Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #535 Death Trap, Part III – Italian Fascism, Bogus Intelligence and the Iraq War

Recorded November 20, 2005

Listen: MP3  One 30-minute segment

NB: This stream contains both FTR # 535 and an older program, FTR #514 Conversation with John Loftus About the Muslim Brotherhood, originally aired and blogged on June 21, 2005. Each is a 30 minute broadcast. See also FTR #527 Death Trap Part II &
FTR #471 Death Trap.

Introduction: In a supplement to FTR#’s 471, 502, 527, this program presents information about the bogus intelligence used by the United States to justify the invasion of Iraq. This broadcast highlights the role of the fascist-influenced Italian intelligence agency SISMI in the generation of the Niger yellow-cake uranium canard that generated the Valerie Plame case. As noted, during the run-up to the Iraq war, Italian foreign minister Gianfranco Fini—the head of Italy’s fascist political party (the Alleanza Nationale) and a coalition partner of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi—met in Switzerland with leaders of European fascist political parties, including Achmed Huber, a director of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Bank Al Taqwa. The broadcast asks the hypothetical question: Did Fini and his cohorts work to deliberately lure the US into a trap in Iraq, using the SISMI to help plant the bait? In that context, the program also reviews numerous other connections between the milieu of the Alleanza Nationale, Berlusconi and the P-2 Lodge and the Al Qaeda/Al Taqwa/Muslim Brotherhood nexus. The program concludes with a look at an Al Qaeda defector who was believed to be deliberately misleading his American interrogators with information pointing in the direction of Iraq. All of this information is viewed against the background of Mr. Emory’s working hypothesis that the Al Qaeda/Al Taqwa/Muslim brotherhood milieu and the allied Underground Reich was luring the US into a trap that would enmesh the US in a costly, draining war with the world’s Muslim population. Note that this population will have access to WMD technology as a result of the invasion of Iraq (see FTR#527.)

Program Highlights Include: Review of the “doomsday” arrangement between Al Qaeda and Saddam, in which Iraq would give technical know-how about WMD’s to bin Laden’s forces, which would then act as a “back-up” unit in the event of an American overthrow of Saddam; review of the numerous connections between the Al Taqwa nexus and the milieu of the P-2 Lodge, Silvio Berlusconi and the Alleanza Nationale.

1. Unfortunately, both the pro-war and anti-war sides have gotten it wrong with regard to Saddam’s relationship with Al Qaeda. Although there is no indication that Iraq or Saddam were involved with 9/11, the two entities did have a “doomsday back-up” arrangement. Saddam and bin Laden worked out an arrangement in which Iraq—in order to provide for a payback capability if the U.S. ousted him—gave information about WMD’s to bin Laden’s people. Al Qaeda, in turn, was to act as a back-up unit for Saddam’s Iraq, striking at the United States if it knocked out Saddam. Of course, precisely that scenario has transpired. The United States has walked into this “Death Trap,” and a disturbingly large percentage of the Muslim and Arab communities appear ready to join the conflict.

“It appears, however, that this version is the publicly admissible one, the one that can pass political muster. According to the same sources, there was another scenario more. In keeping with the calculating mentality of Saddam Hussein and his secret services. In 1998, after declining all offers that had been made to them through official diplomatic channels, those services are reported to have established a secret operational ‘connection’ with bin Laden in Manila and in Kashmir. It was indeed difficult for Iraq to ignore an Arab like Osama bin Laden who so effectively humiliated the Americans.’ Colonel Khairallah al Takiriti, the brother of the head of Mukkhabarat, the intelligence services, is reported to have been named case officer for the connection. The arrest of two Morroccan associates of bin Laden in Rabat on November 11, 1998, made it possible to establish to establish the link with certainty. According to Western sources, the Iraqi services have sought to secure the assistance of bin Laden’s networks, in case Iraq were again to be attacked by the United States, in order to carry out attacks against American targets in Arab countries.”

