Once Again, Forgeries?

Everyone’s buzzing about the revelation from Ron Suskind that a letter revealed in December 2003, alleging that Mohammed Atta trained in Iraq, was a CIA-created forgery.

According to Suskind, the administration had been in contact with the director of the Iraqi intelligence service in the last years of Hussein’s regime, Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti.

“The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001,” Suskind writes. “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. There is no link.”

[snip]

Suskind writes in his new book that the order to create the letter was written on “creamy White House stationery.” The book suggests that the letter was subsequently created by the CIA and delivered to Iraq, but does not say how.

Here’s Con Coughlin, the reporter who first reported the letter, on MTP in 2003.

Coughlin: Well, this is an intriguing story, Tom. I mean, basically, when I was in Baghdad, I picked up a document that was given to me by a senior member of the Iraqi interim government. It’s an intelligence document written by the then-head of Iraqi intelligence, Habush to Saddam. It’s dated the 1st of July, 2001, and it’s basically a memo saying that Mohamed Atta has successfully completed a training course at the house of Abu Nidal, the infamous Palestinian terrorist, who, of course, was killed by Saddam a couple of months later. Now, this is the first really concrete proof that al-Qaeda was working with Saddam. I saw your interview with James Woolsey earlier and he was talking about the article in The Weekly Standard. And there is a lot of detail there. But this is a document, and I’ve had it authenticated. This is the handwriting of the head of Iraqi intelligence, Habush, is one of the few people still at large who is in the pack of cards. And it basically says that Atta was in Baghdad being trained under Saddam’s guidance prior to the 9/11 attack. It’s a very explosive development, Tom. [my emphasis]

I obviously haven’t read the book yet (say, how long do you think it’ll be before some book-sellers association starts tracking Mike Allen to see who’s dealing books to him early?). And I know that Bob Woodward claims that some of the allegations made in Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine (which would have relied upon CIA sources) were not true.

But my first reaction to this news is, first of all, that Ahmad Chalabi was a "senior member of the Iraqi interim government," one who just happened to arrive in Baghdad early enough (with the help of the Pentagon) to lay claim to entire archives worth of Iraqi documents. And, that OVP was the source of almost all of the claims that Iraq had any ties to Al Qaeda.

Update: a reader points to the original article–which in turn seems to suggest Iyad Allawi was the source of the document, not Chalabi.

Although Iraqi officials refused to disclose how and where they had obtained the document, Dr Ayad Allawi, a member of Iraq’s ruling seven-man Presidential Committee, said the document was genuine. "We are uncovering evidence all the time of Saddam’s involvement with al-Qaeda," he said. "But this is the most compelling piece of evidence that we have found so far. It shows that not only did Saddam have contacts with al-Qaeda, he had contact with those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

And Anonymous Liberal reminded me that the second half of this letter replicated the claims from the Niger forgeries.

The second part of the memo, which is headed "Niger Shipment", contains a report about an unspecified shipment – believed to be uranium – that it says has been transported to Iraq via Libya and Syria.

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  1. MarieRoget says:

    The right document making its appearance @ precisely the right time, an OVP specialty:

    The Italian Letter

    There’s someone along the publishing route in Allen’s pocket, maybe even @ the publishing house itself. How convenient; wonder how much he pays him/her.

    • victoria says:

      At least Allen claims to have read the books. Mika and Joe interviewed David Iglesias a couple of weeks ago and hadn’t even taken the time to read his. Can’t bear to even watch them.

      • MarieRoget says:

        The operative word here may be “claims” in regard to Mike Allen. “Skims for flashing red light topics” might be more like it.
        And agreed, that was a lousy interview. Iglesias was his usual gracious self, & those two were unfortunately as surface skimming & shallow as usual.

    • SlothropRedux says:

      The White House has issued another of it’s classic closely worded denials. An AP story about the denial can be read here .

      Here’s the money quote:

      Denying the report, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, “The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd.”

      Note that the denial allows for the possibility that Bush did ask for a compromising letter that implied a Al Qaeda/Sadam link, but didn’t specify the (fake) author or recipients. Typical parsing. ARRGH… when are we going to impeach these guys?

      • perris says:

        Note that the denial allows for the possibility that Bush did ask for a compromising letter that implied a Al Qaeda/Sadam link, but didn’t specify the (fake) author or recipients. Typical parsing.

        parsing is not necessary for bush, he is a liar and has no problems just being brazen about it

  2. BayStateLibrul says:

    Why does the Bush Admin hate America?
    Lie, forgeries, hits, manipulation, criminiality, lost e-mails,
    obstruction.

  3. phred says:

    So in just the past week we are up to 3 examples (ABC’s anthrax=Iraq, Isikoff hearts Terry O’Donnell, and now this) of journalists using anonymous sources in stories where the identity of those sources is crucial to determining the credibility of the information. Whatever happened to the NYTs bold proclamation that they would curtail the use of anonymous sourcing in the wake of Jason Blain and Sweet Judy Blew Lies? Oh right, that would require ethics — what was I thinking???

    When contemplating shield laws for journalists, the presumption is that the journalists are working in the public interest. Yet we have ample evidence that many journalists are working in the interest of their government sources and benefactors. How can we protect truly vulnerable sources (whistleblowers) without creating a highly useful cloak of secrecy for those whose intent is to mislead the public?

    • Peterr says:

      How can we protect truly vulnerable sources (whistleblowers) without creating a highly useful cloak of secrecy for those whose intent is to mislead the public?

      Mockery of said journalists in large doses does seem to get their attention. Steno Sue, Pool Boy, and Co. are learning that there is a price for taking dictation and passing it off as reporting.

