Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Friday, October 01, 2004

Security Clearance Scandal:Who Gave Richard Perle a clearance?

Security Clearance Scandal Engulfs Bush Administration: "Who Gave Richard Perle a clearance?
In 1970 the FBI recorded a wiretap of Richard Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli Embassy. An obvious question is why wasn't Perle prosecuted? But the bigger question is how does Richard Perle get a security clearance to serve on the Defense Policy Board.
The FBI is currently investigating an espionage ring that dwarfs anything that Jonathan Pollard ever did. Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Steven Bryen Larry Franklin, Harold Rhode, Peter W. Rodman and Captain William Luti USN Retired are all objects of a probe. "

The Feith Leak of Classified information: Case Closed

Case Closed: "Case Closed
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/24/2003, Volume 009, Issue 11

Editor's Note, 1/27/04: In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney . . . in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."

Here's the Stephen F. Hayes article to which the vice president was referring.

-JVL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said 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."

One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein's henchmen. As the memo details:


4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting--the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.
A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.


5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.
Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden's "best friend." According to CIA reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to serve as a liaison with Saddam's regime and tasked him with procurement of weapons of mass destruction for al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that Abu Hajer "visited Iraq in early 1995" and "had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an al Qaeda mission to discuss unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government."

Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source, according to CIA analysis, offered "the most credible information" on cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.


This source's reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. . . . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source with close access provided a "window" into bin Laden's activities, bin Laden is seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).
Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's current No. 2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in the mid-1990s:


8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.
9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi, among others.

And later more reporting, from the same "well placed" source:


10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.
The analysis of those events follows:


The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.

IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A "former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz."


11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .
14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a "regular and reliable source," [Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.

That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf War. UNSCOM demanded access to Saddam's presidential palaces that he refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of "an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals" and said "there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."

The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore, Hussein's intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to pay for "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." The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of "the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him." The al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might provide "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi: "For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." Bin Laden urged his followers to act: "The ruling to kill all Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."

Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.

According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.


15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.
16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.

17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader [Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.

18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would have met bin Laden only at Saddam's explicit direction.

An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation of these reports:


Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings. The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation [sic] of operations.
Information about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999, Newsweek story ran under this headline: "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The story cited an "Arab intelligence source" with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. "According to this source, Saddam expected last month's American and British bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam's long-term strategy, according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to lift if formally."


INTELLIGENCE REPORTS about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam's office reportedly ordered Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and al Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from al Qaeda."

The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report states that "in late 1999" al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that "was operational as of 1999." Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.


23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin Laden.
Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:


24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir) facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir's travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including al Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport--a job he claimed to have obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.
One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.


25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by al Qaeda revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."
26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

The analysis of this report follows.


CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh's timeline is consistent with other sensitive reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons, including CBW and "poisons."
Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between Iraq and al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:

27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.

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. What's 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 doesn't 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.

Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks:


31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.
The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the pattern of Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration:


References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable. Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for al Qaeda usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge. This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.
Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo expands on Powell's case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S. military is currently facing in Iraq.


37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi's procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.
38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to al Qaeda members located in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers. According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based al Qaeda members believed that the U.S. intended to strike al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault against Ansar al-Islam positions.

The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which "claimed that an Iraqi intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and agreed to continue to give assistance."


CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration's "exaggeration of intelligence."

Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"

There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know this from Al Gore's recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president claims to be privy to new "evidence" that the administration lied. In an August speech at New York University, Gore claimed: "The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction." Really?

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

So Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a "Cliff's Notes" version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive.

One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-al Qaeda connections.

Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers--Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi--through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again.

Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations; in some cases, more than half of the alleged "diplomats" were intelligence operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir's schedule. He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had been plotted.

The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He didn't make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi regime began to "pressure" Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is believed to have fled back to Iraq.

Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11? We don't know. We may someday find out.

But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved."

The Feith Leak of Classified information: Case Closed

Case Closed: "Case Closed
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/24/2003, Volume 009, Issue 11

Editor's Note, 1/27/04: In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney . . . in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."

Here's the Stephen F. Hayes article to which the vice president was referring.

-JVL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said 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."

One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein's henchmen. As the memo details:


4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting--the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.
A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.


5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.
Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden's "best friend." According to CIA reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to serve as a liaison with Saddam's regime and tasked him with procurement of weapons of mass destruction for al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that Abu Hajer "visited Iraq in early 1995" and "had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an al Qaeda mission to discuss unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government."

Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source, according to CIA analysis, offered "the most credible information" on cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.


This source's reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. . . . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source with close access provided a "window" into bin Laden's activities, bin Laden is seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).
Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's current No. 2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in the mid-1990s:


8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.
9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi, among others.

And later more reporting, from the same "well placed" source:


10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.
The analysis of those events follows:


The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.

IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A "former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz."