(In the Name of Osama Bin Laden; by Roland Jacquard; Copyright 2002 [SC]; Duke University Press; ISBN 0-8223-2991-3; pp. 112-113.)

2. “According to Arab sources, in anticipation of a foreseeable reversal of alliances in Kabul, bin Laden had been in discreet contact since September 2000 with associates of Oudai Hussein, another of Saddam’s sons; the ground for agreement was the anti-Israeli and anti-American battle. Bin Laden and the Iraqis are said to have exchanged information about chemical and biological weapons, despite the opposition of some of the Baghdad leadership, including Tarik Aziz”

(Ibid.;p. 113.)

3. Much of the program focuses on an Italian media report that the SISMI intelligence agency in that country was the source of the bogus claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellow-cake uranium from Niger in order to pursue the development of nuclear weapons. This spurious claim was one of the main pieces of false intelligence used to justify the move into Iraq. Much of the broadcast examines the possibility that Italian fascist elements associated with the P-2/Alleanza Nationale milieu may have deliberately participated in the deception. Note that this milieu is directly descended from Mussolini’s fascists. For more about the P-2 Lodge and the AN Party of Gianfranco Fini, use the search function. As will be seen below, Fini, Prime Minister Berlusconi (a former member of the P-2) and other figures in the P-2/Alleanza Nationale milieu are linked to the Al Taqwa complex, involved with—among other things—the funding of Al Qaeda. As seen in FTR#413, the Al Taqwa complex also handled some of the illicit funds spirited out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein. Is it possible that figures involved with Al Taqwa may have introduced Al Qaeda and Baathist elements, so that they could conclude the “doomsday” agreement discussed above?

“Behind the CIA leak scandal lies a bizarre trail of forged documents, an embassy break-in and international deception that helped propel the United States to war in Iraq. While American public attention focuses on special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak, U.S. and Italian lawmakers are probing a series of bogus claims of Iraqi uranium purchases in Africa that were the opening chapters in a saga that resulted in the disclosure of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.”

(“Seeds of Leak Scandal Sown in Italian Intelligence Agency” by Robert Collier; San Francisco Chronicle; 10/30/2005; p. E3.)

4. “In the past week, the respected, left-of-center Italian daily La Repubblica published a three-part series of investigative articles claiming that documents purporting to prove that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium in Niger had been forged by an Italian freelance spy and then were fed by the Italian intelligence agency to eager officials in Washington and London. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate Democratic leader, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., are asking for public hearings into the forgeries and their role in Bush administration claims that Hussein was developing nuclear weapons.”


5. “The Italian Parliament is scheduled to hold hearings about the La Repubblica allegations on Thursday, with intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari expected to come under heavy grilling. The articles relied heavily on sources in the Italian spy agency, the Military Information and Security Service, known as SISMI. They provide a tantalizing account — credible to some observers, baseless speculation to others — of how President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair were snookered by fabricated intelligence about Hussein’s alleged nuclear program. The allegations in La Repubblica‘s articles lead far into the murky depths of Italy’s intelligence agencies, a realm of conspiracy claims and counterclaims. In Italy this netherworld is called dietrologia – a word that loosely translates as the widespread belief that political, security and criminal forces are constantly engaged in secret plots and maneuvers, noted Henry Farrell, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University in Washington and a blogger on the Crooked Timber Web log, which has dissected the Italian angle to Plamegate”


6. The article notes that, during the Cold War, the SISMI cooperated closely with the US. In the wake of the Cold War, has that changed? Are the Italian fascists moving away from the “Atlanticist” position they held during the cold war? (By “Atlanticist,” we mean a pro-U.S., pro-NATO stance.)

