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How can truth be a lie?

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  • redcloud2oo4
    In George Orwell s 1984 whenever Big Brother switches from being at war with Eurasia with Eastasian allies to being at war with Eastasia with Eurasian allies,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2004
      In George Orwell's 1984 whenever Big Brother switches from being at
      war with Eurasia with Eastasian allies to being at war with Eastasia
      with Eurasian allies, everybody in Big Brother's European Socialist
      totalitarian regime immediately not only accepts this without
      question but immediately rewrites history to claim they've always
      been at war with Eastasia and never been at war with Eurasia. If any
      individual disagrees with party line, they get arrested for thought
      crimes and dragged off to the Ministry of Truth to be tortured into
      blind irrational acceptance that "the truth is a lie".

      There have been many false accusations by Democrats against President
      Bush, but the ones that most disturb me are the many accusations that
      President Bush lied being made by Democrats who said the exact same
      thing as President Bush during the eight years President Clinton was
      in office. That would be like if Eisenhower had claimed the Nazis had
      never been allied with the Japanese Empire and accusing FDR of just
      making it all up as a pretext for going to war with Germany to take
      over the Libyan oil fields. How can you rationally claim somebody is
      lying when they're just agreeing with something you yourself claimed
      to be true? You would just be calling yourself a liar.

      -Jim in Texas

      Untelling the Truth

      By Stephen F. Hayes
      The Weekly Standard | June 1, 2004

      "THE PRESIDENT CONVINCED THE COUNTRY with a mixture of documents that
      turned out to be forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam
      was in league with al Qaeda," claimed former Vice President Al Gore
      last Wednesday.

      "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda,
      ever," declared Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism official
      under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, in an interview on March 21,
      2004.

      The editor of the Los Angeles Times labeled as "myth" the claim that
      links between Iraq and al Qaeda had been proved. A recent dispatch
      from Reuters simply asserted, "There is no link between Saddam
      Hussein and al Qaeda." 60 Minutes anchor Lesley Stahl was equally
      certain: "There was no connection."

      And on it goes. This conventional wisdom--that our two most
      determined enemies were not in league, now or ever--is comforting. It
      is also wrong.

      In late February 2004, Christopher Carney made an astonishing
      discovery. Carney, a political science professor from Pennsylvania on
      leave to work at the Pentagon, was poring over a list of officers in
      Saddam Hussein's much-feared security force, the Fedayeen Saddam. One
      name stood out: Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. The name was
      not spelled exactly as Carney had seen it before, but such
      discrepancies are common. Having studied the relationship between
      Iraq and al Qaeda for 18 months, he immediately recognized the
      potential significance of his find. According to a report last week
      in the Wall Street Journal, Shakir appears on three different lists
      of Fedayeen officers.

      An Iraqi of that name, Carney knew, had been present at an al Qaeda
      summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 5-8, 2000. U.S.
      intelligence officials believe this was a chief planning meeting for
      the September 11 attacks. Shakir had been nominally employed as
      a "greeter" by Malaysian Airlines, a job he told associates he had
      gotten through a contact at the Iraqi embassy. More curious, Shakir's
      Iraqi embassy contact controlled his schedule, telling him when to
      show up for work and when to take a day off.

      A greeter typically meets VIPs upon arrival and accompanies them
      through the sometimes onerous procedures of foreign travel. Shakir
      was instructed to work on January 5, 2000, and on that day, he
      escorted one Khalid al Mihdhar from his plane to a waiting car.
      Rather than bid his guest farewell at that point, as a greeter
      typically would have, Shakir climbed into the car with al Mihdhar and
      accompanied him to the Kuala Lumpur condominium of Yazid Sufaat, the
      American-born al Qaeda terrorist who hosted the planning meeting.

      The meeting lasted for three days. Khalid al Mihdhar departed Kuala
      Lumpur for Bangkok and eventually Los Angeles. Twenty months later,
      he was aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when it plunged into the
      Pentagon at 9:38 A.M. on September 11. So were Nawaf al Hazmi and his
      younger brother, Salem, both of whom were also present at the Kuala
      Lumpur meeting.

