Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WikiLeaks Gitmo doc: 'Possible al- Qaida anthrax operative residing in New York'

Scott Shane's latest New York Times article on the Guantanamo files (link) weighs heavily on this Joint Task Force Gitmo detainee assessment: pdf link.

He peers out from the photo in the classified file through heavy-framed spectacles, an owlish face with a graying beard and a half-smile. Saifullah Paracha, a successful businessman and for years a New York travel agent, appears to be the oldest of the 172 prisoners still held at the Guantánamo Bay prison. His dossier is among the most chilling.

While the rest of the world focuses on the lack of hard evidence, The New York Times continues to push the threats and alleged plots obtained via torture and unverified accounts from countries such as Pakistan.

You need to read seven paragraphs by Shane and Benjamin Weiser (and with the White House seal of approval) before they note, "The newly revealed assessments, obtained last year by the group WikiLeaks and provided by another source to The Times, have revived the dispute, nearly as old as the prison, over whether mistreatment of some prisoners there and the prison’s operation outside the criminal justice system invalidate the government’s conclusions about the detainees."

Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the assessments “are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false.”

Anyway, this is what The New York Times missed from that same Gitmo document, and I don't believe this has ever been reported, and who knows if the New York Police Department were ever even notified about this:

The diary contained contact information for Najmut Tariq, a possible al- Qaida anthrax operative residing in New York. The name Tariq also appeared in a document recovered from an al-Qaida safe house in Pakistan along with a notation for the anthrax vaccine. Another al-Qaida associate identified Tariq as a businessman in the pharmaceutical industry.

Detainee stated he has known Tariq since 1969, prior to detainee’s travels to the US. Tariq lived in Nazimabad, PK, detainee’s village, and they both attended the Mahmoomadin Mosque. Detainee stated he last spoke with Tariq in Karachi, PK, in early July 2003.39 Detainee added Tariq is a member of Jamiat Islami and is a pharmacist in the US with stores in Boston and New York City. Tariq was also close to Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the leader of Jamiat Islami.

Information linking Tariq to anthrax and biological weapons was found on a calendar belonging to Arif Qasmani, a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) member and associate of senior al-Qaida facilitator Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, aka (Abu Zubaydah), ISN US9GZ-010016DP (GZ-10016).


I'm searching through old articles and documents looking for any other related stories.

Not related, but interesting to recall:

"In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned," Former NY Daily News reporter James Gordon Meek wrote in August of 2008.

After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was "beaten up" during President Bush's morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

"They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East," the retired senior FBI official told The News.

On October 15, 2001, President Bush said, "There may be some possible link" to Bin Laden, adding, "I wouldn't put it past him." Vice President Cheney also said Bin Laden's henchmen were trained "how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together."


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BBC ignores questions on why Raymond Davis story yanked for a day & edited

I apologize for never following up on the BBC yanking of Raymond Davis story (link), which I said would be published at The Brad Blog in March. The BBC never responded to my email, and I got sidetracked, then Raymond Davis was released, but I was able to craft a complete version of the yanked article via painstakingly complicated Google searches.

Since the story had a lot of minor grammar edits - along with the mysterious changes I asked the BBC about - if I was forced to wager I would venture that the story was yanked due to internal editorial concerns and not external US State Dept. pressure, but we'll probably never know.

I'm running this letter for two reasons: 1). To make up for not finishing the article 2). Because the BBC ignored my questions but my sitemeter tells me that someone paid a visit the other day.

Dear BBC News,

Around one half-hour after publishing "Behind the scenes of Pakistan Raymond Davis 'spy' saga" by M Ilyas Khan on Monday morning it was yanked from the net...until it resurfaced a day later - with no explanation - at a different link, with some minor editing but at least four key edits which I hope can be explained as I am writing an article about the changes.

Did the US State Dept. or anyone else from the White House or Pentagon or lobbying for Raymond Davis contact you on Monday morning and ask you to hold the story or change something?

The Associated Press, Washington Post and New York Times have all admitted that they held back reporting on Raymond Davis so I hope the BBC will come clean if they did anything similar.

At first I thought the article was pulled because the BBC was the first major media organization to refer to the alleged attack on the uncle of the suicide victim. But the final version of the article included that, though it had nothing about allegations that the attackers were related to the recruiting by Raymond Davis, as Pakistan and Indian papers have alleged.

The key changes to the article seems to be softening details about the attack involving Raymond Davis.

1) The phrase "self-defence theory" was removed, perhaps due to objections from State Dept.?

2) "two guns found on the boys" was changed to "none of the guns found on the men had been cocked" which turned "boys" to "men" and doesn't specify how many guns were found with the victims.

In addition, there are two changes to the story which I hope you can shed some light on, since they may have been made to protect sources, and if so, I won't dwell on the changes.

1). "___[Note: I'm leaving out name]'s house" was removed from the photo description, perhaps an attempt to protect him, though he's named in story.

I only mention that because the next change might be related to trying to protect source...or it could be something far more problematic.

2) "According to the police report placed before the court, a copy of which is available with BBC" was changed to "According to the police report placed before the court, a copy of which the BBC has seen"

Unlike all of the other edits, this change is of a completely factual nature. Since your reporter first wrote that the BBC had the police report, it seems unlikely that he was lying or mistaken.

But the change to "BBC has seen" might have been made to protect a Punjab police source.

The only two other explanations I can think of is that it was a lie and that an editor should make sure that the report confirms this or if the article is just referring to other newspaper accounts. Or the BBC took it out because they were afraid Pakistan would raise issue with the British government about procuring police documents or something like that.

Please get back to me as soon as possible, I'd like to publish my story in 24 hours. I wrote Mr. Khan on Monday but my email bounced back because I guess I had the wrong address.

thanks, Ron Brynaert


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