Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 7, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CIA vs. OSP....Philip Giraldi, about whom I know nothing, says that an "extremely reliable and well placed source in the intelligence community" tells him that Ron Suskind was wrong about the CIA forging a backdated letter trying to link al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein. For one thing, he says:

My source [] notes that Dick Cheney, who was behind the forgery, hated and mistrusted the Agency and would not have used it for such a sensitive assignment.

I have to admit that this strikes me as an extremely compelling comment. In fact, when I first read Suskind's allegation, it was one of the first thoughts that popped into my head. So who did do it?

Instead, he went to Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans and asked them to do the job. 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. It was Feith's office that produced the letter and then surfaced it to the media in Iraq.

That seems much more plausible — though perhaps also a little too convenient. Seems like Feith is sort of the default whipping boy for just about everything these days, isn't he?

Then again, there's a reason Feith has the reputation he does. So who knows? In any case, that's the latest gossip. More to come, I'm sure.

Via Balloon Juice.

UPDATE: A trusted correspondent who has dealt with him suggests that Giraldi be taken with a big grain of salt. That would probably be a good idea regardless.

Kevin Drum 8:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

Yawn.

I hear they are impeaching Musharraf. Let's talk about that. At least they have Democracy over there.

Posted by: rational on August 7, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

The CIA subsequently said that the letter was a forgery. It did always sound odd that they would have forged the letter and then publicly exposed it as a forgery. This narrative would make more sense if Feith and Co. forged it.

Posted by: JustMe on August 7, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

"surfaced it to the media..."?

Is that like gave or supplied, or something along those lines? Christ, all these guys and gals out to be in jail for slaughtering the English language.

This pseudo-techie, covert talk is annoying.

Posted by: dms on August 7, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

The CIA didn't say it was a forgery until everyone else who'd seen it was already saying it. It was fairly obvious. You have one short letter talking about three separate things that the Bush administration would like to have believed (Atta - 9/11 connection, yellowcake, WMD etc).

Posted by: Joe Buck on August 7, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

In an interview on NPR, Susskind stated that although some of his sources may be backing off under pressure, everything they told him is on tapes, which are in his possession. Whether he will release these tapes to validate his conclusions is yet to be seen.

Posted by: myrna on August 7, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

On NPR today, Susskind wasn't backing off even slightly. He also said that he could back up his statements with taped interviews.

Posted by: Alex F on August 7, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

dms, I have taken up an interest in neologisms and new phrasings. I suggest "surfaced it through the media" as a more apt phrase, since providing something to the media isn't quite at the "surface" yet, until they publish about it.

PS: I also think we should refer to the MSM as the "MSMemia" since they are in the business of spreading "narratives", "story arcs"; i.e. "memes".

BTW I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Susan Blackmore, who basically came up with "memes" and coined the word (?). This was at Tucson 2000: Towards a Science of Consciousness. She had streaks of bright color in her hair albeit around 52 at the time. I saw her dancing with mysterian (yay!) philosopher David Chalmers, in wild abandon. I said, "Folks, Cyndi Lauper is dancing with young Isaac Newton! (Chalmers had long hair and a similar face.)
I presented a "poster paper" about free will at the conference. Sorry being a bit OT but it segued into it ...

Posted by: Neil B. ☼ on August 7, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Author Ron Suskind says he will release transcripts of his interviews with a top CIA official that will confirm his story that in 2003 the White House ordered the agency to fabricate a phony document linking Iraq to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2008/08/suskind-to-release-cia-intervi.html

Why is it difficult to believe that Tenet would be involved in such? The whore was, after all, neck deep in phonying up "intelligence" to justify the conquering of Iraq. And he got his Medal of Freedom for his efforts.

Posted by: Chris Brown on August 7, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

You can listen to and read Philip Giraldi on antiwar.com radio.

Posted by: Jet on August 7, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Time for a Climate change in Washington.

Let's face it, our administration is as crooked as they come.

God Bush America!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on August 7, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

This administration full of oilmen is fortunately "in its last throes," to quote the vice president, having thoroughly trashed the U.S. Constitution, manufactured each bit of intelligence (Downing Street Memos, anyone?) and lied and deceived for oil.
GOP = The Greedy Old Party, The Greedy Oil Party
Sad about the deceased in Iraq and Afganistan.
It is just beyond beyond.

