Last night Countdown read statements from Ron Suskind’s two main named sources for the charge in his new book that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter from Iraq’s intelligence chief to Saddam Hussein. Rob Richer, the former head of the CIA’s Near East Division, spoke for both himself and John Maguire:
â€œI never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document from Habbush as outlined in Mr. Suskindâ€˜s book.
Further, today, I talked with John Maguire, who has given me the permission to state the following on his behalf, â€˜I never receive any instruction from then Chief/NE Rob Richer or any other officer in my chain of command instructing me to fabricate such a letter. Further, I have no knowledge to the origins of the letter and as to how it circulated in Iraq.â€
And here’s some of Suskind’s response:
OLBERMANN: Why do you believe theyâ€˜re backtracking now?…
SUSKIND: You know, Iâ€˜m sympathetic in a way to all these guys. Theyâ€˜re under acute pressure. Theyâ€˜re individuals. Theyâ€˜ve got to feed their families. They really survive off the government, both of them, theyâ€˜re contractors and whatnot…
[T]hey may still stand upâ€”and Maguire, I think, will still stand up in daylight…
You know, these guys, though, are feeling now great pressure. And, you know, what you realize in this process is that there is a limit to what a journalist can do even with taped interviews, people talking for hours at a time, when they can be brought into a moment of crisis by the government saying, â€œYouâ€˜ll never work again, youâ€˜ll never earn a living.â€ Thatâ€˜s the kind of thing that mostly happens in terms of what congressional hearings do testimony under subpoena with threat of perjury.
OLBERMANN: Wellâ€”and thatâ€˜s what we need. But in the interview, I presume the Maguire and Richer interviews are on tape, is that right?
SUSKIND: You bet, yes. And thereâ€˜s a lot of them. Theyâ€˜re very detailed.
The obvious questions now are whether Suskind will release any of his interview tapes, and whether there will be any congressional investigation with witnesses testifying under oath.