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The Incredible Multiplying Stories of Finds by Lucky Journalists It seems that ever since the fall of Baghdad there has been a mad rush of reporters doing the work normally carried out by intelligence professionals. Some of these reporters claim to have recently found "significant," "top secret" documents in ruined government buildings in Baghdad. What makes these claims stick out like a sore thumb, is that the reporters found the documents AFTER the CIA and the military intelligence units turned the places inside out in their search for all-important clues to Iraq's intelligence secrets pertaining to a possible Iraq/al-Qaeda connection. Incredibly, reporters from the Daily Telegraph, the Toronto Star, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Sunday Telegraph all had the amazing fortune of finding veritable gems of secret reports apparently overlooked by the CIA and the military. This is not the only miraculous aspect of the journalistic breaks. The Telegraph's David Blair reported that he found documents in a bombed out and ransacked office at Iraq's Foreign Ministry. The papers were highly incriminating toward British anti-war MP George Galloway, an outspoken Blair critic. The find is not only astonishing because it was overlooked by intelligence professionals, but the documents were in two file boxes, neatly marked "Great Britain," sitting on a shelf. They were apparently the only documents to escape the fire that had destroyed the rest of the room! Along with other clear-thinking people, the editors of the Guardian raised the possibility that, if the documents are authentic at all, they may have been an internal ploy by Iraqi agents, allowing them to profit from falsely naming Galloway as recipient of funds that actually went to them. The god of fortuitous discovery apparently did not like this theory, and promptly arranged another discovery. This one by Philip Smucker, special to The Christian Science Monitor is described in an article titled "Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP" (see link at the bottom of this post). The new files unearthed in a suburban "Baghdad house used by Saddam Hussein's son Sayid Qusay to hide top- secret files," show orders from Saddam for six payments to Galloway accruing to more than $10,000,000 between July 1992 and January 2003. The three most recent authorizations purport to be a "gratuity to be issued to Mr. George Galloway of British nationality in the amount of three million dollars only." The "gratuity," of course, was for Galloways opposition to the war which he voiced in the British parliament. For an accounting department order, the paper shows an excessive eagerness to explain circumstances. Such a document would not have been intended for reading by anyone other than the people who had authorized the payment, and knew exactly what it was for. It seems redundant for the secretary to add that the money was for "his courageous and daring stands against the enemies of Iraq, like Blair, the British Prime Minister, and for his opposition in the House of Commons and Lords against all outrageous lies against our patient people...." Could we assume that Saddam might have found it a bit condescending on the part of the secretary to be told "Blair, the British Prime Minister?" Upon reading such, Saddam would probably have called the secretary in and asked, "do you know of any Blairs that are not the British Prime Minister? No? Then you waste Iraq's paper and ink and you have one too many heads." Philip Smucker reports that the documents were discovered by "an Iraqi general attached to Hussein's Republican Guard" in a house used by his boss Qusay Hussein. Now it gets even more satirical. Smucker writes: "The general, whose initials are "S.A.R.," asked not to be named for fear of retribution from Hussein's assassins." Please let Smucker never do me any favors like that. I only hope that "Hussein's assassins will look at the list of generals and find several there who have the initials "S.A.R." That way they won't be able to tell which one is the traitor. On second thought, to be on the safe side, they'll probably assassinate all the S.A.R. generals. Poor general "S" wasn't even looking for documents to incriminate Galloway. Apparently he raided Qusay's home to find deeds to property that had been taken from him. Perhaps the Christian Science Monitor had some misgivings about Smucker's adventure tale. It said "the documents appear to be authentic...but their authenticity could not be verified by the Monitor." Not to be upstaged by the American paper, Conrad Black had his Sunday Telegraph come up with a topper on April 27th. This piece says, "Iraq files 'show al-Qaeda link." (Link at the bottom of this post) "Documents found in Baghdad show a link between Saddam Hussein's fallen regime and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, according to an UK newspaper." Sunday Telegraph reporter Inigo Gilmore tells how he stumbled upon the files in the Mukhabarat. (We can only shudder at the reasons that might have made him go to the Iraqi intelligence headquarters, or marvel at how he got into it in the first place.) The BBC apparently had similar questions. Gilmore told them that he was "allowed into the intelligence headquarters by US troops guarding the site." Fearlessly, and apparently un-searched upon leaving, Gilmore smuggled the papers to the hotel and had a translator put them into English. Gilmore explained, "perhaps significantly the CIA had been through many of these buildings but they seem to have missed this particular document." What puzzles me is how Gilmore would have known that these could be documents worth taking the risk of smuggling for. He wouldn't have known their contents before getting them translated. Someone wanted to draw Gilmore's attention to areas that had been whited out. "I noticed on some of the documents there were some marks erased out... we scraped away with a razor and underneath we found the name Bin Laden three times and obviously realized this was highly significant." What Gilmore obviously didn't realize was that Iraq had no Freedom of Information act. Why would documents inside intelligence headquarters need any name whited out? What, the Iraqi agent in charge knew the Americans were about to enter Baghdad? He wanted them to read some of the document, but not bin Laden's name? So he put some white out over it? Shredding or burning the document would have been faster, and a lot more efficient! Surely we can give the Mukhabarat at least that much credit. For anybody who still wants to know more of this fairy tale after such a blunder, the files purport that "an al-Qaeda envoy was invited to visit Baghdad secretly in March 1998."The idea apparently was to "set up a direct meeting with Bin Laden." At the meeting, "contact between al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence" was discussed. Conrad Black's Sunday Telegraph can't resist the temptation of doing a little wink-wink, hint-hint: "The 1998 visit described in the documents would have taken place before Washington blamed Bin Laden for the bombings of two US embassies in Africa later that year." (Get it, the bombings could have been Saddam's idea.) Here is a sample of what surely must be the efforts of an Iraqi seeking to build a portfolio toward an eventual job as a script writer for whatever the Iraqi equivalent of a B-grade movie is: "We suggest permission to call the Khartoum station to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq. And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from Bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to Bin Laden." Wow! If that's how the Iraqi intelligence service talked and wrote, it is no wonder that they are no more. Gilmore "said he was not out to provide propaganda for the US but the documents could be something they would want to use to back up their claims." And the best way to do this, of course, is to secretly remove a document from its location, smuggle it to a hotel, mutilate it by scratching, have it translated by an unaccredited source, publish it in a sister publication of the Jerusalem Post, (and do a follow up to see whether the US troops guarding the Mukhabarat have been court martialed, as they should?) One cannot help but ask, are the CIA and the US/UK military intelligence agents out to lunch? Or perhaps they are short- staffed and have to rely on news reporters to come after them to sweep up the really significant documents. Moreover, news reporters in Baghdad are "embedded," which means that their movements are somewhat restricted, and their reports have to be cleared by military censors. The Iraqi intelligence service headquarters had to have been a prime target for fine-tooth combing by the CIA search. It is unlikely that even a chewing gum wrapper would escape the spooks. And the very fact that US troops were guarding the place, shows that it was off limits. Yet, Gilmore is "allowed in...by US troops guarding the site." He makes a priceless find, but he doesn't know it. The documents have not yet been translated, nor have the white out areas been scratched. Still, he calmly smuggles what could be worthless crime reports to the hotel where the Americans recently shot journalists for lesser offenses. Bingo! THE smoking gun! At long last, the al-Qaeda connection! It gets better. Having found what he by then must have recognized as a document of supreme value to the Rumsfeld apparatus in which he is embedded, Gilmore keeps it to himself. He either gets his story through the military censors (without their noticing its significance!), or he smuggles the thing out and actually lives to tell the story. Strangely, all this unbelievable luck apparently did not raise any suspicion in Gilmore that the document might have been planted for him to find. It seems odd that Rumsfeld's boys would be so lax in their duties as not to confiscate such valuable documents from Gilmore and the other reporters that made lucky finds. When Geraldo Rivera drew a few lines in the desert sand, Rumsfeld almost had a coronary. Now there are reporters smuggling vital documents, and Rumsfeld doesn't even get heartburn. Are the Indiana Jones-type reporters all working for pro-war conservative papers, which might explain Rumsfeld's uncharacteristic tolerance? The Telegraph papers are owned by Conrad Black, an ultra-right wing hawk and personal friend of Ariel Sharon's. He also owns the Jerusalem Post. The Christian Science Monitor is a respected, Pulitzer Prize winning paper. More surprising then, Philip Smucker's true crime-type story of General "S" and the "top secret" from Qusay's house of dark secrets. The Toronto Star, that has its own account of the Mukhabarat heist, espouses a soft left view, but it also owns Harlequin Books. Perhaps it is the romantic leaning that accounts for Star reporter Mitch Potter's grab of the smoking al-Qaeda gun. "Documents link Iraq, bin Laden. Star reporter finds terror chief's name in Iraqi dossier, covered with White-Out," thus The Toronto Star of April 26th. (Link at bottom of my post)"Top-secret Iraqi intelligence documents, unearthed by the Toronto Star...have established the first clear link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization." There are some differences from the report by the Sunday Telegraph's Gilmore. Both Gilmore and Potter claim to be the finder of the al-Qaeda link. Both claim to have discovered the bin-Laden name underneath the whiteout on the documents. Perhaps the rivalry can be explained by the old rivalry between John A. Honderich, publisher of the Toronto Star, and Conrad Black. Their reporters certainly seem to dispute each other's deservingness. Potter, the Star's Jerusalem bureau chief, "was digging through the rubble of the Mukhabarat's Baghdad headquarters with his translator Amir when they uncovered the intelligence treasure trove." The Star does mention that Potter "was traveling with Amir and Inigo Gilmore of London's Sunday Telegraph. In his dispatch, Potter details how his translator, sitting on the end of his hotel room bed today, carefully scraped away the White Out with a scalpel to reveal bin Laden's name hidden underneath." Significantly, the Star also informs us that "the discovery of the document coincides with the Friday capture of Farouk Hijazi, an Iraqi spymaster the United States claims was the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda." Coincidences are often not. Another telling piece of information from Potter concerns "...the hundreds of others we've been poring over in our spare hours these many nights in the safety of our hotel room while intermittent gunfire pops away in the distance." What? Canadian and British journalists have been poring over "hundreds" of secret Iraqi documents in their hotel "these many nights?" Are they under contract to the CIA? Are they a sort of civilian attachment to the US/UK intelligence services, helping