Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 09, 2006

First Test

With the nomination of Robert Gates as new Secretary of Defense, the Democrats and their fresh won majority are immediately put to a test.

Gates was involved in the Iran/Contra crimes, he nurtured the Taliban movement, Osama and the Pakistani ISI and he has a record of deceiving Congress.

So will the Democrats fold on this nomination like they were trained to do the last six years?

Or have they grown some spine and will demand a SecDef that understands military issues, has some knowledge about the Middle East instead of old Soviet affairs and is not a crook?

Posted by b on November 9, 2006 at 17:41 UTC | Permalink


Not a crook? Who they gonna find?

Posted by: Night Owl | Nov 9 2006 17:54 utc | 1

Gates will be waved-through by the Lame Duck Congress, and the D's will remain mostly mute (though they may ask some pointed IranGate questions at the hearing), because they prefer working with Poppy Bush's "realists" rather than Cheney's neocons.

The Iraq fiasco is a lost cause for the Bushists, but Gates represents an attempt to clean up as much of the mess as possible, before the whole thing falls apart.

The D's see it as a win/win.

Posted by: Michael Hawkins | Nov 9 2006 17:57 utc | 2

Bev Harris Bev Harris also says that

Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.


VoteHere was a company shilling cryptographic solutions and filled with NSA types (another director was Admiral Bill Owens, another crony of Rummy, Perle and Wolfowitz). For some reason this company claims it was unable to prevent itself from being hacked. In this alleged hack, VoteHere claims that someone stole their source code. Said source code was offered to me in October 2003, an obvious attempt at entrapment which I refused.

Nevertheless, VoteHere claimed to the media that its master security experts had supposedly "tracked" the hacker and had identified the hacker as an activist in the election reform community.


Robert Gates stepped away from VoteHere shortly before he showed up in Chapter 8 of my book, Black Box Voting, in a short bit about the VoteHere company history. You can read that here:

i'll let someone more qualified like bernhard speak to the issue of hacking - if it is relevant.

bottomline, just one more strike against gates. there is no reason why this man should be confirmed.

Posted by: conchita | Nov 9 2006 17:57 utc | 3

not so sure, michael @ 3, i didn't hear it personally, but read that biden was on larry king talking about gates involvement in iran/contra.

Posted by: conchita | Nov 9 2006 18:31 utc | 4

Unf. the new Congress is not sworn in till January and until then... we have to make do with the old. So Gates, no doubt, it is -- another reason, by the way, for Bush to have replaced Rummy pronto once the election results were in. God forbid we should have anyone outside the "Extended Famiglia" be privvy to so much... well... really incriminating info...

Posted by: Bea | Nov 9 2006 18:43 utc | 5

Conchita @ 4 -- yeah, I do see Gates getting grilled a little, just to put the Bushistas on notice... but as Bea says in #5, the Lame Ducks will give Gates a pass before they leave town. The fix is in.

Posted by: Michael Hawkins | Nov 9 2006 19:25 utc | 6

as an aside, chris floyd asked:

(One question arises from all this, and somebody in the White House press corps should ask it: Which George Bush is president of the country now?)

prof cutler writes:

I was far from certain that Bush’s flirtation’s with James Baker’s Iraq Study Group were genuine. I would say that the Gates nomination tends to suggest that these overtures to the Right Arabists were genuine.

Game over for the Bush administration Neocons.

jim lobe writes:

Indeed, some right-wing commentators see Rumsfeld's replacement by Gates as a virtual coup d'etat by the old, realist crowd around Bush's father against the remnants of the hawkish coalition of aggressive nationalists, neo-conservatives and the Christian right that seized control of Middle East policy, in particular, after September 11.

"Bottom line, the Gates nomination has Jim Baker's fingerprints all over it," said J William Lauderback, executive vice president of the American Conservative Union. That analysis will likely be echoed in the coming days by a host of neo-conservatives howling about a realist takeover.

on the upcoming confirmation votes,
wayne madsen points out:

The following current Senate Democratic senators voted against the confirmation of Robert Gates as CIA director on November 5, 1991: Max Baucus (MT), Joe Biden (DE), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Kent Conrad (ND), Chris Dodd (CT), Tom Harkin (IA), Ted Kennedy (MA), John Kerry (MA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Carl Levin (MI), and Jay Rockefeller (WV).

Current Democratic incumbents who voted to confirm Gates included Dan Akaka (HI), Bob Byrd (WV), Dan Inouye (HI), Herb Kohl (WI), Pat Leahy (VT), Joe Lieberman (CT), Barbara Mikulski (MD), and Harry Reid (NV). Republican Senator Orrin Hatch did not vote.

These senators were concerned about the role of Gates in the Iran-Contra scandal and did not believe him to be suitable to head the intelligence agency. Will they be as concerned about approving the same individual for a Cabinet level position, high in the presidential line of succession, as they were about him serving as CIA director?

Word from veteran intelligence officers: Gates is dirty.

Posted by: b real | Nov 9 2006 20:09 utc | 7

If I heard Joe Biden right on Larry King Live today (last night's program is aired in the EU the next morning) he said something to the effect that in 1991 he (Biden) had reluctantly not supported Gates' confirmation for Dir of CIA but would reluctantly (due to Gates' Iran/contra involvement) support him as Sec Def.

The whole Iran/contra scandal is difficult, in my opinion, for Americans to grasp easily, and those predisposed towards R Reagan don't get it at all or don't want to. Far more damaging would be an airing of Gates' and the CIA's backing of OBL and the Taliban during the Soviet-Afgan war.

I think that most Americans have no idea of the extent of US involvement in that conflict and would be surprised to learn that the Muhajideen -- weren't they depicted at one point on the cover of Time or Newsweek and lauded as the "fierce resistance" to the Russian evildoers? -- were OBL's brothers in arms. Bill Maher and Jon Stewart - material for you!

Posted by: Hamburger | Nov 9 2006 20:36 utc | 8

Allen's roll over and die speech (for Nancy Pelosi) this evening was the first step in confirming Gates and the New Iraq Plan.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 9 2006 20:39 utc | 9

They will approve Gates because

a)it will look good to show a trace of bipartisan spirit before the real chivarees start


b)whatever his past track record, he's not Rumsfeld.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Nov 9 2006 20:44 utc | 10

Should have added to #8:

If the media, Comedy Central, etc., outlined direct connections between Gates' CIA and OBL support in the prior Afgan conflict and sufficient serious questions were raised about Gates, the Dem Senate might be emboldened to reject the Jim Baker pick. Who would make a "good" Sec Def - if such a thing could exist?

Posted by: Hamburger | Nov 9 2006 20:52 utc | 11

We'll be spreading death in Nicaragua very soon.

Figureheads On The Chopping Block

Big oil interests have had enough of being bashed over Iraq, Rumsfeld sacrificed, 'Democratic Revolution' a good cop/bad cop smokescreen, Two factions emerge, Is Cheney next?

From FDL:

And why was Gates arming the Contra? Why, to overthrow Daniel Ortega! History repeating itself, with the exact same people, as Wonkette points out….

Lotsa questions for this Gates fellow, including exactly how Casey got his brain cancer anyway.

-So I guess the lameduck Senate will be tasked with confirming Mr. Gates? Will the Armed Services Committee get to see all the sealed BoooshOne papers? Will Lawrence Walsh, Larry Johnson, and Robert McGovern be called to testify?

Senator Warner, what’s your agenda look like?

More reasons to love Gates: he's a uniter, not a divider. He's (also) there to further unify and consolidate the power of the intelligence and military communities.

This is summarized nicely by one Fritz W. Ermarth, a National Security Brother of Gates, in an interview with The National Interest Online which informs us that Ermarth "worked closely with Robert Gates during his broad intelligence and policy career." Here he gives us "his perspective of what Gates’s leadership at the Pentagon could mean in terms of Iraq, intelligence gathering, and more."

Knowing Gates

TNI: What could Gates’s Pentagon leadership mean in terms of intelligence gathering at the Department of Defense and the DOD’s cooperation with the national intelligence director?

FWE: Well, Gates’s appointment is a huge plus in the intelligence department, because, to put it in one pithy sentence, it is really one of the key things that can make this National Intelligence Directorship and the reform of our community work. You could put God Almighty in charge of U.S. national intelligence, and he’s got to have a good relationship with a secretary of defense who understands and supports intelligence. And that is Mr. Gates, par excellence. It is going to be a real plus for intelligence because it’ll put to rest a lot of this nonsense about turf wars between the secretary of defense and the national intelligence director. There’s just no way you can cut that baby in half, and he is the man in the Pentagon that could make that work.

TNI: Is there anything you would like to add on your perspective of Gates?