    • RevDeb says:

      This came from the Politico not the NYT. Remember—Mike Allen and pool boy. Neither of them ever claimed any shred of journalistic ethics. Had they done so, they would have been laughed out of the business—at least on the blogs. Oh, wait, I think we already did that.

      • phred says:

        Thanks RevDeb, I realize that. I was shooting for a broader indictment of our MSM more generally. The NYT published their mea culpa on their front page iirc and as the paper of record one might have thought that would set a standard for other reputable outlets (such as ABC and MTP). But, since the NYT has failed to live up to its own heralded standard, why would any of the rest of them either?

        I think it is useful to keep pointing out the complicity (or incompetence, take your pick) of the MSM in selling BushCo’s agenda. BushCo could not have accomplished all that they have without the help of the press. Given that a federal shield law is (last I checked anyway) still under consideration in DC, we need to make sure that it is very narrowly crafted so that it doesn’t become yet another veil of secrecy that government actors can hide behind. We are already hamstrung by pixie dust, signing statements, state secrets, standing, and an out of control classification system. I would hate to give them another tool to add to their secrecry toolbox.

        And Peterr, I agree that mockery is very helpful… although personally I am more adept at your garden variety contempt and disdain ; )

    • NCDem says:

      The sources for Suskind’s book are on the record. It is Rob Richer and John Maguire both formerly with the CIA. It was Maguire that was told by Tenet with the ivory WH stationary in hand that told them of the assignment to forge this for Habbash and have him sign it. For this Habbash was given $5 million and provided cover in Amman, Jordan. Now that the book is out, Habbash will be found dead within the week. The US response will be that they got a confidential tip on his whereabouts and there was a violent shootout between the Jordan police and bodyguards in his home.

      • phred says:

        Thanks for that and I agree that Habbash is now in a world of hurt. I was unclear however in my original comment, my complaint with unnamed sources in this case was in regard to Coughlin’s article, not Suskind’s. Had we had more truthful sourcing in articles in the first half of this administration, perhaps the information would have been treated with much greater skepticism and we would not be where we are today. Perhaps not, who knows? But without knowing who a source is, one is unable to properly assess the quality of the information.

        I am happy to hear that Suskind’s sources are on the record. Indeed his sources give his reporting much more credence than it would have otherwise.

        • NCDem says:

          Phred, no problem on the sourcing. In fact, I saw this afternoon that Rob Richer (who now works for Blackwater) and Maguire (through Richer) have issued a statement that refutes Suskind according to a quick note on MSNBC but I haven’t looked at the actual statement yet.
          The statements this morning from Tenet and the White House are both deceiving and flat out lying. Once I look at the Richer statement, we will know if he needs to pull out his notes from Richer with initials or reveal the taped conversations. According to Suskind, he went to both only after confirming the information from other unnamed sources. He did a usual job of telling Richer and Maguire, I have “this” and I’m ready to publish. It implicates you in this crime, do you want to give your side of the story so that it can be properly framed.

  4. brendanx says:

    They also have proof Ivins met Atta in 2001 in a Kentucky Fried Chicken equipped with dual use-fryer/lyopholizers.

  5. behindthefall says:

    Well, my word! It hasn’t been tinfoil after all! Gotta love it: “creamy White House stationary”. Wonder how many people get to use that stuff …

  6. Rickbrew9x says:

    NPR’s Morning Edition had an interview with Ron Suskind this morning. He went into the manner in which Tenent came back from the White House with a letter on cream stationery telling them to create the letter, what it was to say, and that it should be “surfaced” in Iraq.

    The letter tied up both the Iraq – al Qaeda connection and also confirmed that Iraq had tried to buy yellow cake in Africa.

    Suskind named names at the CIA who were on the record as being aware of the instructions from the White house to create and insert the forged letter.

  7. wavpeac says:

    Something else intrigues me. Clearly, as we talk about how successful bushco has been in “controlling” the Iraq war dialogue, failures in this regard interest me. Someone somewhere was pushing back. For instance, Chalabi was clearly supposed to be the leader in Iraq. Why did that not happen? Who started outting his inconsistencies well enough that the gov’t was forced to drop their original plan. It wasn’t just plame? Was it the cia, a faction of the cia. Who have been trying to stop bushco?

    I have wondered the same with the attempts at war with Iran. Obviously this failure (to date anyway) came later in the game as bushco has significantly less power, but who is pushing back against the Bush plans?

    It would seem that in order to fight back at the bush administration there would need to be a coordinated effort.

    • emptywheel says:

      That one’s easy. There’s a clear paper trail that DOD and State were in a pretty brutal fight in 2003 over who would lead the country. Both Jay Garner and Paul Bremer were compromises. But even in April 2003, it was pretty clear Chalabi had oversold his ability to get things done.

  8. plunger says:

    Incompetence does not explain any of what has gone wrong. It is the obvious answer, but it is not THE answer.

    Explore the concept of “discernible reality.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R….._community

    Focus on that concept like a laser beam, because it is the key to ALL understanding – a layer beyond what is readily apparent, or even predictable.

    Reporter Ron Suskind nailed it to the wall when he got Karl Rove to blurt this out:

    ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10…..ssuserland

    Of these men whom you perceive as mortal and flawed, their own self-perception is that they are in fact the masters of the universe.

    They work for David Rockefeller, his CFR, his IMF, His World Bank, His IRS, His FED, His Exxon, His JP Morgan Chase. All of them. Where will the “money” come from to create the new system from the ashes of the old, and who will be in possession of this new money, and through what means?

