Playboy Magazine has a very useful, long article out titled “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” that does a great job of exposing the power of informal networks in Washington and how such informal networks are moving billions of dollars around and teeing up military conflicts like Iraq.
Here is some of the juicy intro:
In November of 2002, Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security advisor, asked Bruce Jackson to meet with him in the White House. They met in Hadley’s office on the ground floor of the West Wing, not far from the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Hadley had an exterior office with windows, an overt indicator of his importance within the West Wing hierarchy.
This was months before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations to make the administration’s case for the invasion of Iraq, touting the subsequently discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But according to Jackson, Hadley told him that “they were going to war and were struggling with a rationale” to justify it. Jackson, recalling the meeting, reports that Hadley said they were “still working out” a cause, too, but asked that he, Jackson, “set up something like the Committee on NATO” to come up with a rationale.
Jackson had launched the U.S. Committee on NATO, a nongovernmental pressure group, in 1996 with Hadley on board. The objective of the committee, originally called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, was to push for membership in the NATO military alliance for former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
What Bruce Jackson came up with for Hadley this time, in 2002, was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. The mission statement of the committee says it was “formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations.” The pressure group began pushing for regime change — that is, military action to remove Hussein — in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working the media and throwing money around. The committee’s pitch, or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster — routinely violating human rights — and a general menace in the Middle East.
“I didn’t see the point about WMDs or an Al Queda connection,” Jackson says. In his mind the human rights issue was sufficient to justify a war.
— Steve Clemons