Suskind was interviewed this morning on Today. Here's a snippet:
Budding journalists might want to take note of how Viera challenged every single talking point rather than sitting legs-crossed and nodding. Suskind was left to say "read the book and trust my CIA sources", as if none of them would have any axes to grind.
As the Jack of Diamonds in the Deck of 55 Habbush is still officially on the lam, although according to Suskind we resettled him in Jordan with 5 million bucks.
This tale implicates not only Bush but George Tenet, who was quick to respond:
"There were many Iraqi officials who said both publicly and privately that Iraq had no WMD but our foreign intelligence colleagues and we assessed that these individuals were parroting the Baath party line and trying to delay any coalition attack. The particular source that Suskind cites offered no evidence to back up his assertion and acted in an evasive and unconvincing manner."Don't believe him? In his memoirs he mentioned that in the months leading up to the invasion a number of Egyptian Islamic Jihad members massed in Baghdad, a fact confirmed recently by the Joint Forces report (and completely ignored by the Meridith Vieras of the world). So...apparently they had Habbush telling them one thing, Naji Sabri telling them another while an al-Qaeda related terror cell huddled with the regime. And they had history.
Yet somehow the former director of Iraqi Intelligence is seen as more credible than our own former leader:
Suskind wrote that Habbush first told British intelligence agent Michael Shipster in January 2003 that invading forces would not find the weapons in Iraq.Wonder whether Suskind has investigated this guy? If true his story might explain a few things.
But OK, it is a bit odd that Habbush hasn't been located. Makes it look like we did pay some hush money since as the leader of IIS he wouldv'e been in perfect position to confirm Saddam's sins, or not. He'd also be in perfect position to lie (and the left would likely believe every word since anyone--even former regime members and notorious liars--who tell tales on Bush can now instantly be trusted). Maybe we just don't renege on our bargains and paid him cash upfront for his leak.
Oddly, the SIS was also apparently involved in another incident in Iraq a few months earlier involving legacy terrorist Abu Nidal. Word is they were floating stories through Gulf States that Abu was looking to defect to England in return for info on Saddam's links to AQ. Iraq didn't buy it, thinking he was way too old, but eventually saw the wisdom in sending him to Allah anyway since he did know something about older history involving Arafat and others. Here's Yossef Bodansky:
On August 21, Mukhabarat chief Taher Habush appeared in a rare press conference, showing grainy pictures of a blasted and thoroughly bandaged body he claimed was Abu Nidal's. Habush admitted that the longtime terrorist had been hiding in Baghdad, but alarmed at his recent discovery by police, he had committed suicide rather than face Iraqi authorities.This is the guy Suskind wants us to believe.
But it's actually rather foolish to arrive at any definitive conclusions about this stuff at observer level, where this blog rests. Even Suskind is treading on choppy water for allowing himself to be a conduit for spooks, but at least he gets paid for it. Whether Bush lied is a case for the history books. But we do know one thing for sure--the invasion of Iraq turned over a big rock exposing not only the intelligence business but also provided a hot dog factory perspective of how things are done in the real world. The patriot games can sometimes blur the lines between good guy and bad (made famous in Alfred Hitchcock's classic "North by Northwest") and those representing our republic would do well to keep that in mind.