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Ron Suskind Says White House Forged Iraq-Al Qaeda Letter
August 5, 2008 8:04 AM   Subscribe

In his new book, 'The Way of the World' "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind claims that, after the Iraq war began, the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to tie Hussein to the 9/11 attacks."* Suskind writes: "'It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq' and that Iraq bought yellowcake uranium from Niger with the help of al Qaeda. Suskind 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." After the fake letter was released in late 2003, press outlets reported it as evidence of a Saddam/al Qaeda link. "Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda—Saddam," said Bill O’Reilly at the time.

"The White House plans to push back hard," Politico reports. Former CIA Director George Tenet today called the charges 'ridiculous' and questioned whether Suskind is a 'serious journalist.' 'There was no such order from the White House to me,' he said. On NBC’s Today Show [video|01:34], Suskind said Tenet simply does not remember the letter — but Tenet’s staff does:
'I think this is part of George’s memory issue....He seems not to remember it. That’s at least what he claims. In this book, instead of going to George, I went to all the people around George, close to George, who remember because they were involved in the thing, and they remember what George says to them.'
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.*
posted by ericb (127 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
No offense to Saucy Intruder, but I sort of like this FPP better than the other one. I vote to keep this one.
posted by hifiparasol at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2008


(heh--i almost posted this, too. i second hifiparasol and saucy intruder. this one's more fleshed out.)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:09 AM on August 5, 2008


I agree this one stays, but please transfer the batshitinsane tag.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:11 AM on August 5, 2008


This is an interesting story, but it doesn't address the fact that Barack Obama is the biggest celebrity in the world, bigger than either Paris or Britney.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2008 [15 favorites]


I'd like to see Bush compelled to testify, and then be asked, not to draw, but simply name all 50 states.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:16 AM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


The only people stuff like this surprises anymore are those who have their heads planted in the sand.

9/11 was a blessing to these people (Rumsfeld even referred to it as a "blessing in disguise," and the PNAC had already made explicit their desire for a "new Pearl Harbor" to kick start the neocon agenda; little wonder that Bush himself wrote "the Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century happened today" in his diary, or so we're told--that he keeps a diary at all seems unlikely). Meanwhile all the evidence thus provided for the guilt of the anthrax "suicide" suspect seems incomplete at best and dubious at worst. May you live in interesting times.
posted by ornate insect at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2008


This does not surprise me at all. His presidency has been one slap to the face after another to the American people. It just goes to show you, how stupid were we for voting for him and letting him stay in office for as long as he has. Everyone was up in arms about Clinton for lying about a blow job and we were ready to impeach him. W lies about sending us to war and nothing happens? Worst president ever! November can't come quick enough.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Missing tag: surelythis
posted by DU at 8:27 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yep, this here's a keeper. Thanks for being a sport, Saucy Intruder.
posted by cortex at 8:28 AM on August 5, 2008


Obama's energy plan is inflated tires LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
posted by fleetmouse at 8:33 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


The stuff about the letter is peanuts compared to the book's allegations about the former director of Iraq's intelligence agency:

Suskind writes that the White House had “ignored the Iraq intelligence chief’s accurate disclosure that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.

“They secretly resettled him in Jordan, paid him $5 million – which one could argue was hush money – and then used his captive status to help deceive the world about one of the era’s most crushing truths: that America had gone to war under false pretenses,” the book says.

posted by sacre_bleu at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2008


It's awesome that he got people to discuss this on the record. I'm a little peeved he held it for his book rather than reporting it immediately. It's getting a little late for an impeachment, but this is Watergate-level shit.
posted by grobstein at 8:36 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ok, the Republican machine and the wing-nuts will come up with excuses for why the forgery was the right thing to do. Any guesses what those excuses will be?
posted by orthogonality at 8:41 AM on August 5, 2008


Well, if Bush or Cheney get impeached over this, they'll claim they have the right to pardon themselves during the impeachment process.
posted by gt2 at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2008


And the band played on...
posted by Pastabagel at 8:45 AM on August 5, 2008


Ok, the Republican machine and the wing-nuts will come up with excuses for why the forgery was the right thing to do. Any guesses what those excuses will be?

Turns out the entire Bush administration had brain tumors.
posted by hifiparasol at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any guesses what those excuses will be?

"Unfortunately I don't recall... I can't remember the specifics regarding that question... I can't recall being made personally aware of that knowledge... I've spent a lot of time reading about quantum mechanics lately and it's hard for me to distinguish what occured in our slice of space-time from what I might have theorised to have occured in a parallel universe..."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:48 AM on August 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


this is Watergate-level shit.

Heh. This administration's long made Watergate look like a junior high food fight. BushCo's criminality is unprecedented.
posted by scody at 8:49 AM on August 5, 2008 [15 favorites]


Ok, the Republican machine and the wing-nuts will come up with excuses for why the forgery was the right thing to do. Any guesses what those excuses will be?

