- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

From combined dispatches

A new book on the government’s secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the CIA recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.

Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad of Cleveland made the trip to Iraq on the CIA’s behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear program because he said it had been dead for a decade.

New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction. His book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration” describes secret operations under the Bush administration’s war on terrorism.

The major revelation in “State of War” has been the subject of extensive reporting by Mr. Risen’s newspaper: The National Security Agency’s eavesdropping of Americans’ conversations without obtaining warrants from a special court.

The timing of the Times story and Mr. Risen’s book publication have come into question as the newspaper held the story for a year after the White House expressed concerns that it could jeopardize national security.

The newspaper published the eavesdropping story on Dec. 16, the day the Senate debated whether to renew key elements of the anti-terror USA Patriot Act. Renewal efforts failed to gain enough Senate support, forcing the Bush administration to settle for a temporary extension until Feb. 3.

The Times story, co-written by Eric Lichtblau, has prompted the Department of Justice to investigate the sources of the national security leak.

A Time magazine article says Mr. Risen concedes his book requires readers to make a “leap of faith” and accept the credibility of his numerous anonymous sources. He is contesting a court order to reveal the identities of sources he quoted in a series of disputed articles about nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee.

In “State of War,” Mr. Risen writes that Dr. Alhaddad flew home in mid-September 2002 and had a series of meetings with CIA analysts. She relayed her brother’s information that there was no nuclear program.

A CIA operative later told Dr. Alhaddad’s husband that the agency thought her brother was lying. In all, the book says, about 30 family members of Iraqis made trips to their native country to contact weapons scientists, and all of them reported that the programs had been abandoned.

In October 2002, the U.S. intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program.

Mr. Risen writes that the NSA spying program was started in 2002 after the CIA began to capture high-ranking al Qaeda terror operatives overseas and took their computers, cell phones and personal phone directories.

The CIA turned the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses from the material over to the NSA, which began monitoring the phone numbers — in addition to anyone in contact with the telephone subscribers, the book said, adding that this led to an expansion of the monitoring, both overseas and in the United States.

The book said the NSA does not need approval from the White House, the Justice Department or anyone else in the Bush administration to eavesdrop on a specific phone line in the United States.

In a chapter on a “rogue operation,” the book said a CIA officer mistakenly sent one of its Iranian agents information that could be used to identify virtually every spy the agency had in Iran. The book said the Iranian was a double agent who turned over the data to Iranian security officials.

The book said the information severely damaged the CIA’s Iranian network, and quoted agency sources as saying that several of the U.S. agents were arrested and jailed.

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