Friday, March 24, 2006

Over at the New York Sun, our old pal Eli "Chalabi on Speed-Dial" Lake beats the dead horse of the Osama-Saddam connection (emphasis mine):

...Last night ABC News reported on five recently declassified documents captured in Iraq. One of these was a handwritten account of a February 19, 1995, meeting between an official representative of Iraq and Mr. bin Laden himself, where Mr. bin Laden broached the idea of "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. The document, which has no official stamps or markers, reports that when Saddam was informed of the meeting on March 4, 1995 he agreed to broadcast sermons of a radical imam, Suleiman al Ouda, requested by Mr. bin Laden.

... the fact that Saddam broadcast the sermons of al-Ouda at bin Laden's request was previously unknown, as was a conversation about possible collaboration on attacks against Saudi Arabia....

"Previously unknown"? Not exactly. From The Telegraph, June 26, 2004:

Saddam Hussein's intelligence services reached out to Osama bin Laden in an effort to assist militants working to overthrow the Saudi ruling family, a document obtained by the US military in Iraq appears to show.

Iraqi intelligence officials were given permission by Saddam to meet bin Laden in the Sudan in February 1995, according to the internal Iraqi intelligence file.

Baghdad also agreed to re-broadcast sermons by an anti-Saudi cleric, reports the document which was leaked to yesterday's New York Times....

And is this even believable? Here's what the Times story said about the document cited by The Telegraph:

...The Americans confirmed that they had obtained the document from the Iraqi National Congress, as part of a trove that the group gathered after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government last year....

A translation of the new Iraqi document was reviewed by a Pentagon working group in the spring, officials said. It included senior analysts from the military's Joint Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency and a joint intelligence task force that specialized in counterterrorism issues, they said.

The task force concluded that the document "appeared authentic" ...

It is not known whether some on the task force held dissenting opinions about the document's veracity....

That document was from Chalabi. The one cited in the Eli Lake story is either the same document or a related document. Where do you suppose it came from?

Recall what Jane Mayer wrote a couple of years ago in The New Yorker:

In 1994, [former CIA officer Robert] Baer said, he went with Chalabi to visit "a forgery shop" that the I.N.C. had set up inside an abandoned schoolhouse in Salahuddin, a town in Kurdistan. "It was something like a spy novel," Baer said. "It was a room where people were scanning Iraqi intelligence documents into computers, and doing disinformation. There was a whole wing of it that he did forgeries in." Baer had no evidence that Chalabi forged any of the disputed intelligence documents that were used to foment alarm in the run-up to the war. But, he said, "he was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam."

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