The Memory Hole
Thomas Jocelyn compares Mary McCarthy's position on the attack on the so-called Al-Shifa chemical weapons factory in the Sudan with that of Richard Clarke. Jocelyn brings up this bit of history from page 128 of the 9-11 Commission Notes:
On November 4, 1998, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed its indictment of Bin Ladin, charging him with conspiracy to attack U.S. defense installations. The indictment also charged that al Qaeda had allied itself with Sudan, Iran, and Hezbollah. The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaeda had "reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq." This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was "probably a direct result of the Iraq-Al Qida agreement." Clarke added that VX nerve precursor traces found near al Shifa were the "exact formula used by Iraq."
Mary McCarthy did not at first support the decision to strike the chemical factory at al-Shifa, but she soon came on board.
The report of the 9/11 Commission notes that the National Security staff reviewed the intelligence in April 2000 and concluded that the CIA's assessment of its intelligence on bin Laden and al-Shifa had been valid; the memo to Clinton on this was cosigned by Richard Clarke and Mary McCarthy, the NSC senior director for intelligence programs, who opposed the bombing of al-Shifa in 1998. The report also notes that in their testimony before the commission, Al Gore, Sandy Berger, George Tenet, and Richard Clarke all stood by the decision to bomb al-Shifa.
Jocelyn concludes by saying:
There was a time when Mary McCarthy knew about the connection between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. Just as Richard Clarke did. Will The Washington Post explore this topic? Probably not. Why? That's not what Mary McCarthy was leaking to them.
So was there an Iraq-Bin Laden connection? Did Iraq have a chemical weapons program? It's like the Whack-a-Mole. Now you see it, now you don't. In an earlier post I wrote:
Here's the problem as I see it. The leaky and politicized intelligence system has made it difficult to judge the truth value of any proposition. Did the Plame affair damage national security? Did Ms. McCarthy's actions damage national security? Is there someone lying dead in a gutter because somebody talked? The answer to those questions about the intelligence agencies is going to be answered by the intelligence agencies themselves. And so we come full circle to the modern version of the Cretan Paradox: which asserts that when a Cretan says 'all Cretans are liars' all logical roads lead to a contradiction. How then to know the truth about the lies? When intelligence agencies -- and I use that word broadly to encompass the press, which is the civilian intelligence system -- are politicized, then even our knowledge about our knowledge becomes uncertain. We are in a Wilderness of Mirrors indeed. ... in Washington politics, like the gravitational field of a massive Black Hole, distorts everything. In regions sufficiently close to the political event horizon truth and facts simply cease to exist.
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