Posted by Andreas from dtm2-t8-2.mcbone.net (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 at 10:22AM :
Repost of an excerpted fine analysis from the CASI list:
The Incredible Multiplying Stories of Finds by Lucky Journalists
It seems that ever since the fall of Baghdad there has been
a mad rush of reporters doing the work normally carried out
by intelligence professionals. Some of these reporters claim
to have recently found "significant," "top secret" documents
in ruined government buildings in Baghdad.
What makes these claims stick out like a sore thumb, is that
the reporters found the documents AFTER the CIA and the
military intelligence units turned the places inside out in their
search for all-important clues to Iraq's intelligence secrets
pertaining to a possible Iraq/al-Qaeda connection.
Incredibly, reporters from the Daily Telegraph, the Toronto
Star, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Sunday Telegraph
all had the amazing fortune of finding veritable gems of secret
reports apparently overlooked by the CIA and the military.
This is not the only miraculous aspect of the journalistic breaks.
The Telegraph's David Blair reported that he found documents
in a bombed out and ransacked office at Iraq's Foreign Ministry.
The papers were highly incriminating toward British anti-war
MP George Galloway, an outspoken Blair critic.
The find is not only astonishing because it was overlooked
by intelligence professionals, but the documents were in
two file boxes, neatly marked "Great Britain," sitting on a
shelf. They were apparently the only documents to escape
the fire that had destroyed the rest of the room!
Along with other clear-thinking people, the editors of the
Guardian raised the possibility that, if the documents are
authentic at all, they may have been an internal ploy by
Iraqi agents, allowing them to profit from falsely naming
Galloway as recipient of funds that actually went to them.
The god of fortuitous discovery apparently did not like this
theory, and promptly arranged another discovery. This
one by Philip Smucker, special to The Christian Science
Monitor is described in an article titled "Newly found Iraqi
files raise heat on British MP" (see link at the bottom of
The new files unearthed in a suburban "Baghdad house
used by Saddam Hussein's son Sayid Qusay to hide top-
secret files," show orders from Saddam for six payments
to Galloway accruing to more than $10,000,000 between
July 1992 and January 2003.
The three most recent authorizations purport to be a
"gratuity to be issued to Mr. George Galloway of British
nationality in the amount of three million dollars only."
The "gratuity," of course, was for Galloways opposition
to the war which he voiced in the British parliament.
For an accounting department order, the paper shows an
excessive eagerness to explain circumstances. Such a
document would not have been intended for reading
by anyone other than the people who had authorized
the payment, and knew exactly what it was for.
It seems redundant for the secretary to add that the money
was for "his courageous and daring stands against the
enemies of Iraq, like Blair, the British Prime Minister,
and for his opposition in the House of Commons and Lords
against all outrageous lies against our patient people...."
Could we assume that Saddam might have found it a bit
condescending on the part of the secretary to be told
"Blair, the British Prime Minister?" Upon reading
such, Saddam would probably have called the secretary
in and asked, "do you know of any Blairs that are not
the British Prime Minister? No? Then you waste Iraq's
paper and ink and you have one too many heads."
Philip Smucker reports that the documents were discovered
by "an Iraqi general attached to Hussein's Republican Guard"
in a house used by his boss Qusay Hussein. Now it gets even
more satirical. Smucker writes: "The general, whose initials
are "S.A.R.," asked not to be named for fear of retribution
from Hussein's assassins."
Please let Smucker never do me any favors like that. I only
hope that "Hussein's assassins will look at the list of generals
and find several there who have the initials "S.A.R." That
way they won't be able to tell which one is the traitor. On
second thought, to be on the safe side, they'll probably
assassinate all the S.A.R. generals.
Poor general "S" wasn't even looking for documents to
incriminate Galloway. Apparently he raided Qusay's
home to find deeds to property that had been taken from
him. Perhaps the Christian Science Monitor had some
misgivings about Smucker's adventure tale. It said "the
documents appear to be authentic...but their authenticity
could not be verified by the Monitor."
