By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
The Bush administration used forged documents that it presented as evidence of Saddam Hussein’s complicity in the September 11 terrorist attacks, and which were later used as a pretext to launch the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, according to a newly released book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind.
In “The Way of the World,” Suskind writes that documents cited by the administration allege that Hussein’s regime permitted Al-Qaida operatives who carried out the 9/11 attacks to train on Iraqi soil, and that Saddam was seeking to obtain uranium in order to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.
According to the book, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations was responsible for fabricating the documents. The book goes on to say that the British intelligence agency MI6 recruited Saddam Hussein’s intelligence chief, Tahir Abd al-Jalil al-Tikriti, and questioned him in Amman two months before the war, and then handed him over to the CIA.
Al-Tikriti continued to function as an agent for the Americans until after the invasion, when he was taken into custody by the U.S. military. His activities on behalf of the Americans remained a well-guarded secret, as his name continued to appear on a list of wanted members of Saddam’s regime. The Americans distributed decks of cards containing the names and pictures of wanted Iraqi officials, among them al-Tikriti.
Months after the overthrow of the Ba’athist regime, al-Tikriti’s CIA handlers requested that he handwrite a letter on official Iraqi government letterhead stating that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, underwent training in Iraq prior to carrying out the attacks, according to Suskind. In addition, al-Tikriti wrote in the letter that Al-Qaida aided the Iraqi government in obtaining uranium in Niger. It is worth noting that evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Niger was discredited after the source of the information, an Italian informant, was discovered to have falsified his claims.
The CIA was quick to disseminate the letter to journalists in Iraq, Britain, and the United States while creating the impression that it was discovered in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry archives by U.S. forces, Suskind writes. A short time later, the British Daily Telegraph was one of the first newspapers to publish the contents of the letter, which was touted as proof that there indeed was a link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida, and that the Iraqi leader was intent on developing weapons of mass destruction. Other newspapers though were more skeptical of the document’s authenticity.
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Ron Suskind Tell All on Iraq
Meredith interviews Ron on the NBC Today Show about his book, “The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism” It has some explosive information about the White House’s plan to forge documents to persuade the American public that we should attack Iraq. This is incredible stuff. Suskind appeared on the TODAY show and gave his first interview about it…He says it’s “one of the great lies in modern political history.”