“ ‘It’s hard to say if (the Repubblica information) is the truth, truth with some distortion, or misinformation from the officials who are leading this,’ Farrell said. ‘But it certainly raises some very troubling questions.’ Farrell noted that during the Cold War, the U.S. and Italian spy agencies cooperated closely on undercover work. Bush and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are close allies, and Berlusconi has strongly supported Bush’s Iraq policy, stationing 3,000 Italian troops south of Baghdad.”


7. The discussion highlights some of the fascist connections of the SISMI organization. For more about SISMI and the Italian terrorist landscape, use the search function and look for information about the “strategy of tension”.

“SISMI has long been accused of involvement in rightist conspiracies, including work in collaboration with Propaganda Due, or P-2, a Masonic secret society, and the Armed Falange, a neo-fascist terrorist group. SISMI ‘does not have an immaculate history at all,’ said Gianfranco Pasquino, a political science professor at the Bologna, Italy, campus of the School of Advanced and International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. ‘It has been purged and reorganized very often.’ Pasquino called SISMI ‘friendly to the right wing and willing to offer its services for right-wing purposes.’”


8. “According to La Repubblica, the forged documents were originally produced in 2000 by Rocco Martino, a former member of the Carabinieri paramilitary police who then became a freelance agent for both SISMI and French intelligence. SISMI combined these fakes with real documents from the 1980s showing Hussein’s yellowcake purchases from Niger during that period — in the process, conducting a break-in at the Niger Embassy in Rome to steal letterhead and seals. Soon afterward, La Repubblica reported, Italian operatives passed news of their scoop to the CIA and the British intelligence agency, MI6. When the CIA expressed doubt about the veracity of the claims, SISMI began seeking to peddle it directly to the most pro- war faction of the Bush administration.”


9. “SISMI chief Pollari met in Rome with Michael Ledeen, an influential Washington neoconservative who has long been reputed to play a back-channel role between U.S. and Italian spy agencies. Pollari also met in Washington with Stephen Hadley, deputy national security adviser, to discuss the new information, La Repubblica reported. On Thursday, a National Security Council spokesman confirmed that the Hadley- Pollari meeting had taken place The elaborate hoax finally succeeded. In late September 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell cited Iraq’s alleged Niger dealings as proof of Hussein’s nuclear ambitions. In his February 2003 State of the Union address, Bush declared that British intelligence had ‘learned’ Saddam Hussein had been seeking to buy nuclear material in Africa. Throughout the period, Blair made similar claims.”


10. “British officials have insisted that they had other evidence in addition to the forged documents that confirmed Iraqi uranium purchases in Niger. The British have declined to show this evidence, however. La Repubblica quoted a SISMI official as saying of this alleged corroborating evidence, ‘If it ever were brought forward it would be discovered, with red faces, that it was Italian intelligence collected by SISMI at the end of the 1980s and shared with our friend Hamilton McMillan’ — the top MI6 counter-terrorism official during that period. . . . .”


11. The allegations in La Repubblica were subsequently confirmed b by Italy’s spymaster, Nico Pollari.

“Italy’s spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy hundreds of tons of uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three Italian lawmakers said Thursday. Gen. Nicolo Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as SISMI, disclosed that Martino had been the source of the forged documents in closed- door testimony to a parliamentary committee that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said. . . .”

(“Italian Spy Chief Discloses Source of Forged Documents” by Elaine Sciolino and Elisabetta Povoledo [New York Times]; San Francisco Chronicle; 11/4/2005; p. A12.)

12. Next, the program revisits a point of information discussed in—among other programs—FTR#’s 378, 456. In the spring of 2002, as the preparations for the Iraq war were underway, Al Taqwa director Achmed Huber networked with other American and European fascists and far rightists, including Gianfranco Fini, head of the Italian Alleanza Nationale. Might the meeting have had something to do with Iraq? Had the “Atlanticist” orientation of the P-2 milieu been superseded by an anti-U.S./Third Position orientation in the Italian fascist milieu? Did this meeting have anything to do with the feeding of false intelligence to the US in order to lure the country into a draining, expensive and (ultimately) fatal war with the Muslim population of the “Earth Island”? Note in this regard, that Fini is currently the Italian foreign minister. Is it possible that the man (Fini) who characterized Mussolini as “the greatest statesman of the 20th century” has not changed his stripes? Is it possible that he was conferring with the other European fascist leaders in order to help lure the US into a trap? (For more on Huber, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 343, 354, 357, 359, 377, 456.)

