Opponents of the war on Iraq are running out of theories to explain why the war was a mistake. Their claims that “no evidence” has turned up to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction programs are demonstrably false. They scoffed at Bush administration allegations about links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. But then came the leak of a Pentagon memo that cites 50 different U.S. intelligence reports documenting ties between the two dating back to 1991.
Now left-wing conspiracy theorists have found a new target. It turns out that the administration’s case for invading Iraq was based largely on the work of Laurie Mylroie. At least that’s the allegation made by Peter Bergen in the December issue of Washington Monthly and earlier by David Corn in the L.A. Weekly. Both argue that with her impressive credentials on the Middle East, national security, and in Bergen’s words “above all, Iraq,” Mylroie provided the intellectual justification to go after Saddam Hussein.
Bergen dismisses her as a “crackpot,” who “exudes a slightly frazzled, batty air.” He writes that she indulges in “hysterical hyperbole” and is engaged in a “quixotic quest” to link Iraq to terrorism against America. She harbors “eccentric beliefs.” Corn labels her the “darling of the neo-conservative claque” that runs much of the administration’s foreign and defense policy. In short, both are waging a good, old-fashioned media smear campaign.
And what is Mylroie’s sin? She mounted an effective challenge to the government’s belief that international terrorists have been responsible for the attacks on America. Instead, she laid out a very persuasive case that the Iraqi intelligence services were actually behind these attacks, particularly the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She also delivered a devastating critique of the government’s performance in the investigation of the WTC bombing. The lead prosecutor in the WTC case, Gil Childers, praised her for doing the “work that should have been done by the U.S. government.”
Bergen dismisses Mylroie’s case for Iraq as the perpetrator of the WTC bombing as “risible.” Among those he cites as critical of Mylroie is Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney whose office prosecuted the WTC attacks. He says she told him there was no evidence to support Mylroie’s accusations. But Mylroie told Accuracy in Media that White had pronounced herself “open” to the theory of Iraq’s involvement in the WTC bombing. For all the experts quoted by Bergen, he leaves out the most important. He makes no mention whatsoever of Jim Fox, who ran the FBI’s New York office.
Mylroie writes that Fox suspected Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing and told Mylroie that she had found the “smoking gun” that proved the connection. But Mylroie says that FBI bureaucrats in Washington, enamored with the theory of international terrorism, overruled Fox and deprived him of the resources necessary to handle the issue. Bergen says that Mylroie declined to be interviewed for his article. She says that she “expected a hit piece” and characterized his article as a “deliberate distortion of the public record.”