"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Monday, August 11, 2008

Congress to 'Review' Charges CIA Prepared Forged Iraq, 9/11 Letter


Massive US Armada Heads For Iran!

Folks Really Ought To Read This Carefully.

I just wonder how much the Judiciary Committee has to have before they bring the hammer down? Maybe they’re trying to find a way to grant themselves “Immunity from conspiratorial prosecution”.

The House Judiciary Committee will “review” allegations contained in a book published last week by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind that the Bush administration in late 2006 ordered the CIA to prepare a forged letter showing a link between Iraq, al-Qaeda and 9/11 to justify the U.S. invasion and ignored credible intelligence reports that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.

“Mr. Suskind reports that the Bush Administration, in its pursuit of war, created and promoted forged documents about Iraq," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers in a statement late Monday. “I am particularly troubled that the decision to disseminate this fabricated intelligence is alleged to have come from the highest reaches of the administration. The administration’s attempt to challenge Mr. Suskind’s reporting appears to have been effectively dismissed by the publication of the author’s interview recordings and transcripts. I have instructed my staff to conduct a careful review of Mr. Suskind’s allegations and the role played by senior administration officials in this matter.”

Conyers said his committee would also review other claims included in Suskind’s book, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, such as:

*The origin of the allegedly forged document that formed the basis for Bush’s 2003 State of the Union assertion that Iraq sought yellowcake uranium from Niger;

* The role of this document in creating the false impression that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had a working relationship with Iraq;

* The relationship between this document and other reported examples of the Bush Administration considering other deceptive schemes to justify or provoke war with Iraq, such as the reported consideration of painting a U.S. aircraft with UN colors in order to provoke Iraq into military confrontation;

* Allegations that the Bush Administration deliberately ignored information from Iraq’s chief intelligence officer that Iraq possessed no WMDs;

* The payment of $5 million to Iraq’s chief intelligence officer and his secret settlement in Jordan, beyond the reach of investigators;

* The September 2007 detainment and interrogation of Mr. Suskind’s research assistant, Greg Jackson, by federal agents in Manhattan. Jackson’s notes were also confiscated.

In the acknowledgements to his book, Suskind said Jackson, his research assistant was detained by federal agents and his notes confiscated but does not provide further detail about the episode.

The allegation that the administration ordered the CIA to prepare a forged letter is significant, according to Suskind, because it may constitute an impeachable offense.

The CIA is prohibited from conducting cover operations “intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media.”

“It is not the sort of offense, such as assault or burglary, that carries specific penalties, for example, a fine or jail time,” Suskind writes in his book. “It is much broader than that. It pertains to the White House’s knowingly misusing an arm of government, the sort of thing generally taken up in impeachment proceedings.”

Book Supports Impeachment Articles

The allegations in Suskind's book support charges leveled against President George W. Bush by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a former 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, who introduced articles of impeachment against the president in June for deceiving Congress into believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to get lawmakers to back a U.S.-led invasion of the country.

The articles of impeachment were introduced a few days after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a long-awaited report on prewar Iraq intelligence that concluded Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney knowingly misled the public and Congress about Iraq's links to al-Qaeda and the threat the country posed to the United States.

The House sidetracked Kucinich’s resolution by voting – 251-166 – to send it to the House Judiciary Committee. At the time, Kucinich said he expected Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to hold hearings within a 30-day deadline Kucinich had imposed, but Conyers chose not to act.

Rebuffing Kucinich’s calls for impeachment hearings, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony about Bush’s “imperial presidency” and several of his administration’s scandals during a daylong hearing three weeks ago. At the hearing, Kucinich ticked off numerous high crimes and misdemeanors Bush committed during his two-terms in office.

Last week, aides to Kucinich said the congressman is contemplating how best to proceed with his plan to have Congress hold impeachment hearings. Conyers has long been opposed to impeachment hearings. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has said impeachment is “off the table.”

Two weeks ago, Pelosi, a Democrat from California, appeared on the morning television program “The View” to promote her recently published book and told the show’s female hosts that she has yet to see evidence that President Bush committed high crimes and misdemeanors and that absence of such evidence was one reason she did not support impeachment.

The White House has vehemently denied the claims in Suskind’s book. In addition, the former CIA official at the center of the charges claiming the CIA forges a letter showing a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda said he was never informed that the interview he agreed to give the author was recorded.

Rob Richer, the CIA's former associate deputy director of operations, said in a lengthy statement Friday rebutting some of the more explosive charges in the book attributed to him that he plans to consult an attorney to determine whether he has a case against author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind for recording an interview with the ex-spy without his permission.

"It is clear that he did record some of our conversations – but at no time did he inform me that he was doing so or seek my permission," Richer said in a statement. "I plan to consult counsel about the legality of his action."

Suskind was unavailable to comment on Richer's claims.

On Friday, Suskind posted an edited transcript on his website of his interview with Richer to back up charges that the CIA prepared a forged document showing a link between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization al-Qaeda to create a "false pretense" for war.

According to the transcript, Richer said he was part of a small group who was briefed on the preparation of the forged letter claiming a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

In his book, Suskind writes, "The White House had concocted a fake letter from [the director of the Iraqi intelligence service] Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq – thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq."

Furthermore, Suskind alleges that the Bush administration knew Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction nor was the country an imminent threat, which is what the March 2003 invasion was predicated on. The director of the Iraqi intelligence service informed the White House “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”

“They secretly resettled Habbush in Jordan, paid him $5 million – which one could argue was hush money – and then used his captive status to help deceive the world about one of the era’s most crushing truths: that America had gone to war under false pretenses,” Suskind writes says.

Richer issued a statement following the book's formal release date on Tuesday denying the charges Suskind attributed to Richer and another former CIA official.