    Here’s a respected business man…Bett Midler’s former Manager, the Producer of Trading Places and other successful films…listen to every word:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=7nD7dbkkBIA

    Then read all of this:

    http://plungerspeaks.blogspot.com

    There are no coincidences. Nothing is as it appears. Nothing.

    • MarieRoget says:

      Thanx for the link, but for mother’s sake, can’t Fein find a better outlet to publish this excellent op-ed?

      1st effing comment says it all for the Times, calling Fein “another loony left, President Bush hating Democrat.”

      • Diane says:

        I guess the commenter doesn’t know Fein’s biography – but is your typical Moonie Times reader.

    • phred says:

      Thanks for the link to Fein’s piece. I especially liked his closing paragraph:

      There is but one way to forestall this constitutional travesty. President Bush should be warned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that if he neglects to direct Miss Miers and Mr. Rove to testify forthwith before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, he will be impeached immediately for the high crime and misdemeanor of crippling self-government.

      But, this is the real sticking point isn’t it? Pelosi’s adamant opposition to impeachment. Head meet wall.

      • Diane says:

        Pelosi doesn’t want to find high crimes & misdemeanors. Bush would have to get his dick sucked in the Oval Orifice before the congressional leadership will act.

        • phred says:

          Since the Congressional leadersheep are the ones doing the sucking, I don’t think that would lead them to act either ; )

  9. plunger says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10…..38;ei=5070

    It was during a press conference on Sept. 16, 2001, in response to a question about homeland security efforts infringing on civil rights, that Bush first used the telltale word ”crusade” in public. ”This is a new kind of — a new kind of evil,” he said. ”And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.”

    In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

    The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ”Look, I want your vote. I’m not going to debate it with you.” When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ”Look, I’m not going to debate it with you.”

  10. behindthefall says:

    Let’s say this forgery on WH orders really happened. Put aside for the moment whether you could ever prove that it happened.

    If a leader of a country is capable of this one thing, what else are they capable of? What else have they done? It surely would not be a ‘one off’.

    Think about it. (I’m sure everyone here has, but this feels like a ‘tipping point’.)

    What plan is this forgery part of, and how far back does the plan go?

    • RevDeb says:

      I wish it were a tipping point. Really I do. But Madam Speaker got herself kneecapped long long ago and nothing is going to tip anything in favor of real accountability. Nothing.

      And a new dem administration (should there be one, and it’s getting farther and farther away) is coming from the “bygones” school of political expediency.

      • behindthefall says:

        I guess I’m thinking not so much in terms of actions and remedies, but in terms of what is accepted by, say, the majority of the people about how we got dragged into war, had our liberties ripped away from us, became a two-tiered slave-and-master society (well, that last one is a bit more complicated …).

      • DWBartoo says:

        Yes, RevDeb, echoing yesterday’s First Monday thread … just WHO is going to do ANYTHING?

        Sternly worded letters … then … ‘healing’ …”Let bygones be …” (allowing ‘them’ to smash us again and again.

        WHO will sweet it under the rug most-quickly? Obama or McCain?

        And, behindthefall, we shall be able to tdll out grandchildren how we became ‘lost’ … and how EVERYBODY who should have done ’something’ did ‘nothing’.

        And we all will be VERY polite.

        Afterall, as plunger reminds us, ‘reality’ is whatever they, the political class, tell us it is. Even if we don’t ‘know’, as Pelosi reminds us, “the half of it”. Why we don’t ‘know’ is on HER head.

        • AlbertFall says:

          10 years ago the alleged importance (to Republicans) of a lie about a blow job was that it demonstrated a weakness of character of a person who might lie about more important things…..

          eh, like war, say?

          If they were being honest (which they were not), then how much more a weakness of character is it to blow $1T on an unneeded war based on lies?

          Unfortunately, the Reps turned impeachment into political theater instead of a necessary tool of governance.

          • bmaz says:

            And it wasn’t just that they gutted the fundamental principle of impeachment, an absolutely critical check and balance mechanism without which, as we have seen, the Constitution withers and atrophies; it was the way they just bowled over the Democrats in the process (thanks Joe Lieberman for enabling that) and gave them the back of their hand. Hard. Then, and now, it’s the right wing Republican’s game and it’s played by their rules. Always. Even when they are at their weakest wane of power. Why? Because the Democrats are a party of better ideas and ideals, but no unified fortitude or steadfast principle. We have no balls, the other side knows it, and capitalizes on it relentlessly. Even if the Democrats achieve astounding “success” this coming election, it will be quickly eviscerated and undercut, and then lost. Because that is what the rightwing does, with ruthless efficiency, and they will continue to do so until somebody has the sense to step on their neck when they are down. Slay the beast, lest it come back to gather you up once a gain. It is a lesson still unlearned by the Democrats.

            • AlbertFall says:

              I agree with you in every particular.

              Dems lack will and courage, and Reps out-politic them.

              It is not about being smart. It is not about being “right” in some cosmic sense. It is about being effective.

              Dems are happy to be smarter and get the right answer. And the Reps take their lunch money.

              I mean you, Nancy Pelosi.

            • MarkH says:

              … the Democrats are a party of better ideas and ideals, but no unified fortitude or steadfast principle. We have no balls, the other side knows it, and capitalizes on it relentlessly. Even if the Democrats achieve astounding “success” this coming election, it will be quickly eviscerated and undercut, and then lost. Because that is what the rightwing does, with ruthless efficiency, and they will continue to do so until somebody has the sense to step on their neck when they are down. Slay the beast, lest it come back to gather you up once a gain.

