The letter was supposedly from Habbush to Saddam, mentioned Mohmmad Atta (9/11 hijacker), training in Iraq, Niger, etc. Dated July 2001.
Wikipedia has an article about it: wikipedia:Habbush letter
Question : Does everything we know about the letter, on the record, come from three men... Ayad Allawi, Con Coughlin, and Ron Suskind?
A question: does Con have a copy? What kind of copy? Photocopy? What did he do with his copy? Does he have the original? Where is the original? Who has it? Who had it last?
Ron Suskind says. . . Edit
Basically, Ron's story has three main steps.
1. Whitehouse writes a fake letter. Then it orders CIA to get Habbush to transcribe the letter, then deliver it to Baghdad, and get it released to the media.
2. CIA says that won't work - Habbush will refuse, because if he did it, his family would be in danger from the anti-American insurgency.
3. Whitehouse orders CIA to forget Habbush, to 'fashion' it themselves, and put his name on it.
1: "The White House had concoted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq . . . The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda's assistance. Th idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraq government stationery, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media."
pg 371, The Way of the World, Suskind
2: "While the assignment was clear enough, Maguire said he told Richer that the logistics would need to be reworked. "Habbush was not going to write sign, or say anything publicly - even though we resettled him - which was going to sentence his family to death" says Maguire. "Habbush knows there'll be an insurgency and there be payback for anyone who's suspected of cooperating with the Americans before the war or just after it started"
pg 372, The Way of the World, Suskind
3: 'Tenet who had no background in clandestine operations, didn't engineer a "way out." Instead, he passed an orrder from the White House down the ranks to Richer, who then passed it to IOG for relatively simple execution. A handwritten letter, with Habbush's name on it, would be fashioned by CIA, Maguire said, "and then hand-carried by a CIA agent to Bagdad" for dissemination'
pg 373, The Way of the World, Suskind
Q: isnt habbush putting his family in danger by remaining silent?
Q: is habbush's family in danger now, thanks to suskinds book?
- Maguire is John Maguire.
- Richer is Rob Richer
- IOG is Iraq Operations Group
- 'The Whitehouse' contains all sorts of people, but especially the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President
- 'Dissemination' meant, eventually, that Ayad Allawi would give it to Con Coughlin
Richer and Maguire and Tenet pretty much deny this version of the story. see Suskind Response
"I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document" 
"I stand by my earlier statement and my absolute belief that the charges outlined in Mr. Suskind's book regarding Agency involvement in forging documents are not true." http://suskindresponse.googlepages.com/richerresponse080808
Q: ok then what is the 'deception' Richer speaks of on pg 371. "The guys from the Vice President's Office were just barraging us in this period with one thing after another: run down this lead, find out about that. It was nonstop. Of course, this was different, this was creating a deception".
Q: What was creating a deception? What was different? What deception?
`I never received any instruction from then Chief/NE Rob Richer or any other officer in my chain of command instructing me to fabricate such a letter. Further, I have no knowledge to the origins of the letter and as to how it circulated in Iraq," 
Q: suskind says in interviews, of course you dont. you only are in the story because you gave input to Richer, telling him the plan A wouldn't work. after that you weren't involved. so...... ????
See George Tenet
did habbush sign it? Edit
question asked by amy goodman,,,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf2UnO7N5vA 3 minutes in
Suskind says, Maguire says no.
Late september, 2003 - Tenet gives first order for Habbush Mission to Richer 
The second order, to 'devise' the letter on its own, comes before Maguire leaves for Bahgdad. 
In 'late november' , Ayad Allawi gives letter to Con Coughlin
Dec 13, 2003 story is leaked a day early? . Coughlin publishes in Daiy Telegraph.
Suskind says that Coughlin got it from one of Allawi's aides (pg 374, The Way of the World)
Suskind says that Coughlin says that he talked to a 'former CIA official who confirmed that this was what a memo from Habbush would look like'. (pg 374, The Way of the World)
Sukind quotes Coughlin who is quoting a 'leading member of Iraq's governning council' (Allawi?) : "There are people who are working with us who used to work with Habbush who are convinced that it is his handwriting and signature."
Question: What 'people who are working with us' is he referring to? Who are these people? Where did they come from? Why did they work with Habbush, under what position? If they worked with Habbush, wouldn't they be pretty savvy intelligence people - if so, wouldn't they be able to tell it was fake just by looking at the contents? If Habbush knew there were no WMDs nd no Atta training in Iraq, would the people working with him know it to? Even Naji Sabri, the foreign minister, knew it? How widespread was this knowledge of 'No WMDs' and no al-qaeda link, inside Saddams government? And why did the people who 'used to work with Habbush' not figure out that this letter was bogus? Or were they simply not asked? The interested parties only asked if the handwriting/signature were valid, not the contents? Why not? Where are those people now? What is their side of the story?
