CIA disputes book's Iraq claims

Aug. 23, 2008 at 4:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The CIA denies allegations it helped produce bogus documents to help U.S. President George Bush's administration link al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein.

The Central Intelligence Agency was reacting to a best-selling author's account of the lead up to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

In his book "The Way of the World," author Ron Suskind alleges the Bush administration learned in early 2003 that Hussein no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction, but went to war anyway.

Suskind also alleges the White House directed the CIA to enlist Tahir Habbush, Iraq's spy chief at the time, to help produce a fake letter that purported to show Iraq helped train Mohamed Atta, the al-Qaida terrorist who led the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The CIA and White House denied Suskind's claims when the book was released this month. On Friday, the spy agency said it has investigated the claims and found them to be false.

The CIA said its own inquiries overseas failed to turn up anyone who could substantiated Suskind's account of Habbush or the bogus letter.

"At this point, the origins of the forgery, like the whereabouts of Habbush himself, remain unclear. But this much is certain: Suskind is off the mark," the U.S. spy agency said.

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