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Profile: John E. McLaughlin

 
  

Positions that John E. McLaughlin has held:

  • Deputy Director of the CIA


 

Quotes

 
  

No quotes or excerpts for this entity.


 

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John E. McLaughlin actively participated in the following events:

 
  

April 30, 2001: Wolfowitz in Deputy Secretary Meeting: Who Cares About [bin Laden]?      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Bush administration finally has its first Deputy Secretary-level meeting on terrorism. [Time, 8/4/02] According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, he advocates that the Northern Alliance needs to be supported in the war against the Taliban, and the Predator drone flights need to resume over Afghanistan so bin Laden can be targeted. [Clarke, 2004, pp 231] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the focus on al-Qaeda is wrong. He states, “I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden,” and “Who cares about a little terrorist in Afghanistan?” Wolfowitz insists the focus should be Iraqi-sponsored terrorism instead. He claims the 1993 attack on the WTC must have been done with help from Iraq, and rejects the CIA's assertion that there has been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. (A spokesperson for Wolfowitz later calls Clarke's account a “fabrication.”) [Newsweek, 3/22/04; Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231] Wolfowitz repeats these sentiments immediately after 9/11 and tries to argue that the US should attack Iraq. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage agrees with Clarke that al-Qaeda is an important threat. Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, chairing the meeting, brokers a compromise between Wolfowitz and the others. The group agrees to hold additional meetings focusing on al-Qaeda first (in June and July), but then later look at other terrorism, including any Iraqi terrorism. [Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231-32] Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin also attend the hour-long meeting. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: John E. McLaughlin, Taliban, Paul Wolfowitz, al-Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Stephen Hadley, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Promis, Bush administration, Richard Armitage
          

June-July 2001: Terrorist Threat Reports Surge, Frustration with White House Grows      Complete 911 Timeline

       Terrorist threat reports, already high in the preceding months, surge even higher. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and national security aides are given briefing papers with headlines such as “Bin Laden Threats Are Real” and “Bin Laden Planning High Profile Attacks.” The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission they consistently predict upcoming attacks that will occur “on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, consisting of possible multiple—but not necessarily simultaneous—attacks.” CIA Director Tenet later recalls that by late July the warnings coming in could not get any worse. He feels that President Bush and other officials grasp the urgency of what they are being told. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)] But Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin later states that he feels a great tension, peaking these months, between the Bush administration's apparent misunderstanding of terrorism issues and his sense of great urgency. McLaughlin and others are frustrated when inexperienced Bush officials question the validity of certain intelligence findings. Two unnamed, veteran Counter Terrorism Center officers deeply involved in bin Laden issues are so worried about an impending disaster that they consider resigning and going public with their concerns. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] Dale Watson, head of counterterrorism at the FBI, wishes he had “500 analysts looking at Osama bin Laden threat information instead of two.” [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, John E. McLaughlin, George Tenet, Dale Watson, Osama bin Laden, Bush administration
          

Mid-March 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Deputy CIA Director John E. McLaughlin informs senior members of the president's national security team that the CIA is cutting back operations in Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 6/22/04]
People and organizations involved: John E. McLaughlin, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 2, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. When asked by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) whether he has read the British white paper (see September 24, 2002) on Iraq and whether he disagrees with any of its conclusions he responds: “[T]he one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible...” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jon Kyl, John E. McLaughlin
          

December 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       CIA Director George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin meet in the White House with President George Bush and Bush's top advisors for a “dress rehearsal” ahead of a public presentation that will accuse Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction. According to Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack, Bush is disappointed with Tenet and McLauglin's presentation, which is based on communications intercepts, satellite photos, diagrams, and other intelligence. “Nice try,” Woodward's source will later recall Bush saying. “I don't think this quite—it's not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.” Bush reportedly says to Tenet. “I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we've got?” Tenet responds, “It's a slam dunk case.” Woodward's book will say that Bush then asked, “George, how confident are you?” To which the intelligence head responded, “Don't worry, it's a slam dunk.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 4/17/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, George W. Bush, John E. McLaughlin
          

