Skip to comments.Information Wants to be Free (Ten docs administration should insist intel community declassify)
Posted on 11/16/2005 10:27:53 AM PST by MikeA
ON SUNDAY, the New York Times and the Washington Post ran stories based on excerpts of a newly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document provided by Senator Carl Levin, the number two Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The stories concerned the interrogation of Ibn Shaykh al Libi, a senior al Qaeda official who told U.S. officials that Iraq had trained al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons. The DIA was skeptical of his story; the CIA less so. Al Libi recanted in January 2004. Levin released the excerpts to demonstrate his assertions that the Bush administration exaggerated prewar intelligence on Iraq and al Qaeda.
According to the Times, Levin made his declassification request of the DIA on October 18, 2005. The excerpts were declassified on October 26, 2005. The entire process, it seems, took eight days.
Why did the DIA work so quickly? I have been trying since late spring to obtain documents on Iraq and al Qaeda from the DIA. The documents are unclassified. My requests--including several Freedom of Information Act filings--have been denied. (I will be detailing these efforts in THE WEEKLY STANDARD later this week.)
In any case, it's good to know that at least on some requests, U.S. intelligence agencies can move with such alacrity. The Bush administration and congressional Republicans should learn from Levin. There are dozens of documents and reports that, if declassified, might provide context to Levin's tendentious claims that there was no relationship at all between Iraq and al Qaeda. Some of them are U.S. analyses
of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship; others are documents from the former Iraqi regime. They should all be declassified. Here are ten:
(1) "Abdul Rahman Yasin, a fugitive from the [1993 World Trade Center attack], is of Iraqi descent and in 1993 he fled to Iraq with Iraqi assistance." So reads a passage from page 339 of the Phase I report from the Senate Intelligence Committee. My reporting indicates that Yasin returned to Iraq after mixing the chemicals for the first World Trade Center attack with the active assistance of the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan. According to documents recovered in postwar Iraq, Yasin probably received housing and financial support from the Iraqi regime. Vice President Dick Cheney put it this way on Meet the Press on September 14, 2003: "And we've learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." THE WEEKLY STANDARD made numerous requests to the FBI for copies of these documents. Each of these requests was denied. FBI officials refused even to discuss Yasin on background, despite the fact that he is on the FBI's "Most Wanted Terrorist" list.
(2) A 1992 Iraqi Intelligence Service [IIS] document listed Osama bin Laden as an IIS asset who had good relations with the Iraqi intelligence section in Syria. A spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency told 60 Minutes that the document was likely authentic, but not terribly meaningful, since the relationship with bin Laden was not spelled out on its pages.
(3) On June 25, 2004, the New York Times reported on an Iraqi Intelligence document unearthed in postwar Iraq. A team of Pentagon analysts concluded that the document "appears authentic." The Iraqi Intelligence memo reports that a Sudanese government official met with Uday Hussein and the director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 1994 and reported that bin Laden was willing to meet in Sudan. As a consequence, according to the Iraqi document, bin Laden was "approached by our side" after "presidential approval" for the liaison was given. The former head of Iraqi Intelligence Directorate 4 met with bin Laden on February 19, 1995. The document further states that bin Laden "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative." But the absence of a formal relationship hardly precludes cooperation, as the document makes clear.
Bin Laden requested that Iraq's state-run television network broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda; the document indicates that the Iraqis agreed to do this. The al Qaeda leader also proposed "joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. There is no response provided in the documents. When bin Laden leaves Sudan for Afghanistan in May 1996, the Iraqis seek "other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his current location." The IIS memo directs that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement."
(4) Wali Khan Amin Shah, a senior al Qaeda operative in U.S. custody since 1995, told FBI interrogators that an al Qaeda leader named Abu Hajer al Iraqi maintained
a good relationship with Iraqi Intelligence. Abu Hajer al Iraqi ran al Qaeda's WMD procurement operation until his capture in 1998 and was described by another al Qaeda member as Osama bin Laden's "best friend." According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Wali Khan testified that he had knowledge of two "direct meetings" between the leadership of Iraqi Intelligence and Abu Hajer al Iraqi.
(5) On February 19, 1998, the Iraqi Intelligence Service finalized plans to bring a "trusted confidant" of bin Laden's to Baghdad in early March. The revelation came in documents discovered after the Iraq war by journalists Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star and Inigo Gilmore of the Sunday Telegraph. The documents--a series of communiqués between Iraqi Intelligence divisions--provide another window into the relationship between the former Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. The following comes from the Telegraph's translations of the documents:
The envoy is a trusted confidant and known by them. According to the above mediation we request official permission to call Khartoum station to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq. And that our body carry all the travel and hotel expenses inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden, the Saudi opposition leader, about the future of our relationship with him, and to achieve a direct meeting with him.
A note at the bottom of the page from the director of one IIS division recommends approving the request, noting, "we may find in this envoy a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden." Four days later, on February 23, final approval is granted. "The permission of Mr. Deputy Director of Intelligence has been gained on 21 February for this operation, to secure a reservation for one of the intelligence services guests for one week in one of the first class hotels."