      Six days after September 11, Shakir was captured in Doha, Qatar. He
      had in his possession contact information for several senior al Qaeda
      terrorists: Zahid Sheikh Mohammed, brother of September 11 mastermind
      Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Musab Yasin, brother of Abdul Rahman Yasin,
      the Iraqi who helped mix the chemicals for the first World Trade
      Center attack and was given safe haven upon his return to Baghdad;
      and Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, otherwise known as Abu Hajer al Iraqi,
      described by one top al Qaeda detainee as Osama bin Laden's "best
      friend."


      Despite all of this, Shakir was released. On October 21, 2001, he
      boarded a plane for Baghdad, via Amman, Jordan. He never made the
      connection. Shakir was detained by Jordanian intelligence.
      Immediately following his capture, according to U.S. officials
      familiar with the intelligence on Shakir, the Iraqi government began
      exerting pressure on the Jordanians to release him. Some U.S.
      intelligence officials--primarily at the CIA--believed that Iraq's
      demand for Shakir's release was pro forma, no different from the
      requests governments regularly make on behalf of citizens detained by
      foreign governments. But others, pointing to the flurry of phone
      calls and personal appeals from the Iraqi government to the
      Jordanians, disagreed. This panicked reaction, they said, reflected
      an interest in Shakir at the highest levels of Saddam Hussein's
      regime.

      CIA officials who interviewed Shakir in Jordan reported that he was
      generally uncooperative. But even in refusing to talk, he provided
      some important information: The interrogators concluded that his
      evasive answers reflected counterinterrogation techniques so
      sophisticated that he had probably learned them from a government
      intelligence service. Shakir's Iraqi nationality, his contacts with
      the Iraqi embassy in Malaysia, the keen interest of Baghdad in his
      case, and now the appearance of his name on the rolls of Fedayeen
      officers--all this makes the Iraqi intelligence service the most
      likely source of his training.

      The Jordanians, convinced that Shakir worked for Iraqi intelligence,
      went to the CIA with a bold proposal: Let's flip him. That is, the
      Jordanians would allow Shakir to return to Iraq on condition that he
      agree to report back on the activities of Iraqi intelligence. And, in
      one of the most egregious mistakes by U.S. intelligence after
      September 11, the CIA agreed to Shakir's release. He posted a modest
      bail and returned to Iraq.

      He hasn't been heard from since.

      The Shakir story is perhaps the government's strongest indication
      that Saddam and al Qaeda may have worked together on September 11. It
      is far from conclusive; conceivably there were two Ahmed Hikmat
      Shakirs. And in itself, the evidence does not show that Saddam
      Hussein personally had foreknowledge of the attacks. Still--like the
      long, on-again-off-again relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda--it
      cannot be dismissed.


      THERE WAS A TIME not long ago when the conventional wisdom skewed
      heavily toward a Saddam-al Qaeda links. In 1998 and early 1999, the
      Iraq-al Qaeda connection was widely reported in the American and
      international media. Former intelligence officers and government
      officials speculated about the relationship and its dangerous
      implications for the world. The information in the news reports came
      from foreign and domestic intelligence services. It was featured in
      mainstream media outlets including international wire services,
      prominent newsweeklies, and network radio and television broadcasts.

      Newsweek magazine ran an article in its January 11, 1999, issue
      headed "Saddam + Bin Laden?" "Here's what is known so far," it read:


      Saddam Hussein, who has a long record of supporting terrorism, is
      trying to rebuild his intelligence network overseas--assets that
      would allow him to establish a terrorism network. U.S. sources say he
      is reaching out to Islamic terrorists, including some who may be
      linked to Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile accused of
      masterminding the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa last summer.

      Four days later, on January 15, 1999, ABC News reported that three
      intelligence agencies believed that Saddam had offered asylum to bin
      Laden:


      Intelligence sources say bin Laden's long relationship with the
      Iraqis began as he helped Sudan's fundamentalist government in their
      efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. . . . ABC News has
      learned that in December, an Iraqi intelligence chief named Faruq
      Hijazi, now Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, made a secret trip to
      Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Three intelligence agencies tell
      ABC News they cannot be certain what was discussed, but almost
      certainly, they say, bin Laden has been told he would be welcome in
      Baghdad.