11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .
14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a "regular and reliable source," [Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.

That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf War. UNSCOM demanded access to Saddam's presidential palaces that he refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of "an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals" and said "there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."

The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore, Hussein's intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to pay for "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." The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of "the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him." The al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might provide "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi: "For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." Bin Laden urged his followers to act: "The ruling to kill all Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."

Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.

According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.


15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.
16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.

17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader [Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.

18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would have met bin Laden only at Saddam's explicit direction.

An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation of these reports:


Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings. The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation [sic] of operations.
Information about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999, Newsweek story ran under this headline: "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The story cited an "Arab intelligence source" with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. "According to this source, Saddam expected last month's American and British bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam's long-term strategy, according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to lift if formally."


INTELLIGENCE REPORTS about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam's office reportedly ordered Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and al Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from al Qaeda."

The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report states that "in late 1999" al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that "was operational as of 1999." Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.


23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin Laden.
Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:


24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir) facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir's travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including al Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport--a job he claimed to have obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.
One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.


25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by al Qaeda revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."
26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

The analysis of this report follows.


CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh's timeline is consistent with other sensitive reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons, including CBW and "poisons."
Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between Iraq and al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:

27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.

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. What's 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 doesn't 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.

Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks:


31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.
The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the pattern of Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration:


References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable. Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for al Qaeda usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge. This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.
Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo expands on Powell's case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S. military is currently facing in Iraq.


37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi's procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.
38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to al Qaeda members located in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers. According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based al Qaeda members believed that the U.S. intended to strike al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault against Ansar al-Islam positions.

The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which "claimed that an Iraqi intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and agreed to continue to give assistance."


CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration's "exaggeration of intelligence."

Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"

There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know this from Al Gore's recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president claims to be privy to new "evidence" that the administration lied. In an August speech at New York University, Gore claimed: "The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction." Really?

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

So Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a "Cliff's Notes" version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive.

One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-al Qaeda connections.

Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers--Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi--through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again.

Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations; in some cases, more than half of the alleged "diplomats" were intelligence operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir's schedule. He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had been plotted.

The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He didn't make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi regime began to "pressure" Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is believed to have fled back to Iraq.

Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11? We don't know. We may someday find out.

But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved."

Laura Rozen: Ye of Little Feith Why one of Doug Feith's underlings thinks he might go to jail.

American Prospect Online - ViewWeb: "Ye of Little Feith
Why one of Doug Feith's underlings thinks he might go to jail.
By Laura Rozen
Web Exclusive: 05.18.04

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There was a time when Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith seemed to run a secret foreign policy from his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. As creator of the Office of Special Plans, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith presided over a secretive intelligence unit that was briefed by Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi and sifted through CIA intelligence looking for evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. His underlings Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin jetted off to Rome in December 2001 for secret meetings with Iran-Contra figures Michael Ledeen and Manucher Ghorbanifar. Who knew where the revolution would spread after Iraq?

But now Feith's job security is far from certain. And when he gave a talk on "Winning Iraq" at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on May 4, he found himself in the awkward position of trying to explain why we don't appear to be winning at all. He made a go of it, though, trying to put a positive spin on the disastrous recent events before an audience of about 100 diplomats and journalists.

"It's well-known that no prewar prediction will unfold perfectly, and that there will be setbacks that require adjustments," Feith said, sitting alone at a table in his dark gray suit and round wire-frame glasses. "In war, plans are, at best, the basis for future changes."

Feith may have been among friends, but even they were not going to let him and his co-workers at the Pentagon off easy. A panel of military analysts who preceded him at the AEI event blamed the Bush administration and unnamed Pentagon planners for failing to provide an adequate number of troops and resources for the United States to stabilize Iraq.

"I fault the [Iraq War planners] for forgetting the fundamental nature of war -- the inherent uncertainties," said Thomas Donnelly, an AEI military expert, a former staffer at the Project for the New American Century, and a member of the predecessor to the House Armed Services Committee. "President Bush asked for a plan for a regime change. And what he got was a plan for regime removal."

"Iraqis are asking themselves, ‘Who is more likely to bring stability, the Americans or the insurgents?’" Steve Metz, a military analyst at the U.S. Army War College, told the audience. "And it appears to a lot of Iraqis that the insurgents have the ability to turn off the instability, while the Americans have yet to demonstrate that they can turn off the instability."

In a question-and-answer session, the AEI's Danielle Pletka expressed dismay that the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had recently reversed course and decided to allow low-level former Baath Party members to be considered for Iraqi government jobs. Pletka's question reflected the continued loyalty of many at the AEI to Chalabi.

But that neocon loyalty to him has been under siege in recent weeks. For months, news organizations have reported that the information from defectors provided by Chalabi to Feith and the U.S. government had turned out to be bogus. Then, earlier this month, a Newsweek article said U.S. intelligence had intercepted Chalabi passing sensitive U.S. information to Iran.