              Say, that reminds me, why isn’t Tom Delay, Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh in jail along with all the other obvious criminal Republicans? Is there no prosecutor in America who dares to take them on?

              • bmaz says:

                Tom DeLay=good question
                Ann Coulter=no crime except terminal hateful bitchiness
                Rush Limbaugh=because the corrupt feds wouldn’t do the international and interstate drug prosecution they should have because Limbaugh was protected and the state level guy was intimidated by Roy Black. That is why.

      • jimbo says:

        But the guy who lied about a blow job would never have lied us into a war. This rupuglie administration is a shit pile, and each of the players is a piece of that. And as for the 25% who still think bush and cheney are wonderous beings indeed need to pull their heads out of their asses and become the type of citizens this country so desperately needs, thinking and learning and understanding exactly what has been going on. Of course they listen to the likes of the neocon jerkoffs who today tell us in the NYT why we must tolerate more unneeded deaths in Iraq. Hey dumbshits, these neocons are only covering their asses for the huge mistakes they have made.

  11. plunger says:

    FORGED DOCUMENTS THAT LED TO WAR?

    WHO IS MEL SEMBLER???
    WHY WAS HE HEADING UP THE SCOOTER LIBBY LEGAL DEFENSE FUND?
    HERE’S WHY:

    WHEN was he Ambassador to Italy? Does 2002 ring any bells in your head? Well it should– remember all the secret meetings in Italy involving Ledeen et al, and the forged documents about uranium from Africa that turned up at the US Embassy that October? Yes, THAT October 2002…. So we have Sembler at the scene of the crime related to the crime Scooter is being investigated for.

    WHO ELSE HAS RUSHED TO LIBBY’S DEFENSE?

    Sounds like a PNAC Picnic roster…

    http://securingamerica.com/ccn/node/4299

    WHY DID ISRAEL WANT THE US TO INVADE IRAQ, AND INVENT FALSE INTELLIGENCE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?

    http://www.nogw.com/warforisrael.html

    And then, curiously, we have Liebermann use his primary bid to Lamont, followed less than 24 hours later by the London “Terror In The Skies!” scare (taking the Lamont victory out of the headlines), followed shortly thereafter by Lieberman receiving campaign advice from none other than Karl Rove, and who hosts a fundraiser for Lieberman shortly thereafter?

    Staunch lifelong Republican Mel Sembler.

    Any Coincidence Theorists wish to respond to that?

  12. i4u2bi says:

    Honestly…if you can’t trust Chalabi or Bush or Curveball or McCain or Chaney or Rumsfeld..who can you trust?

  13. jvass says:

    Yes, I was going to mention that quote. It’s the first thing I thought of when I saw Suskind on the Today show. It sounds like it came from Rove. That doggone reality certainly gums up the works! As for Suskind’s new book, the WH called it “gutter journalism.”

    But seriously, the supreme arrogance and incompetence of this admin never ceases to amaze me. And, thanks to the spineless Dems, I expect there will be no accountability. Even with a new administration, I don’t expect anything more than some handslaps and “let’s move on.”

  14. Diane says:

    At this point, “Joe regular guy American” believes we were lied into war. As more evidence comes out it serves as icing on a cake that was baked up before Bush et al were elected to office.

  15. victoria says:

    Would any of this (anthrax story, Iraq forgery) shit pile of revelations move congress to action if we weren’t 3 months away from the election? If we were a year out, would it really make any difference? The Dems have been determined to avoid a showdown with this administration since 2006. They have always intended to kick the can into 2009 and then close the book on the past.

  16. Ann in AZ says:

    One of the reasons I believe this is, indeed, worse than Watergate is because during Watergate, when the transcripts of the tapes came out, we learned that even John Mitchell had sense enough to throw G. Gordon Liddy out of his office when he tried to pedal some of his more absurd schemes. He told him never to bring this sort of thing back into the Attorney General of the US’ office again.

    Not so with this administration. Anything goes with this VP, a relic of the old Nixon Administration who probably figures Nixon should have just destroyed the tapes. Certainly that’s what he would have done, and from the looks of things, this Congress would have let him get away with it with nothing more than a whimper as commentary on the behavior.

    • karnak12 says:

      …or a sternly worded letter. My contempt and disdain (H/T to phred and Peterr) for the Dems and their leadership at this point doesn’t cover “the half of it”.

  17. Badwater says:

    Will Bush/Cheney ever pay a price for the deaths and destruction that they have caused? I doubt it. It’s far more important to debate, ad infinitum, Obama’s alleged flipflops than to even examine the rolse of Bush/Cheney.

  18. JaneS says:

    I obviously believe the WH capable of a forged letter; the part that is weird to me is the instructions to do so on creamy WH stationary. They needn’t have written down the order. Cheney’s office seems very conscientious about carrying out their lawbreaking without much of a paper trail.

    • behindthefall says:

      Presumably ‘even’ the CIA has awkward people who will refuse to goad our country into war on the basis of lies ordered up just verbally. “You want us to sell our souls, put it in writing. And use nice paper, too.”

      • SparklestheIguana says:

        I remained amazed that Cheney actually wrote notes on that thing…and kept it in his files. And didn’t burn it once the investigation started. Amazed.

      • JaneS says:

        Right. Didn’t Scooter testify he didn’t use email? Something like he did in his old job but Cheney doesn’t like a paper trail. Whereas “genius” Karl Rove actually emailed Hadley that he talked to Cooper about Wilson, even if the email doesn’t show up for a long, long, long time…

  19. SparklestheIguana says:

    I wonder why the letter was passed to this British reporter Con Coughlin, in particular. (Never heard of him.) Why not pass it to Judy Miller? Or was she no longer reporting from Iraq in late 2003?