Did anyone catch John Dean on Keith Olbermann's Countdown this week?
Impeachment should be imperative.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 7, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

I heard dismissive troll comments (like, about the anthrax case being no big mystery, etc.) called "Raoul" style posts in the thread on Bentonite. What is the origin of that? We might get some here and elsewhere. I am asking tangential questions since I don't have a clear insight or opinion about the forgery, except the basic point it would be unethical if that's what happened.

Posted by: Neil B. on August 7, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

As noted, Suskind isn't protecting the identity of his sources. He's named them.

So the contradiction in their stories is theirs to explain.

Posted by: Max Power on August 7, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Tho I really like the idea of the dumbest f*cking man on the planet tasked with this. Would explain the feebleness of the forgery.

Could also explain why the Niger forgery was so lame.

Lame is Feith's middle name.

Posted by: Cal Gal on August 7, 2008 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Feith the guy that Gen. Tommy Franks called "the stupidest motherfucker on the planet"?

Thought so.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 7, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe they asked that anthrax guy to do it.

See, everything is, like, connected to everything else.

Posted by: lampwick on August 7, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA agent, writes the always informative gossip column in The American Conservative magazine.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 7, 2008 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Now Suskind's expose, and previously Scott McClellan book, where the White House press secretary damns them all:
"The episode that became the jumping-off point for this book was the scandal over the leaking of classified national security information — the so-called Plame affair."
"It originated in a controversy over the intelligence the Bush administration used to make the case that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq represented a “grave and gathering danger” that needed to be eliminated. When a covert CIA officer's identity was disclosed during the ensuing partisan warfare, turning the controversy into the latest Washington scandal, I was caught up in the deception that followed. It was the defining moment in my time working for the president, and one of the most painful experiences of my life."

"When words I uttered, believing them to be true, were exposed as false, I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment. But I promised reporters and the public that I would someday tell the whole story of what I knew..."

And look how it all comes tumbling out as the elections approach.
Susskind absolutely said he has taped interviews.

Pile on, baby. And Republican Senator Ted Steven's corruption trial is coming up as well.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 7, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what Giraldi says, in the post at American Conservative Magazine, which says:

An extremely reliable and well placed source in the intelligence community has informed me that Ron Suskind’s revelation that the White House ordered the preparation of a forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and also to attempts made to obtain yellowcake uranium is correct but that a number of details are wrong.

Did everyone pick out the relevant bit here? Seems like a lot of people haven't. So let's review:

Ron Suskind’s revelation that the White House ordered the preparation of a forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and also to attempts made to obtain yellowcake uranium is correct

Geez, a number of details are wrong. Goldang it. Details that b.t.w. make it a WORSE story for the Kerning Kidz and the WarBoys, not t'other way around. Let's try it like this:

An extremely reliable and well placed source in the intelligence community has informed me that Ron Suskind’s revelation that the White House ordered the preparation of a forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and also to attempts made to obtain yellowcake uranium is correct but close associates of the VP cooked it up in the Pentagon; it wasn't the CIA.

Phew, that sure gets the admin off the hook, huh?

Posted by: DrBB on August 7, 2008 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Suskind's sources have denied his quotes ascribed to them. The onus on Suskind is "prove it, release the tapes." That's not going to happen, which means that his claims remain faith-based. The mainstream media is ignoring the story, so congress isn't likely to demand hearings. Even if it did, would anyone care? Our democracy prefers despots.

Posted by: alibuba on August 7, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

As TIm F. poits out over at Susskind's being Rathered.

The noise that follows the details of evidence for a story being shown to be incorrect, can reliably be counted on to take down the story itself, even if there's a mountain of unchallenged corroboration from other sources.

It worked with Bush's disappearance from TANG. The story there to this day stands, 100% verified, from non-Rather sources, and the Average American now thinks that Junta Boy's truncated, and checkered, military career was all according to Hoyle.

Criminals don't change their M.O. till it doesn't work, and in the case of burning Rather, it worked.

We're seeing it again.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 8, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

The evidence was strong that Rove henchman Michael Leeden was behind the clumsy Niger forgery:

http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=7256

Posted by: nckoalagal on August 8, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

I despise Bush and Cheney and their war. The possibility that they commissioned a forgery wouldn't surprise me. But Suskind has made a very serious charge, and has quoted people by name. Yet, those people have denied that they said what Suskind said they said to him. Still, Suskind claims to have the interview tapes. Put up, Ron, or shut up.