An article in Salon on May 3 then quoted Feith's own former law partner, L. Marc Zell, calling Chalabi a "treacherous, spineless turncoat." (In a follow-up letter letter to Salon on May 5, Zell denied consenting to the interview.) After the conference, Feith's deputy, Middle East expert Harold Rhode, furtively discussed Zell's reputed comments in a huddle in the corner. "What's up with Zell?" someone asked Rhode. "I have no idea," Rhode replied, shaking his head.

For his part, Feith said he hadn't seen the Salon article. Nevertheless, he may have taken a look after being told that the article, citing Iraqi Defense Minister (and Chalabi nephew) Ali Allawi, reported that he would be forced to resign his job at the Pentagon later this month.

When asked about this by a reporter after the conference, Feith let out a pained chuckle. "They are always saying that," he said, before being rescued by Pletka and ushered from the room.

Others, however, are less sanguine.

"He was very arrogant," Karen Kwiatkowski, Feith’s former deputy, says, describing what it was like to work with him. "He doesn't utilize a wide variety of inputs. He seeks information that confirms what he already thinks. And he may go to jail for leaking classified information to The Weekly Standard." (As she explains, an article appeared in The Weekly Standard that included a leaked memo written by Feith alleging ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.)

It seems unlikely that Feith will face time for the leaked memo. But he may well be forced to look for a new job soon. As he knows all too well, regime change isn't pretty.

Laura Rozen writes on national security and foreign policy from Washington, D.C."

Zionist Organization of America - October 13, 1997 - David Bar-Illan, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, and U.S. Rep Saxton to Speak at ZOA Dinner

Zionist Organization of America - October 13, 1997 - David Bar-Illan, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, and U.S. Rep Saxton to Speak at ZOA Dinner: "News Release
The Zionist Organization of America
Jacob & Libby Goodman ZOA House Phone: - 212-481-1500
4 East 34th St. New York, NY 10016 Fax: 212-481-1515
e-mail: email@zoa.org Web Site: www.zoa.org


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

October 13, 1997 Contact: (212-481-1500)
ATTN: News Editor


Dalck Feith and Douglas Feith
Will Be the Guests of Honor

David Bar-Illan, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, and U.S. Rep Saxton to Speak at ZOA Dinner

David Bar-Illan, senior spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the distinguished Jewish history scholar and father of the prime minister, and U.S. Congressman Jim Saxton will be the featured speakers at this year's gala 100th anniversary dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, in New York City.
The ZOA dinner will be held at the luxurious Grand Hyatt Hotel, Park Avenue at Grand Central, in New York City on Sunday evening, November 2, 1997. Cocktails will be at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call 212-481-1500.

Professor Netanyahu, a veteran Zionist leader and scholar of Jewish history, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at Cornell University.

Also speaking at the ZOA dinner:


U.S. Congressman Jim Saxton, one of the strongest voices for Israel in the House of Representatives. Rep. Saxton is chair of the House Joint Economic Committee, and co-chair of the Peace Accord Monitoring Group, which monitors and challenges PLO violations of the Oslo accords. He authored the Saxton Amendment, to suspend U.S. aid to the PLO until the PLO stops violating the Oslo accords.

Morton A. Klein, the dynamic National President of the Zionist Organization of America.

Ed Ames, the internationally known actor and singer, originally of the Ames Brothers, will give a special performance at the ZOA dinner.
This year's honorees will be Dalck Feith and Douglas J. Feith, the noted Jewish philanthropists and pro-Israel activists.

Dalck Feith will receive the ZOA's special Centennial Award at the dinner, for his lifetime of service to Israel and the Jewish people. His son Douglas J. Feith, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, will receive the prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Award at the dinner.

Prominent Philadelphia community leaders Richard J. Fox (chairman of the board of Temple University and president of the National Jewish Coalition) and Albert J. Wood (president of the Middle East Forum) are the co-chairs of the dinner committee.

In Poland in the 1930s, Dalck Feith was active in Betar, the Zionist youth movement founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. He later joined the Zionist underground, fought in World War II with the U.S. Merchant Marine, and went on to become a distinguished business leader and philanthropist in Philadelphia.

He has served as General Chairman of the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal of Philadelphia, and was a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He has been honored for his good works by numerous prominent institutions and organizations, including Brandeis University, Hebrew University, and Israel Bonds.

He resides in Elkins Park, PA with his wife, Rose. They have three children and ten grandchildren.

Douglas J. Feith, a graduate of Harvard College and the Georgetown University Law Center, is a founding member of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Feith & Zell. He served as a Middle East specialist for the National Security Council in the Reagan Administration, and then served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Upon his departure from the Department of Defense, Mr. Feith received the Department's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal.

A prolific author, Mr. Feith's essays about Israel and other subjects have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New Republic, Commentary and elsewhere.

