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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Member In Good Standing

by digby

Even before the Iraq invasion, I used to do a ton of writing about some of the wackier neocon loons like Laurie Mylroie. I had been aware of her even before 9/11. She was a Saddam obsessive who, like Chalabi, had gotten the attention of some very influential neocons and had been welcome in their innermost circles. Right after the attacks she was on PBS peddling the "Saddam masterminded 9/11" stuff. When they started beating the drums for the Iraq invasion, it was obvious that she was at the table.

Here's Laurie Mylroie on a CNN online chat in October of 2001:

CNN: You believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in both attacks the 1993 and September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Why?

MYLROIE: You can demonstrate to the high legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used for criminal conviction, that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, by showing that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of that bomb, was an Iraqi intelligence agent. I do that in "Study of Revenge." That bomb, in 1993, aimed to topple the north tower onto the south tower. Eight years later, someone came back and finished the job. Since Iraq was behind the first attack, it is suggestive of the point that Iraq was behind the second attack.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is there any proof at all that Hussein is involved in the anthrax scares?

MYLROIE: There is no proof that Saddam is involved in the anthrax scares, but proof is different from evidence. Proof, according to the dictionary, is conclusive demonstration. Evidence is something that indicates, like your smile is evident of your affection for me. There is evidence that Iraq is behind the anthrax scares. First, it takes a highly sophisticated agency to produce anthrax in the lethal form that was in the letter sent to Senator Daschle. Not many parties can do that. Second, there is an additive in that anthrax, bentonite, which is used to cause the anthrax to not stick together, and float in the air. Iraq is the only party known to have produced anthrax with bentonite.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Should the U.S.take action against Iraq?

MYLROIE: Yes. It is necessary for the United States to take action against Iraq. The 1991 Gulf War never ended. We continue it in the form of an economic siege whose origins lie in the Gulf War. And also, we bomb Iraq on a regular basis, and Saddam continues his part of the war in the form of terrorism. It is unlikely that that anthrax will remain in letters. It is likely that it will be used at some point, for example, in the subway of a city, or in the ventilation system of a U.S. building. Saddam wants revenge against us. He wants to do to the U.S. what we've done to Iraq. One way he can do that is terrorism, particularly biological terrorism.

CHAT PARTICPANT: What is the connection between bin Ladden and Saddam?

MYLROIE: Bin Laden and Hussein work together. The contact between the two was made in the 1990s when bin Laden was based in Sudan. Iraq intelligence also had a major presence in Sudan then. There were other widely reported contacts between bin Laden and Iraq intelligence, such as in December, 1998 when Farook Hajazi traveled to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Hajazi is a senior intelligence officer. Bin Laden provides the ideology, he recruits the foot soldiers, and he provides a smokescreen. Iraqi intelligence provides the direction and training for the terrorism.

CNN: You hold the Clinton administration responsible for Hussein's involvement in all of these attacks. Why?

MYLROIE: Iraq is a difficult problem, and has been since the Gulf War. Many mistakes have been made, because it's inevitable that in human endeavor there are mistakes. Under the Clinton administration, specifically in February 1993 with the first attack on the Trade Center, Clinton dealt with the issue dishonestly. New York FBI believed in 1993 that Iraq was behind the Trade Center bombing. That was accepted by the White House, that New York FBI might well be right. In June, 1993, Clinton attacked Iraqi intelligence headquarters. He said that that was punishment for Saddam's attempt to kill George Bush when Bush visited Kuwait in April, but Clinton also believed that it would deter Saddam from all future attacks of terrorism, and that it would address the WTC bombing, too, so that Saddam would not think to carry out further attacks against the U.S.

And then the Clinton administration put out a false and fraudulent explanation for terrorism, saying that terrorism was no longer state-sponsored, but carried out by individuals. That false and fraudulent explanation was accepted and allowed Saddam to continue to attack the U.S. The reason Clinton dealt with terrorism in that fashion was because he did not understand the kind of threat that Saddam could pose, and by taking care of the terrorism in New York in that fashion, he avoided riling American public opinion, which might have demanded then, back in 1993, that he do a great deal more.

It goes on. She was taken very, very seriously within the highest reaches of the Bush administration:

In the winter of 2001-02, officials who worked with Wolfowitz sent the Defense Intelligence Agency a message: Get hold of Laurie Mylroie's book, which claimed Hussein was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and see if you can prove it, one former defense official said.