Ooo! Ooo! Can I try?

"Well, we did find the original letter, but it was lost in (transit|a fire|an explosion). We merely asked CIA to copy the original that was lost."
posted by Pastabagel at 8:51 AM on August 5, 2008


Also, Obama's a muslim and that I-kissed-a-girl chick is degrading our moral values by the liberal media.


Seriously, this is like a really really thick book of mad libs.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:52 AM on August 5, 2008


Wow, I need a timeline or something. The anthrax lies, this forged letter, the yellowcake lies. Someone really sad down and came up with a gameplan. It becomes more and more clear why we'll never see any of the e-mails from that time.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 8:54 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sat down. sAt. Grrrr..
posted by Patapsco Mike at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2008


Any guesses what those excuses will be?

Whatever they are, they're going to be much more plausible than the excuses the Democrats will come up for not doing anything about this.
posted by daveje at 8:59 AM on August 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


Dude, the fall guy already fell (on his sword). I wouldn't expect much more than outrage on this.
posted by butterstick at 9:04 AM on August 5, 2008


No, I think the Democrats' excuses for not doing anything will be totally convincing. I'm envisioning something like, "But we're scaaared."

I'd buy that.
posted by grobstein at 9:04 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, the Republican machine and the wing-nuts will come up with excuses for why the forgery was the right thing to do. Any guesses what those excuses will be?

Drastic times call for drastic measures. America is surrounded by enemies on all sides, each one clamoring to destroy us. Whie we civilians certainly find such actions uncouth, we must remember that we have entrusted Our President with our saftey and that of our children as well. We must not question the actions of Our President in a time of war, for, indeed, the very fate of our civilization itself rests upon his gently sloping shoulders.

Instead, let us ignore these baseless accusations of law-breaking and instead focus upon the freedoms which Our President works tirelessly to protect from our enemies. Consider the great freedoms which are virtually unknown outside our borders:

1) the freedom to speak patriotically
2) the freedom to respect and salute the flag
3) the freedom to serve in the armed forces
4) the freedom to live and work in a free market
5) and greatest of them all, the indelible freedom of every American to worship God in a Christian church.

Make no mistake: our enemies hate us for having these freedoms. They are envious that we live in a land of wealth and opportunity and that we have a President who cares so deeply for our well-being. Let us never forget that Our President, chosen by none other than Almighty God, has seen it fit to sacrifice all for the sake of our continued existence as a Nation. Let us then reject the catcalls of defeatism and instead lift our voices in praise and thanksviging for the kindness and generosity which Our President has showered upon His Nation.
posted by Avenger at 9:06 AM on August 5, 2008 [19 favorites]


McCain encourages wife to enter topless beauty contest.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 AM on August 5, 2008


sigh.
posted by milarepa at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2008


Well, it's finally happened.

I have succumbed to outrage fatigue. I. Just. Don't. Care. Any. More.

Fuck the administration, fuck their Democrat lapdogs, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it. NO ONE will EVER be prosecuted for ANY of this, I'll bet money. Dubya will build his library to house all three books he's ever read and he'll install a big central room where he can roll in piles of dirty money while praising White Republican Jesus. The Democrats will continue to be spineless craven cowards.

The rest of the world will continue to hate us and/or laugh at us. Our economy will continue to tank, and the rich will get richer.

Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it.

This administration has grasped the lessons of Stalin and Goering: the bigger the crime, the less the chance you'll get punished for it.

They've lied to us, picked our pockets, coddled our enemies, sold us down the river for a sack of shoddy shit.

And I'm BEYOND giving a fuck.

I'll vote. I'll vote for Obama. I'll vote knowing that the flicker of hope I felt at the start of his candidacy will be snuffed by realpolitik within moments of his taking office.

Fuck this. I'm going to go get drunk.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2008 [23 favorites]


> I'll vote knowing that the flicker of hope I felt at the start of his candidacy will be snuffed by realpolitik

You mean it hasn't been already?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:15 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any guesses what those excuses will be?

"We're better off with Saddam Hussein dead. Deny it if you can, Osama! I mean Obama."
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please excuse the above rant. I think I'm a bit hypoglycemic. I'm going to have some crackers and milk and stretch out in a dark room with a cool towel on my forehead.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:18 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


"You can't handle the truth" (an oldie but a goody)...

Or the currently fashionable: "You get the government you deserve."

Or another variation I've heard recently from some on the right: "Yeah, well, what are you gonna do about it?"
posted by saulgoodman at 9:21 AM on August 5, 2008


I just wrote Bush's fool-proof defense for this. Want to hear it? Heres goes:

"This guy is just trying to sell books."

Problem solved. If there is some truth to this, it should have been brought out in a legitimate journalistic venue, not on the "look what's new!" table at Barne's and Noble next to Miley Cyrus' autobiography.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2008


drjimmy11--do you really think it would have made a difference? We've had over five years of revelations about criminal, unconstitutional, impeachable, and highly questionable acts from this administration, and one can hear the crickets chirping.
posted by ornate insect at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2008


Any guesses what those excuses will be?