February 1, 2003-February 4, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       On February 1, Secretary of State Colin Powell begins rehearsing for his February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) in which he will argue that Iraq represents a serious and imminent threat to the US. Powell is assisted by members of his staff, including his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. [US News and World Report, 6/9/2003; Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9; Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] Several members of the White House Iraq Group drop in during the pre-speech sessions, including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, and Lewis Libby. George Tenet and his deputy director, John McLaughlin, are also present at times. [Bamford, 2004, pp 369; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Cheney's staff continues to pressure Powell to include several unsubstantiated and dubious allegations. The allegations that are most contested are the ones dealing with Iraq's alleged ties to terrorism. For example, the group insists that Powell “link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington” and include the widely discredited allegation (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer (see April 8, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.; US News and World Report, 6/9/2003] But Powell and his staff reject a good portion of the hawks' material. At one point, Powell reportedly says, “I'm not reading this. This is bullsh_t.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] An official later recalls: “On a number of occasions, ... [Powell] simply said, ‘I'm not using that, I'm not using that, that is not good enough. That's not something that I can support.’ And on each occasion he was fought by the vice president's office in the person of Scooter Libby, by the National Security Advisor [Condoleezza Rice] herself, by her deputy [Steve Hadley], and sometimes by the intelligence people—George [Tenet] and [Deputy CIA Director] John [McLaughlin].” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370] “[W]e fought tooth and nail with other members of the administration to scrub it and get the crap out,” Larry Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff later tells GQ. [Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] In some instances, material rejected by Powell occasionally reappear in subsequent versions of the speech. “One of the most outrageous ones was the Mohammed Atta meeting in Prague. Steve Hadley on one occasion [put] it back in. We cut it and somehow it got back in. And the secretary said, ‘I thought I cut this?’ And Steve Hadley looked around and said, ‘My fault, Mr. Secretary, I'll put it back in.’ ‘Well, cut it, permanently!’ yelled Powell. It was all cartoon. The specious connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, much of which I subsequently found came probably from the INC and from their sources, defectors and so forth, [regarding the] training in Iraq for terrorists. ... No question in my mind that some of the sources that we were using were probably Israeli intelligence. That was one thing that was rarely revealed to us—if it was a foreign source.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370-1]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Larry Wilkerson, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, Richard Armitage, White House Iraq Group, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

June-November 2004: Critical CIA Report on 9/11 Failures Is Finished, But Its Release Is Successfully Delayed Until After Presidential Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       In November 2002, as the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry was finishing its investigation, it formally asked for a report by the CIA to determine “whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable” for the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/14/04] The CIA report by the agency's inspector general is completed in June 2004. Newsweek calls the report “hard-hitting” and says it “identifies a host of current and former officials who could be candidates for possible disciplinary procedures imposed by a special CIA Accountability Board.” [Newsweek, 10/24/04] While the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 9/11 Commission Reports didn't single out individuals for blame, this one does, and it is said to find “very senior-level officials responsible. Those who have read the classified report say that it faults about 20 intelligence officials, including former CIA Director George Tenet, his former Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt, and the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center Cofer Black. Tenet in particular is faulted for focusing too little attention on combating al-Qaeda as a whole in the years prior to 9/11.” [Washington Post, 10/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] The report is submitted to John McLaughlin, interim acting CIA Director, but he returns it to the inspector general with a request “for more information.” [New York Times, 9/14/04] It continues to remain completely classified, and even the 9/11 Commissioners (who all have high level security clearances) are not allowed to see it before they complete their own 9/11 investigation. [Newsweek, 10/24/04] In late September 2004, Peter Hoekstra (R) and Jane Harman (D), chairman and highest ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee respectively, send a letter to the CIA. [New York Times, 10/27/04] They request that at least their committee, as the oversight committee that originally mandated the creation of the report, be allowed to see the report. But even this committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are not allowed to see it. One anonymous official who has read the report tells the Los Angeles Times, “It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed. ... The report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward.” This official says the report has been deliberately stalled, first by John McLaughlin, then by Porter Goss, his replacement as CIA Director. (Ironically, Goss was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that originally called for the report.) This official further notes that the only legal and legitimate reason the CIA can give for holding back such a report is national security, yet this reason has not been invoked. The official claims that Goss is “basically sitting on the report until after the [November 2004 Presidential] election. No previous director of CIA has ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/20/04; Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] One anonymous CIA official says, “Everybody feels it will be better off if this hits the fan after the election.” [Newsweek, 10/24/04] The previously mentioned official speaking to The Los Angeles Times comments that the successful delay of the report's release until after the election has “led the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with impunity.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] More details of the report are revealed to the media in January 2005.(see January 7, 2005). In October 2005, CIA Director Porter Goss will announce that he is not going to release the report, and also will not convene an accountability board to hold anyone responsible.(see October 10, 2005).
People and organizations involved: Jane Harman, Porter J. Goss, Peter Hoekstra, Central Intelligence Agency, John E. McLaughlin, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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