Top Secret US Government Documents about Iraq

By Fabius Maximus

February 11, 2006

With comments by DNI’s Counterintelligence Editor, James Jesus Angleton (CIA, Ret.), who hacked into this page from his secret offsite location.

[DNI Editor's note:  I hadn't heard from Angleton in a while so I assumed that reports of his passing were true.  Several of my Agency contacts, however, assure me that this would not have stopped him from hacking into Fabius Maximus's document.  I will provide DNI visitors with further information as it becomes available.]

I interrupt my series of articles about Grand Strategy for this special report. At great effort and expense I have obtained secret documents from the US Government about the Iraq War. Although too secret to release the full contents, I make these excerpts available so that the American people will better understand this historic event.

Observations from Zalmay Khalilzad, US Ambassador to Iraq

"... there seems to be a national attribute which makes for factionalism and limits the development of a truly national spirit. Whether this tendency is innate or a development growing out of the conditions of political suppression under which successive generations have lived is hard to determine. But it is an inescapable fact that there is no national tendency toward team play or mutual loyalty to be found among many of the leaders and political groups within Iraq. Given time, many of these attitudes will undoubtedly change for the better, but we are unfortunately pressed for time and unhappily perceive no short-term solution for the establishment of stable and sound government. ...

"The ability of the insurgents continuously to rebuild their units and make good their losses is one of the mysteries of this guerrilla war ... Not only do the insurgents have the recuperative powers of the phoenix, but they have an amazing ability to maintain morale. Only in rare cases have we found evidence of bad morale among prisoners or recorded in captured documents ... "

Angleton here:  Fabius Maximus is an idiot – this is not about Iraq, nor from Ambassador Khalilzad.  It’s a quote from David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest. Max Taylor (General USA, Ret.), US Ambassador to Vietnam, wrote the above in a 1964 memo that I remember well.

That it applies so well after 30 years to another war demonstrates the US Government’s inability to learn from experience a crippling disadvantage in a 4GW era – and a symptom of its deeply dysfunctional institutions.

Role of President Bush and Secretary of State Powell in running the War

Dealing with the military, the President learned, was an awesome thing. The failure of their estimates along the way, point by point, meant nothing. It did not follow, as one might expect, that their credibility was diminished and that there was now less pressure from them, but the reverse. … Once activated they would soon dominate the play. Their power with the Hill and with journalists, their stronger hold on patriotic-machismo arguments (in decision making they proposed the manhood positions, their opponents the softer, sissy, positions), their particular certitude, make them far more power players then those raising doubts. …

These years show how when a question of the use of force arose in government, the advocates of force were always better organized, seemed more numerous and seemed to have both logic and fear on their side, and that in fending them off in his own government, a President needed all the help he possibly could get, not the least a powerful Secretary of State. …

What we have instead is a forceful, determined, hard-working, intelligent man who was in charge of the political aspects of American policy, and he would have made a very great Secretary of Defense, it was his natural constituency.

Angleton again: Despite the eerie similarity to Iraq, it’s also about Vietnam. This is another quote from The Best and the Brightest. The similarities between these two Secretaries of State, Rusk and Powell, highlight the pitiful condition of the State Department. Formerly the senior of the Executive agencies, now merely lawyers for the military. I can tell you that I saw it coming.

Importance of a Strong Secretary of Defense, like Donald Rumsfeld. 

He can handle the military. Washington is filled with stories of him browbeating the military, forcing them to reconsider, taking their pet projects away from them. As his reputation dims and the defense budget grows (it is not just the war, it is other projects as well), suspicion grows that he had in no real way handled the military, but rather, that he has brought them kicking and screaming to the zenith of their power.

Perhaps he controlled the military only as long as we were not in a real war, and that the best way for civilians to harness generals is to stay out of wars.

Me again:  This was written about Robert Strange McNamara in the 1960s, not Donald H. Rumsfeld in the 21st century. It’s another quote from the same book. How astonishing that Rumsfeld – tough, determined, experienced – could make military reform his primary goal and fail so utterly. Not a good sign for the future!


These documents tell us much about the Iraq War. We can draw the following twelve inferences:

  1. It is clearly imperative that

I’m deleting these absurdities, and substituting some useful advice. (I wish I could have done this to Director Helms's memos).

First, investigate this guy writing as Fabius Maximus. Operating under a pseudonym makes me suspicious. That Barnett person may be on to something.

Second, carefully read Maximus's articles on Grand Strategy. Like all of you reading this, he knows nothing about counterintelligence. But the above excerpts show that America needs to do some serious thinking about Grand Strategy.

Last, I recommend that all future articles on DNI about intelligence matters require the prior approval of the DNI Counterintelligence Editor. You can contact me if you try.

These stories make me feel right at home, nostalgic for the old days. When it comes to the American Government, the more things change …

[DNI Editor's note:  Back in August, 2005, columnist Michael Ledeen reported contacting Angleton via ouija board, Fabius Maximus dimly recalls this episode.]

Who was James Angleton?

James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987) was Director of Counterintelligence at the CIA. He was America’s greatest-ever counterintelligence expert, unless he was a KGB agent or more charitably, a victim of its counter-counterintelligence operations. We might never know which is true, and all may have have been. 

"Counterintelligence" is that branch of intelligence that tries to penetrate and counter or disrupt the other side's intelligence activities. It has the responsibility for uncovering foreign agents within the CIA, for example, and for investigating people who are in the process of being recruited as spies to ensure that they are not double agents.   It does not have the job of keeping unwanted intrusions out of CIA HQ in Langley - that belongs to the Office of Security.

For a very entertaining - if fictionalized - look at Angleton and the business of intelligence during the Cold War, DNI recommends The Company, by Robert Littell (2002).

Who was Fabius Maximus?

Fabius Maximus was the Roman leader who saved Rome from Hannibal by recognizing its weakness, the need to conserve and regenerate. He turned from the easy path of macho “boldness” to the long, difficult path to rebuilding Rome’s strength and greatness. His life holds profound lessons for 21st Century America.

About the series of articles “Lessons on Grand Strategy – and the Fate of America”

There are few comprehensive proposals for a Grand Strategy for America in the Revolution in Military Affairs or 4th Generation War literature. This series presents an alternative to Barnett's "Pax America" vision. It is based on, and in a sense starts from, William Lind’s “Strategic Defense Initiative” originally published in The American Conservative, November 22, 2004.

Part One: The Myth of Grand Strategy
This describes the reasons why a developed state should choose a “humble” grand strategy, not an “ambitious” one.

Part Two: The Fate of Israel
Demonstrating the difficultly of distinguishing strong from weak in 4GW, and that choosing the wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state.

Watch DNI for Part Three: A Grand Strategy for America.
This looks at the US, describing how the US is weak in several vital dimensions. From this it follows that a strategy focused on defense is best, so we can conserve our strength and rebuild while we adapt to a this new era.

Part Four will describe the obstacles preventing America from developing and executing a grand strategy.

Qualifications of the Author? Read the past articles by Fabius Maximus.  A work of intellectual analysis stands on its own logic, supported by the author’s track record.