"There's no question Saddam was involved in terrorism. No question! Just because we couldn't prove it doesn't mean it wasn't true! Everybody knew he was involved in 9/11, except the American People, so we had to let the American People in on what everybody else already knew. That's all we did. We were proving to America what we already knew was true. We weren't lying, we were just showing you a letter that was the opposite of true."
posted by shmegegge at 9:36 AM on August 5, 2008


the horror
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:38 AM on August 5, 2008


New Bob Woodward Book Coming on Sept. 8 -- More Iraq Bombshells?
posted by homunculus at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2008


The problem isn't that Bush, Cheney and their friends broke the law.

The problem is that we don't have a Congress that will hold them accountable to the law.

Until we have elected officials who will stand on their oath to support and defend the Constitution, we will never have impeachment hearings for the executive branch.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:41 AM on August 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


According to the NPR link, "the CIA" has denied the allegations. The big question is who in the agency is going to be willing to step forward and confirm the account? Because if everything in the book is unattributed this will go nowhere.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2008


"Well, we had a witness that could prove this isn't true, but he suddenly committed suicide when we went to talk to him."
posted by inigo2 at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2008


The only people stuff like this surprises anymore are those who have their heads planted in the sand.

I'm not surprised that they would discuss this; they've made their interest in these sorts of tactics obvious. And I can't say I'm shocked that they decided to go through with it, but it's unexpected. It's not the immorality (there's definitely no surprise there), it's the astounding lack of prudence. Instead of 'criminal' or 'war-mongerer' the word that comes to mind is 'pitiful'. I'm amazed at the consistency with which the administration shows their incredible level of ineptitude.

-----

He says sources at the CIA remember seeing the order for that letter on "creamy White House stationery," and that the letter could only have come from the "highest reaches of the White House. ... It would have to come from the very top."

Oh, so it was Cheney.
posted by BigSky at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2008


this is Watergate-level shit.

Watergate didn't implicitly lead to the death of over 4,000 Americans. If all Bush wanted to do was hurt political enemies and secure re-election we'd be a lot safer a country right now.

The irony of all this is that Nixon was truly a paranoid, racist, vengeful psychopath who openly despised and gleefully sought to hurt people. Bush and Cheney were just fucking greedy and they managed to do exponentially more damage to the country that a certified lunatic.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


McCain encourages wife to enter topless beauty contest.

Perhaps she was hanging out with the bikers so she could make a new connection for Percoset?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2008


There's no question Saddam was involved in terrorism.

Actually, there really is no question that Saddam supported terrorism -- he publicly offered to pay cash rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. That he may have backed terrorists that threatened the U.S. is what has never been proved.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2008


Watergate didn't implicitly lead to the death of over 4,000 Americans. If all Bush wanted to do was hurt political enemies and secure re-election we'd be a lot safer a country right now.

Agreed, agreed. In some ways the better analogy is the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, but that's murkier as a question of political ethics because (as far as I can tell) the balance between bungling and deception is unclear. Johnson came to regret the Vietnam War, as well.
posted by grobstein at 10:22 AM on August 5, 2008


Another well reviewed book: The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals
posted by acro at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2008


Watergate didn't implicitly lead to the death of over 4,000 Americans.

Jesus. All you care about is your 4000 Americans. What about the estimated million dead Iraqis? What about the utter hell that Iraq has become? This isn't Watergate-level scandal. This is war crimes level scandal, on a par with Milosevic and Karadzic.
posted by salmacis at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2008 [23 favorites]


Actually, there really is no question that Saddam supported terrorism -- he publicly offered to pay cash rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

That, and the firing of Scud missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War in order to bait Israel into the fight and ruin the allied alliance.

Saddam was a bastard and needed killing. Bush, though ... I mean, wow. He's still in office? You're kidding, right? Fuuuuck...

Until we have elected officials who will stand on their oath to support and defend the Constitution, we will never have impeachment hearings for the executive branch.

Write down the date. I'm in agreement with the Blaze-meister.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2008


I agree with your assessment, salmacis, though you're being a bit hard on XQ. We're all more or less on the same side, here.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:36 AM on August 5, 2008


I hope Susskind is ready - they are gonna try to Gary Webb him, no doubt about it at all.

It was interesting listening to him on Morning Edition today - for once, Steve Inskeep was a pressing questioner, and Susskind stuck to his non-libelous talking points, as he should. The effect was clearly to undermine the allegations, Inskeep feigning shock over the very idea tha the President, Vice President, and cohort would or could ever have lied to the public.

Steve, honestly, WHERE THE FUCK was that kind of hardball six years ago? And mightn't it be somewhat defensively misdirected against Susskind?
posted by mwhybark at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


mehybark: His surname is "Inskeep." He obviously comes from European merchant-class stock (inn's keep). Deference to authority is in his blood. /a-snide
posted by saulgoodman at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2008


It isn't enough to obey Big Brother, you must love him.

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
posted by a3matrix at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saddam was a bastard and needed killing.

It was not our decision to make. He was a brutal dictator, but he held the country together through brute force. In the wake of the political vacuum we created, the country of Iraq has been decimated; it has undergone a still unsettled civil war; hundreds of thousands have lost their lives; a million have become refugees, gone into exile or been left homeless (over 50,00 homeless in Baghdad); the infrastructure has been destroyed or seriously disrupted. And now the Bushies have re-packaged their lies through the myth of a "surge"--while in Baghdad over 20 miles of walls have been erected and thus sliced up the city into Sunni and Shia ghettos.
posted by ornate insect at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2008


Jesus. All you care about is your 4000 Americans.

Hey, an outrage contest! Neat.

Saddam was a bastard and needed killing. Bush, though ... I mean, wow. He's still in office?


Yeah, in the olden days, wouldn't we have just put a bullet into Saddam's head? How many governments (democratically elected or otherwise) has the US toppled without resorting to full-scale invasion?
posted by spaltavian at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2008


The Democrats will continue to be spineless craven cowards.

The only way you'll get at Bush is to go through congressmen first. Indict them, and then you can go after the real targets.

As long as nobody gets punished for failing to do their duty, nobody will do their duty.
posted by aramaic at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2008


Here's a good analogy:

My girlfriend saw little black specks in a tub of yogurt and concluded it had spoiled. She didn't look at the date on the yogurt, she didn't taste the yogurt, or as much as smell it. She could have scooped a little the little offending specks out and saved the yogurt, but no, she decided it was best that she throw the hole thing out.

Now... the little black specks were little bits of espresso from the spoon I had used to scoop the ground espresso before I ate some yogurt, not five minutes before. Had she gone through any of the logical steps to investigate, or at the least, point them out to me, I could have told her what it was.

But none of this happened. She wasted 3/4s of a perfectly good 32oz cup of yogurt.

No, we didn't get sick from the yogurt, but that really wasn't a possibility in the first place.

Learn from the Yogurt Incident. Forever remember the Yogurt That Could Have Been!
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only way you'll get at Bush is to go through congressmen first. Indict them, and then you can go after the real targets.

As long as nobody gets punished for failing to do their duty, nobody will do their duty.


Kiff, the fastest route to a girl's heart is through her parents. Have sex with them and you're in!
posted by grobstein at 11:02 AM on August 5, 2008


Wow, and here I thought that my forging a sick note from home in high school was some serious shit. (Not that I didn't wait for the statute of limitations to expire. Suck it, losers! Put that on my permanent record, beeyotches!)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2008


But none of this happened. She wasted 3/4s of a perfectly good 32oz cup of yogurt.

Worst. Derail. Ever.
posted by designbot at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't blame me, I voted for myself.
posted by nomisxid at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2008


Bathtub Bobsled writes "Here's a good analogy:"

Heck of an analogy, Brownie.
posted by orthogonality at 11:15 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think this can take down at least Cheney, assuming a link can be made to the forged document (hopefully Woodward's book will provide some more hard evidence.)

The unspoken rule of what constitutes an impeachable offense is whether it can be distilled into a single sentence written at an eighth-grade level. "He lied about a blow job" is the epitome. For Nixon it was "He lied about Watergate." For this administration it will be one word - "forgery" -* one of the most universally digestible of all the white-collar crimes.

* I know, it should have been "torture", but we'll clean up that mess soon enough.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:23 AM on August 5, 2008


except, saucy intruder, the Niger yellowcake accusation also sprung from a forgery (and a break in), albeit one in which the actual forgery was carried out by an Italian ex-spy with possible connections to neofascist organizations--and yet it went nowhere. Likewise, Dan Rather was felled by forgery. But I nevertheless hope you are correct, and that this one sticks.
posted by ornate insect at 11:27 AM on August 5, 2008


"How many governments (democratically elected or otherwise) has the US toppled without resorting to full-scale invasion?"

How many governments are sitting on the second-largest oil reserves on the planet?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:28 AM on August 5, 2008


"How many governments (democratically elected or otherwise) has the US toppled without resorting to full-scale invasion?"

See Hawaii.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2008


How long has this website hated America?
posted by zzazazz at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2008


How long has this website hated America?

2754 days.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:03 PM on August 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is destroying the very fabric of the ideals and meaning of the United States of America an impeachable offense?

Just curious. I don't want to get t-shirts made until I get clarification.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:07 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


How many governments (democratically elected or otherwise) has the US toppled without resorting to full-scale invasion?

We've actually toppled more governments inadvertently than intentionally. For instance, Iran was toppled by the mullahs and South Vietnam lost to the North because we unconditionally and lavishly supported brutal but incompetent regimes there (sound familiar?) simply because they spouted the anti-communist line.
posted by bigcynic at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2008


Yeah, but in both those cases, we had intentionally toppled a government before. The mullahs only brought down the shah after we brought down the old government and installed him. Diem was assassinated in a US supported coup a few weeks before JFK was assassinated (in a US supported coup).
posted by spaltavian at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2008


delmoi writes "McCain encourages wife to enter topless beauty contest"

He seems to be under the delusion the bikers came to south dakota to see him : "“As you may know,” he told the tens of thousands gathered at the 68th annual Sturgis Rally at Buffalo Chip campground, “not long ago, a couple of hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I’ll take the roar of fifty thousand Harleys any day.”"
posted by Mitheral at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2008


'Take', in this case, is being used in the sense of "grasp", "latch onto".
posted by cortex at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2008


Diem was assassinated in a US supported coup a few weeks before JFK was assassinated (in a US supported coup).

I see what you did there.
posted by grobstein at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2008


"Goddam Germans," he continued.
posted by cortex at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2008


Ron Suskind: The Forged Iraqi Letter: What Just Happened?
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on August 5, 2008


The video of the McCain rally (re: stunt) in Sturgis, SD is some weak tea: he looks awkward and uninspired, and promises not to take too much of the audience's time before Kid Rock comes on.
posted by ornate insect at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2008


I can't believe this isn't even one of the top news stories on any of the feeds I subscribe to. Even the political ones like TPM, while they cover it in passing, are still devoting most of their coverage to the presidential horse race and myriad other unrelated subjects.

This is history-making news! Whether we all knew to expect this kind of thing by now from the Bush administration or not. Whether we think anything will be done about it or not. This is a massive betrayal of the public trust we're talking about here, and while I personally think it's only the tip of a much nastier iceberg, it should still be considered one of the biggest domestic political news stories of the last two or three decades!

Why the hell does this seem to be getting so little attention? This should be a "let's drop everything and give this a closer look RIGHT NOW" kind of moment, not an opportunity for more "mehs" followed by another round of defeated shrugs.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, this is the final week of So You Think You Can Dance!

Who Will Win
posted by fleetmouse at 2:14 PM on August 5, 2008


mwhybark writes "I hope Susskind is ready - they are gonna try to Gary Webb him, no doubt about it at all."

I don't know what you're talking about. Gary Webb committed suicide. Like many suicides, he shot himself in the head twice just to be sure he was good and dead.
posted by mullingitover at 2:19 PM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


but it's too soon for another suicide, mullingitover: they painted themselves in a corner with the anthrax guy.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on August 5, 2008


OK, I have no doubt that this administration is capable of ordering a letter being forged like he alleges, but if such an order actually occurred wouldn't they have released the letter? This doesn't seem like news - either they had a forgery done and didn't use it, or the reporter's sources are making this up. Am I missing something?
posted by btkuhn at 2:24 PM on August 5, 2008


Here, fox spins this as "Admin. Fights Back Against New Anti-War Book"

It's funny because it's true.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:47 PM on August 5, 2008


This doesn't seem like news - either they had a forgery done and didn't use it, or the reporter's sources are making this up. Am I missing something?

Text of the FPP, perhaps?

"After the fake letter was released in late 2003, press outlets reported it as evidence of a Saddam/al Qaeda link. "Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda—Saddam," said Bill O’Reilly at the time."
posted by fleetmouse at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2008


Jesus. All you care about is your 4000 Americans.

To be fair, anyone critical of the admin has gotten so used to framing things defensively, for the least receptive audience possible, that even people who agree wholeheartedly with your statement tend to emphasize the impact at home.

It's the wrong thing to do and I think it has to stop. But I don't automatically assume that someone who phrases things in this way necessarily only cares about the impact on the U.S., unless some other statements/behaviour by that person remove that benefit of the doubt. Your point does bear repeating, though. Again and again.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:31 PM on August 5, 2008


Here are your MetaFilter Liberal Talking Points:

When referencing the Iraq War no longer say "Iraq War" say "Bush's fiasco in Iraq."

No longer say "A war on false pretense" say "Bush's lied our way into this fiasco." "False pretense" is just a fancy way of saying "lies."

Never, but never, say "Surge." This cheerful Madison Avenue laundry detergent euphemism disguises the ugly fact that the entire concept and strategy of the war is horrifically disastrous and illegitimate and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered as a result. instead say "Bribes and Reinforcements." becuase that is the reality.

Also when mentioning the so-called "success" of the bribe and reinforcement strategy always include "mostly the result of three years of violent unchecked ethnic cleansing."

That is all. As you were.
posted by tkchrist at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Of course the Democrats in Congress are sca-ared.

I'm scared.

