Friday, October 07, 2005 Books:The Road to Hell by George Packer

Long article but worth the read. a great insight on the minds bringing us the war in Iraq as written by a former supporter.

As plans for war raced ahead, a secret new unit was being set up in the Pentagon, overseen by Douglas Feith and his deputy, William Luti, who was such a maniacal hawk that his colleagues called him "Uber-Luti." (At a staff meeting, Luti once called retired Gen. Anthony Zinni a traitor for questioning the Iraq war.) The secret unit was called the Office of Special Plans, and it was charged with planning for Iraq. Packer's account of this office is chilling. Its main purpose was to cook up intelligence to justify the war, which was then "stovepiped" directly to Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby (who has now been linked to the Valerie Plame scandal). Its cryptic name as well as its opposition to the traditional intelligence agencies, which had failed to deliver the goods on Saddam, reflected the views of its director, Abram Shulsky, a former Perle aide, housemate of Wolfowitz's at Cornell, and student of the Chicago classics professor Leo Strauss. Strauss, around whom a virtual cult had gathered, had famously discussed esoteric and hidden meanings in great works, and Shulsky wrapped himself in the lofty mantle of his former professor to justify the secret and "innovative" approach of the OSP.

In fact, besides feeding bogus intelligence from Iraqi exile sources into the rapacious craw of the White House, the OSP was nothing but a spin machine to prepare the way to war: No actual "planning" was done. According to Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, the "crafting and approval of the exact words to use when discussing Iraq, WMD, and terrorism were, for most of us, the only known functions of OSP and Mr. Shulsky." (Kwiatkowski later recalled a bit of advice she got from a high-level civil servant: "If I wanted to be successful here," she wrote, "I'd better remember not to say anything positive about the Palestinians.")

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