Tuesday, August 05, 2008
the habbush letter
A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.
Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”
The letter’s existence has been reported before, and it had been written about as if it were genuine. It was passed in Baghdad to a reporter for The (London) Sunday Telegraph who wrote about it on the front page of Dec. 14, 2003, under the headline, “Terrorist behind September 11 strike ‘was trained by Saddam.’”
The Telegraph story by Con Coughlin (which, coincidentally, ran the day Hussein was captured in his “spider hole”) was touted in the U.S. media by supporters of the war, and he was interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Over the next few days, the Habbush letter continued to be featured prominently in the United States and across the globe," Suskind writes. "Fox's Bill O'Reilly trumpeted the story Sunday night on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' talking breathlessly about details of the story and exhorting, 'Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda—Saddam.'"
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.”
also of great interest:
Suskind writes in the acknowledgments that his research assistant, Greg Jackson, “was sent to New York on a project for the book” in September 2007 and was “detained by federal agents in Manhattan. He was interrogated and his notes were confiscated, violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights.” The author provides no further detail.
i have been a conservative all my life. and this conservative thinks sending these men into private life at the end of this year is simply not enough. there is nothing conservative about being a criminal, and no conservative should seek to defend them on that or any other basis.
if the political culture of criminality is ever to see its growth checked in this society, the president and vice-president and several of their cohort should be convicted of and sent to prison as punishment for their seemingly inexhaustable litany of high crimes against their oath, their constitution and their country, of which these revelations are only the most recent.
unfortunately, however, i fear that most republicans of the current ilk care little or nothing for their country per se -- though they would certainly not recognize themselves in that criticism, having so confusedly, deeply and wrongly conflated the republican party with their country. and much the same can be said of the democrats, i might add, though they in the main subordinate their belligerent jingoism to a more methodical utilitarian overreach.
we have become -- moreso than at any time since the civil war -- two peoples, and two amoral peoples at that. the mill of the endemic division of our society has sharpened the edges of the thirst for power, and neither side now quails at even the most sickening transgression of ethics in the pursuit of it.
such a devolution from principled collegial civility to shameless fear-diven power-scramble is hardly without precedent in an ostensible republic. indeed, that cultural journey almost seems to be the purpose of demotic government. but then, there are no ancient democracies, are there? and i would submit that this devolution is the reason.
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