05.20.15

The GOP, the press and Iraq

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 2:23 pm by George Smith

The Big Fraud. And I experienced a part of it first hand in 2004 and 2005. It’s why some people read this blog.

The alleged al Qaeda London ricin ring is a subject I never thought I’d return to in the context of presidential contenders in 2015.

Jeb “Mistakes Were Made” Bush and Marco Rubio are disgraces. So is David Brooks in “Learning from Mistakes.

The UK poison cell allegedly linked to al Qaeda in Iraq was part of the Bush administration’s call for war. (Of course, it was not the only factor. It was an issue, however, that I had first hand knowledge of.)

This alleged London poison cell, infamously said by Colin Powell and the Bush administration to be linked to al Qaeda in Iraq was not an honest mistake. It was a fraud. Period.

And I was the first to write that. I was a consultant to the defense in the London ricin trial for GlobalSecurity.Org

It’s all here and here and here.

Plagiarizing myself:

One of the last claims in Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 blew away like dust in the wind late last week in the Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court.

The trial of the infamous “UK poison cell,” a group portrayed by Secretary of State Powell as al Qaida-associated operatives plotting to launch ricin attacks in the United Kingdom and in league with Muhamad al Zarqawi in Iraq, found nothing of the sort. The jury did find “the UK poison cell,” known as Kamel Bourgass and others (Sidali Faddag, Samir Asli, Mouloud Bouhrama, Mustapha Taleb, Mouloud Sihali, Aissa Kalef), not guilty of conspiracy to murder by plotting ricin attacks and, generally speaking, not guilty of conspiracy to do anything. Kamel Bourgass had been previously convicted of murder of a British policeman in an unpublicized trial.

In addition, the jury found Bourgass (and only him) guilty of conspiring to be a public nuisance with poisons.

A planned subsequent trial of other Muslim men who had been rounded up in the operation which eventually netted Bourgass was then canceled.

There was no UK poison cell. The alleged tip that led to it was obtained by torture, by an informant in the UK who had been tortured in an Algerian prison, and another man who had been tortured in one of the American gulags. (The UK informant later recanted and his information could not be used in the trial precisely because he had been tortured.)

“The ‘detained al Qaida operative’ in the above slide was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi,” I wrote in 2008. “It is now well-accepted the al-Libi was tortured into a number of admissions, statements made to placate his captors.”

A Senate report from the Select Committee on Intelligence on the subject of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction read:

The other was an Al Qaeda detainee, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who had reportedly been sent to Eqypt by the CIA and tortured and who later recanted the information he had provided. Libi told the CIA in January 2004 that he had ‘decided he would fabricate any information interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government].'”

“There‚Äôs a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war,” wrote David Brooks yesterday.

The New York Times got rid of Judith Miller. It should lose David Brooks. Stubbornly, it won’t.

From what was called “the Downing Street memo” in 2005:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

In 2005 the US press definitely did not want to hear the London ricin ring was a fraud. And Judith Miller was still working for the Times. (She saw my pieces at GlobalSecurity.)

From my blog:

The US newsmedia declined to cover the results of the trial of the so-called London ricin ring. The verdict came at a time when much of the newsmedia was still toeing the line on the Bush administration’s reasons for war with Iraq …

At Newsweek, Mark Hosenball also got his details from [my] GlobalSecurity posting.

Newsweek’s subsequent article was a disgrace, attempting to spin the verdict as evidence that if accused terrorists were allowed to go to trial in England, a jury would bring in the wrong verdict. Hosenball shoved my name in at the bottom of his article [I was his primary source] in an attempt to bury where the news actually came from. No one wanted to hear or print the real story about a big terror plot that had turned out to be tiny or that innocent men had been found not guilty during a lengthy and fair process.

“A much-touted ricin-plot terrorism case in the United Kingdom ended in a muddled verdict today, raising new questions among U.S. officials about the ability of British authorities to secure convictions against major terrorist suspects,” Hosenball wrote.

The jury had left off guilty men, Newsweek implied. It was a setback in the war on terror.

“The mixed outcome dismayed U.S. counterterror specialists who were convinced that Bourgass and his four codefendants were in fact acting as part of a broader international terror plot,” continued the Newsweek journalist.

Hosenball then roped in a source, Evan Kohlmann, who had nothing to do with the ricin trial.

“This is very disturbing,” Kohlmann, billed as a U.S. government consultant on international terror cases, told the reporter. “These are dangerous people … ”

Muddled verdict. There was nothing muddled about it.

The jury was clear and so was the case. Nobody bought the idea that a mere 20 castor seeds in a jewelry tin on a dresser constituted something in a real plot organized by al Qaeda through Iraq to cause mass death in the United Kingdom.

“The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions,” wrote Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone this week.

“The bulk of [our reporters hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey ‘I trusted the Germans’ Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff,” he continued.

“Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages …”


And who’s doing the pom-pom work today?

Why, it’s Mark Hosenball at Reuters, writing about the alleged trove of information seized at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad,” coincidentally just declassified a week, one whole week [!], after Seymour Hersh’s story that the hit was arranged, bin Laden had been in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence service, and not much information, if any, was retrieved at all.

If you follow the Reuters link to “bin Laden’s bookshelf” at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence you’ll see it’s another big bag of mostly unimportant nothing: Lots of US-origin public domain materials downloaded from the Internet, some American political books (including one by Bob Woodward), and 100 or so boring and relatively meaningless memos from bin Laden to an small assortment of al Qaeda lackeys.

You could fit all of it on your PC.

Comments are closed.