"I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document ... as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book," Richer said.

But an edited transcript of Suskind and Richer's interview the author posted Friday appeared to contradict Richer's denials.

The forged letter "probably passed through five or six people. George [Tenet] probably showed it to me, but then passed it probably to Jim Pavitt, the [CIA's deputy director of operations], who then passed it down to his chief of staff who passed it to me. Cause that's how--you know, so I saw the original. I got a copy of it," Richer told Suskind, according to a copy of the interview transcript.

Richer issued a fresh denial on Friday immediately after Suskind posted the transcript. He said received a copy of Suskind's book less than 24-hours before it went on sale Tuesday and "far from being comfortable, I told Mr. Suskind that many of the things he wrote about what I did and said were wrong."

Richer said he stands by his previous "statement and my absolute belief that the charges outlined in Mr. Suskind's book regarding Agency involvement in forging documents are not true."

"During my time as a senior officer, I saw many documents from various offices of the White House regarding many topics," Richer said. "They were, in fact, on white paper. I was asked to respond to documents regarding the potential use of Habbush upon his defection and during the difficult fall of 2003 when we were wrestling with a developing Iraqi insurgency and ways to combat it. I was also involved in many queries from elements of the Administration trying to document an Al-Qa'ida and Saddam government link; proof of which was never found. Many of such queries did originate from the staff of the Office of the Vice President. None of this, however, substantiates Mr. Suskind’s explosive allegation."

"It is important to note, however, in the transcript just released, I make no mention of having received an order to fabricate the letter as claimed by Mr. Suskind in his book. I do speak to discussions regarding using Habbush, which were frequent during that period, but what I was talking about was the possibility of using him to tamp down the insurgency – not to influence western public opinion.

"I note from the edited transcripts posted by Mr. Suskind that I stated: "this was a non-event.” The fabrication of a letter as claimed by Mr. Suskind would have been much more than a "non-event." I also say that the project “died a natural death.” An order such as the one outlined by Mr. Suskind would have been a huge event – and in my opinion illegal. An order to fabricate such a document would have been rejected out of hand and it is improbable to believe anyone would write such a request. In the edited transcript I am vague on the circumstances of whatever the issue was regarding Habbush. I would have had much clearer recollections of an issue or order of the sensational magnitude outlined by Mr. Suskind," Richer said.

Letter Prepared By Pentagon

In an article published Friday in the magazine American Conservative former CIA officer Philip Giraldi said the bulk of Suskind’s claim, that a forged letter was produced linking Iraq to al-Qaeda, is correct but a “number of details are wrong.”

Giraldi also said that “an extremely reliable and well placed source” told him that Richer did not play a role in the matter.

“The Suskind account states that two senior CIA officers Robert Richer and John Maguire supervised the preparation of the document under direct orders coming from Director George Tenet. Not so, says my source," Giraldi wrote. Former CIA Director George “Tenet is for once telling the truth when he states that he would not have undermined himself by preparing such a document while at the same time insisting publicly that there was no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Richer and Maguire have both denied that they were involved with the forgery and it should also be noted that preparation of such a document to mislead the media is illegal and they could have wound up in jail.”

Giraldi claims that letter was prepared by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who operated a top-secret shop inside the Pentagon known as the Office of Special Plans that exaggerated the Iraqi threat and provided the White House with bogus information about links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The shop, operating out of the Pentagon, was set up by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Its goal was to lay the groundwork for a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq.

In his article, Giraldi said Vice President Dick Cheney, “who was behind the forgery, hated and mistrusted the Agency and would not have used it for such a sensitive assignment.”

“The Pentagon has its own false documents center, primarily used to produce fake papers for Delta Force and other special ops officers traveling under cover as businessmen,” Giraldi wrote. “It was Feith’s office that produced the letter and then surfaced it to the media in Iraq. Unlike the Agency, the Pentagon had no restrictions on it regarding the production of false information to mislead the public. Indeed, one might argue that Doug Feith’s office specialized in such activity.”

In early 2007, the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General issued a report on prewar Iraq intelligence that concluded Feith’s Office of Special Plans "was inappropriately performing intelligence activities of developing, producing, and disseminating that should be performed by the intelligence community."

Additional Denials

On Thursday, former British Intelligence officer Nigel Inkster also weighed in saying the statements attributed to him "are inaccurate and misleading."

"Mr. Suskind appears to have conflated two separate conversations, one about the problems of reading Saddam Hussein's intentions, an issue which is dealt with in the Butler Report, and one about Habbush," Inkster said in a statement. "I made it clear to Mr. Suskind that I was in no position to comment on the substance or significance of any dealing with the latter since I had not been privy to the detail of what had taken place, something Mr. Suskind has chosen not to mention. And in any event I had made it clear to Mr. Suskind when first he approached me that I would not divulge classified information to which I had had access during my time in government."

Suskind's Work Has Stood Up to Scrutiny

Suskind has clashed with the Bush administration before and many of the explosive charges he has leveled against the White House have stood up to scrutiny largely due to on-the-record statements by former administration officials and thousands of pages of documents he obtained to support his narratives.

Indeed. In Suskind’s 2004 book, The Price of Loyalty, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill said an invasion of Iraq was on the agenda at the first National Security Council There was even a map for a post-war occupation, marking out how Iraq’s oil fields would be carved up.

O’Neill said even at that early date, the message from Bush was “find a way to do this,” according to O’Neill, a critic of the Iraq invasion who was forced out of his job in December 2002.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” O’Neill told Suskind, adding that going after Saddam Hussein was a priority 10 days after the Bush’s inauguration and eight months before Sept. 11. As treasury secretary, O’Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” Suskind said. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

Last update : Monday, August 11, 2008