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Profile: Harold Rhode

 
  

Positions that Harold Rhode has held:

  • Top Middle East specialist for Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the administration of George W. Bush


 

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Harold Rhode actively participated in the following events:

 
  

Shortly after September 11, 2001: Feith Sets Up the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. Neither Wurmser nor Maloof are intelligence professionals. The four- to five- person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between militant Islamic groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] The group is later accused of stovepiping intelligence directly to the White House. Former DIA chief of Mideast operations, Pat Lang, later tells the Washington Times: “That unit had meetings with senior White House officials without the CIA or the Senate being aware of them. That is not legal. There has to be oversight.” According to Lang and another US intelligence official, the two men go to the White House several times to brief officials, bypassing CIA analysts whose analyses they disagreed with. They allegedly brief White House staffers Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Richard Cheney, according to congressional staffers. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] According to unnamed Pentagon and US intelligence officials, the group is also accused of providing sensitive CIA and Pentagon intercepts to the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, which then passed them on to the government of Iran. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Harold Rhode, Richard Perle, F. Michael Maloof, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
          

December 2001      US confrontation with Iran

       The Bush administration sends two Defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been back-channeled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of the CIA, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learn of the three-day meeting, apparently attended by both Ghorbanifar and Ledeen, until after it happens. When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings had been arranged. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/2003]
People and organizations involved: Larry Franklin, George Tenet, Stephen Hadley, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Harold Rhode, Condoleezza Rice
          

December 9, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush administration sends two defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been backchanneled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learns of the three-day meeting until after it happens (see December 12, 2001). When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings were arranged. [Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/03; Newsday, 8/9/03] In addition to Ghorbanifar, Ledeen, Franklin, and Rhode, the meeting is attended by Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, and Antonio Martino, Italy's minister of defense. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004] According to the Boston Globe, either at this meeting, a similar one in June (see June 2002), or both, Ledeen and Ghorbanifar discuss ways to destabilize the Iranian government, possibly using the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, a US-designated terrorist group, as a US proxy. [Boston Globe, 8/31/2004] Additionally, according to an unnamed SISMI source, Pollari speaks with Ledeen about intelligence his agency has collected (see October 15, 2001) suggesting that Iraq made a deal with Niger to purchase several tons of uranium. SISMI already sent a report to Washington on the matter in mid-October (see October 15, 2001). Reportedly, Pollari has also approached CIA Station Chief Jeff Castelli about the report, but Castelli has since indicated he is not interested in the information. [La Repubblica, 10/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Antonio Martino, Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Nicolo Pollari, George Tenet, Harold Rhode, Stephen Hadley
          

Early January 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Harold Rhode, a specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi, moves into the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, “an in-house Pentagon think tank” run by Andrew Marshall. Rhode, along with Douglas Feith, whose appointment to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is not approved until July, imposes a new anti-Iraq and anti-Arab orientation on the department. The two men purge the department of career Defense officials whose worldviews are not considered sufficiently compatible with the neoconservative perspective. An intelligence analyst will tell reporter Robert Dreyfuss that Rhode appeared to be “pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us with.” The source adds: “They wanted nothing to do with the professional staff. And they wanted us the f_ck out of there.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Andrew Marshall
          

June 2002      US confrontation with Iran

       In Paris, Defense Department officials (including either Harold Rhode or Larry Franklin) meet with Iranian officials and Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader who had been a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair. The meeting reportedly resulted from “an unplanned, unscheduled encounter,” that took place without White House approval. An earlier meeting involving several of the same figures had taken place seven months earlier (See December 2001). [Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/2003] When Secretary of State Colin Powell learns of the meeting, he complains directly to Condoleezza Rice and the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Colin Powell
          

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