Suskind: White House forgery meant to solve 'political dilemma'

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 12, 2008

Author Ron Suskind said on Monday's Daily Show that the real significance of the forged letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence revealed in his new book is not precisely who created it, but why.

Suskind told Jon Stewart that following the invasion of Iraq and the failure to find WMD's, "the White House orders the CIA to fabricate a letter from this guy Habbush which clears them of their political dilemma of going to war under false pretenses."

Suskind explained that as early as January 2003, months before the invasion of Iraq, "There's a relationship to the Iraq intelligence chief. ... We made him our source. ... He tells us there are no WMD." However, the administration blew off the CIA's reports on Habbush, preferring to believe the claims by a low-level informant, known as "Curveball," that Iraq was actively producing WMD's.

As a result, once the war had started, Habbush became an embarrassment. "We end up paying him $5 million and hiding him," Suskind stated. "He's kind of radioactive as that summer unfolds and it's clear there are no weapons."

According to Suskind, even though the Habbush letter was not released until December 2003, it was created in direct response to Joseph Wilson's debunking of the earlier Niger forgeries in July 2003. Not only does the Habbush letter tie Iraq to al Qaeda, but it also refers to an Iraqi purchase of uranium from Niger and its shipment across Syria.

As previously reported by Raw Story, the United States was actively attempting to discover, or even fabricate, evidence of Iraqi WMD's or uranium purchases throughout the spring and summer of 2003. The Habbush forgery appears to have directly followed the failure of those attempts.

"Is it weird that those things were in there?" Stewart asked Suskind.

"It's kind of an overreach moment," Suskind agreed. "That overreach kind of revealed it to be fraudulent."

Suskind went on to suggest that "the White House obviously is intensely interested, because there may be illegality that has constitutional consequences."

"That may be the nicest way of saying 'impeachment' I think I've ever seen in my life," Stewart replied.

"Quite a little circus we're running here," Stewart commented in conclusion. "This does not seem to have created the firestorm that you would think. ... It must be weird to learn about this shit and then think, 'Ooh, fourteen months from now, ooh, people are going to go crazy' -- but then they don't."

"I've done my part in this," Suskind replied. "The book's all about the way America's moral authority is bled away and how we need to restore it."

This video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast August 11, 2008.

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