Not to be upstaged by the American paper, Conrad Black
had his Sunday Telegraph come up with a topper on April
27th. This piece says, "Iraq files 'show al-Qaeda link."
(Link at the bottom of this post)
"Documents found in Baghdad show a link between Saddam
Hussein's fallen regime and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden,
according to an UK newspaper." Sunday Telegraph reporter Inigo
Gilmore tells how he stumbled upon the files in the Mukhabarat.
(We can only shudder at the reasons that might have made him
go to the Iraqi intelligence headquarters, or marvel at how he
got into it in the first place.)
The BBC apparently had similar questions. Gilmore told
them that he was "allowed into the intelligence headquarters
by US troops guarding the site." Fearlessly, and apparently
un-searched upon leaving, Gilmore smuggled the papers to
the hotel and had a translator put them into English.
Gilmore explained, "perhaps significantly the CIA had been
through many of these buildings but they seem to have
missed this particular document." What puzzles me is how
Gilmore would have known that these could be documents
worth taking the risk of smuggling for. He wouldn't have
known their contents before getting them translated.
Someone wanted to draw Gilmore's attention to areas that
had been whited out. "I noticed on some of the documents
there were some marks erased out... we scraped away with a
razor and underneath we found the name Bin Laden three
times and obviously realized this was highly significant."
What Gilmore obviously didn't realize was that Iraq had no
Freedom of Information act. Why would documents inside
intelligence headquarters need any name whited out? What,
the Iraqi agent in charge knew the Americans were about
to enter Baghdad?
He wanted them to read some of the document, but not bin
Laden's name? So he put some white out over it? Shredding
or burning the document would have been faster, and a lot
more efficient! Surely we can give the Mukhabarat at least
that much credit.
For anybody who still wants to know more of this fairy tale
after such a blunder, the files purport that "an al-Qaeda envoy
was invited to visit Baghdad secretly in March 1998."The idea
apparently was to "set up a direct meeting with Bin Laden." At
the meeting, "contact between al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence"
Conrad Black's Sunday Telegraph can't resist the temptation
of doing a little wink-wink, hint-hint: "The 1998 visit described
in the documents would have taken place before Washington
blamed Bin Laden for the bombings of two US embassies in
Africa later that year." (Get it, the bombings could have been
Here is a sample of what surely must be the efforts of an Iraqi
seeking to build a portfolio toward an eventual job as a script
writer for whatever the Iraqi equivalent of a B-grade movie is:
"We suggest permission to call the Khartoum station to facilitate
the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq.
And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs 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."
Wow! If that's how the Iraqi intelligence service talked and wrote,
it is no wonder that they are no more. Gilmore "said he was not
out to provide propaganda for the US but the documents could be
something they would want to use to back up their claims."
And the best way to do this, of course, is to secretly remove a
document from its location, smuggle it to a hotel, mutilate it by
scratching, have it translated by an unaccredited source, publish
it in a sister publication of the Jerusalem Post, (and do a follow
up to see whether the US troops guarding the Mukhabarat have
been court martialed, as they should?)
One cannot help but ask, are the CIA and the US/UK military
intelligence agents out to lunch? Or perhaps they are short-
staffed and have to rely on news reporters to come after them
to sweep up the really significant documents.
Moreover, news reporters in Baghdad are "embedded," which
means that their movements are somewhat restricted, and their
reports have to be cleared by military censors. The Iraqi
intelligence service headquarters had to have been a prime
target for fine-tooth combing by the CIA search.
It is unlikely that even a chewing gum wrapper would escape
the spooks. And the very fact that US troops were guarding
the place, shows that it was off limits. Yet, Gilmore is "allowed
in...by US troops guarding the site." He makes a priceless find,
but he doesn't know it. The documents have not yet been
translated, nor have the white out areas been scratched.
Still, he calmly smuggles what could be worthless crime reports
to the hotel where the Americans recently shot journalists for
lesser offenses. Bingo! THE smoking gun! At long last, the
al-Qaeda connection! It gets better. Having found what he
by then must have recognized as a document of supreme value
to the Rumsfeld apparatus in which he is embedded, Gilmore
keeps it to himself.
