By Susan Lindauer
If only I’d known Julian Assange, everything would have been different.
Mine was a spook’s world of black ops and counter-terrorism. The real stuff—not color coded threats. For a decade I performed as a covert back channel to Libya and Iraq at the United Nations in support of anti-terrorism. My special access made me one of the very few Assets covering Baghdad before the War. Our team started talks for the Lockerbie Trial with Libyan diplomats. We also held preliminary talks to resume the weapons inspections with Iraq’s Ambassador, Dr. Saeed Hasan. Once Baghdad agreed to rigorous U.S. conditions for transparency in the inspections, I notified the Security Council myself, and within 72 hours the U. N invited Iraq to attend formal talks to ratify the technical language. By then it was a done deal. Contrary to official reports, Iraq always welcomed the return of weapons inspectors as a necessary step to ending the sanctions. Ordinary people just didn’t know it.
My world was “black.” Off radar. So deeply secretive that my father, brother, aunts and cousins had no knowledge of my work in Washington. I operated in absolute secrecy.
My bona fides in anti-terrorism were no less outstanding for my lack of public acclaim. I discovered advance intelligence about the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, and the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. My team conducted one of the very first investigations of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts—then known as the Inter-Arab group— six months before the Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam/Nairobi in 1998.
Most provocatively by far, my team warned about a 9/11 scenario involving airplane hijackings and a strike on the World Trade Center throughout the spring and summer of 2001. My CIA handler responded aggressively, ordering me to threaten Iraqi diplomats with War, in the event they failed to supply intelligence to thwart the attack.
If that wasn’t politically dangerous enough, I solicited Iraq’s cooperation with the 9/11 investigation—a cause Baghdad embraced enthusiastically. Oh yes, Iraq was one of our best sources on anti-terrorism throughout the ’90s. You didn’t know that either, did you?
If only I’d known Julian Assange.
A Time for Openness
For all of the political scolding, there comes a time when secrecy becomes its own greatest handicap in the ultimate game to protect global security. Informed consent creates power for the people to make better decisions that impact the welfare of the total community. Just like government leaders require a depth of information to guide them, the people require it, too—so they can provide better instructions to government leaders representing their interests.
Conversely, interrupting that flow of information robs the community of the power to make the wisest possible choices. That’s a major drawback of secrecy. There comes a point where secrecy compromises the community’s capability to evaluate events and trends, in order to protect its own best interests. Politicians are loath to admit that, not surprisingly. They’re most often the ones invoking secrecy as a method of hiding the incompetence of their policies. Lately, that’s become a serious problem in Washington, as elected leaders try to dodge voters’ questions.
That’s not just lip service, tragically. Three examples prove my point most painfully, that a wider breadth of knowledge for the people would have substantially improved their ability to shape government policy, with better outcomes for national security.
Exposing the failure of anti-terrorism policy
The first is obvious: My team’s 9/11 warnings.
Of course the intelligence community anticipated the 9/11 attacks! EXTREME PREJUDICE reveals the whole context of our 9/11 warnings from May, 2001 onwards. It infuriates me that any politician would dare to deny it! Political fraud like that dishonors the community—and the dead.
Worst of all, people know the government lied, and that has festered like a wound in the American heart. People have lost confidence in our leaders’ capability to speak truthfully because of 9/11—and that hurts the fabric of our democracy. It particularly offends Americans to recognize that politicians could be so cynical as to demagogue the issue for personal attention, and then use secrecy and intelligence classifications to prevent the electorate from adequately evaluating their leadership performance on anti-terrorism overall.
If government honestly makes mistakes, they could be forgiven. But when the government actively creates a patchwork of deception to thwart public knowledge, though they clearly see they have created a crisis in the psyche of our nation, in my opinion, they have no business occupying positions of leadership at all.
It’s serious reason why, despite my life amidst such black secrecy, I would have told Julian Assange everything, so that somebody could give that information to the people honestly. All of America and the world community would have rested easier for having that truth.
Not only did the government lie about the 9/11 warnings, in my opinion as a participant, the 9/11 investigation was thwarted at every turn—mostly to conceal offers of assistance from Baghdad. Saddam’s government offered a windfall of intelligence on terrorism, including financial records on Al Qaeda figures. And the U.S. refused to take it, amounting to false promises and false leadership on a matter of genuine importance to national security.
