William Safire has joined in the effort to bring attention to the story of the Saddam-bin Laden connection.
The Defense Department acknowledged the Oct. 27 letter included a classified annex of "raw reports or products" of U.S. intelligence agencies on "the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," cautioning that it "drew no conclusions." But with so much connective tissue exposed — some the result of "custodial interviews" of prisoners — the burden of proof has shifted to those still grimly in denial.Focusing on the allegations that the Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, al Ani, on several occasions, Safire writes about Edward Jay Epstein’s article in Slate, which I posted about here. Safire raises a number of questions concerning the alleged contact between Att and al Ani.
Since July, al-Ani has been in U.S. Department of Justice custody and I wonder how effectively he is being interrogated. Have we learned the whereabouts of his Prague and Baghdad aides and secretaries, and taken their testimony? Have we asked M.I.5 to let us speak to Jabir Salim, his Prague station-chief predecessor, who defected to Britain and may know which employees and which banks could transfer $100,000 to an account accessible to Atta?Safire thinks that “journalists will ultimately bring the full story of the Saddam-bin Laden connection to light.” I hope he is right. So far the mainstream media is doing a great job of downplaying a very important story.
Did al-Ani order any payment to "the student from Hamburg" or his co-conspirators, as Czech intelligence believes, and did the paymaster carry out the order? To what superior in Baghdad did al-Ani report, and who worked most closely with him, and are they in custody and do their stories jibe? What have we offered al-Ani, in protection or immunity or plea bargain, to turn state's evidence?