A scholarly essay of his on Winston Churchill, Zionism, and Palestine (1904-1922) has just been published in the book Churchill as Peacemaker (James W. Muller, editor, Cambridge University Press / Woodrow Wilson Center Press).

Mr. Feith is a director of the Center for Security Policy. He serves as an officer of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, and a director of the Foundation for Jewish Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He resides in Bethesda with his wife, Yana, and their four children."

Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/28/2004 | As Iraq struggles, critics zero in on Pentagon aide

Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/28/2004 | As Iraq struggles, critics zero in on Pentagon aide: "As Iraq struggles, critics zero in on Pentagon aide

By Steve Goldstein

Inquirer Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON - For a mild-mannered guy who grew up as a ham-radio enthusiast and whose chief passion is collecting history books, Douglas J. Feith inspires fierce emotions.

Critics paint Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, as the hawkish boss of a neoconservative cabal in the Pentagon and the architect of a failed postwar strategy in Iraq.

Feith supporters call allegations like that "character assassination."

Feith is accused of exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and of being unduly swayed by Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi. An official working under Feith is under investigation for allegedly passing classified information to Israel, whose security Feith has championed.

As the war and its troubled aftermath have assumed a central role in the presidential election, Feith has been blasted by both Democrats and Bush administration officials - the latter almost always anonymously - for a flawed strategic vision.

"By all accounts, things in Iraq have gone very, very badly," disarmament expert George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said recently on National Public Radio. "Doug Feith should have been fired a long time ago for incompetence."

Feith, 51, blames much of the negative attention on "misconceptions" about his purview and his power. Many of the personal attacks, he said, have derived from policy disagreements between the Pentagon and the State Department that have produced, in his words, "a certain amount of electricity."

Feith, a Philadelphia native with close family ties to the area, rejected the allegation that postwar planning for Iraq had been disastrous. He said history would vindicate much of his group's decision-making.

"We made mistakes, but we did a lot of good things," he said in a rare two-hour interview at his Washington-area home.

Feith heads what is called the Policy organization - 1,500 people inside the Pentagon who have helped shape post-9/11 policy on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terror.

Like most neoconservatives, he is a former liberal who feels the Democratic Party abandoned him. Neoconservatives advocate the hawkish "peace through strength" philosophy of the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D., Wash.) and his foreign-affairs chief, Richard Perle, with whom Feith has been associated since 1975.

Sitting in a wood-paneled library, clad in khakis and a polo shirt, the bespectacled Harvard and Georgetown Law graduate animatedly described accounts of his power as "wildly unconnected to reality."

He cited one report attributing to him the ability to choose which Baghdad neighborhoods received electricity and water. "I had no authority over the Coalition Provisional Authority," he said. "We decide virtually nothing. We provide advice to the secretary [Donald Rumsfeld] and he decides things."

Retired CIA counterintelligence chief Vincent Cannistraro said Feith's policy and planning office became controversial by getting involved in operations.

Joseph Cirincione, a weapons of mass destruction expert with the liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Feith, with Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, Feith's boss, went to war "after pushing aside the more cautious assessments of the State Department, the military and the intelligence community."

Feith has often been singled out. Why?

"This is character assassination... by people at State and CIA who have been diminished by Doug's effectiveness," said Frank Gaffney, head of the conservative Center for Security Policy and a Feith friend since they served together in the Reagan administration.

In wartime, Feith said, the Pentagon assumes a larger role "in matters it might not otherwise have a voice" in. This upsets officials in other agencies who suddenly have to seek Pentagon approval, he said, adding that: "You get a certain amount of resentment because the situation is not what they enjoyed before.... When those arrangements get disturbed, people feel their oxen have been gored."

Gen. Walter L. Sharp, Feith's counterpart in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "I think Doug has gotten a bum rap. The criticism is coming from people who have not been through the [planning] process with Doug."

As for the reliance on Chalabi, who helped convince officials of the existence of stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Feith said his organization did not "run the program" with the exile leader.

"It was a program within the intelligence community run by the Defense Intelligence Agency" in the Pentagon, he said.

Feith became defensive when asked to describe his mistakes. His office, he said, was always questioning and reevaluating "assumptions and immediate objectives" in strategic reviews on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terror.

One strategic plan he advocated was putting Iraqis in positions of authority and responsibility as soon as Baghdad fell.

"We had a theme in our minds, a strategic idea, of liberation rather than occupation, giving them more authority even at the expense of having things done with greater efficiency" by coalition forces, he said.

U.S. military officials and others shot the plan down, Feith said.

Another source of interagency "tension," he said, was a proposal that the military train 5,000 Iraqi soldiers to be interpreters and guides during the war.

Gen. Tommy Franks, field commander, and his deputy, Gen. Michael DeLong, opposed the idea. "A waste of time and energy for us," DeLong said of the plan in his book, Inside CentCom.