If only I had known Julian Assange. The world could have accepted the same documents that Tony Blair and George Bush spurned.
Unhappily, the government’s decision to leave that terrorist money in play—mostly from global heroin trafficking—stands out as the single most dangerous decision in the War on Terrorism. That money is being deployed as a weapon in conflicts all over the world today—from Yemen and Indonesia to India, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Yet thanks to our great secrecy laws, the public has lacked the necessary information to challenge that decision to forego Iraq’s financial records on Al Qaeda figures. Instead, the American people have bought into the myth of outstanding leadership performance in the fight against terrorism, without ever knowing if it’s true.
Here we come to the third and most tragic example of abusive secrecy that I discuss in great depth in EXTREME PREJUDICE. Forced to rely on the government’s word of honor before the War, the public failed to discover a range of non-military options dealing with Iraq, which required no deployment of troops, whatsoever.
The corporate media has never reported the existence of our comprehensive peace framework, so even the most sophisticated opinion leaders have no comprehension that the U.S. and Britain could easily have resolved their conflicts with Iraq, without firing a single missile or killing a single Iraqi child.
Oh, politicians in Washington were thoroughly debriefed on all its components, developed in a two year period before the War, and faithfully reported to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in 11 progress reports on the success of our back channel. Andy Card happened to be my second cousin. For all of their denials afterwards, members of Congress in both parties understood that the peace option was rock solid to the very last days before the invasion.
If only I’d known Julian Assange– Empowering the global community with knowledge of the choices and options for peace in the Iraqi conflict would have given the people more power to compel the U.S. and British governments to accept the will of the people.
Unfortunately, there was no Julian Assange. I had to trust in formal channels to raise these points on Capitol Hill. And I quickly saw proof their bad faith. Thirty days after I phoned the offices of Senate leaders, John McCain and Trent Lott, requesting to testify before Congress, I awoke to find FBI agents pounding on my front door, with a warrant for my arrest on the Patriot Act—a frightening arsenal of secret charges, secret evidence, secret grand jury testimony, and secret attorney debriefings.
Because there was no Julian Assange to expose these major deceptions, I got locked in prison on a Texas military base, while politicians in Washington and London reinvented the story of Pre-War Intelligence—focusing blame onto my shoulders as the “incompetent” Asset who failed to correct mistakes in pre-War assumptions. I watched it all on prison television.
In the absence of public knowledge, politicians manipulated silence and secrecy to their own advantage. They abused secrecy classifications to prevent the public from discovering their own weakness and policy mistakes.
Without public examination of their actual performance, they continued to promote policies, which have caused grave harm to American security, and perhaps most ironically of all, undermined the War on Terrorism. Voters have been denied the fundamental right to hold leaders accountable for their actions and decision making, which is critical to the well being of democracy.
And all because there was no Julian Assange to help protect American soldiers from easily avoidable battle deployments, triple tours of duty, amputations, head injuries, paralysis, and post traumatic stress disorder.
There was no Julian Assange to expose opportunities for peace that would have saved Iraqi families and children from an onslaught of suicide bombings, sectarian warfare, starvation, and the loss of their future.
There was no Julian Assange to guarantee that non-military options for anti-terrorism would be used to maximum impact for the world community—reducing terrorism and closing down the cash pipeline without water boarding, rendition, Guantanamo, wasteful wars, or seizing Islamic charitable donations.
Nobody could stop leaders in Washington and London from lying to all of us pretty much non-stop. Nobody could expose the fraud of using secrecy and the aura of intelligence to undercut national security at all levels.
The world is not better off today because secrecy won out over accountability. Global security is weaker not stronger. An organ vital to a healthy system of governance has been cut down.
And so perhaps you can understand why I shake my head alarmed over the attacks on Wiki-leaks and Julian Assange by those who pretend to defend national security, those who, in promoting their own self interests, have selfishly undermined the foundation of national security for all countries for the foreseeable future.
If only there’d been a Julian Assange, the world would have been spared so much pain. Life would have turned out differently for all of us. If only.
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