Bob Woodward's new book sure is full of surprises. Laura Rozen chases up some new information on Manucher Ghorbanifar:
In Iraq, [chief Iraq weapons inspector] David Kay had a call from Scooter Libby.As Rozen asks:
“The vice president wants to know if you’ve looked at this area,” Libby said. “We have indications -- and here are the geocoordinates -- that something is buried there.”
Kay went to the mapping and imagery experts on his team. They pulled up the satellite and other surveillance photos of the location. It was in the middle of Lebanon.
“That’s where we’re going next,” joked one of the imagery experts.
At another point Kay got a cable from the CIA that the vice president wanted him to send someone to Switzerland to meet with an Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifar.
“I recognize this one,” Kay said when he saw the cable. “This one I’m not going to do.”
Ghorbanifar had been the Iranian middleman in the Reagan administration’s disastrous secret arms-for-hostages deals in the Iran contra scandal. Though he had been a CIA source in the 1970s, the agency had terminated him in 1983 and the next year issued a formal “burn notice” warning that Ghorbanifar was a “talented fabricator.”
This time, Kay read, Ghorbanifar claimed to have an Iranian source who knew all about Iraqi nuclear weapons, but who wanted $2 million in advance, and who would not talk directly to the U.S., only through Ghorbanifar.
Kay discovered the latest Ghorbanifar stunt involved Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former NSC colleague of Oliver North who had been involved with Ghorbanifar in the Iran-contra days.
Kay sent a cable to the CIA saying, “Unless you give me direct instructions to talk to him, I will not have any member of the [Iraq Survey Group] talk to this guy. The guy is a known fabricator-peddler, and it will ruin someone. If the [Director of Central Intelligence] wants to send me direct instructions to do it, I will of course do it. But it’s got to be direct.”
The idea was dropped. Cheney was acting as a kind of super-investigator, trying to ferret out the elusive WMD, Kay concluded…(pp. 259-260).
Has the Senate Select Intelligence committee followed up on this?