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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 07:19 AM
Original message
CIA and Pentagon split over uranium intrugue
Edited on Fri Oct-17-03 07:38 AM by emad aisat sana
From the UK's Guardian:

Mistrusted arms dealer's tangled tale of nuclear smugglers and a hidden Baghdad laboratory sparks bitter spat :


A bitter row has broken out between the CIA and Pentagon over reports that Iraqi uranium was smuggled to Iran, demonstrating that the rifts between the US agencies are as deep as ever. The tangled tale of contraband, radiation sickness, two shifty middlemen, secret meetings and demands for cash is the stuff of Hollywood, though it might make a better comedy than an action movie. Yet no uranium was found, the distrust between the CIA and the defence department leadership has worsened, and the hunt for banned weapons to justify the Iraq invasion is growing even more desperate.

The drama's central figure is Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer based in Paris who was involved in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration. At that time, the CIA gave him two lie detector tests, which he failed. In 1984 and 1985 the CIA issued two "burn notices", warning all members of the US government not to go anywhere near him. That did not stop two Pentagon officials from meeting Mr Ghorbanifar in December 2001 in Paris and January 2002 in Rome, lured by his promises to build bridges to influential Iranians who were interested in bringing down the Tehran theocracy. The meetings took place in secrecy, intelligence sources say, and the CIA director, George Tenet, and the secretary of state, Colin Powell, only found about them when the Rome meeting was reported by the US ambassador to Italy. Nevertheless, according to one source, the meetings continued until they were leaked to the press this summer and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, ordered a halt. But Mr Ghorbanifar maintained lines of communication with the neoconservative thinktank, the American Enterprise Institute, and in particular a friend from the Reagan days, Michael Ledeen, and through him passed on an extraordinary story.

According to Mr Ledeen and a US intelligence source, five years ago Iraqis working for Iranian intelligence were smuggling enriched uranium out of Iraq and into Iran. These agents developed radiation sickness and in the wreckage of postwar Iraq, were willing not only to tell the story but to lead US officials to uranium remnants that were still in a Baghdad laboratory. "I think it's a credible story," Mr Ledeen, a former national security council consultant, said, adding that he had talked to Mr Ghorbanifar's source for the story, an Iraqi Shia Muslim. Mr Ledeen took the story to the Pentagon but a Rumsfeld aide told him that since the CIA's appointment of David Kay, a former UN inspector, as leader of the US hunt for Iraqi weapons, the defence department's hands were tied. The Pentagon allegedly said that "if it was up to us we'd go and look, but no military person can do anything". Mr Ledeen says he was told to go to the CIA but he was not hopeful about gaining their help because of what he called their "mistake about Ghorbanifar 20 years ago". "I said, 'What's the worst that can happen? You've chased hundreds of false leads.'" Under pressure from the Pentagon and the White House, the CIA agreed, as long as they did not have to talk to Mr Ghorbanifar, and after the affair was over, the agency even issued a statement denouncing him as "a fabricator who has peddled false information for financial gain".

According to Mr Ledeen, who helped to set up the meetings with the Iraqi informants, two attempts to make contact failed, once when the CIA officials' satellite phone did not function, and again when the official did not show up. On the third occasion, two weeks ago, the CIA men turned up, along with a military official on the insistence of Mr Ledeen's Shia contact, and the negotiations took place behind the tinted windows of a vehicle which was driving around the streets of Baghdad. An intelligence source said Mr Ledeen's contact "couldn't answer any questions, so we said 'get us a sliver of uranium', and he got mad. He demanded money and when he didn't get it, he walked away.
"The whole story was the same old crap. It was typical Ghorbanifar. The idea that these Iranian agents would smuggle uranium out five years ago, and only now go down with radiation sickness - it was all well-designed fabrications designed to make headlines." Mr Ledeen said the US agents had simply misunderstood. "The CIA was going to pay for travel, and then make a payment only if something was found. Nobody was asking for any money in advance."



On edit: sorry, bad typo link shuould be the right one..
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DarkPhenyx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 07:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. You sure that's the right link?
It's sending me to a completely different story.
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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Sorry!!! Mega apologies! Try:
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DarkPhenyx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 07:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. That's It!
Thanks :)
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 08:02 AM
Response to Original message
4. Ghorbanifar and Ledeen are BFEE veterans
They helped bring us Iran-Contra, at least, Ledeen inventing the idea, supposedly, and Ghorbanifar acting as "middleman." OK.

For a virtual Who's Who of the BFEE Ops Wing:

Homeland Insecurity

Part 6

By Douglas Valentine


The ranking members of this Counter-Terror Network included: Donald Gregg (Bush's National Security Advisor); CIA officer Charles Allen (Whipple's replacement as Casey's Counter-Terror National Intelligence Officer in 1985); Robert Oakley at the State Department's Office of Counter-Terrorism (a former CIA officer with experience in political operations in Vietnam, Oakley co-chair of North's Operations Sub-Group until mid-1986); Richard Armitage (a member of the Enterprise) at the Defense Department, Lt. Gen. John Moellering at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, FBI Counter-Terror Chief, Oliver Revell, and, wonder of wonders, Michael Ledeen at the National Security Council.

The lynchpin between the Israelis and the Americans, Ledeen had proposed illegal arms sales to Iran in 1984 through Mossad double agent Manucher Ghorbanifar. The CIA's Deputy Director for Operations, Clair George, considered Ghorbanifar totally unreliable, and as having only his personal financial interests, and Israel's security, at heart. But George's objections were neutralized in June 1985, when Bush formed the Terrorism Task Force, at which point the illegal arms sales went forward. And to assure that no one else in the CIA would obstruct Reagan's secret policy, Casey in January 1986 conscripted veteran CIA officer Duane Clarridge into the Counter-Terror Network, as its de-facto security chief, and directed Clarridge to form the CIA's Counter-Terror Center, which exists until today. 14

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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-03 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Colonel Oliver North's revenge? or typical Mossad cock up?
Edited on Fri Oct-17-03 08:35 AM by emad aisat sana
Having followed the startling career of the UK's current ambassador to Riyadh (and previously Tel Aviv in September 2001) as well as that of his equally extraordinary wife, I am not surprised this Ledeen/Ghorbanifar story is rearing its ugly head again...

Here is the official cv of the UK Amb to Saudi:

Every time I read it, it makes me crack up!

Having been at uni with his wife the lovely Bridget***(nee Elliot - niece of the late film actor Denholm Elliot who played Coleman in "Trading Places" inter alia...) I am utterly gobsmacked that their role in this equation has not been previously identified.

Not sure what the libel/privacy laws are on the internet (have to check with my attorneys) but I cannot believe that the Iraq war would have happened without major input from UK intelligence via their embassy in Israel - a well-known Middle East data gathering centre.

The fact that Cowper-Coles is now "our man in Riyadh" only appals me even further............................

***I was a guest at their wedding in London in 1982 when she told me her new husband was a 'close relative' of Senator Joseph Lieberman; here is a pic of him:

The acronyms after his name are puzzling: CMG is Commander of the Most Noble Order of St Michael and St George....but LVO???? Luncheon Voucher Order???????
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