITRE Corporation, 2003-present

Robb is a lifelong Democratic Moderate, and son-in-law to Lyndon B. Johnson (married Lynda Bird Johnson). He was always considered to be a dull, but dedicated politician until the mid 1980s.

Tai Collins, a former Miss Virginia, claimed to have had 10 month affair with Robb, a claim he denied at the time. Later, he admitted to receiving a nude massage from her. He later defeated Oliver North in a Senate race. Robb was also the target of a grand jury investigation regarding the use of an illegally recorded phone conversation against a Democratic rival (Wilder) in a political campaign, causing a inter party split which many Virginia Democrats see as a root cause for Republican political success in Virginia since the mid 1990s.

Robb is listed in the Political Graveyard website, and his political career was considered by many to have ended until his appointment to this commission. The Hill on March 4, 2004 reported that Robb was told to steer clear of Democratic Party leaders if he wanted to keep his appointment, and that he "assured the president he would not support examining the administration’s use of intelligence" .

Richard C. Levin (Rick)

  • Education:
  • Resume:
    • Yale Professor, 1974-1993; tenure included chairing Yale’s Economics Department, and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
    • Yale president, 1993-present (longest serving Ivy League president)
    • a director of Lucent Technologies, 1993-present
    • Board member of Satmetrix Corporation
    • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    • director of the Hewlett Foundation
    • GW Bush appointee to the Commission on the United States Postal Service, 2002

Levin's appointment has been criticised because of his close personal relationship with George Bush.

John Sidney McCain III

  • Education:
    • U.S. Naval Academy, 1958
    • National War College, 1973-74
  • Resume:
    • United States Navy, 1958-1981
      • Commander, U.S. Navy, 1958
      • Prisoner of War in North Vietnam (Hanoi Hilton), 1967-73
      • captain, Navy pilot, 1977
      • Senate Navy Liaison, 1977-1981
      • awarded Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross
    • Arizona Congressman, 1982-86
    • Republican senator from Arizona, 1986-now

In testimony given to the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 28, 2004, David Kay, who first headed the Iraq Survey Group, stated that there was a failure of intelligence in the prewar assessment of Iraq's capability to produce, and their possession of, Weapons of Mass Destruction. The following day, John McCain, using his position as a United States Senator, officially called for the formation of an independent commission. Earlier that same day, Condeleeza Rice had stated on NBC's Today show that there was no need for an Independent commission. On February 6, 2004, George Bush issued Executive Order 13328 authorizing the formation of a Commission. McCain was one of the first seven members appointed by Bush.

At the onset of the commission's formation McCain vocalized the need for it to be authorized with subpoena power and widening its scope to include investigation into how the Bush administration used the data, claiming that without such power the Commission would be ineffective. McCain stated these needs to the Bush Administration, and his requests were denied. McCain also stated at the time of his appointment in February, 2004, he believed that the Bush administration had not distorted intelligence reports. In November of 2004, McCain called CIA employees who publically had stated their preference John Kerry over George W. Bush in the upcoming election, and also stated that they believed the Agency's intelligence reports had been misused, and that these beliefs had not been properly investigated; were part of a "rogue' and "dysfunctional" organization.

Henry S. Rowen

  • Education:
    • B.S. in industrial management, MIT, 1949
    • master's in economics, Oxford University, 1955
  • Resume:
    • United States Navy Officer in World war II Pacific theater, 1943-46
    • RAND Corporation economist, 1950-53 and 1955-60
    • Kennedy deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, 1961-64
    • Johnson assistant director, U.S. Bureau of the Budget, 1965-66
    • president of RAND, 1967-72
    • Stanford University professor of public management, 1972-81, 1983-95
    • Reagan National Intelligence Council chairman, 1981-83
    • senior research fellow at Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, 1983-now
    • GHW Bush assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, 1989 to 1991
    • Stanford professor emeritus, 1995-present
    • CIA Historical Review Panel, 1996-?
    • member of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee

Rowen is a founding member and signatory to the Project for the New American Century, which advocated deposing Saddam Hussein as head of Iraq in 1998.

In October, 2003, Hoover Institution published a Rowen article in their Policy Review periodical titled, Kim Jong Il Must Go.

Matt Kelley, an Associated Press journalist, wrote in an article published February 27, 2004, titled Pakistan threatened to give nukes to Iran, that Rowen admitted the Reagan and first Bush administrations ignored intelligence information that indicated Pakistan was giving Iran Nuclear technology, but did nothing to stop it, even though the current President Bush

"...has said the United States became aware of Khan's network only in the past few years through daring work by U.S. and British intelligence agents".

This seems to contradict what Rowen wrote for the Hoover Institute's Hoover Digest, 1998 No. 1, "Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Chilling Survey, where he stated that

"Pakistan's loss of support from the United States has spurred its bomb and missile programs".

Pakistan was heartily supported by the Reagan Administration as a conduit for the Arab mujahadin fighting the Soviet in Afghanistan, and Rowen was quoted in in the Kelley article stating that the Pakistan Government was researching Nuclear technology, that the Reagan administration was aware of it, and overlooked the data without mentioning it in public. The United States only officially spurned Pakistan in 1999 after Pervez Musharraf displaced the democratic government in a coup, and installed himself as ruler.

Walter Becker Slocombe:

  • Education:
    • A.B., Princeton University, 1963
    • Oxford University, 1963-1965, Rhodes Scholar
    • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1968, summa cum laude, Note Editor of the Law Review
  • Resume:
    • Law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, 1968-69
    • Nixon National Security Council staff, 1969-70
    • International Institute for Strategic Studies research associate, 1970-71
    • associate/member, Caplin and Drysdale law firm, 1971-76, 1981-93
    • Carter Deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, 1977-79
    • Carter deputy undersecretary of defense for policy planning, 1979-81
    • Clinton deputy undersecretary of defense for policy planning, 1993-94
    • Clinton undersecretary of defense for policy, 1994-2001
    • senior adviser to Coalition Provisional Authority, May-November 2003

Slocombe was not among the first group of Bush's selection for the Commission, but was instead appointed as a replacement for Lloyd N. Cutler, a former White House counsel for Carter and Clinton, who resigned in July, 2004 from the commission, stating peronsal reasons.

Slocombe has spent most of the last three decades switching between practicing law, specializing as a civil litigation and tax attorney, and as a civilian holding high-level appointive Department of Defense positions at the pentagon.

On January 29, 1999, at the Senate Armed Services Committee he explained some the Clinton Administration's rationale for the recent bombing of Iraq (Desert Fox). He stated that the Clinton Administration supported regime change in Iraq, with caveats.

He said,

"It cannot be done by imposing a new regime by military force from without, even assuming that such would be possible, which is very doubtful. Nor, in our judgment, can it be done by encouraging an internal insurrection before the conditions exist that would make it possible for such an uprising to succeed. We cannot play recklessly with the lives of either the Americans or the Iraqis who must work together to achieve our objective. Nor can we support a course of action that would -- or would seem to lead to the division of Iraq".

William Oliver Studeman (Bill):

  • Education:
    • B.A., University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., 1962
    • Defense Intelligence School, 1966-67
    • M.A., George Washington University, 1973
    • Naval War College, 1973 and 1981
  • Resume:
    • United Sates Navy, 1962-95
      • executive assistant to the Vice Chief Naval Operations, 1981-82
      • commanding officer of the Navy Operational Intelligence Center, 1982-84
      • Director of the Long Range Planning Group at the Department of the Navy, 1984-85
      • Director of Naval Intelligence, 1985-88
      • GHW Bush Director of the National Security Agency, 1988-91
      • Retired from the Navy in 1992 with the rank of Admiral
    • deputy director, CIA, 1991-95
    • VP and deputy GM for intelligence and information superiority, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, 1996-now
    • member of the Defense Science Board.

As deputy director of central intelligence, Studeman served under Bob Gates, Jim Woolsey, and John Deutch.

He was the intel community representative to the President GHW Bush's Management Council.

His military experience also included an extensive background in antisubmarine warfare, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Sensors, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), and information warfare.

As a political appointee to the National Security Agency by GHW Bush, he was an integral part of the administration's intelligence providers. The GHW Bush presidency had its own intelligence shortcomings. They were blind sided by the sudden breakup of the Soviet Union, and by Hussein's Invasion of Kuwait in 1991. A case has been made for gross ineptness of the first Bush Administration regarding the Iraqi initiation of hostilities against Kuwait, using the transcript of the US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie's, prewar conversation with Saddam Hussein as a foundation for the allegation. This transcript was provided by the Iraqi Government and was released in at least two versions, casting some doubt upon its veracity.

Charles M. Vest

  • Education:
    • B.S., mechanical engineering, West Virginia University, 1963
    • M.S., mechanical engineering, University of Michigan, 1964
    • Ph.D., mechanical engineering, University of Michigan, 1967
  • Resume:
    • Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, 1968-1990
    • president of MIT, 1990-2003
    • E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. director, 1993-present
    • IBM director, 1994-present
    • Chairman of President Clinton's Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station
    • member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology
    • member of the Corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    • vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness

As president of MIT in the 1990s and an apointee of Clinton's to several committees, Charles Vest is no stranger inside of the beltway. He testified several times for congress in that period. He was sitting president of MIT in March, 2002, when MIT opened The Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies on a $50 million grant from the US Army.

Vest was a strong proponent and facilitator of MIT's OpenCourseWare Initiative[4][5], and published the contents of over 500 MIT undergraduate class materials upon the web with the intention of freely offering the information to anyone in the world.

Patricia McGowan Wald (Pat):

  • Education:
    • B.A., Connecticut College, 1948
    • LL.B., Yale University, 1951
  • Resume:
    • U.S. Court of Appeals clerk, 1951-52
    • associate, Arnold, Fortas & Porter, 1952-53
    • D.C. Crime Commission member, 1964-65
    • Office of Criminal Justice attorney, 1967-68
    • Washington Neighborhood Legal Service, 1968-70
    • Ford Foundation Project on Drug Abuse co-director, 1970
    • Center for Law and Social Policy co-director, 1971-72
    • Mental Health Law Project co-director, 1972-77
    • Carter assistant attorney general, 1977-79
    • Carter appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 1979-99
    • chief judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 1986-91
    • International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia judge, 1999-2001
    • Chairwoman of The Open Society Justice Initiative, 2002-2003

Wald was chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals during Silberman's early tenure as a judge there.

On Feb. 6, 2004, President Bush Announced the Formation of Independent Intelligence Investigation Commission, naming Wald as a Commission member. In February, Wald also stepped down as chair of the George Soros funded Open Society Justice Initiative.

== Notes == (abridged bibliography)

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