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Profile: Vince Cannistraro


Positions that Vince Cannistraro has held:

  • Head of CIA?s counter-intelligence unit




Quote, June 2002

   “I think that early on in the administration—sometime within the first five to six months after Sept. 11, 2001—the decision was made that Iraq had to be dealt with. The intelligence community was tasked to collect information.” [ABC News, 6/16/03]

Quote, September 2002

   “Is there any confirmed evidence of Iraq's links to terrorism? No,” [Washington Post 9/10/02]

Associated Events

Quote, October 2002

   “I think that they're [administration officials] not getting the intelligence outcome that they want from the CIA, that is, that the CIA is skeptical of ties between Al-Qaeda and Iraq—justifiably so. The CIA [has] run around trying to corroborate this stuff, and it hasn't had too much luck. And the ties that they have claimed seem very thin and on closer inspection don't seem to go anywhere.” [Radio Free Europe, 10/29/02]

Associated Events

Quote, October 25, 2002

   “They are politicizing intelligence, no question about it. And they are undertaking a campaign to get George Tenet [the director of central intelligence] fired because they can't get him to say what they want on Iraq.” [Washington Post, 10/25/02]

Associated Events

Quote, late 2002

   “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.” [Guardian 10/9/02]

Associated Events

Quote, mid 2003

   “All I can tell you is there is a general feeling among CIA analysts that intelligence was politicized and that the CIA and (Defense Intelligence Agency) was not given full consideration because the Pentagon, the policymakers, including the vice-president's office, did not want to hear that message. They wanted to hear a hardline message supporting a policy they already adopted.” [Agence-France Presse, 6/1/03]

Associated Events

Quote, Before March 19, 2003

   “The [INC's] intelligence isn't reliable at all. Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi's own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches.” [Independent, 9/30/03]

Associated Events

Quote, May 30, 2003

   He told Reuters that “he knew of serving intelligence officers who blame the Pentagon for playing up ‘fraudulent’ intelligence” that had been acquired through the notorious Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. [Reuters, 5/30/03]

Associated Events

Quote, June 2003

   “The Iraqi opposition, particularly the group led by Ahmed Chalabi, whose intelligence was underwritten by the Pentagon, played a crucial role in informing the Pentagon ... with information that looks, from this vantage point, like it was fraudulent, in many cases was fabricated, and the most benign interpretation was that it was just flat wrong.” [ABC News, 6/16/03]

Associated Events

Quote, July 2003

   The claim alleging that Saddam was aiding al-Qaeda was “absurd.” [Associated Press, 7/12/03]

Associated Events




No related entities for this entity.


Vince Cannistraro actively participated in the following events:


July 2002-March 19, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime has or is seeking ties with global Islamic terrorist groups. [Independent, 2/9/03; New York Times, 2/3/03; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Radio Free Europe, 10/29/02; International Herald Tribune, 11/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/4/02; Baltimore Sun, 9/26/02; Wall Street Journal, 8/15/02; Telegraph, 2/4/03; Washington Post 9/10/02; Sunday Herald, 10/13/02; CBC News, 11/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin, Igor Ivanov, Tony Blair, Rohan Gunaratna, Vince Cannistraro, Youssef M. Ibrahim, Jean Chretien, MIchael O'Hanlon, Baltasar Garzon, Anna Eshoo, Brent Scowcroft, Jean-Louis Brugui←re, Jack Straw, US Department of State, 4/30/2001, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Vince Cannistraro, Richard Durbin, Michael Chandler  Additional Info 

October 9-16, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       Italian Panorama journalist Elisabetta Burba goes to the US Embassy in Rome and gives US officials copies of the Niger documents (see Late 2001) that she had obtained two days before (see Early October 2002). [New Yorker, 10/20/03; The Washington Post, 7/20/03; Associated Press, 7/20/03; Agence France Presse, 7/19/03] The documents are then sent to Washington and distributed to the various intelligence agencies. The precise details are unclear, however, due to contradicting accounts.
In Rome - According to a senior US State Department official interviewed by the Agence France-Presse in July 2003, the documents are first vetted by “all the relevant agencies” in Rome before being sent to Washington. “[T]hey were immediately shared with all the appropriate agencies,” the sources will explain. “The embassy shared them with all the relevant agencies at post, and they were then shared again when they got back to Washington.” [Agence France Presse, 9/19/03; Mercury, 9/19/03 Sources: Unnamed US State Department official] But an unnamed former CIA official will tell Seymour Hersh that the papers were not looked at in Rome. “The Embassy was alerted that the papers were coming and it passed them directly to Washington without even vetting them inside the Embassy.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed former CIA official]
In Washington - After the documents arrive in Washington, they are reviewed by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) and within days its analysts conclude that the papers might be fakes. On October 16, the INR distributes the documents to the CIA and several other US intelligence agencies with the caveat that the documents are of “dubious authenticity.” [The Washington Post, 7/20/03] Vince Cannistraro, former chief of counter-terrorism operations and analysis, will tell Seymour Hersh that the CIA did not immediately recognize that the documents were forged. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Vince Cannistraro] However, other sources will claim that like the INR, the CIA quickly saw that the documents were not authentic. A senior Central Intelligence Agency official will tell Knut Royce of Newsday that the CIA “had serious questions about [the claims] from day one.” The agency “had accounts of them [the letters] and that was close enough. We didn't take it that seriously to begin with. ... We didn't put a lot of stock in these reports from Niger. We didn't rush around to get the actual documents.” [Newsday, 7/11/03 Sources: Unnamed Senior CIA official] Likewise, a US intelligence official will tell the New York Times that CIA officials were always suspicious of the Niger documents. [New York Times 3/23/03] And Hersh's anonymous CIA source also says the papers were quickly assessed as fakes. “Everybody knew at every step of the way that they were false—until they got to the Pentagon, where they were believed.” [The Washington Post, 7/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Vince Cannistraro, Elisabetta Burba  Additional Info 

February 6, 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       Newsday reports that Vincent Cannistraro, a former intelligence official, told reporters, “Better intelligence has come from a senior al-Qaeda detainee who had been held in the US base at Guantanamo, Cuba, and was ‘rendered’ to Egypt after refusing to cooperate. ‘They promptly tore his fingernails out and he started to tell things.’ ” [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Vince Cannistraro

After May 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       US current and former intelligence and other governmental officials who have inside knowledge continue to refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime had or was seeking ties with global Islamic terrorist groups. [Boston Globe, 8/3/03; Associated Press, 7/12/03; UPI, 7/25/03; Associated Press, 6/26/03; UPI, 7/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Vince Cannistraro, Greg Thielmann, Mel Goodman  Additional Info 

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