“Perhaps the most recent remarkable story concerning Huber comes from a brief item in the Swiss tabloid Blick that in an April 26, 2002 article by Alexander Sautter that Huber was involved in a meeting of far-right leaders from Europe. A photo showing Huber with Jean Marie Le Pen accompanies the article. The Blick story (available on the web) is as follows: ‘Mon Pelerin VD: Christian Cambuzat, the promoter (Scharfmacher) of the right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen (73): The guru assembles together some of the top leaders of the European right. On the idyllic Mont Pelerin, they debate their crude ideas. At his secret visit to a spa in Switzerland, Le Pen hardly remained alone. Rightist leaders from all over Europe traveled to meet the extremist presidential candidate who was hosted by Cambuzat. Franz Schonhuber (79). Founder of the Republican Party in Germany and a former member of the SS. He talked with Le Pen who constitutes together with Schonhuber the ‘Front National’ Faction in the European parliament. Gianfranco Fini (50). Italian post-fascist, Mussolini admirer, and founder of the Alleanze Nationale. He also was at the meeting with Le Pen and Schonhuber. Ahmed Huber (74). The Swiss is on the Bush Administration blacklist . . . ‘I met le Pen at Mont Pelerin as he went to Christian Cambuzat’s spa,’ Huber told Blick yesterday. At the extremist rendezvous an American far right politician was also supposed to have taken part. [Note: the American is not further identified.—KC] Christian Cambuzat said that Le Pen (after the election) had again become the sharpest weapon of the ‘Front National’ because Le Pen changed his image from a venomous old man to a ‘kindly U.S. TV evangelist.’ Proudly Cambuzat brags, ‘With me Le Pen can relax well’ [from his political endeavors—KC]. And openly link up with new contacts. [Although the Blick story does not give details, Cambuzat runs a spa for the very rich, the Lemanique de Revitalisation, inside a hotel on the famous Mont Pelerin.]’”

(“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; pp. 14-15.)

13. In the context of the April, 2002 meeting of European fascist leaders at Mt. Pellerin, it is important to note that (in addition to Fini) other Italian fascists from the AN/P-2 milieu are to be found within the Al Taqwa orbit. Allessandro Ghe is a member of the fascist Ordine Nuovo, headed up by Pino Rauti. Rauti is a veteran of the SS-controlled Salo Republic that was established in Northern Italy after Mussolini’s capitulation in 1943. Rauti is also a part of the successful electoral coalition of Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini.

“The goal of the meeting with the notary was the founding of ‘al-Taqwa management Organization SA’ that said it would be concerned with importing and exporting various goods. ‘Taqwa management Organization SA’ that said it would be concerned with importing and exporting various goods around the world. 333 of the 1000 shares (at 100 Swiss Francs a share) went to Mohammed Mansour and his wife. 332 went to Huber. Nada and Himmat took the rest. Mansour was named the president but rarely was the clause in the contract papers mentioned that each decision must be co-signed by the minority holders Nada and Himmat . . . Among the 500 shareholders besides Huber, Himmat and Nada were ‘also a notorious right extremist from Italy’ [not further identified but this is Alessandro Karim Abdul Ghe] and three members of the bin Laden family.”

(Ibid.; p. 8.)

14. More about Allessandro Ghe, and Ordinie Nuovo’s links with Moslem radicals and (allegedly) Bin Laden:

“Another Connection involves al-Taqwa group shareholder Allesandro Ghe, an Italian radical who has been questioned by his country’s security forces about his links to Bin Laden. Ghe was a member of the Italian neo-fascist ‘Ordine Nuovo’ that began coupling up with Moslem radicals in the 1970’s, says Ely Karmon. [Emphasis added.]”