A halfhearted effort ensued, and by the start of the war, only 70 Iraqis had been trained.

Franks, now retired, described Feith both in his own book and in one written by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward as the "stupidest guy on the face of the Earth."

This took Feith by surprise.

"We never had anything in our personal dealings that led me to believe... he would say something like that," he said.

Sharp said he was mystified by Franks' remark. But he added that Feith "pushed very hard" to reassess strategies for training Iraqi security forces. "That can be very frustrating for people who aren't part of the process," he said. "They think, 'There they go again.'"

In Woodward's book Plan of Attack, the author quotes Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as describing Feith's group as a "Gestapo office." Powell, in a phone call and a letter, denied making the comment, Feith said.

Feith grew up in Elkins Park and attended Philadelphia's Central High School. He is the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents and seven siblings to the Nazis.

Dalck Feith, now 90, owned a sheet-metal business that supplied parts for Jerrold Electronics, a firm founded by former Gov. Milton J. Shapp that made set-top boxes for cable TV. Through this connection, Dalck Feith got to know Ralph Roberts, founder of Comcast. Today, the Feith family is one of Comcast's largest private shareholders.

Douglas Feith's brother, Donald, runs Feith Systems & Software in Fort Washington, which sells computer programs that store huge numbers of documents. It has contracts with the Defense and Commerce Departments and other government agencies, as well as Comcast, AT&T, Toll Bros. and others. In the last two years, Feith family members have contributed at least $14,500 to President Bush, the Republican Party, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), according to campaign records.

The family also has strong ties to Israel. Feith's former law partner, Marc Zell, lives and works near Jerusalem.

This month the FBI began investigating Pentagon employee Larry Franklin, who works in Feith's organization, for allegedly passing memos to Israel. Feith has declined to discuss the probe.

James Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute, a Middle East lobbying group, said Feith was too close to Israel's right-wing Likud Party.

Said Gaffney: "To construe Doug as this sort of running dog of the Jewish state, a Zionist proxy in the Pentagon, is totally false and deeply offensive."

Feith is often identified as the author of a 1996 policy paper written for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Feith said he was simply one of six people solicited for ideas by the author, David Wurmser, now a State Department official, who wrote the paper as an "open letter" to the Jewish leader.

Although he said he was inured to criticism, Feith remains noncommittal about staying in the job if Bush is reelected. With a workday that begins at 4 a.m. and runs for 14 or more hours, he said he had about 90 minutes "to do my life and see my wife and four kids."

"It's not much of an existence," he said, "outside of the work.""

The Feith's of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/28/2004 | As Iraq struggles, critics zero in on Pentagon aide: "Feith grew up in Elkins Park and attended Philadelphia's Central High School. He is the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents and seven siblings to the Nazis.
Dalck Feith, now 90, owned a sheet-metal business that supplied parts for Jerrold Electronics, a firm founded by former Gov. Milton J. Shapp that made set-top boxes for cable TV. Through this connection, Dalck Feith got to know Ralph Roberts, founder of Comcast. Today, the Feith family is one of Comcast's largest private shareholders.
Douglas Feith's brother, Donald, runs Feith Systems & Software in Fort Washington, which sells computer programs that store huge numbers of documents. It has contracts with the Defense and Commerce Departments and other government agencies, as well as Comcast, AT&T, Toll Bros. and others. In the last two years, Feith family members have contributed at least $14,500 to President Bush, the Republican Party, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), according to campaign records.
The family also has strong ties to Israel. Feith's former law partner, Marc Zell, lives and works near Jerusalem."

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Is Iran Next?

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Is Iran Next?: "Is Iran Next?

By Tom Barry, In These Times. Posted October 1, 2004.


The Pentagon neocons who brought you the war in Iraq have a new target. Story Tools
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Shortly after 9/11, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith began coordinating Pentagon planning for an invasion of Iraq. The challenge facing Feith, the No. 3 civilian in the Defense Department, was to establish a policy rationale for the attack. At the same time, Feith’s ideological cohorts in the Pentagon began planning to take the administration’s "global war on terrorism," not only to Baghdad, but also to Damascus and Tehran.

In August it was revealed that one of Feith’s Middle East policy wonks, Lawrence Franklin, shared classified documents – including a draft National Security Presidential Directive formulated in Feith’s office that outlines a more aggressive U.S. national security strategy regarding Iran – with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israeli officials. The FBI is investigating the document transfer as a case of espionage.

This spy scandal raises two concerns for U.S. diplomats and foreign policy experts from across the political spectrum. One, that U.S. Middle East policy is being directed by neoconservative ideologues variously employed, coordinated or sanctioned by Feith’s Pentagon office. And two, that U.S. Middle East policy is too closely aligned with that of Israeli hardliners close to U.S. neoconservatives.

