Tuesday, August 5, 2008

CIA Head Tenet Was Ordered to Fabricate Saddam Letter

Ron Susskind names names in his book accusing the Bush administration with fabricating a letter connecting Saddam and al Qaeda. You would think the press would be all over this incredible allegation. But once they fail the American people. They allowed the neocons to get with the lies leading up to the start of the Iraq War. Now the press is allowing the Bushies to get away impeachable offenses without holding them accountable. This transcript is from CNN's Situation Room program.

A controversial new book is giving President Bush's critics new reasons to believe he went to disturbing lengths to justify the Iraq War, and it's prompting the president's defenders to issue stern denials.

Brian Todd is working this story for us.

And it's got some powerful accusations. The Pulitzer Prize- winning author Ron Suskind delivers a lot of material in there.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of material in this book, Wolf, and we've got some very powerful pushback from the White House, from the CIA, and from the agency's former director.


TODD (voice-over): Two bombshells on the Iraq War from a controversial author that the White House issued a fake document and that the administration knew well in advance that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. In his new book, "The Way of the World," Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind writes that in 2003, the White House concocted a fake letter from former Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil Habbush to Saddam Hussein, backdated to July 1, 2001. "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq."

In an interview with NBC's "Today Show," Suskind said former CIA director George Tenet got the order to fabricate the letter.

RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, "THE WAY OF THE WORLD": The CIA folks involved in the book and others talk about George coming back -- Tenet coming back from the White House with the assignment on White House stationery and turning to the CIA operatives who are professionals, saying, you may not like this but here's our mission, and they carried it through step by step.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "The notion that the White House would concoct such a letter is absurd."

Tenet issued a statement saying there was no such order from the White House to him. And he said the idea that he'd plant false evidence is ridiculous.

CNN contributor Fran Townsend was Condoleezza Rice's deputy for counterterrorism at the time.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's just patently ridiculous. I mean, I will tell you that when you think about it, there were 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions that Saddam was flagrantly in violation of. There were reasons that we went to war.

TODD: Suskind also writes that months before the Iraq invasion, Habbush had relayed to the Americans through British intelligence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He quotes a former U.S. intelligence official as saying, when that information was passed to President Bush, "He said, 'F it. We're going in."


TODD: Now, the White House didn't respond to that specific quote, but again pushed back hard on the idea that they knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said U.S. and foreign intelligence estimates at the time said Saddam did have such weapons, and Fratto said Saddam had already used them to murder his own people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And this former Iraqi intelligent chief, they are also casting doubt on his credibility, what he was saying apparently to British intelligence.

TODD: That's right. The White House is doing that and George Tenet is doing that as well.

Tenet says, look, the British themselves had lost faith in this man's credibility. And Tenet says they cut off relations with him. So that -- you know, in Tenet's mind, that shoots down any credibility that Tahir Habbush had in this regard.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thanks very much. I know you're working on other material from this book as well.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Here is some more information on Ron Suskind. He's a journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1995 for a series of articles he wrote for "The Wall Street Journal." "The Way of the World" is the latest of his three books he's written, all critical of the Bush administration. Suskind says he spoke to more than 150 sources for his new book, including many of them mentioned by name.

Suskind, by the way, will join us tomorrow live here in THE SITUATION ROOM for a one-on-one interview. That's coming up tomorrow.

Bill Clinton Refuses to Say Obama is Ready to Become President

This is becoming a tired act. Bill Clinton (see the video of interview given to ABC news, transcript below) is a bitter man and isn't hiding it very well. He is jealous of Barack Obama and won't do much to get him elected president. That's ok. Mr.Clinton has a track record of not getting other people beside himself elected to anything. He and Hillary are a curse on the Democratic Party. Incredibly most Dems don't understand that yet. If it were not for Bill Al Gore would've become President in 2000. And there are still some smart people that think that Obama would be stupid enough to choose Hillary as a running mate. Bill Clinton's latest comments will insure that won't happen. Here is a part of the transcript of the ABC interview:

BILL CLINTON: I'm not. And I never was mad at Senator Obama. I think everybody's got a right to run for president who qualifies under the Constitution. And I would be the last person to ever begrudge anybody their ambition. And he was a superbly gifted candidate in this election and had a great operation. They thought this thing through. And it's a contact sport. And, you know, he hit her hard a couple times. And they hit us a few times and weeks before she ever responded in kind. The only thing I ever got mad about was people in your line of work, pretending that she had somehow started negative stuff. It's a contact sport.

[...]SNOW: Yeah. Well, people are already studying it. And a lot of people, including your supporters, your donors, say that they blame you at least in part, for her loss. I know you've heard this.

BILL CLINTON: No -- I've heard it from --

SNOW: Do you blame yourself at all?

BILL CLINTON: I've heard it from the press. And I will not comment on this because it interferes with the issue, which is who should be elected in November. I made hundreds and hundreds of speeches, Kate. I bragged on Senator Obama hundreds of times. Now, I will be glad, as soon as this election is over in January, to have this conversation with you and everybody else. I have very strong feelings about it.

SNOW: But, I don't understand why you say it's bad for him to go over --

BILL CLINTON: I live out here in the fact based world -- Well, first of all, you say I don't like this type of modern reporting that says, so-and-so anonymous says this. You know they all say this.

SNOW: Jim Clyburn. Not anonymous. New York Times came out--

BILL CLINTON: Not my supporter. Jim Clyburn

SNOW: A long friend of yours. A longtime friend.

BILL CLINTON: Used to be. He is not my-- He was not Hillary's supporter. Never. Not ever. Not for a day.

SNOW: He said you said you lost a lot of African-American support?

BILL CLINTON: No. The people who were--

SNOW: He said you severely damaged your standing with African-American support?

BILL CLINTON: First of all-- Yeah. That may be by the time he got through working on it, that was probably true. But that's not the same thing. You said I hurt her.

SNOW: I said, your supporters are saying --

BILL CLINTON: No, you said my supporters and then you cited Jim Clyburn.

SNOW: I take your point. But there are supporters of yours who are saying --

BILL CLINTON: You did. But here's what you can do since I don't want to talk about it.

SNOW: Okay.

CLINTON: Go get yourself a map. Look where I went and look what the vote was. Look at Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky.

SNOW: You helped in a lot of places.


SNOW: Rural places.

BILL CLINTON: No, not just rural places. Cities. Indiana. So, I got bad press. Why? Because I told the truth. That there was a different standard applied to the finest candidate I ever supported.

SNOW: Pretty simple question. And maybe you don't want to answer it right now and I respect that fully. But, if you want to answer it, do you personally have any regrets about what you did campaigning for your wife?

BILL CLINTON: Yes, but nothing like you think. And it would be counterproductive for me to talk about it. There are things that I wished I urged her to do. Things I wished I had said. Things I wished I hadn't said. But I am not a racist. I never made a racist comment and I didn't attack him personally.

SNOW: Clinton insists the hard-fought primary season made Barack Obama a stronger candidate. Is he ready to be president?

BILL CLINTON: You could argue that no one is ever ready to be president. I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in the first year. You could argue that even if you've been vice president for eight years, that no one can ever be fully ready for the pressures of the office. And that everyone learns something, and something different. You could argue that. He's shown a keen strategic sense in his ability to run an effective campaign. He clearly can inspire and motivate people and energize them which is a very important part of being a president. And he's smart as a whip, so there's nothing he can't learn.

SNOW: He won't comment on whether he thinks his wife ought to be Obama's running mate.

BILL CLINTON: It's up to him. It's none of his business. This is my life now.

Here's the NYDaily News' take on Clinton's comments:
Bill Clinton regrets some things he said - and didn't say - on the campaign trail. But there's one thing he still can't utter: Barack Obama is ready to be President.

Book: Bush Administration Forged Iraq War Intel

If true, the claims in this book is definitive proof that the Bush White House started the Iraq war under false pretenses. If the Congress refuses to impeach on this ground they are derelict in their duty.

The book, by author Ron Suskind, charges that the Bush White House faked a letter from Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief connecting Iraq with 9/11 and an ongoing nuclear program - neither of which was true.

This letter, in the handwriting of Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, is dated July, 2001. It says that Iraqis hosted Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, who, "displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy."

The letter goes on to suggest that Iraq was importing uranium from Niger for a nuclear program.

The book alleges that Habbush, Saddam's intelligence chief, was in CIA protective custody after the 2003 invasion, that the White House ordered CIA officials to have Habbush write and backdate the letter, and paid him $5 million. The author quotes two former CIA officials who claim to have seen a draft of the letter on White House stationery.

Suskind writes: "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 letter was released, and published in Britain in December 2003. At the time, U.S. intelligence officials called it a forgery.