Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender
By Kenneth Timmerman
Crown Forum, $25.95, 404 pp.
At long last, the CIA and the State Department have targeted a government they have identified as an aggressive threat to world peace and largely countered its foreign policy through psy-ops, propaganda, selective leaks of intelligence and covert operations.
And who was the target of this covert campaign? Are these operations aimed at the Islamofascists in Iran? How about Vladimir Putin and his increasingly fascist government in Russia? Is the CIA trying to counter Chinese hegemony in the Pacific or clandestinely influence the French to somehow install a pro-American president?
No, no, no and hardly.
For the past five years, the main target of the permanent bureaucracy at the CIA and the State Department has been none other than George W. Bush.
On one level, this is a continuation of an old story. For decades, conservative presidents and Congress members have complained that policies aimed at defeating America's enemies die a slow death or are watered down beyond recognition when implemented by the State Department. The CIA, meanwhile, is all over the board; it either tends to overestimate the strength of America's enemies or deny the threat they pose. In any event, the agency is loath to take any real covert action against them.
But by the time of the Scooter Libby show trial, it was obvious to any serious observer that an unhealthy portion of the CIA had become a rogue agency focused on toppling a U.S. presidency. In his explosive new book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender, investigative journalist extraordinaire Kenneth Timmerman shows that open rebellion and furtive treason have become the norm for much of the State Department and civilian sections of the Department of Defense.
According to Timmerman, the Bush agenda has been illegally sabotaged from within by people whose constitutional duties require them to implement the orders of the duly elected commander in chief. From the war in Iraq and counterterrorism efforts to confronting hostile foreign powers, Timmerman documents incident after incident to illustrate the unprecedented nature of this anti-constitutional mutiny by unelected bureaucrats.
Mutiny at State
Timmerman begins Shadow Warriors with an especially illustrative incident. After Bush's re-election in 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, concerned about the open contempt for Bush policy (and a parking lot filled with Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers)called a town meeting to remind his employees of their constitutional duty to support the president. "We live in a democracy," he said. "As Americans, we have to respect the results of elections."
An assistant secretary of state in attendance became 'increasingly agitated," Timmerman reports, and once Powell left, she held a meeting of her own where she issued an "open call to insubordination," Her rationale? Timmerman says she told her staff: "Well, Senator Kerry received the second-highest number of votes in American history, and if just one state had gone differently, Senator Kerry would be president today."
Yeah, and my aunt is one chromosome away from being my uncle. The assistant secretary of state went on to tell her subordinates they owed no allegiance to the president, and they should do anything "legal" they could do to slow down the Bush juggernaut.
Equally alarming is Timmerman's implication that Powell — the Cabinet member who sat on the information that would have spared the administration the Valerie Plame affair and who used leaks about his disagreements with other officials to his advantage — was among the President's most loyal people at Foggy Bottom.
You didn't hear about Powell's exhortation in the mainstream media or elsewhere. Only when a cowardly Foreign Service officer recently led an uprising over postings to Iraq was word of the town meeting was to the media to illustrate a Bush administration in chaos over a disastrous Iraq policy.
While conservatives have written column upon column and book upon book condemning the MSM's coverage of Iraq and the Global War on Terror, Timmerman shows that the media coverage — while its biases are genuine — is merely the symptom of a virulent cancer in the foreign policy establishment.
Call My Agent
"Plamegate" is among the most public examples of this conspiracy. If you cringe at that word, let's play a little game of "What would be worse?" As frightening as the aforementioned prospect is, the idea that it might not be deliberate sabotage would be even scarier.
That would mean the agency tasked with protecting us from terrorists abroad and keeping track of such threats as the burgeoning Chinese military would consider the following to be acceptable tradecraft:
- For an agent classified as "covert" to assign her very public and mouthy husband to investigate an issue that is politically sensitive to the administration he actively opposes,
- That said husband would not be required to sign the ubiquitous confidentiality agreements that carry criminal penalties for talking about his mission.
- When the husband comes back and creates an uproar by lying about the origins and results of his mission, the blame for blowing the agent's cover is placed on the administration, which tried to set the record straight, not on the agent or her husband, committing serial perjury while revealing the nature of a classified mission.
If that all happened merely by accident and bungling in the CIA, the only reason we have not suffered a terrorist attack since 9/11 is because of dumb luck or bad guys who are even more incompetent than our spies. It is, sadly, much easier — and more logical -- to believe that the Plame/Wilson affair was a deliberate setup of the Bush White House.
That's bad enough. But if Timmerman is right — and events seem to prove him out on an almost daily basis -- it's just the tip of an unprecedentled iceberg. The rest of his story makes the Plame affair look like a trivial sideshow.
