Saturday, July 22

Bogus sources for dirt on Bush?

The story posted below was originally published in 2003, then reprinted two years later. If true (as I think it is) the implications are chilling.

"Conned big-time"
By DOUG THOMPSON in Capitol Hill Blue, July 9, 2003
(reposted by CHB July 05)
I hate it when I've been had--and I've been had big time.

In 1982, while I was working for Congressman Manuel Lujan of New Mexico, a man came up to a me during a gathering in Albuquerque and introduced himself as Terrance J. Wilkinson. He said he was a security consultant and gave me a business card with his name and just a Los Angeles phone number.
A few weeks later, he called my Washington office and asked to meet for lunch. He seemed to know a lot about the nuclear labs in New Mexico and said he had conducted "security profiles" for both Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs. Lujan served on the committee with oversight on both labs and he offered his services if we ever needed briefings.

We already had nuclear experts on the committee, on loan from the Department of Energy, and we never used Wilkinson for briefings but we kept in touch over the years. He said he had served in Vietnam with Army Special Forces, worked for Air America, later for the FBI and as a consultant for the CIA. He said he had helped other Republican members of Congress. I called some friends in other GOP offices and they said yes, they knew Terry Wilkinson. "You can trust him, he's one of the good guys," one chief of staff told me.

When I left politics and returned to journalism, Wilkinson became a willing, but always unnamed, source. Over the last couple of years he served as either a primary or secondary source on a number of stories that have appeared in Capitol Hill Blue regarding intelligence activities. In early stories I checked his information with at least one more source. His information usually proved accurate, and over time I began using him as a source without additional backup.

On Tuesday we ran a story headlined "White House admits Bush wrong about Iraqi nukes." For the first time, Wilkinson said he was willing to go on the record and told a story about being present, as a CIA contract consultant, at two briefings with Bush. He said he was retired now and was fed up and wanted to go public.

"He (Bush) said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said in our story. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country."

After the story ran, we received a number of emails or phone calls that either claimed Wilkinson was lying or doubted his existence. I quickly dismissed the claims. After all, I had known this guy for 20+ years and had no doubt about his credibility. Some people wanted to talk to him, so I forwarded those requests on to him via email. He didn't answer my emails, which I found odd. I should have listened to a bell that should have been going off in my ear.

Today a White House source I know and trust said visitor logs don't have any record of anyone named Terrance J. Wilkinson ever being present at a meeting with the President. Then a CIA source I trust said the agency had no record of a contract consultant with that name. "Nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever heard of this guy," my source said.

I tried calling Terry's phone number. I got a recorded message from a wireless phone provider saying the number was no longer in service. I tried a second phone number I had for him. Same result.

Both of his phone numbers have Los Angeles area codes but there's no record of anyone named Terrance J. Wilkinson ever having lived in LA or surrounding communities.

His email address turns out to be a blind forward to a free email service where anyone can sign up and get an email account. Because it was not one of the usual "free" services like Hotmail, Yahoo or such, I did not recognize it as one (although you'd think that someone like me would have known better).

The bottom line is that someone has been running a con on me for 20 some years and I fell for it. I've spent the last two hours going through the database of Capitol Hill Blue stories and removing any that were based on information from Wilkinson (or whoever he is). I've also removed his name, quotes and claims from Tuesday's story about the White House and the uranium claims.

Of course, erasing the stories doesn't erase the fact that we ran articles containing information that, given the source, was probably inaccurate. And it doesn't erase the sad fact that my own arrogance allowed me to be unwittingly used as a propaganda vehicle for 20 years.

Any news publication exists on the trust of its readers. Because I depended on a source that was not credible, I violated the trust that the readers of Capitol Hill Blue placed in me.

I was wrong. I'm sorry.
This story is so understated that it takes a couple of passes before you realize its significance: What kind of organization has both the motivation and the funds to pay a man to act as a propaganda source with a group of congressional aides for twenty years?

And does anyone believe "Wilkinson" was the only such bogus source?

Now Ed at Captain's Quarters posts that CHB also had another source ("George Harleigh") who seems to have been bogus.

