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This is a big story.  I heard Ron Suskind being interviewed on NPR this morning. There's also a Rec List diary on this story and I invite you to read it.  Bombshell: White House ordered forged document to sell war

I have some more details on this story.  Author Ron Suskind appeared on the Today show and said that Bush ordered the CIA to forge a letter after the invasion linking Saddam Husein and al-Qaeda, in an effort to justify the invasion after the fact. His new book is "The Way of the World."

President Bush committed an impeachable offense by ordering the CIA to to manufacture a false pretense for the Iraq war in the form of a backdated, handwritten document linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, an explosive new book claims.

msnbc.com; Today

I have more, including a link to video, after the fold,  

Here's a link to video of the Suskind interview.  Just hit launch in the corner.

There are two main points.  First, Bush knew before he invaded that there were no WMDs and continued to lie to the American public and Congress.  Many of us knew that (at least by now), but it's further evidence that Bush lied us into a war of choice, an illegal and immoral war.

Suskind says he spoke on the record with U.S. intelligence officials who stated that Bush was informed unequivocally in January 2003 that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.

snip

Suskind reports that the head of Iraqi intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush, met secretly with British intelligence in Jordan in the early days of 2003. In weekly meetings with Michael Shipster, the British director of Iraqi operations, Habbush conveyed that Iraq had no active nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs and no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

snip

Suskind says that Bush’s reaction to the report was: "Why don’t they ask to give us something that we can use to help us make our case."

msnbc.com; Today

Second, after the fact, Bush/Cheney ordered the CIA to forge a letter to justify the invasion:

"The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq — thus showing, finally, that there was an operation 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."

He continues: "A handwritten letter, with Habbush's name on it, would be fashioned by CIA and then hand-carried by a CIA agent to Baghdad for dissemination."

CIA officers Richer and John Maguire, who oversaw the Iraq Operations Group, are both on the record in Suskind’s book confirming the existence of the fake Habbush letter.

msnbc.com; Today

Please read the entire article and the Politico article: Politico: Book says White House ordered forgery

This needs investigation.  It is an impeachable offense.  Congress should convene and begin investigation.  The truth must come out on Bush's crimes.  

Kucinich is right.

Thirty-five articles were presented by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to the House of Representatives

Now we have more to investigate.  Congress has subpoena power and it must follow up and find the truth.  If Suskind's charges are supported with credible evidence, and it appears they are, impeachment and possible criminal prosecution are REQUIRED by the rule of law.

Update I: Contemporaneous reports in December 2003 when the forged letter was "discovered" in Baghdad:

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.

snip

Written in the neat, precise hand of Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and one of the few named in the US Government's pack of cards of most-wanted Iraqis not to have been apprehended, the personal memo to Saddam is signed by Habbush in distinctive green ink.

Headed simply "Intelligence Items", and dated July 1, 2001, it is addressed: "To the President of the Baath Revolution Party and President of the Republic, may God protect you." The first paragraph states that "Mohamed Atta, an Egyptian national, came with Abu Ammer (an Arabic nom-de-guerre) and we hosted him in Abu Nidal's house at al-Dora under our direct supervision. We arranged a work program for him for three days with a team dedicated to working with him... He displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy." There is nothing in the document that provides any clue to the identity of the "targets", although Iraqi officials say it is a coded reference to the September 11 attacks.

The second item explains how Iraqi intelligence, helped by "a small team from the al-Qaeda organisation", arranged for an (unspecified) shipment from Niger to reach Baghdad by way of Libya and Syria.

Iraqi officials believe this is a reference to the controversial shipments of uranium ore that Iraq acquired from Niger to aid Saddam in his efforts to develop an atom bomb.

While it is almost impossible to ascertain whether the document is legitimate, Iraqi officials are convinced of its authenticity, even though they decline to reveal where and how they obtained it.

Atta linked to Baghdad in dubious document, December 15, 2003

And from EmptyWheel today:

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. [emptywheel's emphasis]

emptywheel: Once Again, Forgeries?

Please check out emptywheel's take on this.  She has done so much to expose the Bush-Cheney lies.

Update II: Traditional media are picking up the story.  cbs.com has an article now:

The book, by author Ron Suskind, charges that the Bush White House faked a letter from Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief connecting Iraq with 9/11 and an ongoing nuclear program - neither of which was true.

This letter, in the handwriting of Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, is dated July, 2001. It says that Iraqis hosted Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, who, "displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy."

snip

The book alleges that Habbush, Saddam's intelligence chief, was in CIA protective custody after the 2003 invasion, that the White House ordered CIA officials to have Habbush write and backdate the letter, and paid him $5 million. The author quotes two former CIA officials who claim to have seen a draft of the letter on White House stationery.

cbs.com: Book Claims White House Forged War Intel

Update III:  NPR report. Here's some text and link to radio interview.  Hit Listen Now at the top of the story.

Suskind, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, tells Steve Inskeep that a secret mission was conducted in which a British intelligence agent met with the head of Iraqi intelligence in a secret location in Jordan, and the Iraqi conveyed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

snip

Then, in the fall of 2003, the White House decided that a letter should be fabricated, dated July 2001, from the Iraqi to Saddam Hussein establishing a link to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. "And the letter should as well say that Saddam Hussein has been actively buying yellow cake uranium from Niger with the help of al-Qaida," Suskind says.

NPR: In 'Way Of The World,' Fabricating A Case For War


Update IV:
 Think Progress is on it:

After a White House meeting, Tenet went back to the CIA and ordered his staff to forge the letter. "Listen Marine, you’re not going to like this, but here goes," Tenet told Rob Richer, former head of the CIA’s Near East Division, according to Richer.

Think Progress: Suskind: White House Ordered Forged, Backdated Letter After Invasion To Concoct Saddam-9/11 Link

Update V: From Crooks and Liars, some key excerpts from the book.
Here are a couple.  Hit the link below the quote for more:

Even five years later, (Rob Richer, who worked in CIA for 30 years and was in charge of "clandestine ops" in the Middle East–now working as an executive at Blackwater USA and in line to be CEO of Blackwater according to this book) remembers looking down at the creamy White House stationery on which the assignment was written. "The guys from the Vice President’s office were just barraging us in this period with one thing after another: Run down this lead, find out about that. It was nonstop. Of course, this was different. This was creating a deception."

Richer passed the directive down the chain, to the Iraq Operations Group. ((IOG was a CIA team co-led by John Maguire, clearly also a source for Suskind))

..."When it was discussed with me, I just thought it was incredible," Maguire recalls. "A box-checking of all outstanding issues in one letter, from one guy."

Crooks and Liars

The parentheticals are inserts by Crooks and Liars.

Originally posted to TomP on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 07:16 AM PDT.

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