(“A Terrifying Alliance” by Yael Haran; 1/14/2002; Enduring-Freedom-Operation.org; pp. 4-5.)
(For more about the links between Ordine Nuovo and the current governing coalition of Italy, see, among other programs, FTR#’s 307, 320, 321. For more about conduits running between Al Taqwa and Silvio Berlusconi, see FTR#’s 342, 351, 357.)

15. The Al Taqwa orbit contains one Gustavo Selva—a parliamentary representative of Fini’s Alleanza Nationale. “Gustavo Selva belongs to Nasreddin’s wider circle. The former journalist and today parliamentary member of the post fascist Partei Alleanza Nationale, Selva was until April 19, 1999, involved in the Roman-based business, the Arab-Italian Consulting House. Six months before it went under, on September 18, 1998, a certain Sergio Marini was named the firm’s official receiver. Marini was, together with the Nasreddin International Group Limited Holdings, also part of the Milan-registered Line Investment Srl. Since 1988, Marini was CEO of ‘L.I.N.E. Development Light Industry and Environment Development Srl’ in Rome whose administrative director was Abduhrahim Nasreddin along with his deputy Ghaleb Himmat, himself a founder of Al Taqwa Group.”

(“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; p. 9.)

16. Another evidentiary tributary leading in the direction of the Italian far right concerns areas of overlap between the Al Taqwa milieu and that of Silvio Berlusconi—former member of the fascist P-2 lodge and the head of the Italian coalition government of which Fini’s AN is part.

“The deeper investigators dug, the more senseless it seemed. For example: The Liechtenstein-registered Nasreddin International Limited Holdings on October 20, 1994, decided to change its name to Middle East and Turkey Investment Holding Ltd. And then eight days later it returned to its original name. There is also the fact that Nasreddin at the founding of the Nasreddin International Group Limited Holding in January 1997 appointed—next to Dr. Enrico Walser as trustee—of all people the Tessino lawyer Dr. Ercole Doninelli to the administrative board. Doninelli, until his death, was seen as the ‘soul’ of the Lugano finance society Fimo that was widely involved in the financial scandals of the 1990’s. Fimo helped Italians to send up to 250 million Swiss francs yearly in capital flight. Even more definitive is the role Fimo has played since 1968 in the financing into the millions [of] the first projects of the (at the time utterly unknown) construction builder from Milan, Silvio Berlusconi. The knowledge of how capital from the married pair of Ercole and Stefania Doninelli went from Eti Holdings in Chiasso to more stops in the Interchange Bank and from there to Italcantieri, a company headed by two Berlusconi straw men, finally ended with the mass bankruptcy of Fimo.”

(Ibid.; pp. 9-10.)

17. Another person bridging the worlds of Berlusconi and Al Taqwa is Pier Felice Barchi, an attorney for both Berlusconi and Yussef Nada. (For more about Barchi, see FTR#’s 357, 359.)

“The Akida Bank of Nasreddin was also supposed to be concerned with the spreading of Islamic banking practices. The Lugano-registered affiliate of the bank listed along with its founder Nasreddin, the Tessino-based Pier Felice Barchi. This attorney had great experience with rich and influential foreign customers. Barchi was also concerned with the Tessino financial interests of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Saudi minority partner in Berlusconi’s media group Mediaset, Prince al-Waleed al Talal.”

(Ibid.; pp. 10-11.)

18. Another detail concerning the bogus intelligence that was used to justify the Iraq invasion involves an Al Qaeda captive who was evaluated by the Defense Intelligence Agency. That agency opined that he was very likely giving his American interrogators information that he felt they wanted to hear. Is it possible that he was also helping to lure the US into a trap? Bin Laden himself stated that the US overthrow of Saddam was a boon for his organization. Is it possible that Mr. al-Shaykh was deliberately working to lure the United States into the “doomsday back-up” trap that had been laid by Al Qaeda and Iraq?! This is a possibility to be seriously evaluated.

