In his book, Graham asserts that the White House blocked investigations into Saudi Arabian government support for the 9/11 plot, in part because of the Bush family's close ties to the Saudi royal family and wealthy Saudis like the bin Ladens. Behind the White House's insistence on classifying 27 pages detailing the Saudi links in a report issued by a joint House-Senate intelligence panel co-chaired by Graham in 2002 lay the desire to hide the administration's deficiencies and protect its Saudi allies, according to Graham...
...[Q] In the book, you describe being furious with the FBI for blocking your committee's attempts to interview that paid FBI informant. You write that the panel needed the bureau to deliver a congressional subpoena to the informant because he was in the FBI's protective custody and could not be located without the bureau's cooperation. But the FBI refused to help. What happened? And what do you think the bureau was trying to hide?
[A] We had just finished a hearing and had asked various representatives of the FBI to come into a conference room and discuss our strong interest in being able to interview the San Diego informant. It was clear that the FBI representatives were not going to voluntarily allow that to happen, and we had already prepared a subpoena, which I had in my coat pocket. I walked over to the principal representative for the FBI, Ken Wainstein, and I was approaching him with this subpoena, he clasped his hands tightly behind his back. I tried to hand him the subpoena, but he acted as if it were radioactive. Finally he said he didn't want to take the subpoena, but he would get back to us on the following Monday. Well, nobody ever got back to us. It was the only time in my senatorial experience that the FBI has refused to deliver a legally issued congressional subpoena.
Later, the FBI congressional affairs officer sent a letter to [co-chairman] Porter Goss and me, saying, "The administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source, nor did the administration agree to allow the FBI to serve a subpoena on the source." What that tells me is the FBI wasn't acting on its own but had been directed by the White House not to cooperate.
...[Q]Do you believe the White House manipulated the intelligence to persuade the public to back the invasion? "Manipulate" may be too strong a word for you. But it took a request from you and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to get the intelligence community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the danger posed by Iraq, a step that would seem an obvious one to take, considering the stakes to the nation.
[A]I am comfortable with the word "manipulate." There was a chapter that did not become known until three or four months ago that occurred in May 2002. Various leaders of the CIA were called down to the White House and told that the White House wanted to have a public document that could be released under the CIA's label but which would make the case for going to war with Iraq. I think one of the reasons they didn't want to do a formal National Intelligence Estimate was because it would be done not by the CIA alone but by all of the members of the intelligence community, and it was likely to reach a different conclusion. At least it would contain dissenting opinions and caveats that wouldn't be in a CIA public document.
[Q]This description of the CIA is one that is under the complete control of the White House, an agency that is not independent but highly politicized.
[A]That's right. It is the expression of the leadership of the intelligence agencies, trying to placate their masters in the administration...
I'd thought similar accusations were too much like conspiracy nuts. I've since learned better. Bush exceeds every expectation. This is beginning to make Watergate feel like a minor exploit.
The last statement does explain why Tenet and Bush were so loyal to one another. Will Tenet start to talk?
Update: The Washington Post media page is covering all the Bush bad news stories; The Kitty Kelly bio, the 60 minutes expose, the Graham book, the deficit, Cheney threatening terrorist actions if Kerry is elected, etc. Wow. What a bright and cheery day it is today.
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