Wish Congress would subpoena everyone on the staff of CHB to try to verify that Harley and Wilkinson really represented themselves as CHB claims. If they did, it would pretty much confirm that the CIA (or some other organization with significant resources) has been running a secret program to undermine conservative presidents for at least 20 years.

Chilling.

Monday, July 17

In the Washington Times, Diana West wrote an excellent piece titled "Deluded America." I thought she made some great points. Here's my edit of what struck me as her best points (though I encourage everyone to read her original):
Someone wrote that when a civilized society is attacked by a barbarous one, if the members of the former are to prevail, the civilized group will be unavoidably degraded by the experience.

In part this is because civilized societies strive to conduct war according to unwritten rules, under which the civilized society absorbs certain costs and military inefficiencies in the interest of humanitarianism: Thus we don't shoot prisoners but instead give them medical care on the battlefield, for example. When jihadists use women and children as human shields in a firefight, our troops usually don't shoot, even if it means letting the jihadists escape to fight another day.

By contrast, barbaric societies embrace even the most inhuman tactics--exploding a nail-wrapped bomb in a crowded market, for example--to strike terror into anyone not on their side.

Because the civilized society is more humane, and willingly takes on the burdens associated with acting humanely even when fighting a war, when two sides of roughly equal strength are locked in a fight to the death, the civil society is likely to lose. In such a case, it must break its own rules of war if it is to prevail.

In WW2, the Allies used some previously unthinkable tactics to defeat Germany and Japan. For example, bombing cities, even rail transportation hubs, was beyond civilized conventions, but the Allies believed they had to do that to win. Our political leaders chose to kill relatively innocent civilians because they believed it was the only way to win the war.

Did bombing Dresden or dropping two atom bombs to convince Japan to surrender make the Allies barbarians? I think most people would say it didn't, and would argue that such awful measures were necessary to save our civilization — and certainly thousands of mainly American and Allied lives. Of course the unstated principle behind this argument is that Allied lives — our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons — counted for more than the lives of the German and Japanese civilians killed in those bombings.

Apparently many Americans no longer believe American lives are that valuable. If we still valued the lives of our own troops more than those of terrorists and the "civilians" they hide among — and now I'm referring to the war in Iraq — we would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, rather than waste the lives of our troops in deadly house-to-house searches. We would destroy terrorist sanctuaries in Syria and Iran and not disarm "insurgents" at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.

Today there is something the elites of American society value more than the lives of American soldiers — and possibly more than the survival of our way of life. That something is the moral superiority that comes from a good wallow in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay. Morally superior people — as American elites consider themselves — would never "humiliate" prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadists. Indeed, morally superior people prosecute -- to include the death penalty -- any American G.I. who does such things.

While this lets the elites feel even more morally superior to the rest of us, it doesn't win wars. The reason is that such smugness causes a kind of paralysis. The morally superior (read: paralyzed) believe no culture is better or worse than any other. As a result, they see no reason why they should favor the American side in any armed conflict.

To these self-styled elites, favoring one civilization over another would be judgmental --which is to them a sign of unsophistication or moral inferiority. They regard being non-judgmental as a higher form of behavior. Such people would bar torture of a terrorist even if torture would result in information that would save an American city. Because torture is uncivilized, they'd rather sacrifice American lives than to stoop to it.

Certainly, using barbarous tactics damages us in some way. And it may well be that our huge edge in technology will enable us to win without stooping to such tactics. But we need to understand that following the fastidious rules advocated by the elites has a direct and terrible cost in unnecessary deaths of American troops--and possibly American civilians.

The elites, of course, don't care. Because to them, American soldiers are no better than the people who hack off the head of a live human being.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas Tucker, RIP.
As many have noted, war is a nasty business, and there's no denying that on rare occasions our side has done some pretty ghastly things in wartime--both acts of individual soldiers in the heat of battle and decisions by top leaders in offices far from the front lines. But we generally recognize these acts as either mistakes or aberrations, and try to ensure they don't happen again.

The bombing of Dresden is an example.

But with that said, I can't agree with Americans who claim that we're no better than terrorists.