Feith is joined in reshaping a U.S. foreign Middle East policy – one that mirrors or complements the policies of the hardliners in Israel – by a web of neoconservative policy institutes, pressure groups and think tanks. These include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – all groups with which Feith has been or still is closely associated.

First Iraq, now Iran

In the months after 9/11, rather than relying on the CIA, State Department or the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency for intelligence about Iraq’s ties to international terrorists and its development of weapons of mass destruction, neoconservatives in the Pentagon set up a special intelligence shop called the Office of Special Plans (OSP). The founders, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Feith, are fervent advocates of a regional restructuring in the Middle East that includes regime change in Iran, Syria and, ultimately, Saudi Arabia.

Not having its own intelligence-gathering infrastructure, Feith’s office relied on fabricated information supplied by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi expatriate who led the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In 1998, Chalabi’s group was funded by the Iraq Liberation Act, a congressional initiative that was backed by neoconservative institutions such as AIPAC, CSP, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

At the same time that Chalabi and other INC militants were visiting Feith’s office, so were Israeli officials, including generals, according to Lt. Col Karen Kwiakowski, who formerly worked in the Near East and South Asia office under Feith’s supervision. Like the neoconservatives in the United States, Israeli hardliners believe that Israel’s long-term security can best be ensured by a radical makeover of Middle East politics enforced by the superior military power of the United States and Israel.

It now appears that Feith’s Office of Policy, which was creating dubious intelligence rationales for the Iraq war, was also establishing a covert national security strategy for regime change in Iran – most likely through a combination of preemptive military strikes (either by the United States or Israel) and support for a coalition of Iranian dissidents.

Covert operators

This covert operation is now the subject of an FBI espionage investigation and inquiries by the House Judiciary Committee and Select Senate Intelligence Committee – inquiries that have been postponed until after the election.

Without notifying the State Department or the CIA, Feith’s office has been involved in back channel operations that have included a series of secret meetings in Washington, Rome and Paris over the last three years. These meetings have brought together Office of Policy officials and consultants (Franklin, Harold Rhode and Michael Ledeen), an expatriate Iranian arms dealer (Manichur Ghorbanifar), AIPAC lobbyists, Ahmed Chalabi, and Italian and Israeli intelligence officers, among others.

Franklin, an Iran expert who was pulled into Feith’s policy shop from the Defense Intelligence Agency, met repeatedly with Naor Gilon, the head of the political department at the Israeli embassy in Washington. According to U.S. intelligence officials, during one of those meetings, Franklin offered to hand over the National Security Presidential Directive on Iran. For more than two years, an FBI counterintelligence operation has been monitoring Washington meetings between AIPAC, Franklin and Israeli officials. Investigators suspect that the draft security document was passed to Israel through an intermediary, likely AIPAC.

Franklin, who is known to be close to militant Iranian and Iranian-American dissidents, is the common link to another series of meetings in Rome and Paris involving Ledeen (an American Enterprise Institute scholar who was a special consultant to Feith), Harold Rhode (a cohort of Ledeen’s from the Iran-Contra days, who is currently employed by Feith to prepare regime-change strategy plans for Middle Eastern countries on the neoconservatives’ hit list), and Ghorbanifar (an arms dealer who claims to speak for the Iranian opposition). These meetings addressed, among other things, strategies for organizing Iranians who would be willing to cooperate with a U.S.-spearheaded regime change agenda for Iran.

Echoes of Iran-Contra

This cast of characters indicates that U.S. Middle East policy involves covert and illegal operations that resemble the Iran-Contra operations in the ’80s. Not only are the neoconservatives once again the leading actors, these new covert operations involve at least two Iran-Contra conspirators: Ledeen, who has repeatedly complained that the Bush administration has let its regime-change plans for Iran and Syria "gather mold in the bowels of the bureaucracy"; and Ghorbanifar, who the CIA considers a "serial fabricator" with whom the agency prohibits its agents from having any association

During the Iran-Contra operation, Israel served as a conduit for U.S. arms sales to Iran. The proceeds went largely to fund the Nicaraguan Contras despite a congressional ban on military support to the counterrevolutionaries. This time around, however, the apparent aim of these back channel dealings is to move U.S.-Iran relations beyond the reach of State Department diplomats and into the domain of the Pentagon ideologues. Ledeen, the neoconservative point man in the Iran regime-change campaign, wrote in the National Review Online that too many U.S. government officials "prefer to schmooze with the mullahs" rather than promote "democratic revolution in Iran."

In early 2002, Leeden, along with Morris Amitay, a former AIPAC executive director as well as a CSP adviser, founded the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) to build congressional and administration support for Iran regime change. AIPAC and CDI helped ensure passage of recent House and Senate resolutions that condemn Iran, call for tighter sanctions and express support for Iranian dissidents.

