Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Office of Special Plans

According to former Bush officials, all defence and intelligence sources, senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.

James Bamford, A Pretext for War, 2004:

The blueprint for the new Bush policy had actually been drawn up five years earlier by three of his top national security advisors. Soon to be appointed to senior administration positions, they were Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser. Ironically, the plan was orignally intended not for Bush but for another world leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benhamin Netanyahu. ... Wisely, Netanyahu rejected the task force's plan. But now, with the election of a receptive George W. Bush, they dusted off their preemptive war strategy and began getting ready to put it to use.
Perle became chairman of the reinvigorated and powerful Defense Policy Board, packing it with like-minded neoconservative super-hawks anxious for battle. Feith was appointed to the highest policy position in the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. Wurmser moved into a top policy position in the State Department before later becoming Cheney's top Middle East expert.

With the Pentagon now under Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz -- both of whom had also long believed that Saddam Hussein should have been toppled during the first Gulf War -- the war planners were given free rein. What was needed, however, was a pretext -- perhaps a major crisis. "Crises can be opportunities," wrote Wurmser in his paper calling for an American-Israeli preemptive war throughout the Middle East. ...

As the move toward war began gaining momentum in late August 2002, Feith created another new organization, the Office of Special Plans. Its purpose was to conduct advance war planning for Iraq and one of its most important responsibilities was "media strategy." Above all, the office was Top Secret. Picked to head the OSP was still another longtime Perle protégé, Abram N. Shulsky.


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