“Who in the White House knew about DITSUM No. 044-02 and when did they know it? That’s the newly declassified smoking- gun document, originally prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency in February 2002, but ignored by President Bush. Its declassification last weekend blows another huge hole in Bush’s claim that he was acting on the best intelligence available when he pitched the invasion of Iraq as a way to prevent an al Qaeda terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction. The report demolished the credibility of the key al Qaeda informant the administration relied on to make its claim that a working alliance existed between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It was circulated widely within the federal government a full eight months before Bush used the prisoner’s lies to argue for an invasion of Iraq because ‘we’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.’”

(“Lying with Intelligence” by Robert Scheer; San Francisco Chronicle; 11/9/2005; p. B13.)

19. “Al Qaeda senior military trainer lbn al-Shaykh al-Libi — a Libyan captured in Pakistan m 2001 — was probably ‘intentionally misleading the debriefers,’ the DIA report concluded in one of two paragraphs declassified at the request of Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and released by his office over the weekend. The report also said: ‘Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.’ He got that right. Folks in the highest places were very interested in claims along the lines Libi was peddling, even though they went against both logic and the preponderance of intelligence gathered to that point about possible collaboration between two enemies of the United States that were fundamentally at odds with each other. Al Qaeda was able to create a base in Iraq only after the U.S. overthrow of Hussein, not before. ‘Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements,’ accurately noted the DIA. Yet Bush used the informant’s already discredited tall tale in his key Oct. 7, 2002, speech just before the Senate voted on whether to authorize the use of force in Iraq and again in two speeches in February 2003, just before the invasion.”


20. “Leading up to the war, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to sell it to the United Nations, while Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith repeated it breathlessly for homeland audiences. The con worked, and Americans came to believe that Hussein was associated with the Sept.11, 2001, hijackers. Even CIA Director George Tenet publicly fell into line, ignoring his own agency’s dissent that Libi would not have been m a position to know what he said he knew. In fact, Libi, according to the DIA, could not name any Iraqis involved, any chemical or biological material used or where the training allegedly occurred. In January 2004, the prisoner recanted his story, and the next month the CIA with- drew all intelligence reports based on his false information.”


21. Note the reference here to “Curveball”—the code-name for an informant who channeled significant elements of the bogus intelligence to the US. As discussed in FTR#502: “Curveball” was a protégé of Ahmed Chalabi, himself believed by the NSA to be an agent for the Iranian fundamentalists. In addition, “Curveball” was at all times in the custody of German intelligence. The US was never permitted to interview “Curveball” until after the start of the war. In FTR#502 we examined the possibility that the handling of “Curveball” by the BND–the successor agency to the Reinhard Gehlen spy outfit—may have been another part of the hypothetical Underground Reich “deathtrap” being discussed here.

“One by one, the exotic intelligence factoids Bush’s researchers culled from raw intelligence data files to publicly bolster their claim of imminent threat – the yellowcake uranium from Niger, the aluminum tubes for processing uranium- the Prague meeting with Mohamed Atta, the discredited Iraqi informants ‘Curveball’ and Ahmad Chalabi – have been exposed as previously known frauds. When it came to selling an invasion of Iraq it had wanted to launch before Sept. 11, the Bush White House systematically ignored the best available intelligence from U.S. agencies or any other reliable source. . . .”



2 comments for “FTR #535 Death Trap, Part III – Italian Fascism, Bogus Intelligence and the Iraq War”

  1. This sort of feels like beating a dead horse at this point, but anyways….

    Jun 19, 8:40 PM EDT

    CIA releases declassified documents from 9/11 file

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In the months before the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the CIA unit dedicated to hunting for Osama bin Laden complained that it was running out of money, and analysts considered the likelihood of catching the terror leader to be extremely low, according to government records published Tuesday.

