John Peter Hannah (born January 5, 1962), a senior aide on national security to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. He is on loan to Cheney's office from the office of John Bolton. Prior to this appointment, Hannah was part of the vice president's national security staff for more than four years and played a major role in corralling intelligence that the Bush administration used to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq. He previously served in the State Department's Office of Arms Control and International Security, alongside Undersecretary John Bolton, and in the State Department during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Hannah is believed to be a subject of the Valerie Plame investigation.
Hannah is a graduate of Duke University and Yale University Law School. Hannah and his wife Laura joined Temple Sinai, Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2006. Hannah's father was an oil executive working for Shell in the 60's and 70's. The Hannah family was stationed in Libya before Qaddafy came to power and nationalized the oil industry. They returned to the US and lived in Huntington, NY, for several years before moving to Bahrain. They moved back to the US in the late 70s. Hannah graduated from Huntington High School in 1980.
On October 31, 2005, Hannah was appointed National Security Advisor to Cheney. At the same time, Cheney appointed another Duke alumnus, David S. Addington. The two took over duties previously held by Lewis "Scooter" Libby who was indicted October 28, 2005.
Israel Lobby Connection
Hannah formerly served as the deputy director of the Israel Lobby think-tank, Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has also worked closely with other neocon hawks, Lewish Libby, Elliot Abrams and David Wurmser. Hannah served on the 2000 Presidential Study Group that examined U.S. policy in the Middle East, along with a number of prominent thinkers and government officials. The group's report, “Navigating Through Turbulence: America and the Middle East in a New Century,” was criticized by some as “pro-Israeli” and has been widely cited as the basis for some Bush administration Mideast policies.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Hannah worked closely with Libby, who was part of an informal White House team called the “White House Iraq Group,” which was tasked with culling information about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (Washington Post, October 20, 2005). The Libby-Hannah team produced a 48-page draft for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's now-infamous 2003 speech at the United Nations in which he used erroneous evidence to justify invading Iraq. According to commentator Robert Dreyfuss, Powell regarded the draft to be “so extreme” that he “trashed the entire document.”
Hannah was also a main liaison between the vice president's office and the Iraqi National Congress (INC) headed by Ahmed Chalabi, a leading Iraqi exile. Chalabi was a close confidant of many neoconservative figures in and out of government prior to the 2003 Iraq War and was accused of feeding false information to the Bush administration regarding Saddam Hussein's weapons programs (New York Times, October 30, 2005). The INC's other main contact was Undersecretary of Defense William Luti, who headed the Defense Department's much-maligned Office of Special Plans (OSP). Under the direction of senior Defense Department staff, including Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary Douglas Feith, OSP provided much of the since-discredited evidence that supposedly linked Iraq to al-Qaida and detailed Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (New Yorker, May 12, 2003).
Iraqi National Congress and Chalabi
Hannah is currently under investigation by U.S. authorities for his alleged activities in an intelligence program run by the controversial Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi.
"According to a Newsweek article," they wrote, "a memo written for the Iraqi National Congress (INC) raised questions regarding Cheney’s role in the build up to the war in Iraq. During the lead up to the war, Newsweek asserts, the INC was providing intelligence on the now discredited Iraqi WMD program through Hannah and I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff.
"'A June 2002 memo written by INC lobbyist Entifadh Qunbar to a U.S. Senate committee lists John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, as one of two 'U.S. governmental recipients' for reports generated by an intelligence program being run by the INC and which was then being funded by the State Department. Under the program, 'defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed'; the info was then reported to, among others, 'appropriate governmental, non-governmental and international agencies.' The memo not only describes Cheney aide Hannah as a 'principal point of contact' for the program, it even provides his direct White House telephone number.'
"'…Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, were the two Cheney employees,' We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,' one federal law-enforcement officer told" Newsweek, Alexandrovna and Leopold wrote.
On February 11, Hannah was sourced by the Washington Post as having said "during a recent meeting that the administration considers 2007 'the year of Iran'" and indicating "that a U.S. attack was a real possibility."  Soon after his promotion, Hannah, along with Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, and National Security Council Deputy Adviser Elliott Abrams, conducted high-level, strategic meetings with Israeli officials regarding “the Iranian government's growing radicalization and its irresponsible policy on nuclear issues” (State Department, November 29, 2005). Hannah is among the hardliners on Iran within the vice president's office. When Tehran refused to suspend its uranium enrichment operations in August 2006, Hannah insisted on a firm U.S. response, arguing that anything less risked “allowing Iran's response to appear reasonable” (New York Times, August 25, 2006).
Hannah may be the "senior cooperating witness" who is the "secret snitch" providing evidence to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald for his investigation into who exposed the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
"Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said," UPI's Richard Sale wrote February 5, 2004.
"According to these sources," Sale said, "John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, were the two Cheney employees. 'We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,' one federal law-enforcement officer said."
Resources and articles
- ^Karen DeYoung, U.S. Keeps Pressure on Iran But Decreases Saber Rattling Washington Post, 11 February 2007
- Yoram Ettinger, "Cheney Shines in Israel," Ynet, March 20, 2002.
- Richard Sale, "Cheney's Staff Focus of Probe," UPI (Common Dreams), February 5, 2004.
- Juan Cole, "John Hannah Allegedly Focus of Plame Probe," Informed Comment, February 7, 2004.
- Jim Lobe, "The day Cheney was rocked to the core," Asia Times, February 7, 2004.
- William Rivers Pitt, "A NOC at Bush's Door," Liberal Slant, February 26, 2004.
- Mary, "The Neocon Circle Closes," The Left Coaster, May 23, 2004.
- Jim Lobe, "Neo-cons: Around the world in seven steps," Asia Times (MiddleEast.org), November 16, 2004.
- Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff, "Exclusive: Cheney and the ‘Raw’ Intelligence," Newsweek, December 15, 2004 (issue).
- James Gordon Meek, Thomas M. DeFrank, and Kenneth R. Bazinet "Cheney may be target of probe," New York Daily News, October 18, 2005.
- "The Architects of War: Where Are They Now?" Think Progress, July 2007.