Ron Suskind has a new book coming out called: "The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism"
It has some explosive information about the White House's plan to forge documents to persuade the American public that we should attack Iraq. This is incredible stuff. Suskind appeared on the TODAY show and gave his first interview about it...He says it's "one of the great lies in modern political history."
George "Slam dunk" Tenet denied the report, but there's this Sunday Telegraph article that describes what happened. Worse than Watergate.
I've used notes from CBS's Dan Raviv to highlight the action:
His new book THE WAY OF THE WORLD is about the war on terrorism and the Bush Administration since 9/11 and especially since invading Iraq in March '03. (You can easily Google details of the alleged letter from "Habbush" to Saddam Hussein dated July 1, 2001, which says (future) 9/11 hijacker was trained in Baghdad, AND that Iraq received shipments from Niger.) [..]
The book reports (or charges) that the Bush White House faked a letter from Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief to President Saddam in late 2003, backdating it to July 2001 and reports that Saddam's intelligence chief (Habbush) was in the protective custody of the C.I.A. at the time-- even while the U.S. military had him in the "deck of cards," a list of Saddam officials wanted dead-or-alive. The White House ordered the C.I.A. to arrange for Habbush to write the fake letter in his own handwriting. The controversial letter did find itself to the world media in December '03.
Habbush was in the deck of cards -- the (approx. 50) Saddam officials wanted dead-or-alive by the U.S. after the March 2003 invasion -- while in reality he was in C.I.A. protection. And in October 2003, Habbush was paid $5 million by the C.I.A. AFTER the C.I.A. asked Habbush to write -- in his own handwriting and in a convincing way -- the note that the White House suggested.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph in December '03 caused a sensation by reporting the discovery in Baghdad of that letter... and a few days later NEWSWEEK reported strong doubts that the letter was genuine. Among other things, experts wondered, why would Saddam's intel chief write about both Atta & nuclear material in the same letter?
Exact quotes from pp. 369-372 of Suskind's book are in bold print below:
In the months before the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq, British intelligence had secret meetings in Amman, Jordan, with Habbush, chief of Saddam's intelligence network. Habbush demanded a safe way out, if-and-when the U.S. invaded. Habbush repeatedly told the British that Saddam had no WMD; all programs had ended in the 1990's; and the book says the Bush White House didn't want to hear it - and didn't want to hear more reports on what Habbush was saying.
The U.S. invaded in March '03. Habbush was ready. He slipped out of Baghdad with the help of U.S. intelligence and into Amman...
In October '03, CIA paid Habbush $5 million as part of his resettlement. By then, the White House had finally thought of a way to use Habbush. ... The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq -- thus showing, finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda... The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda's assistance. The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationery, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media.
Even five years later, (Rob Richer, who worked in CIA for 30 years and was in charge of "clandestine ops" in the Middle East--now working as an executive at Blackwater USA and in line to be CEO of Blackwater according to this book) remembers looking down at the creamy White House stationery on which the assignment was written. "The guys from the Vice President's office were just barraging us in this period with one thing after another: Run down this lead, find out about that. It was nonstop. Of course, this was different. This was creating a deception." Richer passed the directive down the chain, to the Iraq Operations Group. ((IOG was a CIA team co-led by John Maguire, clearly also a source for Suskind))
..."When it was discussed with me, I just thought it was incredible," Maguire recalls. "A box-checking of all outstanding issues in one letter, from one guy."
...Suskind is NOT able to report exactly how it was done, whether Habbush himself definitely did it, but reports what you can find through Google searches: The Sunday Telegraph reported the letter; it caused a sensation. Suskind does report that Richer remembers George Tenet passing to him the White House's orders to concoct that letter. Suskind asserts that it's an apparently illegal act, to forge or concoct that fake letter to Saddam.:
Under a 1991 amendment to the statutes that in 1947 created CIA and that govern its actions, there is a passage that reads, "No covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media." The operation created by the White House and passed to the CIA seems inconsistent with those statutory requirements. ...It is not the sort of offense that brings jail time. It is much broader than that... the sort of thing generally taken up in impeachment proceedings."
An excellent job by Dan Raviv. All this makes you wonder how the outing of Valerie Plame must have really pissed off the CIA, doesn't it? This is just an observation, but if they wanted to plant the evidence, it normally would have been done a little better than this. Remember the Italian reporter that refused to print the Niger yellowcake connection to Iraq because she thought it was a forgery?
The Guardian is reporting that Italian intelligence warned the United States about bogus information on Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions at about the time President Bush cited them as a crucial reason for invading Iraq, an Italian parliamentarian said yesterday.
Oh, and I almost forgot this C&L post for more context: The Italian Letter:
I just cracked it open, but Jonathan Schwarz has been reading it and finds:
"Goodman thanked Foley for addressing the students and asked him what weapons of mass destruction he believed would be found after the invasion. "Not much, if anything," Goodman recalled that Foley responded. Foley declined to be interviewed for this book"
So why, then, would WINPAC report that Iraq had WMD? Here's the answer (p. 119):
One day in December 2002, Foley called his senior production managers to his office. He had a clear message for the men and women who controlled the output of the center's analysts: "If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so." The directive was not quite an order to cook the books, but it was a strong suggestion that cherry-picking and slanting not only would be tolerated, but might even be rewarded…read on