FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John Lehman on Iraq / al-Qaeda Links

by GARY LEUPP

On Sunday (June 20), John Lehman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the members of the 9-11 Commission, on which he sits, has knowledge of documents captured in Iraq that “indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam’s Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al-Qaeda.” He added, as if to both strengthen and weaken this eyebrow-raising assertion, “That still has to be confirmed. We are now in the process of getting this latest intelligence.” So there’s reason enough to get the story out, to tell us all what documents “indicate”—and thus stoke the embers of the dying al-Qaeda link allegation. But Lehman can’t commit to the story, lest other commissioners—less committed to propagating that link—dismiss what seems a highly implausible contention.

Following so suddenly the headlined announcement by the Commission that, “We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States,” this juicy piece of “intelligence” (from one of those responsible for the disappointing report) must have seemed a godsend to the type of American who wants so badly to believe that there’s something, anyway, to administration claims that those responsible for 9-11 were somehow “linked” to the country where America now sacrifices the flower of its youth. (Anyway, they’re all Arabs, right?) The type of American so happy to believe that weird news item about how Russia’s President Putin passed on reports about an actual Baghdad plot to attack the U.S. after 9-11. The type perplexed and disappointed, subsequently, when the Bush administration expressed puzzlement, actually recalling no such communication from the Kremlin. Sure enough, the redeeming story about the al-Qaeda lieutenant colonel was all over the Bush-right websites.

Not surprising. The American educational system does not encourage Cartesian doubt or what universities call “critical reasoning.” On the contrary, it encourages blind faith in governmental authority as one’s patriotic duty. The corporate media, its ownership ever more concentrated and its political line ever more unified, chooses the regime’s perspective as its default objective journalism. Hence months and months of falsity, transparent to the discerning population, but credible enough to the patriotically frightened and vengeful true believers who find their belief system challenged by unfolding realities the political and media establishments (much though they might wish) cannot conceal. Whenever someone tosses the believers a lifeline, they grasp it desperately, only to watch it snap. Then it’s back to treading water.

A dose of reality, percolating up through the media despite itself. Reuters,

June 22 (with the headline in the Boston Globe, “US officials doubt Iraqi officer was an Al Qaeda member): “But US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had no indication there was a high-level Al Qaeda official in Hussein’s militia, known as Fedayeen. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he could not confirm the intelligence.” The report stated that “if proven true,” Lehman’s statement “would buttress claims by the Bush administration of ties between Iraq” and al-Qaeda. Other reports suggested that the person to whom “Lehman appeared to be referring” was one Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, and that someone by that name (which according to “terrorism analyst” Peter Bergen, cited by UPI June 20, is quite common) was present at an al-Qaeda linked meeting in January 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

What are the odds that this latest, yet-to-be-confirmed, intelligence report in progress turns out to be more Niger uranium? I think high. But that doesn’t matter so much, you see, because for a couple days it radiates the believing, lifting their faith and sustaining their commitment to the good folks who propagate it—like John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, CEO of J. F. Lehman Co., chairman of the board of OAO Technology Solutions, Inc. (“a subcontractor to global outsourcers”) , and advocate of “pre-emptive strikes” on “violent, Islamic fundamentalism.”

Fortunately the administration they wish to believe, in their need to simplify a complex world, is so rent by contradictions consequent to its actions (which among other things are fundamentally dishonest) that it can no longer, itself, take advantage of the disinformation which Cheney or Chalabi or Perle or Lehman—or Putin for that matter—may toss out to the frustrated credulous. That “anonymous officials” who could, given their anonymity, say “Yes that’s probably true” instead say, “No, we have no information on that,” suggests that the liars are hurting, and that their willing audience (who like to be lied to because it’s so much more comfortable than dealing with the truth), are in for a mounting crisis of faith as reality unfolds. It is of course always a good if painful thing when honest questioning clashes with naïve faith, and the latter loses. But the faith of the believers who buoy the Bushites, in their ongoing (simplistic, fundamentalist-religious) project to smite all “Evil” in the world, begs ongoing disabusing exposure.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rivera Sun
Nonviolent History: South Africa’s Port Elizabeth Boycott
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail