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March 25, 2005
UN Report Demonstrates Assad's Motive In Hariri Assassination

The UN report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri has unusually harsh and specific criticism for the pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud and the Lebanese investigation of the carbombing. The Washington Post gives us a few eye-popping details of the way Damascus' First Opthalmologist treated Hariri just prior to his murder:

Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team.

The report, which calls for an international investigation into Hariri's death, describes an August meeting in Damascus at which Assad ordered the Lebanese billionaire to support amending Lebanon's constitution, according to testimony from "various" sources who discussed the meeting with Hariri. The amendment, approved Sept. 3, allowed Emile Lahoud, the Syrian-backed Lebanese president, to remain in office for three more years.

Assad said that "Lahoud should be viewed as his personal representative" in Lebanon and that "opposing him is tantamount to opposing Assad himself," the report states. Assad then warned that he "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of" Hariri and influential Druze political leader Walid Jumblatt "than see his word in Lebanon broken."

This may not quite amount to a smoking gun, but it certainly shows that Bashar Assad had intended on warning Hariri that he meant business. Given that the Syrian military and intelligence services had complete control of Lebanon, at least until this crude and stupid act, this testimony makes clear that Assad and his minions not only wanted Hariri out of the picture but specifically planned to make it happen. Nor did they stop there. Their Lebanese collaborators made sure that any evidence left over after the blast got cleaned up as soon as possible:

Following the attack, Lebanese authorities failed to properly secure the site and cleared it of key evidence, including the six vehicles in Hariri's convoy, according to the report.

The police failed to shut down a broken water main that flooded the crime scene, washing away important evidence.

"Important evidence was either removed or destroyed without record," FitzGerald said.

The report also charges that Lebanese investigators neglected to trace a "suspect" white pickup truck that slowed down at the crime scene in the minutes before the explosion. Nor did they interview potential witnesses, a failure that amounted to "gross negligence."

No witnesses were questioned and valuable evidence got washed away? Yes, it sounds like the Lebanese power structure headed by Lahoud and Omar Karami defintely wanted to get to the bottom of this crime. The Lebanese people should remain concerned that these people have been left in charge for the next two months to continue their cover-up of Hariri's murder and to plot whatever they need to attempt an extension of their rule.

We need to continue the demand for complete Syrian withdrawal immediately, followed by free and fair elections to remove Lahoud and Karami. Until that happens, even the UN agrees that justice will not be possible for the Lebanese people and their representatives.

UPDATE: Of course, the Yemeni Observer has its own sources -- namely, a crackpot named Wayne Madsen:

According to high-level Lebanese intelligence sourcesChristian and Muslimformer Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was reportedly assassinated in a sophisticated explosion-by-wire bombing authorized by the Bush administration and Ariel Sharon's Likud government in Israel. ...

A number of intelligence sources have reported that assassinations of foreign leaders like Hariri and Hobeika are ultimately authorized by two key White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams. In addition, Abrams is the key liaison between the White House and Sharon's office for such covert operations, including political assassinations.

As Power Line notes, this should mark the nadir of the Karl Rove Is The Root Of All Evil meme among the radical Left. I predict, however, that somehow they will find a way to sink lower than this. (via CQ reader Mark Coffey)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 25, 2005 12:37 PM

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