with the work load? Does Rumsfeld know about this? There seem to be a fantastic number of top secret reports being found by journalists gleaning through places ransacked first by the CIA and military intelligence. A half dozen found in different places within the space of one week? Would it be a sign of paranoia to allow just the teentsiest thought that we may be looking at deliberate plants here? Let's put ourselves in Rumsfeld's boots. His boys are in charge of Iraq. The mission of finding proof of the things that were used as rationales for the war falls to him. It is his job to make sure that proof of WsMD and of the al-Qaeda connection are found. Rumsfeld is not stupid, however. He knows that whatever his boys find will be suspect. Credibility is at an all-time low. If something needs to be found, it should be done by people not directly under Rumsfeld's command, right? Besides soldiers and a few international aid workers, who are the most abundant foreigners available in Iraq? Journalists. Who better to have find documents than journalists, who will then spread the news all over the world with a credible air of independence? All kinds of things can be accomplished in this way. Proof can be put where there wasn't any. Revenge can be taken on those who sought to thwart US/UK war plans. Newspapers with legal departments make great accomplices. Their financial resources make it difficult for an individual to challenge the story. In this connection it is interesting that only print journalists are allowed to find documents missed by the spooks. Perhaps Rumsfeld realized that if there were TV footage of such lucky finds, it might be possible for a clever analyst to later show all the details for why this had to have been a plant. Another interesting thing is that the print reporters seem to be finding only documents that either prove a US contention, or make opponents of the war look bad. If the CIA and the military spooks were indeed as sloppy as they are made to appear, did they only miss certain types of documents? Aren't there incriminating documents to be found about those who are actually enemies of Iraq? I think we can assume that Rumsfeld is familiar with and cherishes the practicality of propaganda minister Goebbels: "The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the state." In light of the high probability that all is not well with the honesty of either the news reporters cited in my post, or with the provenance of their finds, I will attach George Galloway's initial response to some of the allegations made against him. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,941081,00.html Tuesday April 22, 2003 This attack is part of a smear campaign, against those who stood against the illegal and bloody war on Iraq and against its occupation by foreign forces. As I am out of the country, writing a book about Iraq, I have not seen the so-called "documents" the Telegraph -a highly partisan source - claims to have access to. The idea that such documents have, as if to order, come to light just days after the massive assault on Baghdad, the looting and destruction of its ministries and government buildings, and the chaos in the country must be treated as highly suspect. This is especially so in the light of the widespread deception and forgery deployed already by those bent upon war on Iraq, for example in the so-called "dossier" and in the forged documents, now discredited, appearing to show Iraqi purchases of Uranium from Niger. Without having seen the Telegraph's documents, from the way they have been described to me I can state that they bear all the hallmarks of having been either forged or doctored and are designed to discredit those who stood against the war. Insofar as the contents of these documents have been described to me, I would make the following points: 1. To the best of my knowledge, I have never met an officer of the Iraqi intelligence. 2. Given that I have had access over the years to Iraq's political leadership, most often the deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, I would have absolutely no reason to be meeting with an official of Iraqi intelligence. 3. I have never solicited nor received money from Iraq for our campaign against war and sanctions. 4. I have never seen a barrel of oil, never owned one, never bought one, never sold one. 5. The campaign which I fought over many years was funded by only three significant sources, ie donors of more than, say, three thousand pounds. These were the pro-western governments of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zeurekat, who took over responsibility for the Mariam Appeal some time ago. Of these three sources, by far the most significant was the government of the UAE which donated in excess of half a million pounds to the Mariam Appeal. 6. I have never been a signatory or trustee of the Mariam Appeal. I was its founder. 7. Any interests I had in relation to the Mariam Appeal are registered in the House of Commons register of members' interests. Links to the articles cited in my post: The Toronto Star Apr. 26, 2003 "Documents link Iraq, bin Laden" Star reporter finds terror chief's name in Iraqi dossier, covered with White-Out http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?GXHC_gx_session_id_=9fd7f9376 00c2f34&pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1051359175040&ca ll_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154 BBC Sunday, 27 April, 2003 "Iraq files 'show al-Qaeda link'" Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2979405.stm The Christian Science Monitor Friday April 25, 2003 "Documents indicate payments of more than $10 million for support of Labour Party official." http://search.csmonitor.com/search_content/0425/p01s04-woiq.html The Guardian Friday April 25, 2003 "Galloway to sue over fresh allegations" http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,943739,00.html The Guardian Tuesday April 22, 2003 "George Galloway's full statement" http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,941081,00.html _________________ They read good books, and quote, but never learn a language other than the scream of rocket-burn. Our straighter talk is drowned but ironclad: elections, money, empire, oil and Dad. Andrew Motion PS I admit that my analysis may in parts be biased. I do, however, think that something smells in these incredible multiplying finds, and it ain't the dogs. Best regards, JP _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk