Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

11/18/2003

Why is the press avoiding the Weekly Standard's intelligence scoop?

Who's afraid of the Weekly Standard?

Everybody knows how the press loves to herd itself into a snarling pack to chase the story of the day.

But less noticed is the press's propensity to half-close its lids, lick its paws, and contemplate its hairballs when confronted with events or revelations that contradict its prejudices.

The press experienced such a tabby moment this week following the publication of Stephen F. Hayes' cover story in the most recent Weekly Standard about alleged links between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. The Hayes piece, which went up on the Web Friday, quotes extensively from a classified Oct. 27, 2003, 16-page memo written by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee, which is investigating the administration's prewar intelligence claims, asked Feith to annotate his July 10 testimony, and his now-leaked memo indexes in 50 numbered points what the various alphabet intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, DIA, NSA) had collected about a Saddam-Osama connection.

A classified memo by a top Pentagon official written at Senate committee request and containing information about scores of intelligence reports might spell news to you or me—whether you believe Saddam and Osama were collaborating or not. But except for exposure at other Murdoch media outlets (Fox News Channel, the Australian, the New York Post) and the conservative Washington Times, the story got no positive bounce. Time and Newsweek could have easily commented on some aspect of the story, which the Drudge Report promoted with a link on Saturday. But except for a dismissive one-paragraph mention in the Sunday Washington Post by Walter Pincus and a dismissive follow-up by Pincus in today's (Tuesday's) Post pegged to the news that the Justice Department will investigate the leak, the mainstream press has largely ignored Hayes' piece.

What's keeping the pack from tearing Hayes' story to shreds, from building on it or at least exploiting the secret document from which Hayes quotes? One possible explanation is that the mainstream press is too invested in its consensus finding that Saddam and Osama never teamed up and its almost theological view that Saddam and Osama couldn't possibly have ever hooked up because of secular/sacred differences. Holders of such rigid views tend to reject any new information that may disturb their cognitive equilibrium.

But except for exposure at other Murdoch media outlets (Fox News Channel, the Australian, the New York Post) and the conservative Washington Times, the story got no positive bounce. Time and Newsweek could have easily commented on some aspect of the story, which the Drudge Report promoted with a link on Saturday. But except for a dismissive one-paragraph mention in the Sunday Washington Post by Walter Pincus and a dismissive follow-up by Pincus in today's (Tuesday's) Post pegged to the news that the Justice Department will investigate the leak, the mainstream press has largely ignored Hayes' piece.

11/17/2003

US Army soldier in Iraq gives AP middle finger salute...
I guess we know what this patriot thinks about the AP...

Uranium/Africa?

"Iraqi agents have been negotiating with criminal gangs in the Democratic Republic of Congo to trade Iraqi military weapons and training for high-grade minerals, possibly including uranium, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian.
It comes as the dossier unveiled by Tony Blair accused Saddam Hussein of trying to buy African uranium to give Iraq's weapons programme a nuclear capability. The dossier did not identify any country allegedly approached by Baghdad but security analysts said the Congo was the likeliest, followed by South Africa.
'We know Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, though we do not know whether he has been successful,' Mr Blair said. "

Al Qaeda/Iraq ties cited by Janet Reno's Justice Department...
Was the Iraq/Al Qaeda tie made up or a view first advanced by the Clinton/Reno Justice Department...

"'In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq,' the indictment said."

The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden
Case Closed?

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.

According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in
some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
More on the leaked Al Qeada/Iraq memo...
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gave terror lord Osama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering al Qaeda money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday.
Their deadly collaboration - which may have included the bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks - is revealed in a 16-page memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee that cites reports from a variety of domestic and foreign spy agencies compiled by multiple sources, The Weekly Standard reports.

Saddam's willingness to help bin Laden plot against Americans began in 1990, shortly before the first Gulf War, and continued through last March, the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, says the Oct. 27 memo sent by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Two men were involved with the collaboration almost from its start.

Mamdouh Mahmud Salim - who's described as the terror lord's "best friend" - was involved in planning the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Another terrorist, Hassan al-Turabi, was said by an Iraqi defector to be "instrumental" in the relationship.

Iraq "sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors," a top-level Iraqi defector has told U.S. intelligence.

The bombshell report says bin Laden visited Baghdad in January 1998 and met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

"The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan," the memo says.

Though the bombing of the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000 was an al Qaeda job, the secret memo says the CIA believes "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."
And more on the leaked Iraq/AQ memo...
And then there is the alleged contact between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The reporting on those links suggests not one meeting, but as many as four. What¹s more, the memo reveals potential financing of Atta's activities by Iraqi intelligence.

The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.

And the commentary:

CIA can confirm two Atta visits to Prague‹in Dec. 1994 and in June 2000; data surrounding the other two, on 26 Oct 1999 and 9 April 2001, is complicated and sometimes contradictory and CIA and FBI cannot confirm Atta met with the IIS. Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross continues to stand by his information.

It's not just Gross who stands by the information. Five high-ranking members of the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani. The meeting that has gotten the most press attention ,April 9, 2001, is also the most widely disputed. Even some of the most hawkish Bush administration officials are privately skeptical that Atta met al Ani on that occasion. They believe that reports of the alleged meeting, said to have taken place in public, outside the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, suggest a level of sloppiness that doesn¹t fit the pattern of previous high-level Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts.

Whether or not that specific meeting occurred, the report by Czech counterintelligence that al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service officer to provide IIS funds to Atta might help explain the lead hijacker's determination to reach Prague, despite significant obstacles, in the spring of 2000. (Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer.) Recall that Atta flew to Prague from Germany on May 30, 2000, but was denied entry because he did not have a valid visa. Rather than simply return to Germany and fly directly to the United States, his ultimate destination, Atta took pains to get to Prague. After he was refused entry the first time, he traveled back to Germany, obtained the proper paperwork, and caught a bus back to Prague. He left for the United States the day after arriving in Prague for the second time.

Guard unit gets grand send-off
Bravo... Support is higher in my home state than I thought...

"Flag-waving supporters gathered Saturday on the I-5 Tillicum overpass in front of Camp Murray to say goodbye to the Washington Army National Guard's 81st Infantry Brigade as it began deploying to Iraq. Similar crowds clogged other area overpasses, and law enforcement estimated supporters outnumbered protesters 200 to 1. "