FWE: Yes indeed. In addition to the intelligence role that he will play, and a definite muting if not elimination of the tensions between the Pentagon and the national intelligence director, he brings two big things to the party. One, he understands big agencies, big programs, lots of people and lots of money—from being the director of central intelligence, being in the national-security business all these years and running a big university. If you’ve ever been in a university faculty or administration, you’d know what I mean. That is really demanding, and he’s evidently done that very well.

But let me underscore a point I made earlier: This is an extremely thoughtful man. He’s got his values, he’s got his principles, you might even say he’s got his ideology. He checks everything. He does not get pushed into decisions on impulse.


TNI: You mentioned: “you might even say he’s got his ideology.” Is there something in his ideology or in his career experience that would now make him particularly suited to put into effect such a backup plan?

FWE: He’s very realistic, and he’s very committed to the exercise of American power in a thoughtful way, and I think for all those reasons he’s an excellent choice.

TNI: What would you say his ideology is?

FWE: He’s a national security professional. He comes from a camp with which I personally identify. He understands strategic realities such that he’ll know we can’t back out of the situation we have in Iraq, but we can’t stay in it either without behaving very deftly and getting as much support as we can.

Ortega as an CIA asset?? Why Not?

dirty blood money still spends..

I don't belive any of these so called govt leaders have ever had an independent thought

Gates = dope ...arms peddlin... disinfo
and a key player for GHW Bush..

whenever W Bush has problems Opium Poppy Bush brings in his mobsters to quite down the masses

rummy is out

dims are in

gates is back in


Rumsfield replacement (Robert Gates) was director of voting company by Bev Harris

Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.

Is that the same Rep Steny Hoyer (D-MA) battling it out with equally dodgy Murtha for House Majority Leader? Nice. Things also cozy there. Corp Mil-Intel complex wins again!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 9 2006 20:55 utc | 12

i'm not sure they'll approve him. would make more sense to exercise their new position by not bending over immediately than to assume that putting on a bipartisan facade will win them any public goodwill

“The president’s choice of Robert Gates to succeed Mr. Rumsfeld . . . is deeply troubling,” Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., said in a prepared statement.

“During his tenure at CIA, Mr. Gates developed a reputation for pressuring analysts and managers to shape analytical conclusions to fit administration positions, a fact that led dozens of current and former CIA analysts to oppose his confirmation as CIA Director in 1991,” said Holt, who will likely chair an intelligence subcommittee starting in January.

Holt alluded to a connection between Gates’ past and his future at the CIA.

“What we need going forward in Iraq is straight talk about the challenges we face, and open-minded leadership that is willing to speak truth about the situation, no matter how unpalatable the news. Mr. Gates confirmation hearing should be thorough and probing.” [source]

Posted by: b real | Nov 9 2006 20:59 utc | 13>Larry Johnson says:

Gates has some "splaining" to do. The press has forgotten that Bob Gates, during his time at CIA, acquired a reputation for trying to tailor intelligence to satisfy political masters in the Reagan White House. In addition, Bob Gates, a man of enormous intellect and a photographic memory, conveniently forgot salient facts and meetings surrounding the Iran Contra scandal.

A reader @Johnson's blog observes:

Rummie leaves FY07 all wrapped up and FY08 will close in weeks; the Pentagons main business of doling out procurement pork is over for this Presidency. I doubt that there is much the Pentagon can do to fix the mess Rummies left abroad other than cashier some Generals (pour encourager les autres) and leave the rest to get on with it. It's State that needs to set it's shoulder to the wheel.

From this distance Gates appears to be a Poppy retainer implanted to counter Cheney. That may not be bad thing, Cheney can be relied upon go down fighting hard and dirty.

After Tuesdays "purple headed revolution" holding Cheney's feet to the fire might be more productive than pursuing Gates. The latter won't play well in 08.

Posted by: small coke | Nov 9 2006 22:14 utc | 14

LondonYank has an interesting diary about Gates over at dKos:

Robert Gates Promoted and Financed Osama Bin Laden

Posted by: Fran | Nov 9 2006 22:44 utc | 15

Sorry Bernhard, I should read your stuff more carefully, just realised that you already have linked to the LondonYank diary.

Posted by: Fran | Nov 9 2006 22:45 utc | 16

b real

gates is very dirty indeed

one of the necrophiliacs who surround mr death himself, reinhard heydrich negroponte

but if this election has taken the fucking smirk off john bolton's face then it cannot be a bad thing

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 9 2006 22:47 utc | 17

Been seeing the following branding popping up with greater regularity: "undemocratic forces."

Web inventor fears for the future

The British developer of the world wide web says he is worried about the way it could be used to spread misinformation and "undemocratic forces".

But Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he feared that, if the way the internet is used is left to develop unchecked, "bad things" could happen...

"Certain undemocratic things could emerge and misinformation will start spreading over the web...

He said he wanted to attract researchers from a range of disciplines to study it as a social as well as technological phenomenon.

Sir Tim added that he hoped it would create a new science for studying the web, which he believes would lead to newer and more exciting systems...

The Web Science Research Initiative will chart out a research agenda aimed at understanding the scientific, technical and social challenges underlying the growth of the web.

Of particular interest is the growing volume of information on the web that documents more and more aspects of human activity and knowledge.

The project will examine how we access this information and assess its reliability.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, was knighted by the Queen in 2003. Protection of democratic forces, coming from a Knight:

Creator of the web turns knight
Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor of the world wide web, has received his knighthood from the Queen.

"Turns knight." Interesting play on words eh?

So, who else likes to bandy "Un/anti-democratic forces" about?

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. that's who...

Nicaragua: Ortega takes early lead

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a U.S. foe, has openly favored his "brother" Ortega, while Washington remains openly wary of the balding 60-year-old, once an iconic figure of the Latin American left and ally of the Soviet Union. U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has said that aid and trade "will be endangered" if "anti-democratic forces prevail."

"Undemocratic"- new buzz term, but pretty much same old model, though. the linguistics battle for "democracy."

More importantly, though, Ortega appears to have won. And Lefty Rafael Correa may win in a few weeks, too- big concerns for the capitalists.

Ortega appears headed for victory

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 9 2006 23:01 utc | 18

the linguistics battle for "democracy."

almost seems inevitable

Following the Democratic gains in Congress, there will be talk of a "change in policy" for the Bush administration, but if the owner/operators of the smoke machine have their way, there won't be any discussion what the strategy has been up to now, thus ensuring that any "changes" will be of the cliche-ridden, half-baked variety.

The strategy up to now has been highly aggressive demonization of any group associated with national resistance to foreign occupation. From the Cheney stump-speech: "This is not an enemy that can be ignored, or negotiated with, or appeased". In this view, there is no functional difference between national resistance and AlQaeda. This is becoming self-fulfilling, and people should be worried about that.

"Where are the Arabs? Where are the rulers of the Arabs, and their proud people?...

"It grieves me when the bereaved mothers ask about the Arabs and their armies, these calls for help which they perhaps know that no one is listening to, or if they are listening they turn aside, or they turn off the television, or they look for another channel with music and dancing to soothe them..." because the Palestinians know what the Iraqis have also learned, that their blood means nothing to the leaders of the Arab regimes. The regimes are complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians, he says, and it is useless to try to deal with them. It would make more sense, Atwan says, "to look for help from leaders of Asia, or of Africa, or of Latin America like Ortega and Chavez; or Ahmedinejad, or Vladimir Putin. Because the chances of a positive response from them are far greater than [the chances of any help] from the majority of the Arab leaders."

Posted by: annie | Nov 9 2006 23:59 utc | 19

i should have read the whole thread before posting, sorry for the OT. thanks for the post b and all the great links everyone. he just seems like a chip off the block for sure, they have no intention of wavering from thier criminal path. cheney is full steam ahead. makes sense why they would appoint him now, any later would put his (or any other replacement)confirmantion w/ dem senate.

Posted by: annie | Nov 10 2006 0:36 utc | 20

Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates Tied to Iran-Contra Scandal and the Secret Arming of Saddam Hussein

AMY GOODMAN: I remember well the Bob Gates hearings... that he had told the Senate Intelligence Committee that in November of 1986 he was preparing testimony for the CIA director, William Casey, about Iran-Contra, that he didn’t realize a presidential finding had been prepared a year before to authorize the CIA's role in an earlier shipment in 1985, arms shipment to Iran, leading to Casey deceiving Congress. Can you explain what that was all about?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, there were a series of episodes in which Casey had to go to the Congress, because after two years of Bill Casey, the Senate Intelligence Committee really regretted that it had ever confirmed him in the first place. And he really angered the Republican leadership more than the Democratic leadership. And Barry Goldwater became an extremely important critic of Bill Casey.

Bill Casey relied, for all sorts of testimony and briefings and talks that he gave, on Bob Gates. Bob Gates wrote all of his major speeches. He wrote some of his Op-Ed articles, and he wrote all of his testimony. And, of course, there were backdated findings. There were denials of information that was widely known. Bob Gates was told by his deputy about sensitive intercepts involving how we were arming Iraq, how we were getting aid, some of it from the Israeli inventories, to Iran, how we were supplying the Contras with funds that were the profits of these arms sales to Iran. So, Bob Gates and Bill Casey worked extremely closely on all of these matters, and Casey really relied on Bob Gates.

