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Thread: Fabricated Iraq Links with Al-Qaeda?

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Fabricated Iraq Links with Al-Qaeda?

    A CIA report casts new doubt on links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Plus, tensions between FBI Director Bob Mueller and his predecessor, Louis Freeh.

    By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball for Newsweek

    A secret draft CIA report raises new questions about a principal argument used by the Bush administration to justify the war in Iraq: the claim that Saddam Hussein was “harboring” notorious terror leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi prior to the American invasion.

    The allegation that Zarqawi had visited Baghdad in May 2002 with Saddam’s sanction-purportedly for medical treatment-was once a centerpiece of the administration’s arguments about Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell cited Zarqawi’s alleged visit in his speech to the United Nations Security Council. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred obliquely to Zarqawi’s purported trip as an example of “bulletproof” evidence that the administration had assembled linking Saddam’s regime with Al Qaeda.

    But like the uranium yellowcake claims-since determined to be fraudulent-that are at the heart of the CIA leak case, the administration’s original allegations about Zarqawi’s trip also seem to be melting away. An updated CIA re-examination of the issue recently concluded that Saddam’s regime may not have given Zarqawi “safe haven” after all.

    The CIA declined to comment on the draft report. But officials tell NEWSWEEK that Zarqawi probably did travel to the Iraqi capital in the spring of 2002 for medical treatment. And, of course, there is no question that he is in Iraq now-orchestrating many of the deadly suicide bombings and attacks on American soldiers.

    But before the American-led invasion, Saddam’s government may never have known he was there. The reason: he used an alias and was there under what one U.S. intelligence official calls a “false cover.” No evidence has been found showing senior Iraqi officials were even aware of his presence, according to two counterterrorism analysts familiar with the classified CIA study who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    An intelligence official told NEWSWEEK that the current draft says that “most evidence suggests Saddam Hussein did not provide Zarqawi safe haven before the war. It also recognizes that there are still unanswered questions and gaps in knowledge about the relationship.”

    The most recent CIA analysis is an update-based on fresh reporting from Iraq and interviews with former Saddam officials-of a classified report that analysts in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence first produced more than a year ago. According to the Knight Ridder newspapers, the agency was originally asked to conduct that review of Saddam’s dealings with Zarqawi by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    The new report is only the latest chink in the armor of the alleged Saddam-Al Qaeda connection. Last year, the September 11 Commission found there was no “collaborative” relationship between the Iraqi regime and Osama bin Laden; one high-level Al Qaeda commander-who had been cited by Powell as testifying to talks about chemical- and biological-warfare training-later recanted his claims. But the Pentagon and Cheney’s office have been reluctant to abandon the case: in the months after U.S. and allied forces deposed Saddam, NEWSWEEK has learned, Iraqi informants approached U.S. intelligence personnel with what purported to be caches of documents proving that Saddam’s dealings with Al Qaeda were extensive. (One cache of documents even claimed that six of 19 of the September 11 hijackers had been trained to fly in Iraq.)

    Current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials said that when officials at the Bush White House learned about the existence of documents linking Saddam to Al Qaeda, they became very excited and pressured intelligence agencies to work quickly to validate and decipher them. However, the CIA ultimately established that most key documents about the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection turned over were faked-just like the documents purporting to show Iraqi purchases of uranium.

    Tension Between FBI Chiefs Ex-FBI director Louis Freeh’s new book, “My FBI,” has kicked up controversy over its stinging attacks on Bill Clinton. But it has also frayed relations with current director Bob Mueller. Freeh takes a little-noticed shot at his successor in the book, describing a testy encounter in the early days of the Bush administration with an “acting deputy attorney general”-a clear reference to Mueller who at the time held that post.

    In Freeh’s account, the acting deputy A.G. tells him the department now has new top priorities-guns, drugs and juvenile crime. Freeh replies that terrorism and “just about everything else” are more important. “Those are our marching orders,” Mueller says, according to Freeh’s account. “Those aren’t my marching orders,” Freeh shoots back. Freeh then writes that “lockstep, blind obedience” by an FBI director to “potentially unlawful or even ‘dumb orders’” is a “formula for disaster.”

    Mueller declined an invitation to attend Freeh’s book party last week after telling one bureau official that Freeh was “too controversial,” according to a Freeh associate who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. (The event was attended by several top Bush administration officials, including CIA Director Porter Goss and White House homeland-security adviser Fran Townsend.) An FBI spokesman said only that Mueller had strong “terrorism credentials” while he served at Justice overseeing, among other cases, indictments of the Iranian perpetrators of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia-a case that was a top priority for Freeh.

    (Partridge: Gotta love the "there is no question that he is in Iraq now-orchestrating many of the deadly suicide bombings and attacks on American soldiers" bit. No, no question at all!)

  2. #2
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    I thoughts these links were proven to be false a long time ago. Such as forged documents linking Atta with an Iraqi intel guy in Europe.

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