      NPR reporter Mike Shuster interviewed Vincent Cannistraro, former
      head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, and offered this report:


      Iraq's contacts with bin Laden go back some years, to at least 1994,
      when, according to one U.S. government source, Hijazi met him when
      bin Laden lived in Sudan. According to Cannistraro, Iraq invited bin
      Laden to live in Baghdad to be nearer to potential targets of
      terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. . . . Some experts
      believe bin Laden might be tempted to live in Iraq because of his
      reported desire to obtain chemical or biological weapons. CIA
      Director George Tenet referred to that in recent testimony before the
      Senate Armed Services Committee when he said bin Laden was planning
      additional attacks on American targets.

      By mid-February 1999, journalists did not even feel the need to
      qualify these claims of an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. An Associated
      Press dispatch that ran in the Washington Post ended this way: "The
      Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who
      openly supports Iraq against Western powers."

      Where did journalists get the idea that Saddam and bin Laden might be
      coordinating efforts? Among other places, from high-ranking Clinton
      administration officials.

      In the spring of 1998--well before the U.S. embassy bombings in East
      Africa--the Clinton administration indicted Osama bin Laden. The
      indictment, unsealed a few months later, prominently cited al Qaeda's
      agreement to collaborate with Iraq on weapons of mass destruction.
      The Clinton Justice Department had been concerned about negative
      public reaction to its potentially capturing bin Laden without "a
      vehicle for extradition," official paperwork charging him with a
      crime. It was "not an afterthought" to include the al Qaeda-Iraq
      connection in the indictment, says an official familiar with the
      deliberations. "It couldn't have gotten into the indictment unless
      someone was willing to testify to it under oath." The Clinton
      administration's indictment read unequivocally:


      Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al
      Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular
      projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would
      work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

      On August 7, 1998, al Qaeda terrorists struck almost simultaneously
      at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The blasts killed 257 people-
      -including 12 Americans--and wounded nearly 5,000. The Clinton
      administration determined within five days that al Qaeda was
      responsible for the attacks and moved swiftly to retaliate. One of
      the targets would be in Afghanistan. But the Clinton national
      security team wanted to strike hard simultaneously, much as the
      terrorists had. "The decision to go to [Sudan] was an add-on," says a
      senior intelligence officer involved in the targeting. "They wanted a
      dual strike."

      A small group of Clinton administration officials, led by CIA
      director George Tenet and national security adviser Sandy Berger,
      reviewed a number of al Qaeda-linked targets in Sudan. Although bin
      Laden had left the African nation two years earlier, U.S. officials
      believed that he was still deeply involved in the Sudanese government-
      run Military Industrial Corporation (MIC).

      The United States retaliated on August 20, 1998, striking al Qaeda
      training camps in Afghanistan and the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant
      outside Khartoum. "Let me be very clear about this," said President
      Bill Clinton, addressing the nation after the strikes. "There is no
      question in my mind that the Sudanese factory was producing chemicals
      that are used--and can be used--in VX gas. This was a plant that was
      producing chemical warfare-related weapons, and we have physical
      evidence of that."

      The physical evidence was a soil sample containing EMPTA, a precursor
      for VX nerve gas. Almost immediately, the decision to strike at al
      Shifa aroused controversy. U.S. officials expressed skepticism that
      the plant produced pharmaceuticals at all, but reporters on the
      ground in Sudan found aspirin bottles and a variety of other
      indications that the plant had, in fact, manufactured drugs. For
      journalists and many at the CIA, the case was hardly clear-cut. For
      one thing, the soil sample was collected from outside the plant's
      front gate, not within the grounds, and an internal CIA memo issued a
      month before the attacks had recommended gathering additional soil
      samples from the site before reaching any conclusions. "It caused a
      lot of heartburn at the agency," recalls a former top intelligence
      official.

      The Clinton administration sought to dispel doubts about the
      targeting and, on August 24, 1998, made available a "senior
      intelligence official" to brief reporters on background. The briefer
      cited "strong ties between the plant and Iraq" as one of the
      justifications for attacking it. The next day, undersecretary of
      state for political affairs Thomas Pickering briefed reporters at the
      National Press Club. Pickering explained that the intelligence
      community had been monitoring the plant for "at least two years," and
      that the evidence was "quite clear on contacts between Sudan and
      Iraq." In all, at least six top Clinton administration officials have
      defended on the record the strikes in Sudan by citing a link to Iraq.

      The Iraqis, of course, denied any involvement. "The Clinton
      government has fabricated yet another lie to the effect that Iraq had
      helped Sudan produce this chemical weapon," declared the political
      editor of Radio Iraq. Still, even as Iraq denied helping Sudan and al
      Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction, the regime lauded Osama bin
      Laden. On August 27, 1998, 20 days after al Qaeda attacked the U.S.
      embassies in Africa, Babel, the government newspaper run by Saddam's
      son Uday Hussein, published an editorial proclaiming bin Laden "an
      Arab and Islamic hero."

      Five months later, the same Richard Clarke who would one day claim
      that there was "absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al
      Qaeda, ever," told the Washington Post that the U.S. government
      was "sure" that Iraq was behind the production of the chemical
      weapons precursor at the al Shifa plant. "Clarke said U.S.
      intelligence does not know how much of the substance was produced at
      al Shifa or what happened to it," wrote Post reporter Vernon Loeb, in
      an article published January 23, 1999. "But he said that intelligence
      exists linking bin Laden to al Shifa's current and past operators,
      the Iraqi nerve gas experts, and the National Islamic Front in
      Sudan."

      Later in 1999, the Congressional Research Service published a report
      on the psychology of terrorism. The report created a stir in May 2002
      when critics of President Bush cited it to suggest that his
      administration should have given more thought to suicide hijackings.
      On page 7 of the 178-page document was a passage about a possible al
      Qaeda attack on Washington, D.C., that "could take several forms." In
      one scenario, "suicide bombers belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom
      Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-
      4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central
      Intelligence Agency, or the White House."

      A network anchor wondered if it was possible that the White House had
      somehow missed the report. A senator cited it in calling for an
      investigation into the 9/11 attacks. A journalist read excerpts to
      the secretary of defense and raised a familiar question: "What did
      you know and when did you know it?"

      But another passage of the same report has gone largely unnoticed.
      Two paragraphs before, also on page 7, is this: "If Iraq's Saddam
      Hussein decide[s] to use terrorists to attack the continental United
      States [he] would likely turn to bin Laden's al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is
      among the Islamic groups recruiting increasingly skilled
      professionals," including "Iraqi chemical weapons experts and others
      capable of helping to develop WMD. Al Qaeda poses the most serious
      terrorist threat to U.S. security interests, for al Qaeda's well-
      trained terrorists are engaged in a terrorist jihad against U.S.
      interests worldwide."

      CIA director George Tenet echoed these sentiments in a letter to
      Congress on October 7, 2002:


      --Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is
      evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the
      information we have received comes from detainees, including some of
      high rank.

      --We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and
      Al Qaeda going back a decade.

      --Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have
      discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.

      --Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the
      presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been
      in Baghdad.

      --We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in
      Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting
      also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in
      the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.

      --Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with
      growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that
      Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S.
      military action.


      Tenet has never backed away from these assessments. Senator Mark
      Dayton, a Democrat from Minnesota, challenged him on the Iraq-al
      Qaeda connection in an exchange before the Senate Armed Services
      Committee on March 9, 2004. Tenet reiterated his judgment that there
      had been numerous "contacts" between Iraq and al Qaeda, and that in
      the days before the war the Iraqi regime had provided "training and
      safe haven" to al Qaeda associates, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
      What the U.S. intelligence community could not claim was that the
      Iraqi regime had "command and control" over al Qaeda terrorists.
      Still, said Tenet, "it was inconceivable to me that Zarqawi and two
      dozen [Egyptian Islamic Jihad] operatives could be operating in
      Baghdad without Iraq knowing."


