The CIA refuses to release a document claimed by critics as evidence the U.S. had reason as early as eight years ago to question the reliability of a key former witness to Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapon’s program, known as “Saddam’s bombmaker.”
Further doubts about the credibility of Dr. Khidir Abdul Abbas Hamza, the “star” witness of the Bush administration’s war apologia, come amid reports he has been quietly fired by the Coalition Provisional Authority and faces eviction from its “Green Zone” headquarters in Baghdad.
Hamza is the subject of increasing scrutiny from a handful of investigative journalists, even as most of the American mainstream media remain silent on the figure they propelled to international fame in the pre-war press.
During a congressional hearing in July 2002, Hamza testified Iraq was two to three years from building a successful nuclear bomb.
In a now-famous speech just three months later, outlining the Iraqi threat, President Bush said, “If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.”
After conclusion of the major bombing campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hamza returned to Iraq as the senior adviser to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority, he was tasked with documenting the details of the alleged nuclear weapons program.
But sources within Iraq’s Ministry of Science and Technology told the Independent newspaper of London that Hamza seldom turned up for work and obstructed others from doing their jobs.
On March 4, the CPA did not renew his contract and now is trying to evict him from his house in its heavily guarded “Green Zone” headquarters, the daily says.
The report was similar to details received by WND last week from Dr. Imad Khadduri, a 30-year veteran of the Iraqi nuclear program.
The CPA did not respond to WND’s request for comment.
‘Liar’ and ‘opportunist’
Hamza previously faced harsh criticism from several Iraqi scientists who labeled him a liar and an opportunist, including Hussein Kamel, another “star” defector frequently cited by the Bush administration in the months prior to the war.
On Feb. 26, 2003, WND revealed the contents of the 1995 de-briefing of Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein’s now-deceased son-in-law.
After his defection to Amman, Jordan, in 1995, Kamel was first de-briefed by the United Nations Special Commission , or UNSCOM, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.
The 8-year-old de-briefing includes a passage critics contend reveals Hamza was an unreliable witness and the U.S. government was aware of that fact when it presented him to the public as the authoritative witness to an impending nuclear threat.
The passage indicates Kamel was shown a document he concluded was a “false document.” The U.N. concurred, calling it a “fake document.”
When Kamel asked the origin of the document, the U.N. responded it was received by fax and that “Dr. Khidir Abdul Abbas Hamza is related to this document.”
Kamel proceeded to characterize him as a “professional liar” who was “useless and was always looking for promotions.”
The U.N. document, marked “SENSITIVE,” was kept secret for eight years.
Since the CIA conducted its own de-briefing of Kamel, the question arises, did the CIA have any reason to believe Hamza was not related to the “fake document”?
WND asked the CIA to identify the “fake document” shown to Kamel during the de-briefing.
“I have a good idea what it is,” said one CIA official, who declined to discuss it further.
“You’re getting awfully close to sources and methods here,” she added.
WND asked the CIA on two separate occasions to release its de-briefing, noting if it contains information that would exonerate Hamza of the allegations, the agency would benefit from releasing even a redacted copy.
“That’s not going to happen,” CIA spokeswoman Michele Neff told WorldNetDaily.
‘Exaggerated his credentials’
While some of the comments from Kamel can be attributed to typical jostling among defectors, other scientists continue to make the same accusations.
It is a view shared by Dhafir Selbi, the highly-regarded administrator behind the nuclear program, and Jafar Dhia Jafar, the program’s former head. Jafar had been imprisoned by Saddam in 1980 and was released upon the sole condition he create a successful nuclear weapons program.
Another top Iraqi nuclear scientist, a close colleague of Jafar, concurred with the characterization of Hamza as a liar, speaking to WND only on a not-for-attribution basis.
This scientist was involved in building the al-Jazeera processing plant in the north near Mosul for converting yellow cake coming from Sharqat into uranium oxide destined for the Tarmiya “Baghdadtrons” facility, north of Baghdad. The scientist said a good deal of new information on the subject will be revealed by Jafar’s promised book, to be titled “Now It Can Be Told.”
Dr. Hussain Shahristani, an Iraqi nuclear scientist tortured and imprisoned under Saddam for refusing to help build a nuclear device, told Patrick Cockburn of the Independent: “Hamza really was only a minor figure in our nuclear program and always exaggerated his own importance when he got to the U.S.”
Hamza worked for ISIS for two years. In 2002, Albright told Australia’s Lateline, “We must apologize that we no longer can in any way recommend Dr. Hamza. I unfortunately now believe he is deliberately distorting both his past credentials and his statements about Iraqi nuclear capabilities then and now. … I believe that his statements are often inaccurate, they’re inconsistent,” adding, “I think he’s distorted his title dramatically.”
Nevertheless, Albright’s estimation of a potential time frame for Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon did not differ considerably from Hamza’s.
Richard Perle, a staunch promoter of Hamza’s nuclear warnings before the war, was questioned pointedly on the issue by Pat Buchanan last week on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country.
Buchanan asked Perle about Hamza’s still-uncorroborated claim of 400 uranium-enrichment facilities in Iraq, noting there would be traces of uranium left behind even if the machinery had been moved.
Perle replied, “It appears that that information was incorrect. I’m not prepared to conclude that he lied simply because he was incorrect. Not all errors are lies.”
Critical commentary on pre-war reporting has appeared in the Nation, Editor & Publisher Online, American Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review and Slate. Even so, since the occupation of Iraq began, mainstream media have been almost entirely silent on “Saddam’s Bombmaker.”
Even an assassination attempt on the scientist was missed by media.
Four months ago, WorldNetDaily was the only news agency outside the Middle East to report an
Hamza survived the bombing.
Iraqi sources told WND Hamza was rumored to be earning some $300,000 for his work in Baghdad while scientists working under him, who previously earned $8,000 in the employ of Saddam Hussein, were now earning $400 a month.
In the wake of the WND story, Hamza’s name disappeared from public relations manager Eleana Benador’s list of expert speakers, which includes Richard Perle, Alexander Haig and James Woolsey.
Four months later, the assassination attempt was reported for the first time in the mainstream press, by the Independent on Saturday.