    And has Suskind seen the White House letter on “creamy white stationery” or is that his source talking.

  20. hackworth says:

    Most Americans (the lucky ones) have seen their investments, their retirement nest eggs and their home values take a huge hit. Yet, they will sit in a restaurant and loudly say something like this:

    “Obama wants to take all our stuff and put it in a pile and say, ‘Have at it!‘ (to all the poor people)”.

    • IrishJIm says:

      Did you respond that Bush and McCain are already doing that, except they are taking all of our stuff and giving it to big Oil companies and wealth shareholders instead of the poor and disadvantaged?

  21. Phoenix Woman says:

    Watch the media ignore this as assiduously as they’re ignoring Sy Hersh’s world-shaker about Cheney’s people considering having Navy SEALs in speedboats pretending to be Iranians and engaging live rounds with other Navy personnel just so Ticky Dick can have his casus bully to invade Iran.

    Of course, if a Democratic president did it, it’d be all over the evening news.

    • behindthefall says:

      Cripe! Missed that entirely. The man has never seen a false flag op he didn’t like. Ya know, a person who would forge a letter about a hijacker to propel the war in Iraq, who would mount ops to precipitate a war with Iran … what else would he do? What else has he done?

        • behindthefall says:

          Yup. But I was mulling over more the big elephant in the middle of the room. Barnacle sits there watching buildings burn and says, “Whee! I wish I’d thought of that!” ?? But that’s tinfoil.

  22. SparklestheIguana says:

    It used to be “the big lie”: if you tell a lie big enough, people will believe it.

    With this administration it’s not just the big lie, but the quantity of illegality. They know if they commit enough crimes, people (with the active acquiescence of the media) will just become numb to it. “Another illegal thing done by the Bush administration? Sigh….I can’t keep up with it. Oh well! Can’t wait til January 2009….”

    • bobschacht says:

      Unfortunately, this is largely true. The Republicans have inoculated the public to vast, multiple criminal conspiracy at the highest level, and have somehow succeeded in emasculating the Democrats, thereby ‘normalizing’ widespread criminal behavior. I’m not sure which is more sickening: The Republicans criminal activity, or the Democrats whimpering and lack of use of Constitutionally sanctioned powers designed to keep an imperial presidency in line.

      Grover Norquist didn’t want to eliminate all Democrats; he just wanted to emasculate them, so that they become complacent and compliant. I guess he and his compatriots have succeeded.

      Bob in HI

      • stryder says:

        There’s alot of people that still think they’re lucky we didn’t blow em off the map so everything and anything is justified as the lesser of the evils.
        Until you prove that 911 was a fraud anything goes

  23. perris says:

    something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link

    how frigging brazen, what a frigging magot, this man is a criminal, a traitor and he’s STILL running our country

    the SICK part is he’s done the exact SAME thing with previous administrations, he just MALES SHIT UP to start war

    I cannot believe we allowed him to do this in Iraq SINCE we KNEW he did it to undermine nixon’s detante

    • perris says:

      a snippet of that piece to wet your whistle, if you haven’t read it, you MUST;

      Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear—for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world.”
      But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford’s Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated? And how could billions of dollars taken as taxes from average working people be transferred to the companies that Rumsfeld and Cheney – and their cronies – would soon work for and/or run?

      Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort – first secretly and then openly – to undermine Nixon’s treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.

      They did it by claiming that the Soviets had a new secret weapon of mass destruction that the president didn’t know about, that the CIA didn’t know about, that nobody knew about but them. It was a nuclear submarine technology that was undetectable by current American technology. And, they said, because of this and related-undetectable-technology weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work or have businesses relationships with.

      man oh man oh man, this is a sociopath and a muderer

      The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld’s position a “complete fiction” and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.

      just as they did to warn us about the attack against Iraq

      • perris says:

        I must also remind everyone about the fake cia, “team b”

        Wolfowitz’s group, known as “Team B,” came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several terrifying new weapons of mass destruction, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn’t depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable with our current technology. It could – within a matter of months – be off the coast of New York City with a nuclear warhead.

        ALL the same players that got us into IRaq

        howz that saying go;

        “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…..

        CAN’T BE FOOLED AGAIN!”

        man we HAVE to be retards to allow the very same people to do that to us

        • Diane says:

          We have 3 choices: #1 insurrection, #2 incarceration, #3 vote em out of office. The public would not tolerate us dirty hippies promoting #1. The Congress has made its choice therefore #2 is out of the question. So it all comes down to Obama & the Dems he carries in on his coat tails.

  24. FrankProbst says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get even remotely worked up about this. Even today, the GOP will try to conflate 9/11 with Iraq. We already know they lied us into a war. This new “bombshell” that says that they forged a single letter isn’t really all that surprising. It’s like having a gun-powder expert testify at a murder trial, after the whole murder has been shown to the jury on video tape.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      No – because the administration’s claim continues to be “but we were all looking at the same intelligence! The intelligence was wrong!” This claim can hardly stand up to scrutiny if the White House is directing the CIA to plant fake letters and if the White House knew from Iraqi sources that there were no WMD.