He either gets his story through the military censors (without
their noticing its significance!), or he smuggles the thing out and
actually lives to tell the story. Strangely, all this unbelievable
luck apparently did not raise any suspicion in Gilmore that the
document might have been planted for him to find.
It seems odd that Rumsfeld's boys would be so lax in their
duties as not to confiscate such valuable documents from
Gilmore and the other reporters that made lucky finds. When
Geraldo Rivera drew a few lines in the desert sand, Rumsfeld
almost had a coronary. Now there are reporters smuggling
vital documents, and Rumsfeld doesn't even get heartburn.
Are the Indiana Jones-type reporters all working for
pro-war conservative papers, which might explain Rumsfeld's
uncharacteristic tolerance? The Telegraph papers are owned
by Conrad Black, an ultra-right wing hawk and personal friend
of Ariel Sharon's. He also owns the Jerusalem Post.
The Christian Science Monitor is a respected, Pulitzer Prize
winning paper. More surprising then, Philip Smucker's true
crime-type story of General "S" and the "top secret" from
Qusay's house of dark secrets. The Toronto Star, that has its
own account of the Mukhabarat heist, espouses a soft left view,
but it also owns Harlequin Books.
Perhaps it is the romantic leaning that accounts for Star
reporter Mitch Potter's grab of the smoking al-Qaeda gun.
"Documents link Iraq, bin Laden. Star reporter finds terror chief's
name in Iraqi dossier, covered with White-Out," thus The Toronto
Star of April 26th. (Link at bottom of my post)"Top-secret Iraqi
intelligence documents, unearthed by the Toronto Star...have
established the first clear link between Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization."
There are some differences from the report by the Sunday
Telegraph's Gilmore. Both Gilmore and Potter claim to be
the finder of the al-Qaeda link. Both claim to have discovered
the bin-Laden name underneath the whiteout on the documents.
Perhaps the rivalry can be explained by the old rivalry between
John A. Honderich, publisher of the Toronto Star, and Conrad
Black. Their reporters certainly seem to dispute each other's
Potter, the Star's Jerusalem bureau chief, "was digging through
the rubble of the Mukhabarat's Baghdad headquarters with his
translator Amir when they uncovered the intelligence
The Star does mention that Potter "was traveling with Amir and
Inigo Gilmore of London's Sunday Telegraph. In his dispatch,
Potter details how his translator, sitting on the end of his hotel
room bed today, carefully scraped away the White Out with a
scalpel to reveal bin Laden's name hidden underneath."
Significantly, the Star also informs us that "the discovery of
the document coincides with the Friday capture of Farouk
Hijazi, an Iraqi spymaster the United States claims was the
link between Iraq and Al Qaeda." Coincidences are often not.
Another telling piece of information from Potter concerns
"...the hundreds of others we've been poring over in our
spare hours these many nights in the safety of our hotel
room while intermittent gunfire pops away in the distance."
Canadian and British journalists have been poring over
"hundreds" of secret Iraqi documents in their hotel "these
many nights?" Are they under contract to the CIA? Are
they a sort of civilian attachment to the US/UK intelligence
services, helping with the work load? Does Rumsfeld know
There seem to be a fantastic number of top secret reports
being found by journalists gleaning through places ransacked
first by the CIA and military intelligence. A half dozen found
in different places within the space of one week? Would it
be a sign of paranoia to allow just the teentsiest thought that
we may be looking at deliberate plants here?
Let's put ourselves in Rumsfeld's boots. His boys are in charge
of Iraq. The mission of finding proof of the things that were
used as rationales for the war falls to him. It is his job to make
sure that proof of WsMD and of the al-Qaeda connection are
found. Rumsfeld is not stupid, however.
He knows that whatever his boys find will be suspect. Credibility
is at an all-time low. If something needs to be found, it should
be done by people not directly under Rumsfeld's command, right?
