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Profile: James Woolsey

 
  

Positions that James Woolsey has held:

  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2/1993-1/1995)


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, October 2001

   “The Czech confirmation seems to me very important. It is yet another lead that points toward Iraqi involvement in some sort of terrorism against the United States that ought to be followed up vigorously.” [New York Times, 10/27/01]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

Related Entities:


 

James Woolsey actively participated in the following events:

 
  

January 26, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03 Sources: January 26, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
People and organizations involved: William J. Bennett, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William Schneider Jr., Donald Rumsfeld, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick, Peter Rodman, John R. Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Kristol, Paula J. Dobriansky, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Richard Perle
          

February 18, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Former CIA director James Woolsey participates in an online discussion on Time's weekly forum on the topic of Iraq. At one point, he is asked if he thinks the US is capable of launching a successful military attack against Iraq given the lack of support from US allies. Woolsey responds: “It will be harder but perhaps not impossible. The key holdout is Saudi Arabia—and it is indeed aggravating that even though we went to war in 1991 principally to protect its oil, they are unwilling to let us launch air strikes from their country.” [Time, 2/18/1998]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey
          

2000      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Former CIA director James Woolsey serves as a corporate officer for the Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation which manages the Iraqi National Congress' US funding. Also during this time, Woolsey and his former law firm, Shea and Gardner, provide the INC and Iraqi exiles with pro bono work. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Shea and Gardner, James Woolsey
          

Mid-September 2001: Neoconservatives Look to Tie Iraq to 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       At the behest of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA director James Woolsey and a team of Justice and Defense Department officials fly to London on a US government plane to look for evidence tying Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It is the second such mission undertaken by Woolsey this year. He reportedly made an earlier trip in February. Woolsey is looking for evidence to support the theory (see Late July or early August 2001) that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 WTC bombing, was actually an Iraqi agent who had assumed the identity of a Pakistani student named Abdul Basit. On at least one of the trips, Woolsey visits the Swansea Institute, where Basit studied, to see if Basit's fingerprints match those of Yousef, who is now serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison. Matching fingerprints would discredit the theory. According to Knight Ridder, “Several of those with knowledge of the trips said they failed to produce any new evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks.” [Daily Telegraph, 10/26/01; Observer 10/14/01; Knight Ridder, 10/11/01] Woolsey's activities in South Wales attract the attention of British authorities who are “intrigued” that a former CIA chief is “asking these questions.” [Knight Ridder, 10/11/01] The trip, sponsored by the Pentagon, is not approved by Secretary of State Colin Powell or CIA director George Tenet. [The Village Voice, 11/21/01; Knight Ridder, 10/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, George Tenet, Ramzi Yousef, James Woolsey, Abdul Basit, Paul Wolfowitz, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden
          

September 13, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In an op-ed piece published in the New Republic, former CIA director James Woolsey calls on the Bush administration to re-examine evidence that could potentially tie Iraq to the 1993 bombing of the WTC. He cites a theory (see Late July or early August 2001) that Iraqi intelligence helped bomber Ramzi Yousef steal the identity of a Kuwaiti student studying at a college in Wales. If this theory is correct, he says, “then it was Iraq that went after the World Trade Center last time. Which makes it much more plausible that Iraq has done so again.” In light of this, he argues, US authorities should consider the possibility that Saddam Hussein had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. “[I]ntelligence and law enforcement officials investigating the case would do well to at least consider another possibility: that the attacks—whether perpetrated by bin Laden and his associates or by others—were sponsored, supported, and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein,” he writes. “As yet, there is no evidence of explicit state sponsorship of the September 11 attacks. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” [New Republic, 9/13/01] A few days later, the US Defense Department will send Woolsey to Britain (see Mid-September 2001) to investigate the alleged Iraq link to the 1993 bombing.
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Ramzi Yousef
          

September 19, 2001-September 20, 2001: Defense Policy Board Meets and Discusses Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Defense Policy Board (DPB) meets in secrecy in Rumsfeld's Pentagon conference room on September 19 and 20 for nineteen hours to discuss the option of taking military action against Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] They also discuss how they might overcome some of the diplomatic and political pressures that would likely attempt to impede a policy of regime change in Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] Among those attending the meeting are the 18 members of the Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Bernard Lewis, Ahmed Chalabi, and Chalabi's aide Francis Brooke. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 236; New York Times, 10/12/01] Secretary of State Colin Powell and other State Department officials in charge of US policy toward Iraq are not invited and are not informed of the meeting. A source will later tell the New York Times that Powell was irritated about not being briefed on the meeting. [New York Times, 10/12/01] During the seminar, two of Richard Perle's invited guests, Princeton professor Bernard Lewis and Ahmed Chalabi, the president of the Iraqi National Congress, are given the opportunity to speak. Lewis says that the US must encourage democratic reformers in the Middle East, “such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalabi.” Chalabi argues that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists and asserts that Saddam's regime has weapons of mass destruction. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232] He also asserts “there'd be no resistance, no guerrilla warfare from the Baathists, and [it would be] a quick matter of establishing a government.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Attendees write a letter to President Bush calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism,” the letter reads. The letter is published in the Washington Times on September 20 (see September 20, 2001) in the name of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a conservative think tank that believes the US needs to shoulder the responsibility for maintaining “peace” and “security” in the world by strengthening its global hegemony. [Project for a New American Century, 9/20/01; Manila Times, 7/19/03] Bush reportedly rejects the letter's proposal, as both Cheney and Powell agree that there is no evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attacks. [New York Times, 10/12/01 Sources: Unnamed senior administration officials and defense experts]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger, James Woolsey, Adm. David E. Jeremiah, Ahmed Chalabi, Bernard Lewis, James R. Schlesinger, Dan Quayle, Harold Brown, Newt Gingrich, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Francis Brooke
          

October 8, 2001: Ex-CIA Director's Meeting With Taliban Leader Is Called Off      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, as part of his attempt to gather evidence that could tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, contacts the Taliban. He works with Mansour Ijaz, a US businessman of Pakistani origin, who is a lobbyist for Pakistan in the US, an occasional Fox News commentator, and has extensive political ties in the US. Woolsey is also vice-chairman of the board of Ijaz's company. Woolsey and Ijaz work with Khalid Khawaja, a friend of bin Laden and ex-ISI operative. The three plus an unnamed US journalist arrange to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 8. The Taliban agree to tell Woolsey about a meeting between Iraqi and al-Qaeda officials that took place in 1997, and possibly other similar information. Apparently in return they hope to avert the US invasion of Afghanistan. However, the US bombing begins on October 7, and the meeting is called off. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Financial Times, 3/6/03] At least part of this team will later play another behind-the-scenes role. After being given a tip that Mansour Ijaz is connected to leading militant Muslims in Pakistan, reporter Daniel Pearl will connect with Khalid Khawaja, who in turn connects him with militant Muslims who kidnap and eventually kill him. A leading Pakistani newspaper claims that at one point Newsweek is about to accuse Khawaja of involvement in the plot to kidnap Pearl, but Ijaz vouches for Khawaja and convinces Newsweek to pull back their accusations. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Khalid Khawaja, Mansour Ijaz, Taliban, Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda, Iraq, Daniel Pearl
          

Shortly before October 26, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, former CIA Director James Woolsey suggests that the US “ought to seriously consider removing Saddam's regime if he has been involved in any terror in recent years against us.” He contends that Saddam Hussein's alleged assassination attempt on President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1993 and Iraq's defiance of UN resolutions are sufficient enough in and of themselves to warrant the use of military force to topple the regime. [Daily Telegraph, 10/26/01]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey
          

February 11, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Former CIA Director James Woolsey telephones Deputy Asistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells to arrange a meeting between Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts and Mohammad Harith, an Iraqi defector being supplied by the Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] After the phone call, Wells issues an “executive referral,” requesting that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) introduce Harith to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] Later in the day, two DIA officers meet with Ahmed Chalabi to arrange an interview with Harith. In an email to Knight Ridder Newspapers, Wells will later recall, “I discussed the issue of an individual with information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction with intelligence community members. They said they would follow up. I never met with any member of the INC.” [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Linton Wells, Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress, James Woolsey
          

September 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: A Pentagon adviser, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Telegraph, 7/11/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; CNN, 7/11/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] There are very few news reports in the American mainstream media that report on the office. In fact, the office is reportedly Top Secret. [Bamford, 2004, pp 308] “We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained,” OSP staffer Karen Kwiatkowski will later say, “and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Salon, 7/16/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann] One defector in particular, code-named “Curveball,” provides as much as 98 percent of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/04] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Salon, 3/10/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed former intelligence official]
The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann] The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, Greg Thielmann, David Obey]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Colonel Bruner, James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Adelman, Colin Powell, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, David Wurmser, Elizabeth Cheney  Additional Info 
          

Late 2002      US confrontation with Iran

       Michael Ledeen joins with Morris Amitay, vice-president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; ex-CIA head James Woolsey; former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney; former senator Paul Simon; and oil consultant Rob Sobhani to set up a group called the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI). [The Sunday Herald, 6/1/2003] CDI says it “fully agrees with President Bush's inclusion of Iran in the ‘axis of evil’ and supports congressional initiatives to bring about needed change in Iran.” [Coalition for Democracy, 1/16/2004] The group has strong ties to Reza Pahlavi, the son of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the US-backed leader of Iran who was removed from power by the 1979 Iranian Revolution. [International Herald Tribune, 6/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey
          

March 25, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a conference held at the American Enterprise Institute, an audience member asks the panel of guests—made up of James Woolsey, Richard Perle, and Michael Ledeen—where they see “the level of acceptance of US society in terms of casualties, not only on the US side, but as well on the Iraqi side, and in terms of duration of the operation?” Ledeen responds: “I think the level of casualties is secondary. I mean, it may sound like an odd thing to say, but all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. ... What we hate is not casualties but losing. And if the war goes well and if the American public has the conviction that we're being well-led and that our people are fighting well and that we're winning, I don't think casualties are going to be the issue.” [American Enterprise Institute, 3/25/2003]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen
          

April 3, 2003: Ex-CIA Director Foresees Many More Wars in Middle East      Complete 911 Timeline

      
James Woolsey.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the US is engaged in a world war, and that it could continue for years: “As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous.” He calls it World War IV (World War III being the Cold War according to neoconservatives like himself ), and says it will be fought against the religious rulers of Iran, the “fascists” of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. He singles out the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying, “We want you nervous.” This echoes the rhetoric of the PNAC, of which Woolsey is a supporter, and the singling out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia echoes the rhetoric of the Defense Policy Board, of which he is a member. In July 2002 (see July 10, 2002), a presentation to that board concluded, “Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize.” [CNN, 4/3/03; CNN, 4/3/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Iraq, Iran, al-Qaeda, Syria, James Woolsey
          

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