      • perris says:

        No – because the administration’s claim continues to be “but we were all looking at the same intelligence! The intelligence was wrong!

        they were NEVER “looking at the same inteligence”, the president delberately hid the data that informed him in no uncertain terms that there were no wmds

        that “we were all looking at the same stuff” is nothing short of a flat out lie

      • FrankProbst says:

        No – because the administration’s claim continues to be “but we were all looking at the same intelligence! The intelligence was wrong!” This claim can hardly stand up to scrutiny if the White House is directing the CIA to plant fake letters and if the White House knew from Iraqi sources that there were no WMD.

        I suppose you’re right. I keep forgetting that there are still people who believe the “we were all looking at the same intelligence” horse-shit.

  25. victoria says:

    Sorry, that was trashy. And I was referring to Bush and Pelosi

    I’m so inarticulate this morning I was afraid that you would think I was calling you an… well, you know!

    I need to sit on my hands today.

  26. Knut says:

    Suskind’s book amounts to a charge of treason against the highest officials of our government. It won’t be swept under the rug, even if it doesn’t lead to impeachment. Treason is a crime of a different order, and can’t and won’t be open to pardon. The key thing now is for the American public to be persuaded that such a thing is possible, so the matter won’t be swept under the rug in January 2009. There is enough resentment against the adminstration for its failures in the Middle East and the economy for the Dems to go on the attack.

    They could also put some press on the stand, too, if the press gets uppity.

  27. LS says:

    I’m curious about the stationary…the reference to it by Susskind almost sounds sarcastic. Is it a clue as to who actually wrote it down…who would use creamy white stationary in particular? Do different offices use different colors?

    There is something so strange about the use of the term. Is it a reference to something feminine? Rice? Or just “official” WH stationary.

    • FrankProbst says:

      I’m curious about the stationary…the reference to it by Susskind almost sounds sarcastic. Is it a clue as to who actually wrote it down…who would use creamy white stationary in particular? Do different offices use different colors?

      I think it’s just a fancy way of saying, “We’ve got the paper. Don’t bother trying to deny this.”

  28. JThomason says:

    I had posted this document called “Truth from these Podia” back in a Ghorbanifar thread while looking at Francis Brook, the Rendon Group and the Rome forgeries. Remember as plunger inferred message control was at the top of the agenda in the White House war effort.

    This document outlines how the WHIG was designed to be at the center of this network of message control. I know it’s not news for many but probably worth reviewing in light of the emergence of new forgeries, the particular provenance of Brook and Chalabi. I understand that the forgery at hand is attributed to the CIA but doesn’t it make sense to see where all the varied tentacles of the actions of agents actually conjoin?

  29. eCAHNomics says:

    Ron Suskind to be on Leonard Lopate show, wnyc.org, noon-2p.
    He’ll probably be on the first segment, althought the program arrangement makes it look like he’s second up and Lopate does great interviews. The blog for comments is here
    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopa…..nts/105115

    • emptywheel says:

      Absolutely.

      Though if it really were OVP, then they wouldn’t have gone through CIA, certainly not at the top like that. And certainly not after Cheney had gone nuclear on CIA in July.

      • behindthefall says:

        It certainly was a way of showing the CIA who’s the boss. Throw your principles, such as they are, overboard; I’m telling you what to do. That attitude could fit at least a couple of CEO types we know of.

      • perris says:

        Though if it really were OVP, then they wouldn’t have gone through CIA

        I kind of disagree, cheney likes to have the cover of governemt for his crimes, he also fancies that “team b” crap he pulls

        I think if cheney was involved it would be his “team b” or some others who his team b co-opted

        • emptywheel says:

          He was the first person who advocated leaking “stuff,” among other things.

          In addition, in one of the Ghorba posts i never got to, I was going to suggest that Edelman probably set up the June 2003 meeting for Rhode.

      • NCDem says:

        Marcy, that was the reason it went straight to Tenet and not down-line. He wanted to make sure he could control the process. Cheney knew exactly what he was doing. Rob Richer and John Maguire were two “believers”. From the book, I got the feeling that they actually thought they were using the forgery as a way to influence politics inside Iraq. When it went to Daily Telegraph and they saw that it was being used to influence politics inside the US, you could almost hear them “catch their breath” from the book. I would suggest that they were instructed to get the final product to Alawi and that Cheney had already worked it out with Alawi where it was to go. Con Coughlin was favored by Cheney.

  30. JThomason says:

    Well wouldn’t it make sense from a point of view looking to exploit the media to have confirmation of Iraqi hostility from sources seemingly unrelated and disinterested? That would be rule one of source manipulation I would think. But still only less than a handful of targeted deceptions is required.

  31. perris says:

    The book suggests that the letter was subsequently created by the CIA and delivered to Iraq, but does not say how.

    here’s the elephant, WHICH devision of “the cia”

    I kind of doubt the progressionals at the orgainization would do that, I think this was team b

    we need to find out who produced that forgery

    I also want to know why the forgerie didn’t work out as planned for the administration

  32. perris says:

    I would also like to know when suskind had this information and why he hasn’t made it public sooner

    I am not going to accept the idea that he kept it secret fro the profit of his book, if we remember, clark went public long before his book was published

  33. JThomason says:

    You know the fabrication of Iraqi hostility was not just of limited interest to the OVP. It was the raison d’etre at the top policy levels in the White House with Hadley and Rove especially and generally in the WHIG. I think it was understood that this sort of thing would not be explicitly on
    the table but the meetings themselves gave rise to the proximity for close off the record inter-agency coordination. Tenet probably protested that an order without an authorizing document would be questioned by his people. Someone came up with what Tenet needed.

  34. InnocentBystander says:

    So what’s keeping the Democrats from impeaching? Yes, I know it’s a few months before the elections, but we’ve had a pretty good understanding of the criminal intent since before 2004. Anyone else thinks there is a meta-threat on the table and the Democrats know this? If these people have committed war crimes, what’s their motivation to leave office? I cannot see themselves relinquishing the levers of power without taking down the entire country in the process.