The CDI includes members of key neoconservative policy institutes and think tanks, including Raymond Tanter of the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs (WINEA) – an off-shoot of AIPAC – and Frank Gaffney, president of CSP. In the ’90s, Feith served as the board chairman of CSP, whose slogan is "peace through strength," and where Woolsey currently serves as co-chairman of the advisory committee. Other neoconservative organizations represented in the coalition by more than one member include AEI and Freedom House.

Rob Sobhani, an Iranian-American, who like Ledeen and other neoconservatives is a friend of the Shah’s son Reza Pahlavi, is also a CDI member. CDI expresses the common neoconservative position that constructive engagement with the Iranian government – even with the democratic reformists – is merely appeasement. Instead, the United States should proceed immediately to a regime change strategy working closely with the "Iranian people." Representatives of the Iranian people that could be the front men for a regime change strategy, according to the neoconservatives, include, the Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi (who has also cultivated close ties with the Likud Party in Israel), the Iraq-based guerrilla group Mujahadin-E Khalq (MEK), and expatriate arms dealer Ghorbanifar.

The CDI’s Ledeen, Amitay and Sobhani were featured speakers at a May 2003 forum on "the future of Iran," sponsored by AEI, the Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The forum, chaired by the Hudson Institute’s Meyrav Wurmser, the Israeli-born wife of David Wurmser (he serves as Cheney’s leading expert on Iran and Syria), included a presentation by Uri Lubrani of Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Summarizing the sentiment of neoconservative ideologues and strategists, Meyrav Wurmser said: "Our fight against Iraq was only a battle in a long war. It would be ill-conceived to think we can deal with Iraq alone. We must move on, and faster."

JINSA, a neoconservative organization established in 1976 that fosters closer strategic and military ties between the United States and Israel, also has its sights on Iran. At a JINSA policy forum in April 2003 titled "Time to Focus on Iran – The Mother of Modern Terrorism," Ledeen declared, "The time for diplomacy is at an end; it is time for a free Iran, free Syria and free Lebanon."

JINSA, along with CSP, serves as one of the main institutional links to the military-industrial complex for neoconservatives. Ledeen served as JINSA’s first executive director and was JINSA’s "Godfather," according to Amitay. Amitay is a JINSA vice chair. JINSA board members or advisers also include former CIA director James Woolsey, former Rep. Jack Kemp and the AEI’s Joshua Muravchik. After he joined the administration, Feith resigned from JINSA’s board of advisers, as did Vice President Dick Cheney and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton.

Like other neoconservatives, Feith sees Israel and the United States sharing common national-security concerns in the Middle East. In 1996, Feith was a member of a study team organized by IASPS and led by Richard Perle that also included representatives from JINSA, the AIPAC-related WINEA, and Meyrav and David Wurmser.

The resulting report, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , advised Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu to "work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize and roll back" regional threats, to help overthrow Saddam Hussein, and to strike Syrian military targets in Lebanon and possibly in Syria proper. It recommended that Israel forge a foreign and domestic policy based on a "new intellectual foundation" that "provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism."

Ideology alone does not explain Feith’s close connections to Israel. His old law firm Feith & Zell, which has an office in Israel, specialized in representing arms dealers and missile defense contractors. The firm has boasted of its role in facilitating technology transfers between U.S. and Israel military contractors.

Zionism runs deep

Feith’s right-wing Zionism typifies neoconservatism. The Pentagon’s advocacy of an invasion of Iraq and, more recently, its hard-line postures with respect to Iran and Syria, must be considered in light of the Zionist convictions and Likud Party connections of those shaping the administration’s Middle East policy.

Through the early ’70s anti-totalitarianism was the core political tenet that united neoconservatives and their forerunners. In this Manichean political worldview, the forces of good and democracy led by the United States were under constant threat by the forces of evil as embodied in communism and fascism. At home, the "present danger" came in the form of appeasers, pro-détente advocates, isolationists and peace activists who shied away from direct and preemptive military confrontation with the totalitarian empire builders.

Although the early neoconservatives were largely Jewish, most were not Zionists. In the ’50s and through most of the ’60s, neocons such as Irving Kristol – widely known as the father of neoconservatism – regarded Israel more as a key Cold War ally than as the biblically ordained homeland of God’s chosen people.

After the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Jewish neoconservatives embraced their Judaic roots and incorporated Zionism into their worldview. Anti-totalitarianism remains a core neoconservative foreign policy principle. Since the end of the Cold War, neoconservatism has focused on the Muslim world and to a lesser extent China – but is now tied to the ideological and political imperatives of right-wing Zionism.

Feith’s own Zionism is rooted in his family. In 1997, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) honored Dalck Feith and his son Douglas at its annual dinner, describing the Feiths as "noted Jewish philanthropists and pro-Israel activists." The father was awarded the group’s special Centennial Award "for his lifetime of service to Israel and the Jewish people," while Douglas received the "prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Award."