And Bob Gates has always been really a political windsock in these matters in serving the interest of his masters. That’s the way he operated at the National Security Council, and that’s the way he operated at the CIA. And I remember in 1987, he was admonished severely by George Shultz, the Secretary of State at the time, and then in 1989 by James Baker, the Secretary of State at the time, because he was undercutting American policy in trying to serve the interest of the National Security at a time when American policy was changing.

So Bob Gates will serve a master, but I don’t think he’ll be a careful steward of the Pentagon and of the $460 billion defense budget. And the question is, has he now somehow obtained the maturity and integrity to run the Pentagon? I don’t think he has. And now, it’s up to the Senate Armed Forces Committee to make serious decisions about his ability to serve in this very sensitive position.


AMY GOODMAN: And, Bob, when you say “secret weapons to the Iraqis,” you're talking about during the Iranian-Iraq war?

ROBERT PARRY: Yes, back in the -- starting about 1982, President Reagan became concerned that the Iranians, who were secretly getting help from the United States via Israel, had gained the upper hand in the war. And so, there was this effort, as the period went on, to give some more help to Saddam Hussein to keep that war sort of at a more even keel. And one of the guys involved, according to the Teicher affidavit and other witnesses, was Bob Gates. But he’s always denied involvement there. So both the facts of the history are important, as well as his honesty. Did he lie to Congress when he denied being involved in these matters?

AMY GOODMAN: Just on this issue, because it’s so key, I mean, the allegation that Gates personally approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saddam in the 1980s, before the war crimes that he was just convicted of.

ROBERT PARRY: Right. And some of these allegations also go to chemicals, the precursor chemicals that Saddam Hussein allegedly used in his chemical weapons that were deployed against the Iranians and other targets in Iraq. So, Gates was allegedly involved in all those kinds of -- that’s the very secretive side of US foreign policy that Casey was overseeing, but Gates was sort of his man handling some of the details.


MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think he needs someone like Bob Gates now, because the Bush administration is really circling the wagons. The policy in Iraq has failed miserably. This has been the most profligate decision that any American president has made with regard to national security and foreign policy. And Bob Gates is a very loyal and obedient servant to his master. In this case, his master will be George Bush. And I think what he needs Bob Gates for is to tone down some of the criticism in the Pentagon. I think Bob Gates is out there in the same way that General Hayden is out at the CIA, to calm down the critics, to calm down the contrarians, to stop some of the negative reporting that’s coming from Iraq from CIA station chiefs and CIA analysts. And I think what Bob Gates will do now is silence some of the military criticism of what’s going on in Iraq. I think you'll see an end to a lot of the public remarks of our active duty general officers, our flag officers who have been clearly critical of what’s happening in Iraq.

And let me just add one thing to what Bob said, because there’s an intelligence aspect that Bob Gates was responsible for in the 1980s that I am aware of. In order to have arms sales to Iran and secret deliveries from Israel to Iran, you had to change the intelligence analysis on Iran, and Bob Gates was part of that. He worked very closely, again, with Howard Teicher over at the National Security Council and Graham Fuller, his National Intelligence officer for the Middle East, to rewrite the intelligence record to say that Iran was no longer interested in terrorism, Iran was now looking to open up dialogue with the United States, that the Soviet Union was about to move into Iran. And this became the intelligence justification for Iran-Contra and why this operational policy had to be put into play.

There was no truth to any of these three charges, but Graham Fuller managed to get them into a National Intelligence Estimate, and Graham Fuller and Bob Gates regularly briefed the National Security Council on the so-called changes in Iranian policy that were made up out of whole cloth. And there was a record of Bob Gates creating intelligence out of whole cloth and urging Bill Casey to take even more provocative measures than the CIA and the Reagan administration was proposing toward Central America, particularly toward Nicaragua. Remember, the CIA was involved in the mining of the harbors in Corinto, which was clearly an act of war. And Bill Casey had never briefed this to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That’s what led to the extreme anger on the part of Barry Goldwater and why Casey had to be brought back to the Senate Intelligence Committee. And, of course, Gates prepared all of Casey’s testimony at this time.