Here are more examples of things that have gone wrong.
"Bush Tried, Bureaucrats Lied"
Easily the most successful operation of the shadow warriors has been the notion that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. With the help of the media and Democrats, the criteria for WMD discovery was changed to require that an actual nuclear bomb or stockpiles of biological or nerve agents must turn up — not just evidence of weapons programs or capabilities. Now even Republican presidential candidates and Bush himself concede far too much to this argument
Weapons inspector David Kay's report to Congress was used to discredit Bush even though it uncovered many elements of weapons programs and indications that the Russians who gave Saddam the technology were allowed to remove it on the eve of the invasion. Timmerman details a Spetznaz (Russian special forces) operation to remove WMDs from Iraq and even names the general in charge. Kay also expresses frustration that untold thousands of documents on Saddam's weapons programs are gathering dust in storage, and no effort is being made to translate them.
Even the UPI reported in 2004 that tons of "Iraqi" explosives and "chemical weapons" were intercepted entering Jordan from Syria as part of an Al Qaeda attack. The story got about a day's play, when it was discussed at all, and was taken as evidence of a Bush security failure. A child could have connected the dots.
An interesting side note by Timmerman reveals it was a high-level State Department employee who coined the mantra of the Left, "Bush Lied, People Died."
The "No Plan" Plot
Another lie that has become conventional wisdom is that the Bush administration had "no plan" for the aftermath of combat operations in Iraq. Timmerman reveals in detail how the State Department scuttled the plan to quickly hand over sovereignty back to the Iraqis.
Instead of focusing on Islamic extremists, the shadow warriors declared war on Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi to make sure this valuable Bush and Wolfowitz ally had no part in a new Iraqi government.
Timmerman mounts a spirited and persuasive defense of Chalabi, taking every case made by the shadow warriors against him in detail and demolishing it.
Because Jay Garner, Bush and Rumsfeld's point man in Iraq, was friendly with the Iraqi exile community, the shadow warriors decided he must be undermined before a quickly established sovereign Iraqi government could be realized.
That assignment fell to Ambassador Paul "Jerry" Bremer.
The Would-Be Viceroy
When Bremer took command in Iraq, he acted as the point man for the shadow warriors. Timmerman contends Bremer actually created the insurgency by halting imminent plans for Iraqi sovereignty and deliberately installing a process that would require a long-term occupation. Timmerman details:
Not since liberals in the OSS and State Department after World War II decided that Mao Zedong was the lesser evil to Chiang Kai-shek has there been a more disastrous subverting of American global interests by a U.S. agency.
- How Bremer persuaded Bush to give him nearly absolute authority in Iraq.
- How Bremer snubbed the sheiks in Anbar Province who are now helping us rout Al Qaeda when they offered their services to him, driving them to Al Qaeda for several years.
- Which American officials under Bremer's direction lost the message war by quashing efforts to establish American-oriented broadcasts, thus leaving the Middle East airwaves to Al-Jazeera and suppressing reports of Saddam's atrocities.
- Bremer's deference to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, including an incident where CIA agents guarding Al Sadr stood by as his thugs hacked a moderate cleric to death.
The REAL Politicization of Intelligence
A significant part of the Washington bureaucracy, the Democrat Party and the media is dedicated to criminalizing Bush's policies. Sen. Carl Levin is the point man for those who would rather allow the death of Americans than put a wet washcloth on the face of a murderous terrorist.
Timmerman shows how Levin has systematically blocked appointees who are necessary for counterterror operations, leaving key departments short-handed.
The shadow warriors have used Democrats like Levin, Sen. Patrick Leahey and Rep. Jane Harmon to leak and misportray intelligence findings for political ends. When the administration corrects the record, the primal scream of the Left erupts: "The neo-cons are politicizing intelligence!"
When Plame's paper-thin cover was publicized, the Democrats demanded investigations for political reasons. Far less known is the story Timmerman tells of DIA analyst Larry Franklin; a loyal professional whose job was to be a liaison with Ahmad Chalabi -- only to be prosecuted basically for having contact with Chalabi.
Franklin was pilloried for having classified information in his house, but no one has been charged with leaking such ongoing operations like the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the New York Times. In fact, Sen. John Kerry called those traitors "whistle-blowers." Former CIA Director Porter Goss was said to be "tearing the agency apart" by investigating the leaks of the TSP and the CIA secret prison program.
But sometimes the sabotage is subtler than that. Timmerman shows how CIA prison flights left a paper trail that make Plame's status actually seem covert by comparison, with an absence of tradecraft that seems suspiciously deliberate. With too-cute acronyms and posted flight plans with the same airplane registration numbers, the agents did everything short of writing in lipstick on airport bathroom mirrors, "Stop us before we fly again."
