Tags: Ex-CIA | Chief | Woolsey | Sees | Iraqi | Fingerprints

Ex-CIA Chief Woolsey Sees Iraqi Fingerprints

Friday, 14 September 2001 12:00 AM

"First of all we have to find out who did this thing," R. James Woolsey told United Press International in a phone interview Thursday.

But he said the Bush administration must "undo the mistakes of the Clinton administration and not just look at loose associations of terrorists or a terrorist group" such as that of Osama bin Laden's al Qaida, but also at the serious ramifications of possible state involvement.

Woolsey served as director of central intelligence in the first Clinton administration from Feb. 5, 1993 to Jan. 10, 1995. He and Clinton were not close. In 1996 the hawkish Democrat endorsed GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole.

The Washington power lawyer told UPI that he is not sure that Iraq is involved in the attacks, but added: "What we don't want to do is what the Clinton administration did and put blinders on about state involvement by focusing just on a terrorist group."

To do so, he said, is to risk falling into a trap laid by bin Laden and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"Why else would (bin Laden) issue fatwas (Islamic edicts) and put out videotapes and chant poems and have all his subordinates come up on networks where they know they're being listened to and all talk about how they're carrying out terrorist operations?" Woolsey asked.

He suggested that Saddam Hussein could be "sitting there grinning with bin Laden, saying: 'This is good for both of us. I don't get blamed, and you get the credit you want.'"

In criticizing the Clinton administration, Woolsey referred to a series of plots in New York City in the early 1990s, notably the initial bombing of the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993. Two factors were at work, he said.

The first was the facts of the various bomb plots were unclear but that prosecutors had blurred the distinctions for their own purposes. "It was easier for the prosecution to get convictions of all of the people who might have been involved in any of these plots in New York if they folded all the charges together under the Seditious Conspiracy Law and said it was all one conspiracy," Woolsey told UPI.

"If it's all one conspiracy inspired by the blind sheikh," he said, referring to so-call mastermind Omar Abd Al-Rahman - "that is, the World Trade Center, and the effort to blow up the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel and the U.N., etc. - it confuses things for a jury to come in and say, 'And by the way, the Iraqi government was also involved.'"

The second important factor, Woolsey said, was that the Clinton administration "was less than enthusiastic about having confrontations with Saddam" in which American casualties might be incurred. "So I think there is a real chance that Iraqi government sponsorship was overlooked."

Woolsey commended Laurie Mylroie's opinion essay "Bin Laden Isn't Only One to Blame," which appeared in Thursday's editions of the Wall Street Journal, as well as "Getting Serious," the newspaper's accompanying editorial.

He said that his essay "The Iraqi Connection: Blood Baath," which appeared latter Thursday on the New Republic Online, "takes off from some of Laurie's work on the '93 bombing of the World Trade Center, and suggests that the U.S. government now should go back and look hard at the possibility that there was Iraqi government involvement in that.

"And if the Iraqis were involved in '93 and have gotten away with it for eight years, and then launched another attack that has some real similarities both in target and in methodology to previous attacks against the World Trade Center and trying to blow up an airliner in the Pacific, we may have a modus operandi."

Woolsey said that Mylroie endorses the thesis of Jim Fox, who handled the FBI's investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing for the first year and a half. Fox died in 1997.

Fox's theory, Woolsey told UPI, is "Ramzi Yousef is not just a random person we don't know, but is in fact an Iraqi government asset." In 1998 Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years for the 1993 bombing.

Woolsey expanded on the Fox-Mylroie theory in his New Republic essay.

According to this view, Ramzi Yousef was not the alias of a Pakistani named Abdul Basit, as it had been believed. Rather, Yousef was an Iraqi agent who had assumed Basit's identity when occupying Iraqi intelligence officers doctored police files in Kuwait, where the real Abdul Basit had lived in 1990.

Woolsey noted that Abdul Basit and his family disappeared during the occupation and have never been seen again.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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First of all we have to find out who did this thing, R. James Woolsey told United Press International in a phone interview Thursday. But he said the Bush administration must undo the mistakes of the Clinton administration and not just look at loose associations of...
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Friday, 14 September 2001 12:00 AM
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