Posted by: alibubba on August 8, 2008 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

"A trusted correspondent who has dealt with him suggests that Giraldi be taken with a big grain of salt."

Given that this comes from a guy whose standards are so low that he mindlessly believes the likes of Suskind and Hersh, the mind rather boggles at what Giraldi must be like.

Posted by: a on August 8, 2008 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

More like 'a' and less like Suskind and Hersh, I'd assume. I am curious though as to what you think your content-less sneers accomplish.

Neil B., I'm pretty sure it was Richard Dawkins in the 1980's who came up with the expression, 'meme.'

Posted by: snicker-snack on August 8, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

Giraldi seems like a good guy. The American Conservative is consistently the only right-wing rag worth reading.

Posted by: beowulf on August 8, 2008 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

"Trusted correspondent"? After all the criticism of anonymous sources, are we now saddled with them even here?

Posted by: JD on August 8, 2008 at 4:34 AM | PERMALINK

The only way to get to the bottom of Suskind's charges is a formal impeachment trial, with George Bush standing in the well of the Senate, sweating profusely, answering pointed, direct questions from Democratic Senators.

Look, I can dream, can't I???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 8, 2008 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever the validity of Suskind's assertions Bush and Cheney should each still receive 100 years in the electric chair.

Posted by: steve duncan on August 8, 2008 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK

A better question might be...What DOESN'T need to be taken with a grain of salt these days? I believe "NOTHING" unless I see/hear it myself...that's what we've lost through the BUSH years...TRUST NOTHING...but I have bigger problems today...how to introduce an 8 week old Yorkie (under 2#) to a year old (12#) hyper excited pug! Right now they are in neutral corners while puppy sleeps in pug's bed with HER toys...one day at a time and with all the crap going on I needed a distraction...can't wait to hear who Bill Clinton pisses off today...what would our MSM do without him...oh, yeah, OLYMPICS

Posted by: Dancer on August 8, 2008 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, a number of details are wrong. Goldang it. Details that b.t.w. make it a WORSE story for the Kerning Kidz and the WarBoys, not t'other way around.

what DrBB said. This stiry is being spun as a Rather-esque exoneration of the Administration, when it confirms that the Administration forged part of its justification for war.

Leaders that are confident of the righteousness of their justification for going to war don't have to forge the evidence. But this evidence should and ought to figure prominently in their war crimes trials.

Posted by: Gregory on August 8, 2008 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, there won't be war crimes trials. There won't be impeachment. They won't be shunned by society. They will be regaled and fêted by those in heavily Republican enclaves, giving speeches and writing books, raking in millions in fees and sales. Some will return to power in a future administration, picking up exactly where they left off, starting new wars and inflaming old prejudices. 45% of the people LOVE these guys, absolutely and unconditionally adore them both personally and professionally. You don't commence war crime trials with nearly half the population opposed to the notion. Isn't happening. They walk.

Posted by: steve duncan on August 8, 2008 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

How does one forge a document in the Internet age?

Check the number, look up in the master database, does the document register?

Illegal aliens found this out, if we really wanted them home, then all we do is identify them by looking up their fake social security number.

Posted by: Matt on August 8, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

If Suskind DOESN'T have tapes, the offended parties can sue him and his publisher and settle or win. If he doesn't, he's one hell of a bluffer.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 8, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

. . . and speaking of John Dean, ask him about the rich rewards of suing an author without sources.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 8, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I don't remember the exact denials for the CIA guys, but both were of the nature of "no one in my chain of command ordered me to forge anything." At least one of them did not deny being involved in the forgery. The non-denial denials point to Cheney because he is not part of any OFFICIAL chain of command. I wouldn't get too deep into "he said, she said" stuff on this one. The key point Suskind has uncovered is the fact of the forgery.

By the way, has there been anything else on the detention and search of Suskind's research assistant while he was working on the book?

Posted by: TK in Texas on August 8, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

For an agency that Cheney, the "real" President, is supposed to hate and mistrust, they really get left alone and get a lot of good press in this country, don't they?

If the Republicans are so against the CIA, then why does our corrupt press never go after the CIA? Why do they just praise them instead, and why does the media produce shows like 24? You never hear a single Fox News personality going after the CIA like they go after so many other groups and people.