Because I cannot see any way that a bunch of deeply corrupt and power-hungry politicians like the ones in the White House for the last 7.55 years, who have already done things like this, would NOT strike back against any serious threat of Impeachment, even this late in the game, with a manufactured Constitutional Crisis and a shut-down of the Congress. (They don't even need The Armed Forces behind them with their domestic, very loyal, army in the Justice Dept. and DHS)

I still find it difficult to believe Bush & Company would ever willingly give up the Power of the Presidency to anyone else (especially anyone like Barack Obama), election or no. They have invested too much (and are liable for too much) to 'retire' after 8 years, no matter how many times they pre-pardon each other. (And their political footsoldiers throughout the Federal Government don't want to lose their jobs)

I won't stop holding my breath until January 21st, 2009 at the earliest. (Maybe that's why I've had lung problems lately...)
posted by wendell at 4:31 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Watergate didn't implicitly lead to the death of over 4,000 Americans

Not sure what you're saying here -- is this some "9/11 Truth" thing? Just curious.
posted by mattholomew at 4:32 PM on August 5, 2008


Mattholomew I think that might be a reference to the number of US soldier deaths in Bush Iraq fiasco (hat tip: TkC), not the number of those who perished in the WTC collapse.
posted by nudar at 5:17 PM on August 5, 2008


Y'know, the right to bear arms is just not being properly applied in America.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on August 5, 2008


For the sake of the children, remember the yogurt.
posted by johnj at 6:37 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Our new flag
posted by homunculus at 11:48 PM on August 5, 2008


(WASHINGTON) Two former CIA officers Tuesday denied that they or the spy agency faked an Iraqi intelligence document purporting to link Saddam Hussein with 9/11 bomber Mohammed Atta, as they are quoted as saying in a new book.

The White House issued the statement on behalf of the former officials after a day of adamant denials from the CIA and Bush administration about the claim, made in "The Way of the World," a book by Washington-based journalist Ron Suskind.

"I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document ... as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book," said Robert Richer, the CIA's former deputy director of clandestine operations.

Richer also said he talked Tuesday to John Maguire, who headed the CIA's Iraq Operations Group at the time and who gave Richer "permission to state the following on his behalf: `I never received any instruction from then Chief/NE Rob Richer or any other officer in my chain of command instructing me to fabricate such a letter. Further, I have no knowledge to the origins of the letter and as to how it circulated in Iraq," the statement said.
Ah, so the white house denies it on behalf of one CIA guy who reportedly denies it on behalf of another CIA guy. Well that's the end of that. Congress better not subpoena these guys to deny it in person. They sure would look silly when it turns out these former CIA guys have better things to do than talk to an irrelevant branch of the government, LoL!
posted by fleetmouse at 6:53 AM on August 6, 2008


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind says something happened. Former CIA director, Medal of Freedom recipient, and amnesiac slam-dunk enthusiast George Tenet says it didn't. Hmmm...who to believe?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:37 AM on August 6, 2008


Officially speaking: Is a CIA director allowed or even expected to lie about this kind of thing if not under oath? Or are they expected to take the No Comment approach?
posted by Mitheral at 7:41 AM on August 6, 2008


Fleetmouse, is that article weird or what? The way it treats the distinction between "Richer said" and "A White House statement says Richer said" is a little careless!
posted by grobstein at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2008


Is a CIA director allowed or even expected to lie about this kind of thing

When you have the power to define what The Truth is, you're never lying.
posted by Rykey at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2008


Fleetmouse, is that article weird or what? The way it treats the distinction between "Richer said" and "A White House statement says Richer said" is a little careless!

It's almost enough to make the more paranoid among us think the White House and the Pentagon have various mechanisms for exerting an undue influence over the way news is presented in the media...

But of course, that's just crazy talk. This is America. The sole reason so many of our military men and women have sacrificed their lives in this and previous wars, is to defend our basic American freedoms: And one of the most fundamental among those, as we all know, is the Freedom of the Press (serving the vital purpose of keeping the citizenry informed to ward off the encroachment of illegitimate, military-force supported tyranny).

AMIRITE? Or AMIRITE?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2008


Ah, so the white house denies it on behalf of one CIA guy who reportedly denies it on behalf of another CIA guy. Well that's the end of that. Congress better not subpoena these guys to deny it in person. They sure would look silly when it turns out these former CIA guys have better things to do than talk to an irrelevant branch of the government, LoL!

I saw Suskind on the Today Show again this morning. He says he has Richer's and Maguire's stories on tape.
posted by marsha56 at 8:45 AM on August 6, 2008


Then the White House shall issue a statement on behalf of Suskind that no such tapes exist.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:00 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Watergate didn't implicitly lead to the death of over 4,000 Americans.

as others have pointed out, the scandal is a bit wider than that.


This is war crimes level scandal, on a par with Milosevic and Karadzic.


who gives a shit about the ICC?

Following is the text of the letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton:
"Dear Mr. Secretary-General:

This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty.

