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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ron Suskind Claims that in late 2003, the Bush administration attempted to fake evidence suggesting that Saddam Hussein had assisted al Qaeda and bought Uranium from Niger. In particular it is alleged that Tahir Jalil Habbush, former chief of Saddam's intelligence service wrote a memo to that effect, addressed it to Saddam Hussein and backdated it to 2001 (this is called a "forgery" on the web).

This claim is based on interviews with two CIA officers who have (implausibly) denied saying what they say on tape. I'd guess the story will die due to the incredible denials as they totally destroy the credibility of the sources.

Another problem is that many think it is implausible that the Bush admininistration would have asked the CIA to plant the memo, since Cheney et al hated the CIA.

Joe Conason has some new evidence supporting Suskind's theory

On Dec. 11, 2003 -- three days before the Telegraph launched its "exclusive" on the Habbush memo -- the Washington Post published an article by Dana Priest and Robin Wright headlined "Iraq Spy Service Planned by U.S. to Stem Attacks."


and Ayad Allawi, leader of the INA, are spending much of this week at CIA headquarters in Langley"

I didn't know that Allawi was the source of the memo (this was anything but a secret at the time, but the memo was discredited so quickly that I never heard of it).

Indeed Conason writes "the credulous [Daily] Telegraph coverage is still significant now, because Coughlin identified the source of his amazing scoop as Ayad Allawi."

Ahhh now it makes sense. The Iraqis in contact with the DOD -- Ahmed Chalabi and associates -- were totally discredited by then. The CIA and State Department were the only organizations who had long term trusting relationships with Iraqis who were powerful enough in the new Iraqi intelligence and security services to plausibly get their hands on the memo yet not totally discredited. They would be Ayad Allawi and associates.

Doug Feith's anti-CIA was no longer able to pull it off as there Iraqi friends had already been caught lying (and boasting about it after the invastion). If Cheney decided to do such a thing, he would have to ask for help from the CIA or State.

One mystery resolved.

Evidence still virtually non-existent.

h/t Americablog

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