Kevin, this story is a bunch of bullshit. Cheney loves the CIA, and I bet there is a very close relationship between them and a mutual appreciation.

Posted by: Swan on August 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Cheney, who was behind the forgery, hated and mistrusted the Agency and would not have used it for such a sensitive assignment."

Now that's some logical thinking, yes sir! A sensitive assignment that, if exposed, would totally embarrass and discredit the source. Yep, I would *never* use an agency I hated for such a risky job.

Posted by: Harold S. on August 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I mean, the Republicans could be legislatively re-organizing the CIA, giving it new mandates, sashing its budget and creating a replacement organization, etc., if they feel so threatened by it. Why do they attack so many things they feel threatened by, but never attack (but rather praise) the CIA?

Any stories of rifts between the White House and the CIA (there have been very few) have not been played up at all. They seem more like red herrings.

Posted by: Swan on August 8, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I'm just writing from memory here, but I do recall contemporary reports from the time leading up to the Iraq war, that Cheney made a number of lengthy personal visits to CIA headquarters. I suspect that any reports of his hatred of the agency have been greatly exaggerated.

Posted by: Jim Strain on August 8, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

DrBB, it isn't so that Saddam actually trying to get yellowcake gets the Admin off the hook. I suppose he and lots of dictators cast around to see what cheap sources of uranium etc. are out there if they ever might need some. The Admin forging a document about it would still be wrong (I don't know if they're the ones who did, I heard that some maybe rogue elements of IIRC Italian Intelligence were involved.) You can't justify an inherently wrong act by saying the person it frames up was guilty anyway, or we'd have prosecutors making up evidence about suspects they "knew" were actually guilty. Oh, I forgot: plenty of them actually do that. But it's still wrong.

Posted by: Neil B on August 8, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Seve Duncan wrote: "You don't commence war crime trials with nearly half the population opposed to the notion." That's certainly true. I would add that you don't commence war crime trials that are desired fervently by only about 10% of the population (only the most fervent victims of BDS seem hot about this; most Democrats, and certainly most Independents, have no desire to see the country torn apart by "war crimes" trials that are nothing more thinly disguised acts of revenge by a victorious political party against a defeated party).

Posted by: DBL on August 8, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

"nothing more thinly disguised acts of revenge by a victorious political party against a defeated party"

- You are an either an idiot who knows nothing about our recent history, or a shameless and massive liar.

Posted by: Neil B on August 8, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"War crimes trials that are nothing more than thinly disguised acts of revenge..."

Last I heard crimes are crimes and the rule of law demands that something be done. If they are what you claim then Bush/Cheney et al have nothing to worry about and will be vindicated. By the way, there is a lot more that 10% that think crimes have been committed. And no way 45% of the public love Bush/Cheney. More like 25%.

Posted by: James G on August 8, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK
45% of the people LOVE these guys, absolutely and unconditionally adore them both personally and professionally.

Then why have they polled below 45% support for most of the second term, and below 30% for a not inconsiderable fraction of it, and why did polls in 2007 show support of up to 45% for impeachment.

Posted by: cmdicely on August 8, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

As has already been pointed out, the notion that the CIA would be the agency behind this forgery makes very little sense.
The CIA refused to back up the administration's (particularly Cheney's) early assertions that there was some sort of link between Saddam and al Qaeda (most notably as relates to 9/11), and the conservatives regularly bashed them over the head for this. It would not make any sense for them to then go and forge a document that completely undermines their own argument.

Posted by: david682 on August 9, 2008 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

If we really want to get crazy, maybe Cheney asked the CIA to do it so that - if found out - it would embarass an Agency for which he doesn't have much regard. It sort of minimizes the downside of getting caught and further shields his office from blame.

Then again, does it really matter if it was the DoD or CIA? Would it matter if Don Corleone had Clemenza or Tessio make a hit? The result is the same - no?

Posted by: Bob on August 9, 2008 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

"...Delta Force and other special ops officers traveling under cover as businessmen."

Sure only officers travel under official cover. The enlisted swine only travel under true name? Please.

Posted by: 1SG on August 9, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. Please stop talking about this. John Edwards' affair is oh-so-much more important to our country's future.

Yes. To the CIA, the letter was a forgery...just one created and delivered by our VP's office and resources.

Posted by: Zane Safrit on August 9, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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