forwarded from Robert Touraine (uranium)

alan ginsberg aginsberg at
Fri Aug 8 09:17:54 MDT 2003

I'm somewhat cautious re the Washington Post piece by Walter Pincus (posted by Robert Touraine) even though it coheres with my view that the CIA disagreed with and (to some extent) resisted the White House/Defense Department/National Security Council campaign concerning Iraq and African uranium.

In addition to being based on CIA sources, the article was written by a reporter reputed to have extremely close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. I tend to view Pincus as an actor in an increasingly nasty intra-governmental dispute and not solely as a "journalist".

The following information about Pincus appeared in the November 1997 issue of Extra!, published by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in reporting:

The Washington Post's coverage was particularly unbalanced. In addition to a by-the-book story (similar to the Reuters piece) on Clinton's speech (9/17/97), the Post allowed staff writer Walter Pincus, long a friend of the Agency (see Extra!, 1Ð2/97), to produce a lengthy news piece (9/14/97) that was clearly intended to rehabilitate the CIA's troubled reputation. "CIA-run agents who had infiltrated terrorist groups in recent years aided in intelligence gathering that helped prevent two attacks in the past seven months against U.S. embassies abroad, new CIA Director George J. Tenet told Congress earlier this year," Pincus wrote. Of course, he added, "Tenet declined to provide details of the operations, including where they occurred."

Pincus was the reporter who penned the Washington Post's tendentious attack (10/4/96) on the San Jose Mercury News' 1996 expose of links between CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras and the spread of crack. Pincus was virtually the only reporter to allude to the Contra/ crack scandal in his anniversary article, and he seemed to attach more credence to the subject than he had when savaging the Mercury News' Gary Webb--though Pincus' focus was still more on the CIA's reputation than on its responsibility for its lethal policies:

In addition, new CIA and Justice Department investigations into past agency operations in Central America are expected to be released shortly, guaranteeing more criticism for the agency's cooperation with drug dealers who were also aiding Nicaraguan contra operations and for training Honduran special forces that later committed human rights violations.

Of course, when you train special forces using tools like torture manuals (Covert Action, Summer/97), it shouldn't be surprising
when they later commit human rights violations. Perhaps this aspect of CIA operations eluded the otherwise in-the-know Pincus.

Pincus also touches on the CIA's 1996 coup attempt against Saddam Hussein, a catastrophe which journalist Patrick Cockburn (Sacramento Bee, 4/15/97) has called "one of the greatest failures of the CIA since it was set up 50 years ago." Pincus' take?
"The agency has been sharply criticized for its operations against Iraq leader Saddam Hussein by Iraqi exiles and former agency operatives disappointed in how things turned out." The many Iraqi CIA agents who were executed as a result of the botched
action were probably beyond disappointment.

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