A Cautious Man
September 18, 2003
 
Another Great Job by the Press
Our newspapers really have to do a better job, if the public is to avoid getting BS'd by the Administration. Today's example of how we are being let down may be found in today's USA Today (see story at this link). That paper's John Diamond reports:
U.S. authorities in Iraq say they have new evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime gave money and housing to Abdul Rahman Yasin, a suspect in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.
The Bush administration is using the evidence to strengthen its disputed prewar assertion that Iraq had ties to terrorists, including the al-Qaeda group responsible for the Sept. 11 attack.
...
Military, intelligence and law enforcement officials reported finding a large cache of Arabic-language documents in Tikrit, Saddam's political stronghold. A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said translators and analysts are busy "separating the gems from the junk." The official said some of the analysts have concluded that the documents show that Saddam's government provided monthly payments and a home for Yasin.
While this is breathlessly reported as a blockbuster announcement, of intelligence yielded from analysis of Arabic documents, there was an easier way to learn about this - they could have watched "60 Minutes", which broadcast an interview with this guy in May of 2002 (see this link):
Abdul Rahman Yasin fled to Iraq after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He lived as a free man for a year, but the authorities in Iraq tell CBS News they put him in prison in 1994. After 9/11, President Bush put Yasin on a new most wanted list, with a $25 million reward.
Or, they could have watched the interview in June of 2002, with Tariq Aziz (see this link):
Aziz: Twice we asked them [the U.S.] to come and take him and twice [in 1994 and most recently in October 2001] they refused. Which means that they are not sincere in what they are saying, they are not honest in what they are saying.

We informed the American Government that we have important information about that event [1993 bombing of the World Trade Center]. If you are interested, send a team to Baghdad to get that information.

They did not reply at all.
Okay, so even if Aziz wasn't sincere about having made that offer, the fact remains that he said, last year, in an interview with an American network, that Iraq had this guy. Finally, Senator Schumer (see this link) was reminding our government that they could find this guy in Iraq:
Although Yasin was last seen in Baghdad and Iraq offered to hand him over to American authorities in February, he was not included him among the 55 individuals that American forces yesterday were told to find. When US Troops began scouring the buildings and streets of Baghdad – as well as the tunnels beneath them – yesterday, they carried bearing specially-designed playing cards, each bearing a photo on it of a wanted Iraqi official.
The moral of the story? If the Administration want to try to fool people, that new information is being discovered about Iraq's links to terrorism, then our news outlets should check out these claims before simply relaying them to the public.

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