He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court.
He prepared briefs for Dick Cheney...
'Briefs' must not mean the same thing in Blighty that it does here. A large brain bleach, please...
He soon discovered, however, that senior officials in government were taking quite the opposite view: they were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan's ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology. In the closing years of the cold war, Pakistan was considered to have great strategic importance. It provided Washington with a springboard into neighbouring Afghanistan - a route for passing US weapons and cash to the mujahideen, who were battling to oust the Soviet army that had invaded in 1979. Barlow says, "We had to buddy-up to regimes we didn't see eye-to-eye with, but I could not believe we would actually give Pakistan the bomb.
How could any US administration set such short-term gains against the long-term safety of the world?" Next he discovered that the Pentagon was preparing to sell Pakistan jet fighters that could be used to drop a nuclear bomb.
Barlow was relentless in exposing what he saw as US complicity, and in the end he was sacked and smeared as disloyal, mad, a drunk and a philanderer. If he had been listened to, many believe Pakistan might never have got its nuclear bomb; south Asia might not have been pitched into three near-nuclear conflagrations; and the nuclear weapons programmes of Iran, Libya and North Korea - which British and American intelligence now acknowledge were all secretly enabled by Pakistan - would never have got off the ground. "None of this need have happened," Robert Gallucci, special adviser on WMD to both Clinton and George W Bush, told us. "The vanquishing of Barlow and the erasing of his case kicked off a chain of events that led to all the nuclear-tinged stand-offs we face today. Pakistan is the number one threat to the world, and if it all goes off - a nuclear bomb in a US or European city- I'm sure we will find ourselves looking in Pakistan's direction."
When these neocons came to power in 2001, under President George W Bush, Pakistan was indemnified again, this time in return for signing up to the "war on terror". Condoleezza Rice backed the line, as did Rumsfeld, too. Pakistan, although suspected by all of them to be at the epicentre of global instability, was hailed as a friend. All energies were devoted to building up the case against Iraq.
[...]Everyone started shouting. General Einsel screamed, 'Barlow doesn't know what he's talking about.' Solarz asked if there had been any other cases involving the Pakistan government and Einsel said, 'No'." Barlow recalls thinking, " 'Oh no, here we go again.' They asked me and I said, 'Yes, there have been scores of other cases.' "
The meeting broke up. Barlow was bundled into a CIA car that sped for Langley. It was a bad time to be the US's foremost expert on Pakistan's nuclear programme when the administration was desperate to prove it didn't exist. [...]
That woulda scared me shitless. See reference to 'briefs'. Barlow's lucky to be alive.
Later that year, Reagan would tell the US Congress: "There is no diminution in the president's commitment to restraining the spread of nuclear weapons in the Indian subcontinent or elsewhere."
The Pentagon officials who were responsible for Barlow's downfall would all be out of government by 1993, when Bill Clinton came into the White House. In opposition they began pursuing an aggressive political agenda, canvassing for war in Iraq rather than restraining nuclear-armed Pakistan. Their number now included Congressman Donald Rumsfeld, a former Republican defence secretary, and several others who would go on to take key positions under George Bush, including Richard Armitage, Richard Perle and John Bolton.
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz headed the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which concluded in July 1998 that the chief threat - far greater than the CIA and other intelligence agencies had so far reported - was posed by Iran, Iraq and North Korea: the future Axis of Evil powers. Pakistan was not on the list, even though just two months earlier it had put an end to the dissembling by detonating five nuclear blasts in the deserts of Balochistan.
Contrary advice was not welcome. And Bush's team set about dismantling the government agency that was giving the most trouble - the State Department's Nonproliferation Bureau. Norm Wulf, who recently retired as deputy assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation, told us: "They met in secret, deciding who to employ, displacing career civil servants with more than 30 years on the job in favour of young, like-thinking people, rightwingers who would toe the administration line." And the administration line was to do away with any evidence that pointed to Pakistan as a threat to global stability, refocusing all attention on Iraq.
[...] This time, with supporters of the Iraq war in retreat and with Pakistan, too, having lost many friends in Washington, Barlow hopes he will receive what he is due. "But this final hearing cannot indict any of those who hounded me, or misshaped the intelligence product," he says. "And it is too late to contain the flow of doomsday technology that Pakistan unleashed on the world."
· Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark are the authors of Deception: Pakistan, The United States And Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy, published later this month by Atlantic Books, £25.
Sounds swell, huh? Like ridin' a fast bike in the desert, I just hit the high spots with the quotes. Go read the rest. We are reaping our own whirlwind, instigated almost thirty years ago by one of Bush's predecessors in a long line of criminal Repuglican presidents.