Question: Who is the 'former CIA official' that Coughlin got to look at the memo? When did he show the memo to this person? Where? Why did this person think it was authentic? If so many people think the letter is fake, why did this ex-CIA person say it was real? What reasoning or evidence did this ex-CIA person use to determine that it was what a Habbush memo would look like? Did the ex-CIA person know it was fake, and lie to Coughlin? Or was this ex-CIA person just, say, not knowledgable, and for some reason decided to act like they were qualified to judge it anyways? Considering that a bunch of reporters think it was fake, was this CIA person, even momentarily, somehow, less able to analyze an Iraqi intelligence document than the reporters ? Why did Coughlin choose this particular ex-CIA person to go to to authenticate the document? What was that conversation like?
Question: Does Suskind mean forged by the CIA, as in someone in the CIA actually wrote out the letter by their hand? Would the CIA have outsourced the actual writing of the letter to someone else? If not, who in the CIA would have undertaken the task? Who in the CIA can or would write forged arabic documents that look like Habbush's? Would they tell a different story?
Question: Was Allawi 'in on it' or 'not in on it'. That is to say, Con Coughlin does not appear to claim the document is authentic. But as for Allawi, who vouched for its authenticity in the first place, what does he have to say now? Does he still think it is real? Does he think it was fake? At the time he gave it to Coughlin, did he think it was fake, or that it was real? If so many reporters think it is fake, why did Allawi, a man of great experience and knowledge of matters of intelligence, think the letter was real? Was he lying on purpose? Was he momentarily blinded by what he wanted to think was real? Why?
Question: Did Habbush write the letter himself, on orders from someone? Who? Why? What is his side of the story?
Question: Where did Allawi get the document? With whom, if anybody, did he verify its authenticity? Why? When? Where?
Question: If the document was really forged, why forge it with Habbush's signature? Why not use the signature of one of the Iraqi government officials who were already dead? Why risk Habbush confirming or denying the story? In fact, if the document is relatively easily judged a forgery, why go to the trouble of making it in the first place? Was it simply incompetent forgery work? Was money the objective of the forger (IE, someone knew people would pay for 'evidence' of saddam/wmd/911 links, so they just made something up and sold it in a hurry??)
Question: What kind of paper is it written on? What kind of ink? When was it written? Fingerprints? Surely the old Saddam regime had fingerprints of all its officials... are those still accessible? Can ssomeone do the same kind of analysis on this letter, that, say, was done on the Christian Science Monitor letters? Does anyone want to spend the money to do so?
Question: Where is the letter now? Who has it?
Actual text of the letter Edit
Well, at least we have Con Coughlins article, describing the contents.
Headed simply "Intelligence Items", and dated July 1, 2001, it is addressed: "To the President of the Ba'ath Revolution Party and President of the Republic, may God protect you."
The first paragraph states that "Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian national, came with Abu Ammer (an Arabic nom-de-guerre - his real identity is unknown) and we hosted him in Abu Nidal's house at al-Dora under our direct supervision.
"We arranged a work programme for him for three days with a team dedicated to working with him . . . He displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy."
The second item contains a report of how Iraqi intelligence, helped by "a small team from the al-Qaeda organisation", arranged for an (unspecified) shipment from Niger to reach Baghdad by way of Libya and Syria.
Would it really have been illegal? Edit
A commenter on the article Libby questioned on forged letter linking Saddam to 9/11 over at rawstory.com says that even if it happened as Suskind claims, that it might not have been illegal, technically.
"US intelligence fakes something and get it in a foreign news source (that is perfectly legal; at that point they are not working in the US) THEN they quote that foreign source as fact (that's also legal -- just normal free speech)."
On the other hand, the CIA itself said, in its statement from aug 22 2008, that it in fact would have been illegal.
is the letter real or fake Edit
Most news reports assumed and still assume that the letter was fake. Im too tired to go look up links, but you can find them.
- is the author realy habbush.
- did mohammed atta actually train in iraq
- were there actually 'shipments' from niger
- if so , why? suskind says saddam already had tons of yellowcake.
However, an article over at the National Defense Examiner website thinks it might be a totoallry real letter, not fake at all. See New Ron Suskind Claim Strains Credibility
did allawi know it was fakeEdit
and why didnt he know it? did he not care? why not? see Ayad Allawi
con coughlin says he has a copy?Edit
"The handwritten memo, a copy of which has been obtained exclusively by the Telegraph," 
chalabi says its nonsense Edit
q: if Chalabi knew it was fake, why didnt Allawi? Allawi, with all his IIS contacts, couldnt figure it out, but Chalabi could? Wats up with that?
questions from someone named 'zenpundit' Edit
on the blog of Patrick Lang
" . . . Normally carrying out covert-ops require a presidential finding, a NSDD/PDD at the NSC level and notification of relevant Congrssional committees. How would a forgery be done without a paper trail ?
Skip over Tenet. Why would Bush and Cheney trust the CIA senior management to not leak an order of this nature ?
For that matter, why would they trust the CIA to be able to create a reasonable forgery in the first place without contracting out the expertise ?
Posted by: zenpundit | 07 August 2008 at 12:02 AM "
indeed. why? and another question... did they, in fact, 'skip tenet'... were bush and/or cheney going down the chain of command, around the heads of agencies? seems like i have read something about the possibility before, but i cannot remember....
see also Edit
<ref>tags exist, but no
<references/>tag was found