AMY GOODMAN: And let me just correct that: of course, he’s been nominated to be head of the Pentagon, to be Defense Secretary. But one other thing I wanted to get to now, because you both have mentioned Lee Hamilton... Well, now you have the Iraq Study Group that is headed by James Baker and, yes, Lee Hamilton, together with Bob Gates.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the Iraq Study Group is also a political stratagem on the part of the Bush administration to try to give some chance at damage limitation to this Iraq policy. Lee Hamilton wasn’t very impressive in his 9/11 work as a co-commissioner...

So I think there is an attempt now to soften the debate on Iraq. Getting Rumsfeld out of the Pentagon helps in this direction. Bringing Gates in, and it’s sort of tabula rasa now at the Pentagon with regard to Iraq. And I think the Iraq Study Group -- and if you look at the Iraq Study Group -- five Democrats, five Republicans -- not a one has any experience whatsoever on the Middle East. There are no Arab experts, no Islamic experts on this group. And I think what Baker is trying to do is trying to limit the damage that Iraq has done to George Bush, the legacy of the Bush family, both Bush the elder and Bush the younger, and try to soften the debate in the American public and divert attention. And clearly, by removing Rumsfeld, Bush has already diverted a great deal of attention from the election loss and from this disaster that Iraq policy is.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 10 2006 2:42 utc | 21

Rumsfeld's Replacement: The Robert Gates File

Gates goes on to say this is an “unacceptable” course, arguing that the U.S. should do everything “in its power short of invasion to put that regime out.” Hopes of causing that regime to reform itself for a more pluralistic government are “essentially silly and hopeless,” he wrote. (The ironic upshot of this sort of thinking can be found in the recent election of the former Sandanista leader Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua.)

Nicaragua wasn’t the only place Gates wanted to take action. In 1985, sounding very much like one of today’s neoconservative hawks, the then head of intelligence analysis at the CIA drafted a plan for a joint U.S.-Egyptian military operation to invade Libya, overthrow Col. Muamar Ghaddafi, and “redraw the map of North Africa.” On the basis of this idea, CIA Director Casey, sometimes said to be the man who invented Gates, ordered up a list of Libyan targets and the National Security Council developed a plan to have Egypt attack Libya with U.S. air support and seize half the country. The Joint Chiefs drew up plans for a military operation involving 90,000 troops. Alarmed, the State Department subsequently succeeded in downsizing Gates proposal to “contingency” status.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 10 2006 2:45 utc | 22

Gates is the man who will spin reality any which way to please his masters. He's a "team player".

His appointment is a vote for the status quo in Iraq, Palestine, all of the Middle East.

His appointment is certainly not in the interest of the American, or any other, people.

The Demoplicans will turn him down... or not.

I think we are about to have brought home to us exactly how indistinguishable the "two" parties are from one another.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 10 2006 2:50 utc | 23

Not confirm Gates??? Barflies, election night is over...put the pipe down... They've all had it w/getting splattered by Baby Bush's spincter & are Vastly relieved Daddy is stepping in - finally...Cheney may have a "medical crisis", in fact they might talk him into one so they can shove Rupert Murdoch's boy, Johnnie McCain, in there pre-election...which is prob. why pushing Impeachment isn't a great idea...OK we'll compromise & replace Dickie w/Johnnie the Torturer & give him a leg up on the next election...

Posted by: jj | Nov 10 2006 3:30 utc | 24

robert parry: The Secret World of Robert Gates

The effort to arm the Iraqis was “spearheaded” by CIA Director William Casey and involved his deputy, Robert Gates, according to Teicher’s affidavit. “The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq,” Teicher wrote.

Ironically, that same pro-Iraq initiative involved Donald Rumsfeld, then Reagan’s special emissary to the Middle East. An infamous photograph from 1983 shows a smiling Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.

Teicher described Gates’s role as far more substantive than Rumsfeld’s. “Under CIA Director [William] Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted [Chilean arms dealer Carlos] Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq,” Teicher wrote.

Like the Russian report, the Teicher affidavit has never been never seriously examined. After Teicher submitted it to a federal court in Miami, the affidavit was classified and then attacked by Clinton administration prosecutors. They saw Teicher’s account as disruptive to their prosecution of a private company, Teledyne Industries, and one of its salesmen, Ed Johnson.


To push through Gates’s nomination to be CIA director in 1991, the elder George Bush lined up solid Republican backing for Gates and enough accommodating Democrats – particularly Sen. Boren, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman.

In his memoirs, Gates credited his friend, Boren, for clearing away any obstacles. “David took it as a personal challenge to get me confirmed,” Gates wrote.