    Something’s going to happen before the November election.

  35. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Driveby comment –
    I’d sure like to know what Richard Clarke, Gen. Wes Clarke, Gen. Pace, Gen. Myers, Adm. Fallon, and a whole lot of other professional military think of this information.

    If true…
    nauseating.

  36. drational says:

    As a researcher, I look at a lot of data brought to me by grad students and postdocs. The most obvious indicator of faked data is when the student shows up with data that looks too good. Tight error bars with few samples, numbers that are too rounded, images that are despeckled or otherwise photoshopped to perfection.

    The fact that the letter obtained here documents TWO distinct plots purported by the Admin is simply too convenient by half.

  37. behindthefall says:

    re 94 & 95: Your take on it is that the ‘creamy letter’, if we had it in our hands, would itself be a forgery?

  38. perris says:

    and from your link we are reminded of this tastey little morsel, (if you like war crimes)

    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.”

    have I called these guys magots before?

  39. Basharov says:

    The fact that the letter obtained here documents TWO distinct plots purported by the Admin is simply too convenient by half.

    Actually, it references THREE plots: (1) Abu Nidal’s visit to Baghdad, (2) Atta’s visit to Baghdad, and (3) the “seeking uranium in Niger” claim.

    Kind of brilliant when you think about it.

  40. Mary says:

    94 – yep, and check Coughlin’s first sentence from his 2003 article:

    For anyone attempting to find evidence to justify the war in Iraq, the discovery by Iraq’s interim government of a document that directly links Mohamed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks, with the Baghdad training camp of Abu Nidal, the infamous Palestinian terrorist, appears almost too good to be true.

    36 – They were trying to launder it enough to get out from under the National Security Act prohibitions on US Gov planting disinformation for domestic consumption. As Suskind points out, it’s not legal.

    87 – Clarke went public about things he knew of first hand. Suskind is having to go with sourced material, so a lot of it may have to do with when his sources were willing to be outed and on the record. That, in turn, may have had a lot to do with Bush getting close to gone and their individual concerns, if any, over the devastation he’s leaving behind and the likelihood of McCain stepping into Bush’s bozobooties, esp vis a vis some disastrous decisions re: Iran.

    • perris says:

      Clarke went public about things he knew of first hand.

      clark made it crystol clear, Iraq had nothing to do with the attack, the cia said that was obsurd and everyone looked at the president like he was a mad man when he suggested attacking Iraq for what came from afghanistan

  41. Mary says:

    It kind of makes sense, why it took so very long for Bushco to “figure out” the Italian sourced forgeries were “forgeries” when every other entity could declare them as such in no time flat.

    If their being forgeries raised the question of how there was the 2001 letter from Habbush describing something that never happened, well, and that 2001 letter was an in house “real” letter, backdated and with false info and planted rather than discovered, it’s not so pretty. No wonder they weren’t happy with Wilson’s op ed.

    OTOH, I can see Cheney having input in this originally. Is there any info available yet about the timing of the decision to do it? It could have been prepped a few months in advance of the handoff to whichever Iraqi interim gov official “produced” it.

    BTW – totally OT, but I don’t think I ever really connected that Cyril Wecht, whose prosecution certainly seems tainted (to say the least), had been involved in autopsying the body of Jamadi (the dead man whose body was getting a thumbs up in the Abu Ghraib pictures).
    I guess it’s been reported before, including by Mayer in an earlier New Yorker piece called “A Deadly Interrogation – Can the CIA Legally Kill A Prisoner?” but it passed me by that Wecht was one of the two medical examiners who pretty much put the Jamadi death in the CIA’s lap. And what’s in the CIA’s lap- if they go back to their WH clearances to torture to death – ends up in Bush’s lap and his direct cabal on torture.

    Dr. Cyril Wecht, a medical doctor and a lawyer who is the coroner of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and a former president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, independently reached the same conclusion. The interpretation put forward by the military pathologists, he said, “didn’t fit with their own report. They said he died of blunt-force trauma, yet there was no significant evidence of trauma to the head.” Instead, Wecht believes that Jamadi “died of compromised respiration,” and that “the position the body was in would have been the cause of death.” He added, “Mind you, I’m not a critic of the Iraq war. But I don’t think we should reduce ourselves to the insurgents’ barbaric levels.”

    Wow, no wonder Wecht was the target of a federal prosecution by for “wire fraud” based on personal use of an office fax.

    The government’s case relied on charges that Wecht had used resources from his coroner office for his private practice. Most of the counts of wire fraud against Wecht related to his use of county fax machines ($3.96 worth, his lawyers say) for his personal business

    And there, in the center of Wecht’s prosecution, is USAtty Mary Beth Buchanon. One of the nice, cooperative USAs that wasn’t on McNulty’s “list” And since Wecht’s report was on McNulty’s desk in his former capacity as USA for ED of VA,

    Around this time, John Helgerson, the C.I.A.’s inspector general, sent investigators to Iraq and San Diego to interview witnesses about the agency’s role in Jamadi’s death. These investigators determined that there was the possibility of criminality – the threshold level required by the intelligence agency in order for the case to be referred to the Justice Department. The agency did so, and officials in the Justice Department then forwarded the case to the office of Paul McNulty, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over C.I.A. headquarters. The dossier has been there for more than a year. A lawyer familiar with the case, who asked not to be named, said that the Swanner file seemed to be “lying kind of fallow.”

    he’d have been very familiar with the man Buchanon was prosecuting for ” faux fax wire fraud”

    Especially with that CIA killing being one of the killings that Helgerson was looking at:

    Around this time, John Helgerson, the C.I.A.’s inspector general, sent investigators to Iraq and San Diego to interview witnesses about the agency’s role in Jamadi’s death. These investigators determined that there was the possibility of criminality – the threshold level required by the intelligence agency in order for the case to be referred to the Justice Department. The agency did so, and officials in the Justice Department then forwarded the case to the office of Paul McNulty, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over C.I.A. headquarters. The dossier has been there for more than a year. A lawyer familiar with the case, who asked not to be named, said that the Swanner file seemed to be “lying kind of fallow.”