    The declassified documents, dated between 1992 and 2004, are heavily blacked out and offer little new information about what the U.S. knew about the al-Qaida plot before 2001. Many of the files are cited in the 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004. The commission determined the failure that led to 9/11 was a lack of imagination, and U.S. intelligence agencies did not connect the dots that could have prevented the attacks.

    Though few new details are revealed in the documents, the files offer more historical context for the years surrounding the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

    The National Security Archive obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request and published them on its website Tuesday. The archive is a private group seeking transparency in government.

    An April 2000 document from the CIA’s bin Laden unit alluded to a budgetary cash crunch that was cutting into the agency’s efforts to track the terror leader.

    At that time, al-Qaida was a major concern to U.S. intelligence agencies because of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed many, including two CIA employees. Bin Laden had declared a holy war against the U.S., and the CIA had received multiple warnings that al-Qaida intended to strike the U.S.

    “Need forward movement on supplemental soonest,” said a heavily blacked-out document titled “Islamic Extremist Update.” The supplemental budget was still being reviewed by the national security council and White House Office of Management and Budget. Because of budgetary constraints, the bin Laden unit would move from an “offensive to defensive posture,” the document said. This meant that officials feared they would have to shelve some of their more elaborate proposals to track al-Qaida and instead rely on existing resources.

    The newly released files also offer details about the subsequent investigations into the attacks.

    In one case, the U.S. intelligence community investigated a link between one of the hijackers and the Iraqi Intelligence Service – a connection that was later proved false but that the White House used in its campaign to connect the attacks to Iraq.

    According to a Dec. 8, 2001, CIA report that was sent to the White House Situation Room, the CIA had already made a preliminary determination that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had not in fact traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic in May 2000 to rendezvous with a senior official of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. Atta was an Egyptian national who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. That he would have met with the IIS was significant for intelligence officials looking for a connection between al-Qaida and Iraq.

    But just one day after the report was sent to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it had been “pretty confirmed” that Atta had gone to Prague several months before the attack. According to the 9/11 Commission report, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity after a Pakistani with a similar name tried to get into the Czech Republic but was turned away. The document was the basis for a footnote in chapter seven of the 9/11 report.

    Even though the information about Atta meeting with the ISS was later disproved, it still resonated with those bent on going to war with Iraq.

    The hundreds of pages of CIA files released Tuesday include a chronology of the agency’s efforts to catch bin Laden.

    A March 2004 CIA report entitled, “The Rise of UBL and al-Qaida and the Intelligence Community Response,” discusses the likelihood of the CIA capturing bin Laden in the late 1990s using Afghans to do the job. Such a plan didn’t seem viable.

    The CIA estimated that none of the available Afghan units had more than a 10 percent chance of capturing the heavily guarded bin Laden. Another option was using Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, who was friendly with the CIA and fighting the Taliban. “Even if he agreed to do so, his chances of success against the Taliban were judged to be less than 5 percent,” the report said. Al-Qaida operatives killed Massoud on Sept. 9, 2001.

    President Bill Clinton was criticized for not doing more to catch bin Laden. But the documents show it wouldn’t have been an easy task, though some at the CIA were still hopeful they could get him.

    “The odds of success are iffy,” Michael Scheuer, who ran the CIA’s bin Laden unit, said in a 1998 secret memo that was among the declassified documents released Tuesday. “And the thing could blow up at any point along the way.”

    It would take the U.S. government another 13 years to catch and kill bin Laden.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 20, 2012, 10:03 pm
  2. Interesting:

    The New York Times
    Conspiracy Buffs Gain in Court Ruling on Crash

    Published: February 10, 2013

    ROME — Itavia Flight 870 was entering the final leg of a routine domestic trip from Bologna, Italy, to Palermo, Sicily, one clear summer evening when it suddenly plunged into the Tyrrhenian Sea near the small island of Ustica, killing all 81 people aboard.