Sincerely,

S/John R. Bolton"

Released on May 6, 2002
Try to indict an American for war crimes -- you somehow apprehend them and take them to the Hague, the US will invade the Netherlands. No shit. But has even threatened to do so.

Hence, impunity. Unless you want a lot of cluster bombs to rian down on your head, only the US President says what's a war crime and what isn't, whenever the USA is involved (this does not mean that Washington doesn't like to use the ICC as a prop whenever they want to slam some -- often dark-skinned -- foreigner.


Saddam was a bastard and needed killing.

that's how organized crime families operate -- the unpatriotic liberals would nevertheless appreciate marginally higher standards for the US government. Funny how the law-and-order crowd isn't really that law-and-order.
posted by matteo at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Flashback: Seven years ago today, Bush received ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ memo.
posted by homunculus at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2008


Suskind: 'Enormous pressure' on sources to recant forgery revelation (click for video)
Author Ron Suskind says his sources are under "enormous pressure" to change their stories after revealing to him that the Bush administration had ordered the CIA to forge a letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence connecting Iraq to the 9/11 hijackers.

On Tuesday, former CIA official Robert Richer, who is one of Suskind's sources, sent a statement to news outlets in which he wrote, "I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document from Habbush as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book."

Richer's statement also quoted Suskind's other source, former CIA officer John Maguire, as saying, "I have no knowledge to the origins of the letter."

Suskind told NBC's Meredith Vieira on Wednesday morning, "It's interesting. ... Rob Richer talked to me, and actually other reporters too, yesterday morning. He was fine, he'd gotten the book Monday night, read it. And then something happened yesterday afternoon."

"It's one of these instances where you've got a few people whose testimony could mean the impeachment, ostensibly, of the president," Suskind explained. "It's enormous pressure on both men."

Suskind had appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann the previous evening, where he had explained, "They've got to feed their families. They really survive off the government, they're contractors, both of them. ... They can be brought into a moment of crisis by the government saying, 'You'll never work again.'"

Suskind insisted to Vieira, however, that "I'm actually not concerned," telling her, "I've spent a lot of time with them. Their interviews are taped. ... They talked to me at length, hour after hour ... and all of that is on the record."

Suskind emphasized to Olbermann that "Maguire, I think, will still stand up in daylight." He noted that Maguire recently said he understands why the first and second amendments appear in that order, because "the first amendment is the most important amendment. If they take that one away, then you should start loading your weapons."

Suskind suggested to both Olbermann and Vieira that what is really needed is Congressional hearings with testimony under oath. He revealed on Wednesday morning that "there are folks in Congress calling. ... They want people under oath ... with threat of perjury."

"They're good guys," Suskind said in concluding his interview with Vieira. "Maguire's sent me things about truth and the power of truth. He's a believer in that. I think Richer is too. And we'll see how it unfolds."
[/surelythis]
posted by fleetmouse at 10:31 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


fleetmouse--I don't want to jinx it, but I'm starting to feel this story may indeed be the proverbial straw that finally breaks the back of the Bush administration. At the same time, however, it seems likely that what this refers to...

And then something happened yesterday afternoon.

...is that these guys are being blackmailed not to testify, not to speak to the press, and to deny the matter strongly and entirely; it would not surprise me if they if their lives and the lives of their loved ones are being threatened.
posted by ornate insect at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


it would not surprise me if they if their lives and the lives of their loved ones are being threatened.

Good thing, then, that their accounting of the events to Suskind were taped.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2008


Flashback: Seven years ago today, Bush received ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ memo.

"Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: 'All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2008


it would not surprise me if their lives and the lives of their loved ones are being threatened.

/sings

Gary Webb-iana, Gary Webb-iana, Gary Webb-iana, let me say it once again!

My thinking as well.
posted by mwhybark at 11:50 AM on August 6, 2008


Dan Froomkin gave interesting context for the White House's specific choice of language to deny these allegations (White House spokesman Tony Fratto's response was a classic non-denial denial: "The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from [former Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil] Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd," he said.):
A None Too Proud Tradition

Fratto's response is also highly reminiscent of some previous White House non-denials.

One of my favorites has always been former press secretary Scott McClellan's response to a British press report in 2005, to the effect that Bush had raised with British Prime Minister Tony Blair the idea of bombing al-Jazeera television headquarters. All McClellan would say about that is: "Any such notion that we would engage in that kind of activity is just absurd."

Here's McClellan in October 2003, responding to questions about the White House's campaign against former ambassador and administration critic Joe Wilson: "We -- this White House -- it is absurd to suggest that this White House would seek to punish someone for speaking out with a different view. We welcome people with different views. That's a healthy part of our democracy."
ad_icon

And of course here is McClellan, in September 2003, responding to questions about whether Karl Rove was involved in the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as a CIA operative: "I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place."
So absurd and ridiculous doesn't equal false.
posted by gladly at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Key Source For Suskind’s Book May Have Retracted Allegations To Preserve Intel Contracts.
posted by ericb at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2008


"After leaving the CIA, Richer 'immediately' took a job with Blackwater USA as Vice President of Intelligence. In February 2007, Richer and Vice Chairman of Blackwater, Cofer Black, started a new company, Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS). That company reportedly operates ' under the purview of its secretive founder' and Blackwater owner, Erik Prince.

