Ron Suskind, Philip Giraldi and Andrew Sullivan have a problem

Ron Suskind’s new book has spawned some discussion of a letter he claims was forged by the CIA on the direction of the Bush administration to gin up what he considers to be their fraudulant case for invading Iraq. It’s a little hard to follow, but as far as I can tell Suskind’s story is that the letter linking Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda was written by the CIA on orders from the White House and somehow planted in Baghdad, where it was eventually picked up and published by an unwitting British journalist.

True, Suskind doesn’t have so much in the way of proof, but stay with me here. The plot thickensToday, Philip Giraldi has come out in The American Conservative with a new twist on the story that has found an approving audience on the left, which has leapt at this venue as a demonstration of broad-based support for his claim. Of course Giraldi is not exclusive to that publication, which has scant claims to being either American or Conservative. He mainly hangs his hat at Antiwar.com. But who cares, because he has a dark and sinister conspiracy to reveal: his theory is that while the letter was indeed a forgery, it didn’t come out of the CIA. Yes, it was a White House project but rather than going to the Agency, Vice President Dick Cheney tasked DoD Undersecretary for Policy Doug Feith’s “Office of Special Plans” with creating the document.

This all makes perfect sense to those who have bought into the wide-spread mischaracterization of the Vice President as hell-bent on invading Iraq and of Doug Feith as a pawn of the Zionist conspiracy who was always happy to falsify intelligence. Q.E.D., they say.

But how does Giraldi actually know this to be the case? He claims he has a CIA “source” who knows about the Office of Special Plans and the workings of the Pentagon. And I hate to ask so many questions, but how does the source know all this? We certainly don’t know. Giraldi does not see fit to grace us with a name, let alone a shred supporting documentation. For all we know, Giraldi is himself the source—or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say Giraldi’s imagination. For until he comes up with some—any—evidence all we have is a cowardly smear that stems out of his vicious anti-war and anti-Semitic hysteria.

This simply cannot stand. Doug Feith is a decent person and a distinguished public servant who has done long and difficult work for our country, and who has recently gone to the trouble of producing a meticulously crafted and documented book, War and Decision, that addresses these very issues. Feith has been willing to go on the record personally and to get his documentation in order to support his claims. You can disagree with the man’s policies or his politics, but anyone who cannot be bothered to do the same due diligence has no place in a fact-based debate. That goes for Ron Suskind, Philip Giraldi and any that peddle their fantasies, such as The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan (unwittingly) demonstrates the pitiful frailty of this house of cards when he worries that “possible errors in Suskind’s reporting will undermine the deeper truth of what he’s pointing out.” Here’s the deal Andrew: When the sources for a story contradict each other and the facts fall apart, there is no “deeper truth.” Rumor? Yes. Innuendo? Certainly. Rubbish? Quite possibly.

But no truth. Shame on you and shame on anyone else who participates in this false and despicable charade.