    Mechanical failure was ruled out early on, and almost 33 years later, the causes that led to the crash on June 27, 1980, are still a topic of passionate debate in Italy, fueled by three decades of inquiry boards, parliamentary commissions, countless expert reports and one of the longest judicial inquiries in recent Italian history. But despite all that, no formal charges have ever been filed in connection with the crash.

    The crash, known as the Ustica affair, has produced legions of conspiracy theories here, the way the Kennedy assassination — or, on a lesser scale, the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996 — have in the United States. But in the Ustica affair, the case for a cover-up is far stronger.

    Last week, when Italy’s highest court ruled that the country’s Defense and Transportation Ministries had to compensate the families of some of the victims, the court implicitly acknowledged the most widely accepted theory behind the crash: that a missile fired by a warplane had hit the twin-engine McDonnell Douglas DC-9 on Itavia, a now-defunct domestic Italian airline. But the court did not say where that missile came from.

    To conspiracy buffs, it was vindication — to a point.

    “It’s like the O. J. Simpson affair, where he got off in criminal court but was found guilty in a civil procedure and had to pay damages,” said Andrea Purgatori, an investigative reporter whose exhaustive book on the disaster and the presumed cover-up was made into a 1992 film.

    Over the years, several Air Force officials have been investigated for withholding evidence — wiping clean flight tracks and radar scans — and four generals were tried on charges of treason and obstructing investigations. But no one has been convicted.

    In this hothouse atmosphere, it is not surprising that conspiracy theories have proliferated over the years. The crash has been blamed on U.F.O.’s (several Web sites subscribe to this reconstruction) or domestic terrorism (the Bologna train station was bombed not five weeks later, killing 85 and wounding dozens more). In this scenario, the plane went down after a bomb exploded onboard, most likely in the toilet.

    The missile theory gained a new impetus in 2008 when Francesco Cossiga, the prime minister at the time of the Ustica affair, said in an interview that the flight had been shot down by French military planes. Mr. Cossiga did not provide further details, nor can he. He died in 2010, at age 82.

    Cover-up theories have been fueled through the years by what news reports have described as a “suspiciously high mortality” among military personnel and others connected to the case. (Mr. Cossiga is not included among them.)

    Through traffic accidents, shooting deaths and suicides by hanging, there were 36 untimely deaths by 2011, according to a television report about Ustica. The program also cited a number of “bizarre accidents” that befell Ustica witnesses, like being run over by a tricycle and slipping on a banana peel in a Rome subway station.

    “What terrifying truth warranted a cover-up at the cost of the lives of all these people?” asked the show’s host, Adam Kadmon, who plays a mysterious masked vigilante who investigates topics like Ustica, underskin microchip implants and, more recently, Michael Jackson’s prophecy about Sept. 11, and favors the French missile theory.

    At the time, proponents say, Italy was covertly allowing Libyan aircraft to fly through its airspace undisturbed. They did so by gliding in the slipstream of Italian domestic aircraft, where they could not be detected by radar. On the night of June 27, 1980, there were unsubstantiated reports that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was on one of those planes, the theory goes, and French forces tried to shoot it down to kill the Libyan leader, but hit the DC-9 by mistake. Don’t ask why. It has to do with rebels in North Africa and jockeying for oil concessions between Italy and France.

    But Colonel Qaddafi had been warned of the plan and never boarded his plane, according to this reconstruction, which also says the pilot made a successful emergency landing at sea. There, a British submarine reached it and deployed scuba divers to plant explosives to sink the plane and to silence potential witnesses to the assassination attempt.

    There’s quite a bit about SISMI’s involvement with the Ustica coverup in Philip Willan’s Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy (available online via google books).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2013, 3:08 pm

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