Dalck Feith was a militant in Betar, a Zionist youth movement founded in Riga, Lativia in 1923, by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, an admirer of Mussolini. Betar, whose members spouted militaristic slogans modeled after fascistic movements, was associated with the Revisionist Movement, which evolved in Poland to become the Herut Party, the forerunner of the Likud Party.

In 1999, Douglas Feith contributed an essay to a book titled The Dangers of a Palestinian State , published by the ZOA. That same year, Feith spoke to a 150-member ZOA lobbying mission to Congress that called for "U.S. action against Palestinian Arab killers of Americans" and for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ZOA lobbying group also criticized the Clinton administration for its "refusal to criticize illegal Palestinian Arab construction in Jerusalem and the territories, which is far more extensive than Israeli construction there."

In addition to his close ties with the right-wing ZOA, before assuming his current position at the Pentagon Feith co-founded One Jerusalem, a group whose objective is "saving a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel." Other cofounders of this Jerusalem-based organization are David Steinmann, chairman of JINSA, board member of the CSP and chairman of the executive committee of the Middle East Forum; Dore Gold, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; and Natan Sharansky, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs and current chairman of One Jerusalem.

One Jerusalem actively courts the involvement of Christian Zionists. In May 2003, One Jerusalem hosted the Interfaith Zionist Summit in Washington, DC, that brought together Christian Zionists such as Gary Bauer of American Values and Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition with Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum and Mort Klein of the ZOA.

Dual agendas

The Israeli government and AIPAC have denied that they engaged in any criminal operations involving classified Pentagon documents about Iran. Sharansky said, "There are absolutely no attempts to involve any member of the Jewish community and any general American citizens to spy for Israel against the United States." He observed that the investigation of the Pentagon’s Office of Policy staff most likely stemmed from an inter-agency rivalry within the U.S. government.

For his part, Ledeen told Newsweek that the espionage allegations against Franklin, his close friend, were "nonsensical." Ledeen and other neoconservatives see the investigations as instigated by the State Department and the CIA to undermine the credibility of neoconservatives and to obstruct their Middle East restructuring agenda, particularly regime change in Iran.

Given the depth of congressional bipartisan support for Israel and close ties with right-wing Israeli lobbying groups like AIPAC, it’s unlikely that the investigations will provide the much-needed public scrutiny of the dual and complementary agendas that unite U.S. and Israeli hardliners. Feith’s policymaking fiefdom inside and outside of government continues to drive U.S. policy in the Middle East with no evidence that these radical policies are increasing the national security and welfare of either the United States or Israel.

Iran rumbles

Meanwhile tensions with Iran deepen – which suits the Iran war party just fine. "Stability," Michael Ledeen once said, "gives me the heebee jeebies."

On September 21, Iran’s President Mohammed Khatami warned that Iran may withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if Washington and the International Atomic Energy Commission demand that the country desist from plans to enrich uranium. The Iranian government says that it has no plans to develop nuclear weapons, and international inspectors have not determined otherwise. However, if Iran does proceed with its plans to enrich nearly 40 tons of uranium, which it says will be used to generate electricity, it is commonly acknowledged that in a few years it could produce several nuclear bombs.

But it’s not only the possibility that Iran could emerge as the Middle East’s second nuclear power that worries the United States and Israel. At the same time that Washington was demanding that the Iranian case be sent to the Security Council, the Iranian army was test-firing its long-range (810 miles) missile – a demonstration of its commitment to an effective deterrent capacity.

From the point of view of the Middle East restructurers, Iran represents an increasing threat to regional stability. Not only does it already have long-range missiles, and might be developing nuclear weapons, its close ties with the Shiite majority in Iraq do not bode well for the type of political and economic restructuring the Bush administration planned for Iraq. Moreover, neoconservatives and Israelis have long complained that Iran backs the Hezbollah militias in Lebanon and is fueling the Shiite rebels in Iraq.

Effectively, Washington has already declared war on Iran. Being named by President Bush as part of the "Axis of Evil" triad targeted in the global war on terrorism and the new U.S. strategy of preemptive war has made Iran increasingly nervous.

Iran – itself a victim of a 1953 British and U.S.-engineered regime change that installed the Shah – has seen the United States implement regime change in Iraq to its west and Afghanistan to its east. Moreover, the U.S. government has for the first time solidly allied itself with the military hardliners in Israel – the region’s only nation with nuclear warheads and one of the few nations that has refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

Back in 1996, Feith was busy representing the armament industries in Israel and the United States while at the same time preparing a policy briefing for the Israeli government. In A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , Feith et al. recommended "a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership … based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength" – a "clean break" policy that is currently being dually implemented by the Bush and Sharon administrations. The next demonstration of strength may well be with Iran.

Tom Barry is policy director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and author of numerous books on international relations."