    A spokeswoman for McNulty said that he would have no comment on the case, because it was still under investigation. (Last month, President Bush nominated McNulty to the position of Deputy Attorney General, the second most powerful job in the Justice Department.)

    So that death, the killing involving a “young” detainee frozen to death both a part of the Helgerson 04 report/investigation, a filed lawsuit by Arar for his DOJ coordinated torture, the Dec 2003 kidnapping of Khalid el-Masri being held in abuse through May 2004 (and maybe, looking back, his release was only due to the knowledge Helgerson was sniffing around ??) – all these things kicking around IG offices and DOJ offices and no lit hold going out and no one at DOJ, in an election year, even making a minimal effort to do anything other than provide cover for Bush and engage in obstruction and coverups.

    I listened to a horse track call, today, from a race where the come from behind winner was named “Arrrrrrrrr” and I’m starting to sound a lot like that track announcer.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks for reminding me about Wecht. I had meant to do a post on that from Mayer’s book and have since been trying to remember what I wanted to write about Wecht.

      • bmaz says:

        The Wecht case is even sillier than Siegelman in terms of “yeah, I guess you could prosecute it, but who in the hell would“?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Political prosecutions don’t prosecute the crime, they prosecute the target. Cheney and Bush seem to achieve ecstasy via seeking and exacting retribution. Their “enemies list” makes Nixon look like Father Christmas.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thanks, Mary.

      More critically useful information, things falling into ‘place’ …

      Arrrrrrrrr!!!

    • phred says:

      Thanks for that Mary, I hadn’t heard about Wecht’s connection to torture victims previously. Sure explains why BushCo is keeping him occupied in defending himself against spurious charges of misconduct.

  42. mamayaga says:

    The Booman post that brendanx refers to @107 reminds us that this forgery wasn’t swallowed by most of the press. I know I had forgotten it, and may never have given much credence to it.

    However, the fact that few bought it at the time does raise a question that was a source of lively discussion about the Niger forgeries: Why do they do forgery so badly? This one at least was apparently formatted correctly, but the too clever by half folding in of the uranium story greatly decreases its credibility (In fact, why would the head of the secret police be tracking shipments of stuff Saddam had bought at all? Wouldn’t he have someone running his nuclear program to tell him that?)

    The lack of professional polish suggests either that Bushco is as incompetent as it is evil (bet you hadn’t thought of that), or that the people who have been ordered to carry these things out are sabotaging them even as they are nominally obeying the orders.

    On the other hand, it’s possible that there are some really masterful forgeries out there prepared by true believers that we haven’t uncovered yet, and may never be able to.

      • mamayaga says:

        Creamy stationery is polished all right, but not loading on an extra bit to back up the Niger forgery on top of the Atta story in one letter and trying to make it a twofer. “Too good to be true” may have been why the forgery produced in response to the imperative of creamy stationery wasn’t given a lot of credence when first produced.

  43. Mary says:

    115 – or maybe that they had to hold orders so close they just went to loyalists to carry them out, not necessarily guys who knew how to do good forgeries – ?

    116/123 – yep, Durkin. I didn’t hear it live, just got the link from another horseperson.

    Every horse in my barn has had Arrrrr as their barn name at least once. When the filly knocked my front tooth out, some other syllables got added in.

    • DWBartoo says:

      How is it, Mary, that you would read a Pittsburgh newspaper?

      May I ask from where you hail?

      You do not live in county, Allegheny, surely?

  44. behindthefall says:

    I got to thinking about layers of an onion. 1) Do the deed: forge a letter saying Atta got training in Iraq. 2) Produce a forged ‘creamy letter’ 3) Expose the ‘creamy letter’ as a forgery and cast doubt on whether or not you did Deed 1.

    Raffiniert, mein Herr, sehr, sehr raffiniert.

  45. Sara says:

    Is it possible this CIA letter forgery is the one Seymour Hersh was referencing when describing a Xmas-New Years party he attended in late 2002-early 2003 with CIA folk. That report never really fit into the scheme of the “Italian Letter” saga at least as it has been traced. Hersh talks of CIA officers with the skills to really do a proper forgery, talking about it while partying and drinking in the New Year. Not the Ledeen crew.

    Hersh published the description of the party, but never really followed up the report or insight.

      • Sara says:

        Yea, I can see where Hersh would be able to drop that bit into the end of a New Yorker essay, without identifying who was at the party and all, but he probably could not go further with it for fear of burning sources. Everyone in these CIA circles ties a couple on during the holidays, so it would be hard to identify which party — but it would be a career ender for any of them to then admit inviting Hersh to the festivites.

        But this is 2008, and the barriers to talking out of school are down, and the more who talk to Suskin and all the more difficult it is for Security to track who is lunching with whom. Those with a conscience, or a sense of the National Interest, want it all out on the table now. It’s the get the rot out season.