In the months before the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq, British intelligence had secret meetings in Amman, Jordan, with Habbush, chief of Saddam’s intelligence network. Habbush demanded a safe way out, if-and-when the U.S. invaded. Habbush repeatedly told the British that Saddam had no WMD; all programs had ended in the 1990’s; and the book says the Bush White House didn’t want to hear it - and didn’t want to hear more reports on what Habbush was saying.If Suskind's account of this can be corroborated - and there must be a full investigation from Congress - there is no option but to impeach.
The U.S. invaded in March ‘03. Habbush was ready. He slipped out of Baghdad with the help of U.S. intelligence and into Amman…
In October ‘03, CIA paid Habbush $5 million as part of his resettlement. By then, the White House had finally thought of a way to use Habbush. … The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq — thus showing, finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda… The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda’s assistance. The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationery, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media.
The book also reveals that
Suskind says he spoke on the record with U.S. intelligence officials who stated that Bush was informed unequivocally in January 2003 that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, his book relates, Bush decided to invade Iraq three months later — with the forged letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam bolstering the U.S. rationale to go into war.Update: May as well count this towards that slam dunk case (h/t Think Progress)
By the end of 2005, those defending the regime of torture were no longer seeking primarily to protect the search for valuable intelligence. They were fighting for its survival, in the face of considerable evidence of the failure of SERE and other programs, because they feared being prosecuted should the program be halted and exposed. Even releasing detainees whom they knew to be entirely innocent was dangerous, since once released they could talk. “People will ask where they’ve been and ‘What have you been doing with them?’” Cheney said in a White House meeting. “They’ll all get lawyers.”Update II: I was planning on writing a seperate post today commenting on Glenn Greenwald's recent post 9/11 anthrax attacks posts, but this one is relevant to the Suskind allegation.
Given everything that has happened over the last seven years -- not just with the anthrax attacks but with countless episodes of Government deceit and corruption -- it's astonishing (and more than a little disturbing) how many people are willing, even eager, to assume that the Government's accusations against Ivins are accurate even without seeing a shred of evidence to support those claims.When it comes to finding out how it came to be that domestic anthrax attacks - mailed to "liberal" figures - which originated from a military lab were used to help sell an invasion of Iraq despite those anthrax letters having nothing to do with Iraq; and when it comes to investigating whether or not the White House attempted to retroactively fabricate evidence linking al Qaeda and Iraq - is it possible that as a nation we might take an interest in such matters that is equal to, at least, that which we take in Britney Spears or the children of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt?
When you add on to that the magnitude of this case and the ample reasons for error and deceit -- it's the first lethal bioterrorism attack on the U.S., one which, according to the Government itself, originated at a U.S. Government facility, perpetrated by a U.S. Army scientist, that was then used by numerous factions inside the Government and out to ratchet up fear levels and falsely blame Iraq and/or Al Qaeda for the attacks and, thereafter, was blamed on someone who appears to have been completely innocent -- what minimally rational person would be willing to assume that the Government's uncorroborated,unexamined, untested claims are accurate?
The anthrax letters thing is just disturbing that we still don't know what happened. And this is in relation to an event that hints at the possibility that it wouldn't be all that difficult to generate our own Reichstag fire like event, especially since the President already effectively asserted a lower threshold for the abrogation of the rule of law than the Weimar Republic had.*
Take note: I am not implying any sort of conspiracy, I am merely pointing out what is obvious from the above stories - if such an event as the anthrax attacks (which were taken advantage of to garner public approval for a war with a country that had nothing to do with the anthrax) or the Suskind charge of retroactive intelligence fabrication can occur without the press, Congress, and the public bothering to get to the bottom of it; then it is possible that such events can be utilized towards achieving undemocratic ends.
Update III: Ron Suskind reveals that a research assistant for the book was detained and interrogated by federal agents, and his notes for the book were confiscated. Who wants to take bets on whether or not Suskind is a target of the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" that Democrats recently voted to expand the powers of?
I neglected to point this out in my previous update, but in regards to Suskind's research assistant being interrogated and my remark about Suskind being a potential surveillance target, it's worth remembering that after Suskind published his first book about the Bush administration - The Price of Loyalty - the central character of the book, Paul O'Neal, who provided Suskind with his material (thousands of pages of documents) was federally investigated (and subsequently cleared) for illegally leaking information; it's also worth remembering that this administration has already stepped up its surveillance of journalists in relation to leaks.
Update V: In Seymour Hersch's latest article he writes that Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials have been brainstorming ways to create another Gulk of Tonkin type incident to start a war with Iran.
*[Edited 6-5-08] I had written "we've already got a lower threshold ..." but I revised the sentence. I do not want to grant legitimacy to this administration's conception of a Unitary Executive or to its presidential directive decreeing the president to be the head of the entire government in the case of an emergency.