A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.
Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
According to Suskind, the administration had been in contact with the director of the Iraqi intelligence service in the last years of Hussein’s regime, Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti.
“The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001,” Suskind writes. “It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq – thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link.”
The article does not mention the source of Suskind's allegation, but I'm sure as more people take a look at the book that information will become available (I'd buy a copy and investigate it myself but...well, I'm lazy.) The claim certainly is beyond the pale of even the malfeasance we're used to the Bush administration demonstrating, but as Kevin Drum recounts, they appear to have been perfectly wiling to discuss concocted pretexts for war, so it's not impossible to imagine someone actually instituting this hare-brained scheme. And you can be sure that someone in Congress will be thinking very hard today about how to find out just who's responsible for this.