      SO WHAT should Washington do now? The first thing the Bush
      administration should do is create a team of intelligence experts--or
      preferably competing teams, each composed of terrorism experts and
      forensic investigators--to explore the connection between Iraq and al
      Qaeda. For more than a year, the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group has
      investigated the nature and scope of Iraq's program to manufacture
      weapons of mass destruction. At various times in its brief history, a
      small subgroup of ISG investigators (never more than 15 people) has
      looked into Iraqi connections with al Qaeda. This is not enough.

      Despite the lack of resources devoted to Iraq-al Qaeda connections,
      the Iraq Survey Group has obtained some interesting new information.
      In the spring of 1992, according to Iraqi Intelligence documents
      obtained by the ISG after the war, Osama bin Laden met with Iraqi
      Intelligence officials in Syria. A second document, this one captured
      by the Iraqi National Congress and authenticated by the Defense
      Intelligence Agency, then listed bin Laden as an Iraqi
      Intelligence "asset" who "is in good relationship with our section in
      Syria." A third Iraqi Intelligence document, this one an undated
      internal memo, discusses strategy for an upcoming meeting between
      Iraqi Intelligence, bin Laden, and a representative of the Taliban.
      On the agenda: "attacking American targets." This seems significant.

      A second critical step would be to declassify as much of the Iraq-al
      Qaeda intelligence as possible. Those skeptical of any connection
      claim that any evidence of a relationship must have been "cherry
      picked" from much larger piles of existing intelligence that makes
      these Iraq-al Qaeda links less compelling. Let's see it all, or as
      much of it as can be disclosed without compromising sources and
      methods.

      Among the most important items to be declassified: the Iraq Survey
      Group documents discussed above; any and all reporting and
      documentation--including photographs--pertaining to Ahmed Hikmat
      Shakir, the Iraqi and alleged Saddam Fedayeen officer present at the
      September 11 planning meeting; interview transcripts with top Iraqi
      intelligence officers, al Qaeda terrorists, and leaders of al Qaeda
      affiliate Ansar al Islam; documents recovered in postwar Iraq
      indicating that Abdul Rahman Yasin, the Iraqi who has admitted mixing
      the chemicals for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was given safe
      haven and financial support by the Iraqi regime upon returning to
      Baghdad two weeks after the attack; any and all reporting and
      documentation--including photographs--related to Mohammed Atta's
      visits to Prague; portions of the debriefings of Faruq Hijazi, former
      deputy director of Iraqi intelligence, who met personally with bin
      Laden at least twice, and an evaluation of his credibility.

      It is of course important for the Bush administration and CIA
      director George Tenet to back up their assertions of an Iraq-al Qaeda
      connection. Similarly, declassifying intelligence from the 1990s
      might shed light on why top Clinton officials were adamant about an
      Iraq-al Qaeda connection in Sudan and why the Clinton Justice
      Department included the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship in its 1998
      indictment of Osama bin Laden. More specifically, what intelligence
      did Richard Clarke see that allowed him to tell the Washington Post
      that the U.S. government was "sure" Iraq had provided a chemical
      weapons precursor to the al Qaeda-linked al Shifa facility in Sudan?
      What would compel former secretary of defense William Cohen to tell
      the September 11 Commission, under oath, that an executive from the
      al Qaeda-linked plant "traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of
      the VX [nerve gas] program"? And why did Thomas Pickering, the
      undersecretary of state for political affairs, tell reporters, "We
      see evidence that we think is quite clear on contacts between Sudan
      and Iraq. In fact, al Shifa officials, early in the company's
      history, we believe were in touch with Iraqi individuals associated
      with Iraq's VX program"? Other Clinton administration figures,
      including a "senior intelligence official" who briefed reporters on
      background, cited telephone intercepts between a plant manager and
      Emad al Ani, the father of Iraq's chemical weapons program.

      We have seen important elements of the pre-September 11 intelligence
      available to the Bush administration; it's time for the American
      public to see more of the intelligence on Iraq and al Qaeda from the
      1990s, especially the reporting about the August 1998 attacks in
      Kenya and Tanzania and the U.S. counterstrikes two weeks later.

      Until this material is declassified, there will be gaps in our
      knowledge. Indeed, even after the full record is made public, some
      uncertainties will no doubt remain.

      The connection between Saddam and al Qaeda isn't one of them.
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