Get Ready for the RiceHadley Strategy Group

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Zachary Roth
of TPMmuckraker had some great news on Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley, Rice And Hadley Look Set To Launch Consulting Firm | November 11, 2009, 3:18PM:

“Two top Bush administration officials whose reputations for strategic acumen were badly damaged by the disasters of the Bush years may be about to market their expertise to private-sector clients.

In September, the RiceHadley Group LLC was registered as a business in California, under a San Francisco address. According to a source, the venture is to be a “strategic consulting” firm, headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and will be launched imminently.”

Possible company slogans and other advice also offered for free at TPM comments!

In a statement to TPMmuckraker, Rice’s chief of staff, Colby Cooper, said:

“Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, along with Anja Manuel, have recently founded a small strategic advisory firm focused on helping U.S. companies doing business abroad — especially in key emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and others. In addition, Dr. Rice remains on the faculty of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution.”

Anja Manuel
was a former aide to former “P”, Nick Burns and currently counsel in WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department.

Al Kamen of WaPo points out that RiceHadley is just “the latest big-time entrants in the endless battle of the groups — as in the Kissinger Group, the Scowcroft Group, the Chertoff Group (with former CIA director Mike Hayden) and so many other strategery outfits.” (links added)

He forgot to mention the Albright Stonebridge Group of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Security Advisor Samuel Berger that merged this past July.

Um what? Are you complaining that we have too many of these folks around? Excuse me – but can you imagine just how boring Washington would be without the strategerist …

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Peter Galbraith in the News Again

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Peter Galbraith was thrown under the bus over the Afghan election in late September. Last week, Nate Jones over at the Unredacted Blog of the National Security Archive blogged about their “hot doc,” released by the Department of State to Archive analyst William Ferroggiaro on 22 June 2004; it features Galbraith who was then US Ambassador to Croatia.

“This 1994 State Department cable
, penned by then US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, described as “MUST READ” by its cover letter, was disseminated to White House personnel. Galbraith reported that the criteria for genocide, as defined by the Geneva Convention, were being met in the three-party war raging in the former Yugoslavia.” Click here on how to decipher a State Department cable.

On November 11, NYT published U.S. Adviser to Kurds Stands to Reap Oil Profits:

Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution — tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.

Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.

The Editors of NYT are none too happy about this. On November 12, it also published an Editors’ Note:

Like other writers for the Op-Ed page, Mr. Galbraith signed a contract that obligated him to disclose his financial interests in the subjects of his articles. Had editors been aware of Mr. Galbraith’s financial stake, the Op-Ed page would have insisted on disclosure or not published his articles.

Last night, Galbraith spoke openly about the issue at an appearance at the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Brattleboro Reformer reported that Galbraith spoke to a large crowd regarding the recent elections and future American involvement in Afghanistan, where he served as the deputy special representative to the United Nations. The conversation reportedly shifted quickly to the new reports of his business interests in Kurdistan. Excerpts below:

Defending his business decisions, Galbraith said “I actually find the article quite, well, it is full of innuendo. If you read the facts [with the implications and innuendo], I find [it] offensive.”
In August 2005, Galbraith said he was asked by the Kurds to advise them on a permanent constitution, even after they were aware of his business interests with foreign oil companies. With the Kurdish political leaders controlling their own oil industry, it provides them an economic base for the people, a goal Galbraith said he always supported.

“I gave them advice and the end result that they achieved was identical to what was already proposed in February 2004,” he said. “Now, it’s true that people in Baghdad may disagree with that, people in Washington may disagree with that, but there’s no conflict there. The advice I was giving and the economic interest were exactly, exactly congruent.”

If you talk to a majority of the Kurdish people, they say the oil under their feet is a curse because it has given former Iraqi leaders the financial means to kill them, said Galbraith. By having their own natural resources, the Kurds have a vehicle to defend themselves against future attacks, he added.

“I make no apologies for my role here … at that time, I was a private citizen. Private citizens engage in business, that’s what I did.”

Read the whole thing here.

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Jumping the Gunman

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From ProPublica by Stephen Engelberg | November 12, 2009 2:11 pm EST. Republished under Creative Commons license.

The recent reporting on Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, is a classic run-and-gun investigative story in which dozens of reporters badger officials to disclose a new fact (which gets you on page one) or two new facts (which is enough to snag the coveted lead-of-the-paper slot on a slow day). This wolf-pack approach to reporting almost invariably produces stories that lack context, which is hardly surprising.

After all, reporters are telling a complex story by unveiling the key aspects as they learn them. It’s roughly akin to taking scenes from say, the three “Godfather movies” and spitting out them out as YouTube videos in random order. Good luck to anyone trying to follow the plot.

On the Hasan story, one of the earliest newsbreaks seems, at least so far, to be among the least clear.

About a year ago, U.S. intelligence intercepted messages sent by Hasan to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical imam in Yemen. A task force of counterterrorism officials reviewed those messages , determined they were benign —consistent with work-related research Hasan was doing — and never contacted anyone in the military familiar with Hasan’s record in the military.

Newspapers, Web sites and TV all gave huge play to the story. But what was anyone expecting the government to do about someone who exchanged e-mails or text messages with a known bad guy? Seize his legally obtained gun? Remove him from his job? Arrest him as a material witness to a crime not yet committed?

Last night, NPR provided some context in an exclusive story on “All Things Considered.” Daniel Zwerdling reported that Hasan’s supervisors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center had become increasingly worried that their young resident was losing touch with reality and might be psychotic and a danger to himself or others. They weighed firing Hasan, decided that would be too difficult, and sent him off to Fort Hood without a formal mental health evaluation.

Now, the intercepted messages story has more meaning.

Remember the contacts between Hasan and the Yemeni cleric? They are reported to have occurred in December 2008, which appears to be the same time as Walter Reed doctors were wondering whether Hasan might be capable of what NPR termed “fratricide.”

The terrorism task force that reviewed the potential threat posed by Hasan looked at his personnel files. But they never knew of the doctors’ concerns, because as, The New York Times reported today, the doctors didn’t add them to his file.

Had the Federal Bureau of Investigation spoken to his supervisors – an idea that raises a host of civil liberties and privacy questions – the assessment of the danger he posed might have been different. But the available facts suggest that no one knew the full picture, which meant no one could start “connecting the dots.’’

The reader faces a similar challenge as the Hasan story unfolds in the coming months.

Here’s something to keep in mind: It is a long-established rule for reporting that the first accounts of any military action are frequently wrong. A corollary: The initial reports in a run-and-gun investigative story seldom age well. Remember the hero female cop who shot Hasan? Well, maybe she did and maybe she didn’t. And the purported view of Walter Reed officials that Hasan might be a threat? Shortly after the NPR story aired, the Washington Post asserted the possibility that Hasan might be “delusional” was never taken seriously and addressed by his supervisors only “in passing.’’

Stay tuned.

Stephen Engelberg is managing editor of ProPublica.