....Suskind said Richer’s change of heart was quite sudden. 'He was fine with it this morning. He was fine with it at midday. Now, reporters actually called him. He said to me, "I‘ll tell them no comment because it‘s in the book, but Ron Suskind is a fine journalist. That will be my comment." He said, "It‘s fine, Ron."'

Given Richer’s business dealings, it seems appropriate to ask whether the Bush administration or one of its key allies (Cofer Black or Erik Prince) compelled Richer into retracting his allegations by threatening him with his job."
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on August 6, 2008


Wait till Mom hears about this.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2008


so at this point Suskind needs to release the audio, yeah?
posted by shmegegge at 1:34 PM on August 6, 2008


Derail or not, do I have this right : The Republican Nominee For President of the United States is opening for Kid Rock at biker rallies?
posted by mannequito at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good thing, then, that their accounting of the events to Suskind were taped.

A good thing, provided Suskind has hidden them very securely.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:53 PM on August 6, 2008


ornate insect - I agree with your threat assessment - because if this is true and it's fully investigated, it's not the end of political careers but of dynasties, parties, entire political structures and fortunes. Men are killed (or "suicided") over stakes such as these.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:53 PM on August 6, 2008


A good thing, provided Suskind has hidden them very securely.

Hidden? He should seed them on the pirate bay and emule.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:54 PM on August 6, 2008


VP Cheney's Own Words Debunk LAT's Rutten, Suskind Book

OK, now this is REALLY dead. Story's over.
Los Angeles Times's Tim Rutten is at it again. In an op-ed in today's paper (Wed. 8/6/08), Rutten buttresses a new book by author Ron Suskind and asserts that "Vice President Dick Cheney and his inner circle long have insisted" that Iraq was directly connected to the September 11 attacks.

Rutten's claim is an easy one to debunk. Here's Vice President Cheney in a Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert a mere five days after the September 11 attacks:

RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation? [Sept. 11 attacks]

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

Does it get any simpler than "No"?

Cheney's words also strike a major blow to a wild accusation in Suskind's new book. According to Politico's Mike Allen (and quoted by Rutten), Suskind claims, "The White House had concocted a fake letter [that] said that 9/11 ringleader [Mohamed] 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."
I.... what? Oh. I get it. Obviously, they're implying that the time-traveling Cheney of Earth Alpha in 2001 would have known about the future evidence-forging RoboCheney from the parallel Earth Gamma in 2003 and would have spun his Russert interview accordingly. I think.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:33 PM on August 6, 2008


John Dean Confirms Suskind’s Book Focuses On Impeachable Crimes
posted by homunculus at 9:29 AM on August 7, 2008


RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation? [Sept. 11 attacks]

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.


Yeah, this is especially funny to me, because over the years, I've noticed certain members of the administration consistently have an odd habit of both affirming and denying specific claims at different times and through different media outlets--even to the point of making obviously contradictory statements to different audiences.

I guess that's a smart strategy: no matter the administration's real position might be, they leave behind a history of statements on the public record that can be used to assert their policy at any given time was either one position, or its exact opposite. As long as most of the media is too cowardly, submissive, or just bored to raise a big fuss about the contradictory statements when they first go on record, it leaves the administration all kinds of wiggle-room for any political maneuvering that future circumstances might dictate.

Neat. Do they teach sneaky techniques like this in some kind of advanced dirty politics course or something?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2008


American Conservative: It was Feith’s office, not CIA, that forged the Habbush letter.
posted by homunculus at 3:57 PM on August 7, 2008


Watch out for a hit on Allawi in the coming weeks.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:25 PM on August 7, 2008


Ray Suskind was on NPR's Fresh Air today. Pretty good interview/summary for those students who can't afford the book, like myself. Also what happened to Terry Gross? She's never there anymore.
posted by Hypocrites at 10:31 PM on August 7, 2008


Wall Street Journal ain't buying the Ivins story either.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 PM on August 7, 2008


Fox's Kilmeade claimed Bush "never even said there's a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq"

Can you even believe this shit is coming out of a human mouth? "No, Bush never claimed to be married to a woman named Laura or to have had children."
posted by fleetmouse at 9:20 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Suskind posts transcript of interview implicating White House in forged letter.
posted by ericb at 9:45 AM on August 8, 2008


Suskind's Report About Forged Iraq-Al Qaeda Letter Holding Up Under Scrutiny
posted by homunculus at 5:27 PM on August 8, 2008


Suskind on America's Declining Moral Authority
posted by homunculus at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2008


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