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Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - Page updated at 12:15 AM

Scowcroft critical of Bush, Cheney

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The leak of a covert CIA agent's name had its roots in a clash over Iraq policy between White House insiders and their rivals in the State Department and the CIA.

As the investigation into the leak reaches its expected climax this week, the internal disputes have been further amplified by a recent string of speeches and interviews criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, including some by former national-security adviser Brent Scowcroft; Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; and State Department diplomats.

Scowcroft, a close friend of former President George H.W. Bush, revealed in interviews with The New Yorker a disdain for the current administration's foreign policy, according to an article published this week. When Scowcroft was asked if he could name the issues on which he agreed with President Bush, he replied, "Afghanistan." He then paused for 12 seconds before adding, "I think we're doing well on Europe."

A top State Department official involved in Iraq policy, former Ambassador Robin Raphel, said the administration was "not prepared" when it invaded Iraq but did so anyway in part because of "clear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven," according to an interview posted on the Web site of the congressionally funded U.S. Institute of Peace.

A special prosecutor is investigating how the undercover status of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was revealed to reporters in July 2003. The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium. Wilson said he found little evidence to support the allegations, and after Bush referred to the Niger connection in his 2003 State of the Union address, Wilson accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the war.

Testimony in the Plame case, especially by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, has suggested that one reason White House officials sought to discredit Wilson is because of a deep animus toward the CIA — and a suspicion that the agency was trying to shift blame for its failures onto the White House.

Elsewhere in Washington, others were seething as well.

"The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national-security decision making process," Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's former chief of staff and longtime confidant, said in a speech last week. "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

Wilkerson added that when decisions were presented to the bureaucracy, "it was presented in such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out."

Scowcroft, in his interview, discussed an argument over Iraq he had two years ago with Condoleezza Rice, then national-security adviser and now secretary of state.

"She says, 'We're going to democratize Iraq,' and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for 50 years and so on and so forth," he said. The article stated that with a "barely perceptible note of satisfaction," Scowcroft said, "But we've had 50 years of peace."

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