Dear Friend,

This year Democracy Now! is celebrating our 25th anniversary—that's 25 years of bringing you fearless, independent reporting. Since our very first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has refused to take government or corporate funding, because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. But that means we rely on you, our audience, for support. If everyone who tunes into Democracy Now! signed up for a monthly donation of just $10, we could cover our operating costs for the entire year. Please do your part today. Right now, a generous donor will even TRIPLE your first monthly gift, which means it’ll go three times as far! This is a challenging time for us all, but if you're able to start a new monthly donation, please don’t delay. We’re counting on your support. Thank you and remember, wearing a mask is an act of love.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


“Cheney, Bush and Habbush”

ColumnAugust 21, 2008

By Amy Goodman

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on a book tour in which she is being hounded by activists and questioned about her declaration that “impeachment is off the table.” She responded on the TV talk show “The View,” “If somebody had a crime that the president had committed, that would be a different story.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind may have provided the evidence she doesn’t want to see. Suskind has just published a book called “The Way of the World.” He makes an explosive charge: that the Bush administration instructed the CIA to forge a letter that would support its claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was linked to al-Qaida. He also charged that the person whose name is on the forged letter, the former head of Iraqi intelligence, the man who was the jack of diamonds in the U.S. military’s “most wanted” deck of cards, Tahir Jalil Habbush, was given $5 million in hush money.

Suskind has recorded interviews with key U.S. and British intelligence agents who told him that secret meetings were held with Habbush, who insisted that Iraq had no WMDs, and that Saddam Hussein’s evasiveness on WMDs was more to protect Iraq from its neighbors, principally Iran. Suskind interviewed Rob Richer, a career CIA operative (who resigned to take a top job with the military contractor Blackwater, to head up its new private spy operations). Richer told Suskind how George Tenet, then director of Central Intelligence, handed him the assignment to deal with the fabricated letter:

Richer: What I remember is George saying, “We got this from”—basically, from what George said was “downtown.”

Suskind: Which is the White House?

Richer: Yes. … I would probably stand on my, basically, my reputation and say it came from the vice president.

Suskind: It just had the White House stationery.

Richer: Exactly right.

After Suskind’s book came out earlier this month, Richer issued a carefully phrased “non-denial denial,” which Suskind says reflects the enormous pressure Richer and people like him are under to keep important truths quiet. The key points stand: Habbush, in January of 2003, assured British and U.S. intelligence that there were no WMDs. This would have been in time to prevent the invasion. Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence (MI6), flew to Washington to deliver this damning report. Rather than calling off the invasion, the U.S. secretly relocated Habbush to Jordan and paid him $5 million. When no WMDs were found, according to Suskind, Habbush became “radioactive inside of the White House … everyone was terrified that Habbush would pop up on the screen during that summer of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame”—that is, Habbush could exacerbate the political problems the White House was facing over its justification for the war.

By September 2003, with Habbush silenced, the scheme was hatched to provide the letter that would solve all the White House’s problems: a letter, backdated to July 2001, written in Habbush’s hand, explaining that 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta had indeed received training in Iraq for the hijacking, and that al-Qaida had also been helping Iraq obtain uranium from Niger. The letter was faked and leaked in Baghdad, after which a conservative British pundit, Con Coughlin, broke the story that supported the Bush administration. It raged through the international press like wildfire.

Since Suskind’s book has come out, Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has begun an investigation. I asked Conyers if there is talk of a bipartisan commission to investigate the charges. The chairman replied, “There are four committees, and how they relate to each other will come forward very shortly.” Suskind has been told that Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is also investigating.

Congress should find out: Who authorized the $5-million payout to Habbush? Where is Habbush, and will he be brought to Congress to testify? Who authorized the fabrication of the letter? What possible reason other than politics can there be for not declassifying the Dearlove report that there were no WMDs in Iraq?

The upcoming presidential conventions will be filled with vague promises of change. Congress should prove it and fully investigate Cheney, Bush and Habbush.

Related Story

StorySep 16, 2021The Other Afghan Women: Rural Areas Hope Taliban Rule Will End Decades of U.S. & Warlord Violence
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation