He was the CIA's expert on
's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a Pakistan cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report. US
He prepared briefs for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was at the Pentagon, for the upper echelons of the CIA and even for the Oval Office. But when he uncovered a political scandal - a conspiracy to enable a rogue nation to get the nuclear bomb - he found himself a marked man.
In the late 80s, in the course of tracking down smugglers of WMD components, Barlow uncovered reams of material that related to
. It was known the Islamic Republic had been covertly striving to acquire nuclear weapons since Pakistan 's explosion of a device in 1974 and the prospect terrified the west - especially given the instability of a nation that had had three military coups in less than 30 years . Straddling deep ethnic, religious and political fault-lines, it was also a country regularly rocked by inter-communal violence. " India was the kind of place where technology could slip out of control," Barlow says. Pakistan
Barlow was relentless in exposing what he saw as
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. US is the number one threat to the world, and if it all goes off - a nuclear bomb in a Pakistan or European city- I'm sure we will find ourselves looking in US 's direction." Pakistan
Even with Barlow out of the picture, there were still analysts in
- and in the Bush administration - who were wary of Washington . They warned that al-Qaida had a natural affinity with Pakistan , geographically and religiously, and that its affiliates were seeking nuclear weapons. Some elements of the Pakistan military were sympathetic and in place to help. But those arguing that Pakistan posed the highest risk were isolated. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were in the ascendant, and they returned to the old agenda, lobbying for a war in Pakistan and, in a repeat of 1981 and the Reagan years, signed up Iraq as the key ally in the war against terror. Pakistan
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.
The same tactics used to disgrace Barlow and discredit his evidence were used again in 2003, this time against Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador whom the Bush administration had sent to Africa with a mission to substantiate the story that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material to manufacture WMD. When Wilson refused to comply, he found himself the subject of a smear campaign, while his wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA agent. Libby would subsequently be jailed for leaking Plame's identity (although released on a presidential pardon). Plame and Wilson's careers and marriage would survive. Barlow and his wife, Cindy's, would not - and no one would be held to account. Until now.
When the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress in 2006, Barlow's indefatigable lawyers sensed an opportunity, lodging a compensation claim on Capitol Hill that is to be heard later this month. 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."
Friday, October 19, 2007
What happens to those who speak the truth
How many stories are out there like Rich Barlow's?: (Via Kenosha Kid of The Kenosha Kid's Blog)