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July 28, 2006
Still Stoned

Michael Ledeen's colleagues at National Review join the chorus of laughter and derision inspired by James Bamford's ridiculous effort in Rolling Stone, spinning a conspiracy theory involving Michael and the Bush administration. I wrote about the silliness yesterday, and today Andrew McCarthy and Mark Levin take up Bamford's piece:

In a screed Rolling Stone is passing off as journalism, James Bamford becomes the latest in a growing crowd of hacks to smear our friend Michael Ledeen.

Up until now, the fiction recklessly spewed by disgruntled intelligence-community retirees and their media enablers — some of whom have conceded that the claim is based on zero evidence — has been that Michael had something to do with the forged Italian documents that, according to the Left’s narrative, were the basis for President Bush’s “lie” in the 2003 State of the Union Address that Saddam Hussein had obtained yellowcake uranium (for nuclear-weapons construction) in Africa. Of course, Michael had utterly nothing to do with the forgeries (the source has actually been identified); the forgeries were not the basis for the president’s statement; the president did not claim Saddam obtained yellowcake — merely that intelligence reports indicated that Saddam had sought to obtain it; and the British intelligence reports that actually were the basis for the president’s statement were true (the Brits stand by them to this day). But hey, why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Naturally, the Italian forgeries make a cameo appearance in Bamford’s just-released hit piece. His anxious reprise of the distortion has Italian intelligence telling the Bush administration that Saddam had obtained uranium in West Africa, which becomes the source of the president’s State of the Union assertion. But, aside from being wrong, Bamford’s recitation makes no sense. We understand Italian intelligence denies ever having said any such thing. Obviously, though, if (a) it had said such a thing, and (b) that information had been the basis for the president’s assertion, then Bush would have said Saddam obtained uranium. Instead, he said Saddam had merely inquired about uranium — and in Africa, not, as Bamford claims, West Africa. This is exactly what was alleged by the British intelligence reports — the president’s real source.

That's just the appetizer, McCarthy and Levin run rings around Bamford's paranoid fantasies, demonstrating several places where Bamford uses suppositions as fact and then bases his conclusions on them.

McCarthy and Levin save the best argument for last, as I did. Bamford says that Ledeen and the neocons bought into Manucher Ghorbanifar's implication that Saddam Hussein was hiding in Iran -- in December 2001. Incredibly, Bamford seems unaware that Saddam Hussein was in charge of Iraq in December 2001, and in fact remained so until April 2003. Not only that, but this supposed journalistic expert on the Middle East and intelligence work appears ignorant of the fact that the Iranians hated Saddam Hussein with a vengeance for his oppression of the Shi'a in Iraq and his brutal war against them in the 1980s.

And the editors of Rolling Stone have yet to issue any kind of correction or explanation for this farcical exposition by Bamford.

Read the entire NRO article. Also, I will be interviewing Michael Ledeen about this story and other developments in Iran tomorrow on the Northern Alliance Radio Network at 2 pm CT. Be sure to tune us in.

UPDATE: Hiding in Iran. Fixed the typo, thanks to Russ in the comments.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 28, 2006 4:06 PM

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