Part of running interference for Gates included rejecting the testimony of witnesses who implicated Gates in scandals beginning with the alleged back-channel negotiations with Iran in 1980 through the arming of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the mid-1980s.

Boren’s Intelligence Committee brushed aside two witnesses connecting Gates to the alleged schemes, former Israeli intelligence official Ari Ben-Menashe and Iranian businessman Richard Babayan. Both offered detailed accounts about Gates’s alleged connections to the schemes.


Ironically, Boren’s key aide who helped limit the investigation of Gates was George Tenet, whose behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Gates’s behalf won the personal appreciation of the senior George Bush. Tenet later became President Bill Clinton’s last CIA director and was kept on in 2001 by the younger George Bush partly on his father’s advice.

Posted by: b real | Nov 10 2006 4:13 utc | 25

When Pope John Paul II was wounded in St. Peter's Square in a 1981 assassination attempt by a right-wing Turkish Muslim, the anti-communists in Italy, the United States and elsewhere saw a golden opportunity to blame it on the Soviet Union and/or its Bulgarian ally. The American side was led by professional disinformationists Paul Henze, longtime CIA officer, Michael Leeden and others at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Claire Sterling, who wrote an article on the shooting for Reader's Digest in 1982. In 1985 William Casey, CIA director under Ronald Reagan, urged senior Agency official Robert Gates to make a greater effort to lay the assassination attempt at the door of the Soviet KGB. Gates tried his best, even disregarding several contrary opinions by Agency analysts, and the fact, as evidenced by the result of a trial in Rome in 1986, that there was not a communist connection. Gates later become the CIA's director.

-- william blum, freeing the world to death

-- -- -- --

Signs of any new thinking about drug issues in Congress are hard to find. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Robert Gates as CIA director by a vote of 64 to 31 on November 5, 1991, despite voluminous testimony suggesting that he lied as to his ignorance of key matters in the Iran-Contra affair and that he distorted the production of intelligence estimates to serve the political ends of his boss, former Reagan campaign director William Casey. In this respect, one critic testified that Gates pushed the administration line on "narcoterrorism," which blamed drug trafficking on leftwing states and insurgent movements. Accusing Gates of shopping for analysts to make that case, Mel Goodman testified that "a senior analyst was called in by Bob Gates and told that Bill Casey wanted a memo that would link drug dealers to international terrorists. This senior analyst looked at the evidence and couldn't make those conclusions. The evidence wasn't there. He was told to go back and look again. He did that. Said the evidence wasn't there. Gates took the project away from him and gave it to another analyst. I believe there is an ethical issue here." Gates admitted asking analysts to look into accusations of a linkage between traffickers and terrorists but said in his defense that three separate agency analyses concluded any such linkage was weak.

-- peter dale scott and jonathan marshall, cocaine politics

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When George Bush became president in 1989, he did not fulfill Ted Shackley's dream of being named DCI. Shackley's connections to Ed Wilson and his involvement in the Iran-Contra disaster meant that the veteran spook had no chance of being confirmed as DCI. Instead, Bush reached back to one of the loyalists who had been on Jimmy Carter's National Security Council staff at the time of the October Surprise; he named Robert Gates to replace William Webster, who had gone from the FBI to the CIA in the wake of Bill Casey's death (May 6, 1987) and the Iran-Contra scandal. Gates, a career CIA man, was much more timid than Bill Casey and much closer to George Bush in temperament. Like Bush, Gates was very much an Agency cheerleader.

While the CIA had successfully placed numerous friendly staffers on the Congressional oversight committees, the fact that Congress was Democratically controlled still made the idea of withholding intelligence operations from Capitol Hill very appealing. For Gates, however, there was little information to withhold from Congress, since most major operations were being conducted through other intelligence services, which were paid for their work by the Agency. That meant that the CIA had no real control over these operations, and CIA money could be diverted for unauthorized activities with ease. The Afghan model was now the model being used worldwide. The intelligence community was providing almost no useful intelligence to the president, with the exception of eavesdropping and photography.

