Early last month, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) released a declassified version of a Pentagon Inspector General report that found that in Sept. 2002, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith gave a briefing entitled “Assessing the Relationship Between Iraq and al-Qaida” to Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff.
In this “alternative” intelligence assessment, Feith asserted that Osama Bin Laden’s al-Hijra Company had business “contacts” with a Dutch company, Vlemmo N.V. and that Vlemmo was a “front for Iraqi military procurement“:
Dick Cheney “publicly praised” the Feith assessment as “the best source of information on the topic.”
Yesterday, however, the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen explained that Feith had apparently invented the company, saying “Vlemmo is unknown to the Netherlands“:
The company has never been registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and is also not known to the tax service. That the company may have served as a front for illegal arms trade with Iraq is equally unknown to me.
The Inspector General report concluded that Feith inappropriately “developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaeda relationship,'” which included “conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community.”
Juan Cole has more.