"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) -

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Conyers Must Go!

OK, That Does It! Conyers Is An Old Man Who Has Lost The Courage Of His Younger Days…”He is concerned that...” That’s It Folks; Put Him On The “Has To Go List”.

Conyers Has Become A Joke And An Embarrassment. Get Rid Of Him! Michigan Do You Hear Me?

Conyers Asks Intelligence Officials to Discuss Bogus Iraq/Al-Qaeda Letter

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Published in : Nation/World

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers sent a series of letters Wednesday to current and former White House and intelligence officials stating he is concerned the Bush administration may have violated federal law by allegedly ordering the CIA to create a bogus letter in late 2003 that linked Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and wants to interview the officials to set the record straight.

It’s unknown what the Michigan Democrat intends to do with the information if he determines the White House violated federal law. Moreover, given the White House’s broad claims of executive privilege it’s unclear whether the intelligence officials will even cooperate.

What The Hell Has He Done With Everything Else?

The letters were addressed to former CIA Director George Tenet, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Rob Richer, the CIA's former associate deputy director of operations, John Hannah, Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs, John MaGuire, the former head of the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group, Near East Division, and A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s former executive director, and requests that these intelligence officials provide the committee with information about the forged letter .

The officials were identified in the recently published book The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind as either having first-hand knowledge that the White House ordered the CIA to create the letter to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq after weapons of mass destruction were not found or played a direct role in drafting the letter.

Richer and MaGuire gave Suskind on-the-record interviews, which the author recorded, and discussed specific details about the reasons the letter was created and that it likely emanated from Cheney’s office. Both men have since recanted their statements. Richer said in a lengthy statement two weeks ago that he may sue Suskind for allegedly failing to inform him that the interviews he agreed to were being recorded.

“I am writing to follow up on recent serious allegations regarding the creation of a false letter from Tahir Jalil Habbush, Saddam Hussein's former Chief of Intelligence, to Saddam Hussein,” Conyers wrote in each of the five letters that contained identical language.

“The letter, which was allegedly backdated to July 1, 2001, attempted to establish an operational link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in the period before the 9/11 attacks by specifically stating that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had received training in Iraq. At the time of the alleged decision in 2003 to concoct the false letter, the Vice President's Office had been reportedly pressuring the CIA to prove this connection as a justification to invade Iraq. The letter also falsely noted that Iraq had received a "shipment" (presumably uranium) from Niger with the assistance of al Qaeda.

“Upon careful review of the allegations concerning this matter, I have become very concerned with the possibility that this Administration may have violated federal law by using the resources of our intelligence agencies to influence domestic policy processes or opinion. The law specifically provides that "[n]o covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media."

Suskind wrote in his book that such a violation might constitute an “impeachable offense.”

“It is not the sort of offense, such as assault or burglary, that carries specific penalties, for example, a fine or jail time,” Suskind wrote. “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.”

Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, in a recent column published on Findlaw.com, agreed. But Conyers’ office was unwilling to make that same characterization. In fact, Conyers was not interested in reviewing the claims contained in Suskind’s book until his office was bombarded with phone calls and emails from individuals who back a move to impeach President George W. Bush, according to a senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

It wasn’t until Congressman Dennis Kucinich, (D-Ohio), sent a letter to Conyers Aug. 8 requesting a formal review that the Judiciary Committee chairman agreed to look into the matter. Many of the explosive allegations Suskind wrote about in his book about how prewar Iraq intelligence was cooked at the highest levels of government are nearly identical to the High Crimes and Misdemeanor claims Kucinich leveled against President Bush in his bid to hold impeachment hearings.

“I asked Chairman Conyers to investigate these claims because, if true, the Administration fabricated evidence and used it to lead the country into an unprovoked war,” Kucinich said.

It’s unknown what the Michigan Democrat intends to do with the information if he determines the White House violated federal law. Moreover, given the White House’s broad claims of executive privilege it’s unclear whether the intelligence officials will even cooperate.

A spokesman for Tenet would not comment and the CIA’s Congressional Affairs office said it was reviewing the request. Libby and Hannah did not return phone calls or emails for comment. Libby was convicted of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, leading to a sentence of 30 months in jail. However, Bush commuted the sentence to eliminate jail time and left open the possibility that Libby might get a full pardon before Bush leaves office.

Tenet has vehemently denied Suskind’s claims, going so far as to attacking the author’s journalistic integrity.

“There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort," Tenet said in a statement issued earlier this month. "It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the Administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-Al Qa’ida connections that went beyond the evidence. The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous."

Tenet and Suskind have clashed before. In his book, The One Percent Doctrine, Suskind wrote that a high-level detainee named Abu Zubaydah the CIA characterized, as a top Al-Qaeda operative was actually a low-level driver who was mentally unstable. In Tenet’s book At the Center of the Storm he called Suskind’s allegations “baloney.”

In The Way of the World, 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.

He claims 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.”

Richer, the CIA's former associate deputy director of operations, rebutted some of the charges in the book attributed to him.

Richer was responding to an edited transcript Suskind posted on his website Aug. 8 of the interview he gave to the author. Suskind posted the edited transcript to back up claims revolving around the forged letter.

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.

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 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 Aug. 8 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."