Thursday, April 14, 2005

Of Yellowcake and Red Herrings

On Monday came word from Roger L. Simon that yet another retired anti-Bush bureaucrat has chosen to wade into the fevered swamp of conspiracy theories:

I think we should set up a defense fund for my friend Michael Ledeen who is being accused of forging the Niger Uranium Documents by former CIA official Vincent Cannistraro. It all happened on a radio show over the weekend:

Ian Masters, host of Background Briefing, in Los Angeles, interviewed Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of Counterterrorism operations at the CIA. Cannistraro came close to naming the man who forged the Niger documents. When Masters asked, "If I said 'Michael Ledeen'?" Vincent Cannistraro replied, "You'd be very close."

Is that "close as in close" or close as in "close, but no cigar"? (Insider's note: Ledeen is a cigar maven.) I hate to rain on Mr. Cannistraro's anti-neocon parade, but I have news for him: The Niger Documents were in French and Michael doesn't speak French (well, barely, but trust me, not enough to pull off a forgery of anything remotely official). Now if the docs were in Italian...

Mr. Ledeen, who is currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is one of the foremost advocates of fostering democracy in the Middle East, especially in Iran. As a result, he has become one of the biggest bogeymen for purveyors of the "neocon cabal" theory. While I don't agree with all of Mr. Ledeen's views, I respect him and his long and distinguished career of public service. If Mr. Cannistraro has any evidence to back up his shameful innuendo he should produce it immediately. Otherwise, he should keep his half-baked theories to himself.


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