-- joe trento, prelude to terror: the rogue cia and the legacy of america's private intelligence network

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By 1998, the CIA had no more than ten or fifteen clandestine espionage operations active at any one time around the world, and the Directorate of Operations (DO), home of the spies, had shrunk to well below 1,000 officers.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, an officer in CIA's clandestine service from 1985 to 1994, called into serious question not only the quality but even the veracity of much of the reporting by DO officers in sensitive parts of the world. Writing in the February 1998 Atlantic Monthly, under the pseudonym Edward G. Shirley, Gerecht called the DO "a sorry blend of Monty Python and Big Brother." "The sad truth about the CIA," he said, "is that the DO has for years been running an espionage charade in most countries, deceiving itself and others about the value of its recruited agents and intelligence production." By the mid-1980s, he noted, "the vast majority of the CIA's foreign agents were mediocre assets at best, put on the payroll because case officers needed high recruitment numbers to get promoted. Long before the Soviet Union collapsed, recruitment and intelligence fraud -- the natural product of an insular spy world -- had stripped the DO of its integrity and its competence."

Gerecht complained that even in the critical field positions, the agency paid little attention to matching skills to countries. "Not a single Iran-desk chief during the eight years that I worked on Iran could speak or read Persian," he said. "Not a single Near East Division chief knew Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, and only one could get along even in French." Another former agency officer pointed out that the CIA teams dispatched to northern Iraq to assist the political opposition in the mid-1990s "had few competent Arabic-speaking officers.


So far had the CIA's human capabilities dwindled by 1998 that it led House Intelligence Committee chairman Porter Goss -- himself a former CIA case officer -- to declare, "It is fair to say that the cupboard is nearly bare in the area of human intelligence."


"Sometimes I think we just collect intelligence for the thrill of collecting it, to show how good we are at it," said former CIA director Robert Gates. "We have the capacity to collect mountains of data that we can never analyze. We just stack it up. Our electronic collection systems appear to produce far more raw intelligence data than our analysts can synthesize and our policymakers can use."

-- james bamford, body of secrets

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well, there's at least one more thing he was correct on

In a December 1984 memo to Bill Casey, his deputy, Robert Gates, began by writing, "It is time to talk absolutely straight about Nicaragua. ... Based on all the assessments we have done, the contras, even with American support, cannot overthrow the Sandinista regime."

-- william m. leogrande, our own backyard: the united states in central america, 1977-1992

Posted by: b real | Nov 10 2006 5:40 utc | 26

WaPo: Understanding Gates

The administration was divided. James Baker, the secretary of state, wanted to test out Gorbachev. The anti-Gorbachev hawks were led by Robert M. Gates, the deputy national security adviser. Gates's principal ally was then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

Baker vs. Gates/Cheney: That alignment should serve as a warning to those who view Wednesday's appointment of Robert M. Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as representing the triumph of Bush the Father's administration over Bush the Son's.
Former secretary of state George P. Shultz complained that Gates and the CIA had repeatedly tailored intelligence to fit the policy interests they favored. "You deal out intelligence as you deem appropriate," Shultz complained to Gates in one icy confrontation he recounted in his own memoir. "I feel an effort is made to manipulate me by the selection of materials you send my way."
On America's role in the world and the use of military force, it is hard to detect in Gates's record many far-reaching, principled differences with the present administration. He was deputy national security adviser when the Bush 41 administration dispatched American troops to Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega.

Posted by: b | Nov 10 2006 6:55 utc | 27

Julian Borger weighs in - Daddy Insisted on Gates - Surprise!

Donald Rumsfeld's replacement by Robert Gates at the Pentagon could mark the most significant shift in the balance of power inside the Bush administration since it took office nearly six years ago, with consequences for both Iraq and Iran.

Political observers in Washington predicted that the appointment could pave the way for talks with Iran and Syria in a bid to contain the violence in Iraq, and could also put off a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Donald Rumsfeld's departure and the Democratic takeover of Congress leaves Dick Cheney isolated in Washington, and almost alone in his backing for a military solution to the Iranian challenge. ...


Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official who worked under Mr Gates, expressed doubts that Mr Gates has the strength of conviction to stand up to Mr Cheney. "He never has, so it would be the first time," said Mr Goodman, now a senior fellow at the Centre for International Policy.


When Mr Gates, as deputy-director of the CIA, was tainted by the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan era, Mr Bush stood by him and gave him the top job in the agency in 1991. Mr Gates demonstrated his loyalty by becoming the curator of the Bush presidential library in Texas.

As the Iraq war grinds on, and the broader neoconservative project in the Middle East is sliding towards disaster, former aides to the elder Bush - once spurned by his son - are reappearing one by one at the policy-making helm.

"In the past, when Bush got enmeshed in a big mistake ... daddy came to the rescue - that's what's happening here," said Vincent Cannistraro, a former counter-terrorist chief of operations at the CIA. "Daddy was insistent on getting Gates in." Link

Posted by: jj | Nov 10 2006 10:53 utc | 28

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