The al Qaeda envoy to Iraq arrived in Baghdad on March 5, 1998. Notes in the margins of the Iraqi Intelligence memos indicate that Mohammed F. Mohammed stayed for more than two weeks in Room 414 of the Al Mansour Melia Hotel as the guest of Iraqi Intelligence. After extending his trip by one week, bin Laden's emissary departed on March 16.
The U.S. intelligence community is now in possession of these documents and has assessed that they are authentic.
(6) In a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy on May 22, 1998, President Clinton warned that our enemies "may deploy compact and relatively cheap weapons of mass destruction--not just nuclear, but also chemical or biological, to use disease as a weapon of war. Sometimes the terrorists and criminals act alone. But increasingly, they are interconnected, and sometimes supported by hostile countries." Hostile countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan.
Although Osama bin Laden left Sudan in 1996, many al Qaeda operatives stayed behind. According to testimony from several al Qaeda terrorists now in U.S. custody, al Qaeda operatives worked closely with Sudanese intelligence. Sudanese intelligence provided security for al Qaeda camps and safehouses. These agents intervened when local Sudanese authorities arrested al Qaeda members for exploding bombs at an al Qaeda farm, securing the release of the detained terrorists. Jamal al Fadl, an al Qaeda terrorist who later cooperated with U.S. prosecutors, testified that he was ordered by Sudanese intelligence to assassinate a political rival to Hassan al-Turabi. Even after bin Laden's departure, al Qaeda and Sudanese intelligence were virtually indistinguishable.
From 1998 through 2002, the CIA produced unclassified assessments of WMD proliferation. In each one, the CIA reported that Iraqi scientists were working on WMD development in Sudan. From the 1998 assessment: "Sudan has been developing the capability to produce chemical weapons for many years. In this pursuit, Sudan obtained help from other countries, principally Iraq. Given its history in developing CW and its close relationship with Iraq, Sudan may be interested in a BW program as well."
On page 128 its final report, the 9/11 Commission stated that former NSC Counterterrorism Director Richard Clarke "for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons."
(7) On August 20, 1998, the Clinton administration bombed the al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. The attack came in retaliation for the nearly simultaneous al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. The decision to strike al Shifa was--and remains--controversial. But senior Clinton administration officials defended the bombing, citing the presence of Iraqi scientists at chemical weapons facilities in Sudan. Several senior U.S. intelligence officials supported those claims. In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD last year, John Gannon, who was at the time chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, said this: "The consistent stream of intelligence at that time said it wasn't just al Shifa. There were three different [chemical weapons] structures in the Sudan. There was the hiring of Iraqis. There was no question that the Iraqis were there."
(8) An October 2002 report from the National Security Agency reported that "al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons." It was this agreement that "reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq." Another NSA report included intelligence that an Iraqi Intelligence officer praised Ansar al Islam, provided it with $100,000, and vowed to continue this support.
(9) The report on Phase I of the Senate Intelligence Committee refers to two CIA reports on Iraq and terrorism. One is called Iraq and al Qaeda: Interpreting a Murky Relationship, and was published internally in June 2002.
(10) The other was called Iraqi Support for Terrorism and it was published internally in January 2003.
IT TOOK THE DIA just eight days to declassify excerpts of the document Carl Levin released last week. Levin, remember, claims that there was no relationship whatsoever between Iraq and al Qaeda. Imagine how different the debate on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda might be if the Bush administration were to have all of these documents declassified in, say, two weeks.
Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.
To read more of these connections, check this link of a previous FR post. Scroll down to the red links for more on Saddam's intercourse with Al Qaeda:
We will see in the coming days if this is true. MSM will surely squash it.
Bush will do the right thing, not the politically expedient thing.
I still want to know who killed Kennedy and those documents won't be released until 2025.
Bush is not a "see I told you so" type guy. he could care less about polls.
what good would it do, the MSM's would never let it get out. although I do believe they should put this out with gusto, and tell TEDDy and the boys to shove it..........
It amazes me that Bush & the GOP play puching bag for the Demonrat traitors...
Well duh...I didn't need a classified document to be unclassified to know that:
Ramzi Yousef (1993 WTC) and Terry Nichols (OKC) crossed paths in the Phillipines. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (9/11)was Yousef's uncle. It is interesting to note that Yousef entered the United States on an Iraqi passport and had been known among the New York fundamentalists as "Rashid, the Iraqi". Another name that could be thrown into the mix is Abdul Rahman Yasin, a U.S. citizen who moved to Iraq in the 1960's and returned to the U.S. in 1992. After the 1993 WTC bombing, Yasin fled to Iraq and was given monthly salary and housing by Saddam Hussein's regime.
I can see that. His rating is in the tank and he has lost his power base in the Senate. The PR wars were lost and he can't utter the truth about the Demoncrats until the entire country puts "the pervert" ahead of him in credibility. Who is running the PR for him?
A quote from someone who got it right:
"So, when the Clinton administration wants to justify its strike on al Shifa," this official tells me, "it's okay to use an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. But now that the Bush administration and George Tenet talk about links, it's suddenly not believable?"Weekly Standard
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