It seems the only people in the U.S. government that the shadow warriors and their allies in the mainstream media and Democrat Party seem to feel are not authorized to declassify material are those most constitutionally authorized: Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
When Bush and Cheney refute stories designed to hurt American interests through the leak of previously classified material, such liberals as Rep. John Conyers calls for an investigation, and the press denounces it as "politicizing intelligence." When a mid-level analyst blows the cover off a operation that is vital to the war in terror with agents still in harm's way, Kerry calls it "truth telling," and liberals applaud.
The effect of this is that, in our current climate, America really has no classified secrets —that is, as long as the leak hurts George W. Bush.
Bush made one real stab at taking his policy back from the shadow warriors byl apponting Goss, a former congressman and intelligence agent as CIA director, but he pulled the rug out from under Goss when the going got rough.
Timmerman names the CIA officials who defied direct orders, committed gross insubordination and leaked damaging spin to the media about Goss's efforts to clean up the agency.
Ultimately, in his worst move since sending Bremer to Iraq, Bush installed John Negroponte as the first director of the Department of National Intelligence just as Goss' efforts were starting to have an effect.
Not only was Negroponte a dedicated shadow warrior himself, but he also had a longstanding personal grudge against Goss which Timmerman details. Negroponte quickly surrounded himself with people dedicated to Goss' downfall.
The DNI seemed poised to do for CIA what Homeland Security did for FEMA, and Negroponte's replacement by Mike McConnell just as Iraq policy was being overhauled may be a good sign.
Stop Him Before He Invades AgainShadow Warriors is a devastating and systematic look at the permanent foreign policy bureaucracy in Washington and how it has become a government unto itself, independent of its elected leaders. Timmerman demonstrates how this attitude permeates nearly every level of the State Department, the intelligence services and even parts of the DoD.
The 320 pages of text in Shadow Warriors are so packed with shocking revelations that it defies summary. Nearly every page has a "Gosh, listen to this!" moment -- but without access to the supporting details that Timmerman supplies, trying to tell someone about the book can make you sound like you just came from a Black Helicopter meeting.
Best of all, this is no dry intel report. With all due respect to the great work of Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, Timmerman's narrative is in a league of its own. While these fine investigative reporters find the devil in the exhaustive lists of details, Shadow Warriors at times reads with the urgency of a Vince Flynn thriller — and the outrageous truths exposed will induce even more adrenaline in the reader than even the best novel.
Timmerman predicts the shadow warriors' next goal will be to stop Bush from being able to wage war against Iran should the situation arise. Even as the book was coming off the presses, events were proving him right -- particularly the National Intelligence Estimate that claims Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program years ago and the leaked information that the CIA destroyed interrogation tapes of Al Qaeda prisoners.
Just because a president should not have to confront wholesale mutiny, however, does not absolve Bush from dealing ineffectively with it. As Timmerman writes:
"From the very first day of his presidency, George W. Bush believed he could charm or otherwise bribe his political opponents into cooperation. After all, it had worked in Austin, when he was governor. … And so he willingly handed out political perks. … When the perks didn't do the trick, the president resorted to bribery. He initiated vast entitlement programs. … Similarly, when it came to treasonous revelations of the New York Times, the president continued to rail, but refused to press charges. If some of these tactics could have been defended early in his administration… they must [now] be abandoned if this president wants to maintain any credibility within his own party. Let alone with America's foreign foes."
This has been a White House that seems to want to prove its evenhandedness by prosecuting its friends on the flimsiest of reasons, while ignoring the blatant crimes of its opponents. Meanwhile, we continue to see stories of proponents of the Bush Doctrine being purged from the Pentagon and State Department: here, here and here.
On the other hand, to his credit, Bush -- like Lincoln firing McClellan and appointing Grant to lead the Army of the Potomac -- has taken back the reins of his Iraq strategy through Gen. David Petraeus.
Whether Adm. Mike McConnell's concurrent appointment to replace shadow warrior Negroponte at DNI bears similar fruit remains to be seen.
As for CIA chief Michael Hayden, there are definite danger signs. Hayden not only was Negroponte's choice to succeed Goss but also his first acts included bringing back Michael J. Sulick as former deputy director for operations and his former boss, Stephen R. Kappes, two insubordinate shadow warriors who were noted for their blatant anti-Bush efforts at CIA.
Timmerman also chronicles the heroic efforts of Congressman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan who is the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and John Bolton—both of whom were obviously sources for this book.
Forget Madeleine Allbright's new book. Here's my "Memo to the President-Elect" -- read Shadow Warrors carefully. Then make two lists of everyone Timmerman fingers as working against American interests: those you are going to fire and those you are going to prosecute.