September, 2003 The Rest of the PNAC Iceberg

Who Commissioned the PNAC
and Where Did They Come From?


Many of those who, in 1997, commissioned 'The Project for a New American Century' - Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and others - now play key roles in the administration of George W. Bush.

For decades they have been actively involved in planning the foreign and domestic policies that have been so quickly implemented by George W. Bush in his first term as President. They are radical right-wing ideologues who are the architects of extremist foreign and domestic policies - 'pre-emptive' military strikes, 'regime change', secret military tribunals, 'preventive detention' without due process, etc.

These policies turn the socio-political assumptions on which democratic states have traditionally been founded upside down. Repugnant deeds that were once relegated to clandestine military intelligence units and denied publicly are now openly planned, conducted, and celebrated: the unprovoked invasion of foreign lands, the assassination of foreign leaders, the use of highly questionable interrogation practices [1], and so on.

Who are these people?


According to Joseph Cirincione, Senior Asociate and Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the group that commissioned the PNAC is 'a well-organized, tight-knit group of people who have been working together for a long time'.[2] Since their inception in the early 1990s, delares William Rivers Pitt in an expose on the group, they have been agitating for war with Iraq.

'The names of every prominent PNAC member,' says Pitt, 'were on a letter delivered to President Clinton in 1998 which castigated him for not ... driving troops into Baghdad.' [3]

In another letter, an Open Letter to President George W. Bush published only twelve days after the 9-11 attacks, the group makes the following declaration:

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein 'is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….' It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. [Original located at: http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm

Who, exactly, are these people? Where did they come from?

The members of the PNAC include:

  • Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the PNAC founders, who served as Secretary of Defense for Bush Sr.;
  • I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's top national security assistant;  [4].
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, also a founding member, along with four of his chief aides including -
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, arguably the ideological father of the group;
  • Eliot Abrams, prominent member of Bush's National Security Council, who was pardoned by Bush Sr. in the Iran/Contra scandal;
  • John Bolton, who serves as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the Bush administration;
  • Richard Perle, former Reagan administration official and present chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board;
  • Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, who was Trent Lott's national security aide and who served as an advisor to Rumsfeld on Iraq in 2001;
  • Bruce Jackson, Chairman of PNAC, a position he took after serving for years as vice president of weapons manufacturer Lockheed-Martin, and who also headed the Republican Party Platform subcommittee for National Security and Foreign Policy during the 2000 campaign. His section of the 2000 GOP Platform explicitly called for the removal of Saddam Hussein;
  • William Kristol, noted conservative writer for the Weekly Standard, a magazine owned along with the Fox News Network by conservative media mogul Ruppert Murdoch.
[From Blood Money By William Rivers Pitt, February 27, 2003. Pitt is a New York Times bestselling author of two books - "War On Iraq" (with Scott Ritter), Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available in May 2003 from Pluto Press.]

Like many other members of Bush's cabinet [5], these individuals played roles in the administrations of Reagan-Bush years.


Possible Study Materials:

1) Read what President Jimmy Carter had to say in a NY Times editorial he wrote on the 'profound changes [that] have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness': [6]

2) For more about PNAC group members [7] and their affiliations [8].

Use the drop-box available here to SEARCH on any one of 133 PNAC signatories. Also see Signatory Facts

3) For detailed information on the following PNAC signatories, many of whom are veterans of the Reagan Defense Department: Elliot Abrams, Special Assistant to the President; Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense; Zalmay Khalilzad: Special Assistant to the President; Paula Dobriansky: US Under Secretary of State; Francis Fukuyama: President's Council on Bioethics; Jeb Bush: Governor of Florida; William J. Bennett; Vin Weber; Steve Forbes; Aaron Friedberg; Frank Gaffney; Fred C Ikle; Stephen P Rosen; Henry S Rowen; George Weigel; and Elliot A Cohen, see [9]

4) Norman Podhoritz, a veteran neo-conservative who helped found the Committee on the Present Danger in the late 1970s, is also a signator of the PNAC. He was a founding member of the Committee for the Free World in the early 1980s. Podhoritz's wife, Midge Dexter, co-chaired this organization with Donald Rumsfeld. [10]

5) In 1993, Noam Chomsky wrote about a document that is now considered by many to be a precursor to the PNAC, Wolfowitz's infamous 1992 Pentagon draft of of a document called 'Defense Planning Guidance', which was leaked to the press. In 1992, Bush Senior, who had recently proclaimed the advent of 'a new world order', was President of the United States. Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense, and Paul Wolfowitz was Undersecretary for Policy. Lewis Libby, PNAC member who is now Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney, played a prominent role in the development of this document:

Libby is particularly associated with the report 'Defense Planning Guidance' which he and Wolfowitz produced for the Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992. At the time, this report, which called for pre-emptive action against states developing weapons of mass destruction was seen as reckless and over-aggressive, but since September 11 the policy of pre-emption has become mainstream administration policy. [11] For more on this 1992 document: [12] For more on Libby's involvement in the production of this document: [13]

6) Read about Leo Strauss, who some have called 'the father of the neo-conservative (PNAC) ideology':

[Adherents of Strauss] argued that Strauss's idea of hidden meaning, 'alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.' [14]
Learn about how 'Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss' [15]

Among leading Strauss disciples:

Paul Wolfowitz, a personal protége of Kojève student Allan Bloom; Rupert Murdoch-bankrolled neo-con propagandist William Kristol; Pentagon disinformation czar Abram Shulsky; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Attorney General John Ashcroft; Project for the New American Century director Gary Schmitt (he and Shulsky co-authored a paean to Strauss, titled 'Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence' which trashed CIA National Intelligence Board founder Sherman Kent); and 'World War IV' propagandist Robert Kagan.[16]

The main points of Strauss's philosophy: [17] On 'Leo Strauss's Platonism':[18]

COUNTERPUNCH articles on Strauss and the PNAC:[19][20]