Skip to comments.CIA SAID TO BE MALINGERING - CRITIC CHARGES AGENCY IS LAGGING IN WEAPONS HUNT
Posted on 10/16/2003 6:13:22 AM PDT by areafiftyone
It took two months and the threat of public exposure before the Central Intelligence Agency moved to pursue a tip about enriched uranium stored in Iraq, some of which may have been smuggled to Iran, says a terrorism expert who brought the tip to the American government.
The expert, Michael Ledeen, holds the freedom chair at the American Enterprise Institute and is the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He says that even when the CIA finally had a meeting with a source of the tip about two weeks ago, the agency was unwilling to follow up by going to the site where the enriched uranium was allegedly kept.
The news puts a new spin on the failure of America to find weapons of mass destructions in Iraq.
Those who opposed the war and even some who supported it but now regret it have pointed to the Bush administrations failure to find Iraqi caches of weapons of mass destruction as evidence that the war was fought under false pretenses.
Supporters of the war have offered various counterarguments. Some say that the official in charge of the weapons search for the CIA in Iraq, David Kay, has discovered evidence of an Iraqi weapons program, if not the actual weapons.
Mr. Kay told Congress earlier this month, for example, that his team found reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientists home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
Other supporters of the war say the weapons are with Saddam Hussein, who has yet to be found. Or that the weapons were smuggled out of Iraq into Syria or Syrian-occupied Lebanon.
But until yesterday, it was hard to find a supporter of the war who explained Americas failure to find weapons of mass destruction by suggesting that the CIA is intentionally botching the search.
They were never willing to look, Mr. Ledeen told The New York Sun. They dont want to find this stuff. Itll drive policy in the direction that they dont want.
A CIA spokesman disputed that. We aggressively pursue all legitimate leads on weapons of mass destruction issues, said the spokesman, Bill Harlow. But he added that the CIA had no interest in meeting with one of the people providing the information to Mr. Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar. He long ago was proven to be a fabricator and someone who sought to peddle false information for financial gain, Mr. Harlow said.
Elements of the story were reported yesterday by the Associated Press and by the Washington bureau of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.
The AP called the allegation worthy of a cloak-and-dagger novel.It said the central claim was that $150 million in enriched uranium was smuggled from Iraq into Iran five years ago and some may remain hidden in Iraq. It said three of the people involved in the purported shipment were suffering from radiation sickness.
Mr. Ledeen said previous information provided by Mr.Ghorbanifar about Iranian activities in Afghanistan had turned out to save American lives.
Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Ghorbanifar were both involved in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration, and some press accounts have emphasized that aspect of the matter rather than the CIAs delay. Mr. Ledeen is a contributor to the Sun and also writes regularly for National Review Online.
Mr. Ledeen says the story began August 6, when he called the Pentagon to report the story about the uranium, which he had heard about from Mr. Ghorbanifar. Initially,David Kay actually pronounced himself eager to go look, Mr. Ledeen says. But Mr. Kay never answered phone calls from Mr. Ghorbanifar. Then the CIA asked if it could be done without the involvement of Mr. Ghorbanifar, Mr. Ledeen said. They never followed through. They never organized the meeting, he said.
The third time, after they got wind that I was writing about this, a meeting was arranged, Mr. Ledeen said.The conditions were that the people that handled the uranium had to come to Iraq; that a Department of Defense official be present at the meeting; and that the sources receive a reward if the tip checked out.
Instead, the source got in a car with the Americans in Iraq and the Americans said you go bring us a sample, Mr. Ledeen said.
Asked Mr. Ledeen, What is that? Why wouldnt the Americans just go with the source to the site where the highly enriched uranium was said to be?
What if those same people who sent Wilson on his mission are now in charge of the hunt.
What is going on with the CIA AND David Kay? And what policy direction is the CIA afraid of? I wish the press would do some REAL investigative reporting and get to the bottom of this. I saw a shore segment on FNC but I have not seen it reported since.
Right. THEY don't want to find WMD either. It's easier to scream "Bush Lied! Bush Lied" all f'ng day.
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