Besides soldiers and a few international aid workers, who are
the most abundant foreigners available in Iraq? Journalists.
Who better to have find documents than journalists, who will
then spread the news all over the world with a credible air of
independence? All kinds of things can be accomplished in
this way. Proof can be put where there wasn't any. Revenge
can be taken on those who sought to thwart US/UK war plans.
Newspapers with legal departments make great accomplices.
Their financial resources make it difficult for an individual to
challenge the story. In this connection it is interesting that
only print journalists are allowed to find documents missed
by the spooks.
Perhaps Rumsfeld realized that if there were TV footage of
such lucky finds, it might be possible for a clever analyst to
later show all the details for why this had to have been a
plant. Another interesting thing is that the print reporters
seem to be finding only documents that either prove a US
contention, or make opponents of the war look bad.
If the CIA and the military spooks were indeed as sloppy
as they are made to appear, did they only miss certain
types of documents? Aren't there incriminating documents
to be found about those who are actually enemies of Iraq?
I think we can assume that Rumsfeld is familiar with and
cherishes the practicality of propaganda minister Goebbels:
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State
can shield the people from the political, economic and/or
military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally
important for the State to use all of its powers to repress
dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and
thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy
of the state."
In light of the high probability that all is not well with the
honesty of either the news reporters cited in my post, or
with the provenance of their finds, I will attach George
Galloway's initial response to some of the allegations
made against him.
Tuesday April 22, 2003
This attack is part of a smear campaign, against those
who stood against the illegal and bloody war on Iraq
and against its occupation by foreign forces.
As I am out of the country, writing a book about Iraq, I
have not seen the so-called "documents" the Telegraph
-a highly partisan source - claims to have access to.
The idea that such documents have, as if to order,
come to light just days after the massive assault on
Baghdad, the looting and destruction of its ministries
and government buildings, and the chaos in the
country must be treated as highly suspect.
This is especially so in the light of the widespread
deception and forgery deployed already by those bent
upon war on Iraq, for example in the so-called "dossier"
and in the forged documents, now discredited, appearing
to show Iraqi purchases of Uranium from Niger.
Without having seen the Telegraph's documents, from
the way they have been described to me I can state
that they bear all the hallmarks of having been either
forged or doctored and are designed to discredit
those who stood against the war.
Insofar as the contents of these documents have been
described to me, I would make the following points:
1. To the best of my knowledge, I have never met an
officer of the Iraqi intelligence.
2. Given that I have had access over the years to
Iraq's political leadership, most often the deputy
prime minister Tariq Aziz, I would have absolutely
no reason to be meeting with an official of Iraqi
3. I have never solicited nor received money from
Iraq for our campaign against war and sanctions.
4. I have never seen a barrel of oil, never owned
one, never bought one, never sold one.
5. The campaign which I fought over many years
was funded by only three significant sources, ie
donors of more than, say, three thousand pounds.
These were the pro-western governments of the
United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and the
Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zeurekat, who took
over responsibility for the Mariam Appeal some
time ago. Of these three sources, by far the most
significant was the government of the UAE which
donated in excess of half a million pounds to the
6. I have never been a signatory or trustee of the
Mariam Appeal. I was its founder.
7. Any interests I had in relation to the Mariam
Appeal are registered in the House of Commons
register of members' interests.
Links to the articles cited in my post:
The Toronto Star Apr. 26, 2003
"Documents link Iraq, bin Laden"
Star reporter finds terror chief's name
in Iraqi dossier, covered with White-Out
BBC Sunday, 27 April, 2003
"Iraq files 'show al-Qaeda link'"
Newly found Iraqi files raise heat
on British MP
The Christian Science Monitor Friday April 25, 2003
"Documents indicate payments of more than $10 million
for support of Labour Party official."
The Guardian Friday April 25, 2003
"Galloway to sue over fresh allegations"
The Guardian Tuesday April 22, 2003
"George Galloway's full statement"
-- signature .
Post a Followup