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Profile: Abram Shulsky

 
  

Positions that Abram Shulsky has held:

  • Employee of the RAND Corporation
  • Director of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans


 

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Abram Shulsky actively participated in the following events:

 
  

September 2000      Complete Iraq timeline

       The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, titled, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was written for future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows that the Bush team intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02 Sources: Rebuilding America's Defenses] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Robert Killebrew, Dov Zakheim, Robert Kagan, Fred Kagan, Donald Kagan, William Kristol, David Fautua, Dan Goure, Mark Lagon, Barry Watts, Michael Vickers, Mackubin Owens, Abram Shulsky, Gary Schmitt, David Epstein, Phil Meilinger, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Martinage, James Lasswell, Lewis Libby, Thomas Donnelly, Devon Gaffney Cross, Eliot A. Cohen, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Roger Barnett, Alvin Bernstein, Stephen Cambone, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Rosen  Additional Info 
          

September 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       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. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] 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. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, A Pentagon adviser, Greg Thielmann] 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. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Telegraph, 7/11/2004; CNN, 7/11/2004 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] 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 1/18/2004 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] 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). 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. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] One defector in particular, code-named “Curve Ball,” provides as much as 98% of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/2004] 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. [Newsweek, 12/15/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/2004 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; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Ellen Tauscher, 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; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 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. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03 Sources: David Obey, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war]
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: Kenneth Adelman, James Woolsey, Colonel Bruner, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Stephen Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, Elliott Abrams, Elizabeth Cheney, David Wurmser, Karen Kwiatkowski  Additional Info 
          

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