The DIA's Middle East analysts were familiar with the book, "Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein's War Against America." But they and others in the U.S. intelligence community were convinced that radical Islamic fundamentalists, not Iraq, were involved. "The message was, why can't we prove this is right?" said the official.

There was more. From from 2004:

History is going to show that a nutcase by the name of Laurie Mylroie and a group of equally nutty followers, including the Vice President and the Deputy Secretary of Defense, led the United States into a war on the basis of a daffy conspiracy theory.

The proposal, pressed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, called for President George W. Bush to declare Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as an enemy combatant in the war on terror. This would have allowed Yousef to be transferred from his cell at the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s “supermax” penitentiary in Florence, Colo., to a U.S. military installation.

Wolfowitz contended that U.S. military interrogators—unencumbered by the presence of Yousef’s defense lawyer—might be able to get the inmate to confess what he and the lawyer have steadfastly denied: that he was actually an Iraqi intelligence agent dispatched by Saddam to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993 as revenge for the first Persian Gulf War.

The previously unreported Wolfowitz proposal—and the high-level consideration it got within the Justice Department—sheds new light on the Bush administration’s willingness to expand its use of enemy-combatant declarations inside the United States beyond the three alleged terrorists, two of them American citizens, who have already been designated by the White House.

Actually believing this nonsensical conspiracy theory about Ramsi Youssef, and attempting to change 200 years of legal precedent in order to prove it, would be the equivalent of Bill Clinton using Oliver Stone's JFK as the basis for prosecuting the remaining members of the Johnson administration for the assassination of Kennedy.

There is no greater reason to get rid of Bush than to put this little Mylroie/Wolfowitz freakshow back in its little Lyndon Larouche conspiracy corner.

As you can see, Mylroie was at the center of the ridiculous decision to invade Iraq and her cuckoo conspiracy mongerings were even used as justification to try to torture someone who had already been convicted of a crime and was serving his sentence in an American prison.

How mordantly amusing then, that she's been belatedly been repudiated by none other than Stephen Hayes, the last remaining hold out of the "Saddam was in cahoots with Osama" school. Via MoJo blog:

Mylroie comes up In several of the books written about the Iraq War as a terrorism analyst who led the Bush Administration into making questionable claims about Iraq and al Qaeda. (George Packer, the New Yorker writer and author of the otherwise well-reported book, "The Assassin's Gate," makes this mistake.) This vastly overstates her role. Although her emails may have occasionally made their way to Bush administration officials, no one I know took her arguments very seriously. For good reason. Mylroie has seen an Iraqi hand behind virtually every terrorist attack on American interests. Indeed, in our one brief conversation, she faulted me for failing to understand that al Qaeda is little more than an Iraqi "front group." That's crazy. Iraq was an active state sponsor of terror and, as the recent Pentagon report confirms, a willing sponsor of al Qaeda leaders, their terrorist associates, and a wide variety of jihadist groups.

Yeah, who could have ever believed her? Of course, there was the business of her book:

She laid out her case in Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America, a book published by AEI in 2000 which makes it clear that Mylroie and the neocon hawks worked hand in glove to push her theory that Iraq was behind the '93 Trade Center bombing. Its acknowledgements fulsomely thanked John Bolton and the staff of AEI for their assistance, while Richard Perle glowingly blurbed the book as "splendid and wholly convincing." Lewis "Scooter" Libby, now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, is thanked for his "generous and timely assistance." And it appears that Paul Wolfowitz himself was instrumental in the genesis of Study of Revenge: His then-wife is credited with having "fundamentally shaped the book," while of Wolfowitz, she says: "At critical times, he provided crucial support for a project that is inherently difficult."

Just because Hayes is now embarrassed about his batty aunt in the attic, don't think her influence has really waned in conservative circles however. She has already established herself as one of the keepers of alternative history:

Mylroie published a ... book, Bush v the Beltway: How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror. The book charges that the US government suppressed information about Iraq's role in anti-American terrorism, including the investigation of 9/11. It claims that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the now captured mastermind of 9/11, is an Iraqi intelligence agent who, like his nephew Ramzi Yousef, adopted the identity of a Pakistani living in Kuwait.

The US government doesn't seem to have explored this theory. Why not? Mylroie explained to the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks: "A senior administration official told me in specific that the question of the identities of the terrorist masterminds could not be pursued because of bureaucratic obstructionism."

I suspect that little conspiracy will find its way into conservative conspiracy lore. The charge of "bureaucratic obstructionism" on the part of the CIA and the State department has been used as the excuse for conservative failure for half a century. Why stop now? Remember, the neocons have always been wrong about everything.