Giraldi also said that “an extremely reliable and well placed source” told him that Richer did not play a role in the matter.
“The Suskind account states that two senior CIA officers Robert Richer and John Maguire supervised the preparation of the document under direct orders coming from Director George Tenet. Not so, says my source, “Giraldi wrote. Former CIA Director George “Tenet is for once telling the truth when he states that he would not have undermined himself by preparing such a document while at the same time insisting publicly that there was no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Richer and Maguire have both denied that they were involved with the forgery and it should also be noted that preparation of such a document to mislead the media is illegal and they could have wound up in jail.”
Giraldi claims that letter was prepared by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who operated a top-secret shop inside the Pentagon known as the Office of Special Plans that exaggerated the Iraqi threat and provided the White House with bogus information about links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The shop, operating out of the Pentagon, was set up by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Its goal was to lay the groundwork for a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq.
In his article, Giraldi said Vice President Dick Cheney, “who was behind the forgery, hated and mistrusted the Agency and would not have used it for such a sensitive assignment.”
“The Pentagon has its own false documents center, primarily used to produce fake papers for Delta Force and other special ops officers traveling under cover as businessmen,” Giraldi wrote. “It was Feith’s office that produced the letter and then surfaced it to the media in Iraq. Unlike the Agency, the Pentagon had no restrictions on it regarding the production of false information to mislead the public. Indeed, one might argue that Doug Feith’s office specialized in such activity.”
Conyers Asks Intelligence Officials to Discuss Bogus Iraq/Al-Qaeda Letter
Posted: 20 Aug 2008 03:00 PM CDT
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers sent a series of letters
Wednesday to current and former White House and intelligence officials stating he is concerned the Bush administration may have violated federal law by allegedly ordering the CIA to create a bogus letter in late 2003 that linked Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and wants to interview the officials to set the record straight.
The letters were addressed to former CIA Director George Tenet, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Rob Richer, the CIA’s former associate deputy director of operations, John Hannah, Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs, John MaGuire, the former head of the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group, Near East Division, and A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s former executive director, and requests that these intelligence officials provide the committee with information about the forged letter .
The officials were identified in the recently published book The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind as either having first-hand knowledge that the White House ordered the CIA to create the letter to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq after weapons of mass destruction were not found or played a direct role in drafting the letter.
Richer and MaGuire gave Suskind on-the-record interviews, which the author recorded, and discussed specific details about the reasons the letter was created and that it likely emanated from Cheney’s office. Both men have since recanted their statements. Richer said in a lengthy statement two weeks ago that he may sue Suskind for allegedly failing to inform him that the interviews he agreed to were being recorded.
“I am writing to follow up on recent serious allegations regarding the creation of a false letter from Tahir Jalil Habbush, Saddam Hussein’s former Chief of Intelligence, to Saddam Hussein,” Conyers wrote in each of the five letters that contained identical language.
“The letter, which was allegedly backdated to July 1, 2001, attempted to establish an operational link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in the period before the 9/11 attacks by specifically stating that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had received training in Iraq. At the time of the alleged decision in 2003 to concoct the false letter, the Vice President’s Office had been reportedly pressuring the CIA to prove this connection as a justification to invade Iraq. The letter also falsely noted that Iraq had received a "shipment" (presumably uranium) from Niger with the assistance of al Qaeda.
“Upon careful review of the allegations concerning this matter, I have become very concerned with the possibility that this Administration may have violated federal law by using the resources of our intelligence agencies to influence domestic policy processes or opinion. The law specifically provides that "[n]o covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media."
Suskind wrote in his book that such a violation might constitute an “impeachable offense.”
“It is not the sort of offense, such as assault or burglary, that carries specific penalties, for example, a fine or jail time,” Suskind wrote. “It is much broader than that. It pertains to the White House’s knowingly misusing an arm of government, the sort of thing generally taken up in impeachment proceedings.”