Monday :: Aug 11, 2008

A Whole Lot of Habbush, It Seems

by eriposte

You've probably heard/read about the Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti "Saddam-Atta-uranium" forgery. Marcy has written about this document here and here and she quotes Philip Giraldi who says:

An extremely reliable and well placed source in the intelligence community has informed me that Ron Suskind’s revelation that the White House ordered the preparation of a forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and also to attempts made to obtain yellowcake uranium is correct but that a number of details are wrong.

You should read all of Giraldi's comments and Marcy's two posts for more on this, but I also see that Ron Suskind has posted a partial transcript of his interview with former CIA official Rob Richer to backup his claims regarding likely White House involvement in this forgery. I thought I'd add a couple of things.

First, the existence of this forgery is in itself not new news. It was the subject of reporting years ago. See, for example, this piece by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball in Newsweek which observed (emphasis mine, throughout this post):

The Telegraph story was apparently written with a political purpose: to bolster Bush administration claims of a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime. The paper described a "handwritten memo" that was supposedly sent to Saddam Hussein by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, chief of Iraqi intelligence at the time. It describes a three-day "work program" that Atta had undertaken in Baghdad under the tutelage of notorious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who lived in the Iraqi capital until his death under suspicious circumstances in August 2002.


Mneimneh, the Iraqi document expert, says that there are other reasons to discount the handwritten memo touted by the Telegraph. The document includes another sensational second item: how Iraqi intelligence, helped by a "small team from the Al Qaeda organization," arranged for a shipment from Niger to reach Iraq by way of Libya and Syria. Although the shipment is unspecified, the reference to Niger was immediately suggestive of Bush administration assertions earlier this year that Iraq sought to import yellowcake uranium from that African nation--claims that also have been widely discredited as being based on other forged documents that apparently came from the Niger Embassy in Rome.

The mention of Libya and Syria in this forgery is somewhat interesting because of the rumors that were going around pre-9/11, which the White House must have been very well aware of and could have very easily used in 2003.

Second, and more importantly, reader FMJ who has a keen eye for these things, noticed that this forgery was part of a ..... small cottage industry.... namely, convenient forgeries allegedly signed by Habbush al-Tikriti that just so happened to reveal things that were helpful to George Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair, after the invasion of Iraq did not produce shiploads of WMDs. I'm sure we can all agree that this must have just been sheer coincidence, right? Right? (Oh, the paper peddling these other forgeries as real was also none other than The Telegraph).

Remember the fraudulent claim published in April 2003 linking staunchly anti-war British M.P. George Galloway to Saddam Hussein? Here you go:

Saddam Hussein's former head of protocol said yesterday that the document found by The Daily Telegraph saying that George Galloway received substantial payments from the Iraqi regime was "100 per cent genuine".


As Mr Galloway continued to denounce the letter as a forgery, Mr Wihaib said he recognised the "clear and distinctive" handwriting as that of Tahir Jalil Habbush Al-Tikriti, head of the Iraqi intelligence service, who is number 14 - the jack of diamonds - on America's "most wanted" list.

"I am 100 per cent certain that this document is genuine," he said, his eyes still fixed on the letter. "As soon as I saw the document I knew it was Habbush's handwriting because it is so distinctive and unusual. This is not ordinary writing. The words are very big, just like sculptures. He writes very well."

He sure writes well! So well that you might recall this other one too - also aired by The Telegraph and also published in April 2003. It's about those darn French who were in bed with Saddam!

France colluded with the Iraqi secret service to undermine a Paris conference held by the prominent human rights group Indict, according to documents found in the foreign ministry in Baghdad


Perhaps the most damning document is from the Iraqi intelligence service, Iris. The service, known as the Mukhabarat in Iraq, operated as the domestic secret police and as an external intelligence agency.

Its role abroad was to collect intelligence, murder opponents and maintain relations with friendly groups. The document, dated March 28, 2000, is from the head of Iris to Saddam's office.

At the time the organisation was run by Tahir Jalil al-Habbush, number 14 on America's wanted list. The letter appears to be written by a different hand from one revealed last week purporting to record that George Galloway benefited from contracts under the oil for food programme. But it carries the same signature.

It states that "one of our sources" met the "deputy spokesman" of the French foreign ministry, "with whom he has good relations".

It claims that the spokesman from the justice and interior ministries had sought to find a legal way of preventing the Indict meeting.

Ha ha...."written by a different hand from one revealed last week purporting to record that George Galloway benefited from contracts under the oil for food programme". Which, of course, provides a rather compelling explanation why The Telegraph rushed to write up stories about these documents as if they were real. 

I'm sure there are many more to be found if any enterprising journalist is interested. The question is who created these fake letters? One hopes that Congress would like to find out.

P.S. Marcy has a post on this too - aptly titled "Habbush's Freedom Fry Forgeries".

eriposte :: 5:18 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!