They Call This Intelligence

On October 31, I was sent the following document. One of the great advantages of writing a large-circulation newsletter like Gary North’s Reality Check is that I have subscribers who find all sorts of goodies that no individual could locate all by himself. They send the links to me.

I reproduce the full story here for historical information under fair use doctrine.

This story was not front-page news. It should have been. Especially on Halloween.

Wednesday October 31, 12:03 PM

Bin Laden underwent treatment in July at Dubai American Hospital

Osama bin Laden underwent treatment in July at the American Hospital in Dubai where he met a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official, French daily Le Figaro and Radio France International reported.

Quoting “a witness, a professional partner of the administrative management of the hospital,” they said the man suspected by the United States of being behind the September 11 terrorist attacks had arrived in Dubai on July 4 by air from Quetta, Pakistan.

He was immediately taken to the hospital for kidney treatment. He left the establishment on July 14, Le Figaro said.

During his stay, the daily said, the local CIA representative was seen going into bin Laden’s room and “a few days later, the CIA man boasted to some friends of having visited the Saudi-born millionaire.”

Quoting “an authoritative source,” Le Figaro and the radio station said the CIA representative had been recalled to Washington on July 15.

Bin Laden has been sought by the United States for terrorism since the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. But his CIA links go back before that to the fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Le Figaro said bin Laden was accompanied in Dubai by his personal physician and close collaborator, who could be the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahari, as well as bodyguards and an Algerian nurse.

He was admitted to the urology department of Doctor Terry Callaway, who specializes in kidney stones and male infertility. Telephoned several times, the doctor declined to answer questions.

Several sources had reported that bin Laden had a serious kidney infection. He had a mobile dialysis machine sent to his Kandahar hideout in Afghanistan in the first half of 2000, according to “authoritative sources” quoted by Le Figaro and RFI.

This story is, as they say, a corker. Here we have America’s Most Wanted Criminal walking into an American hospital and getting treatment in the urology center. At least it wasn’t the proctology center. The headline in Le Figaro would then have read — in French, of course — “Bin Laden Moons America on the Fourth of July!”

I wonder if he paid with Visa or MasterCard. If he has a sense of humor, he paid with American Express. “Don’t leave your cave without it!”

He got interviewed by a CIA “asset.” I wish I had a cassette tape of that discussion. My imagination runs wild. “So, Osama, what do you think of Barry Bonds’ chances? Do you think he can hit more than 70 home runs?”

Quoting “an authoritative source,” Le Figaro and the radio station said the CIA representative had been recalled to Washington on July 15.

I can well understand.

Lyndon Johnson, in his homey, Texas Hill Country way, used to say that he would deal with some opponent when, quote, “I’ve got his pecker in my pocket.” He didn’t mean this literally. But the CIA had bin Laden in the urology department. He got away.

When I was a youth, I used to listen on the radio to a weekly show called “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” It was about a late-eighteenth-century English spy. It began each week with these words:

They seek him here. They seek him there. Those Feenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? Or is he in hell? That darned elusive Pimpernel!

Or at least that’s what I remember after half a century (with assistance from Lew Rockwell). Applied to bin Laden, the answer is:

He’s in a cave in Afghanistan with a diesel generator, so that he can plug in his dialysis machine.

We have had a $5 million reward on this man since 1998. America’s intelligence network, using spy satellites to trace his cell phone calls, has been after him full-time for three years. So, he walks into an American hospital with his associates, gets treated, talks to a CIA operative, pays his bill, takes his dialysis machine, and disappears.

Meanwhile, this same high-tech intelligence network is going to protect us from anthrax attacks.

It’s really a shame that Ed Reimers retired. The Office of Homeland Security could use him for a TV promo. “You’re in good hands with Big State.”

A variant of this story ran in the conservative Washington Times (Oct. 31).

An Israeli Website, Indymedia, translates documents into English. Within hours, it had a translation on-line.

Le Figaro

Alexandra Richard

October 31, 2001 page 2

Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the federation of United Arab Emirate in the north-east of Abu Dhabi. This city of 350,000 inhabitants was the discreet locus of a secret meeting between Osama Ben Laden and the local representative of the CIA, in July. A member of the administration of the American Hospital of Dubai confirms that the public enemy number one stayed in the hospital from July 4th to July 14th.

Arriving from the airport of Quetta, Pakistan, Osama Ben laden was transferred upon arrival at Dubai airport. Accompanied by his personal doctor and faithful lieutenant, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahari (though on this latter, the testimony of the eyewitness was not formal), as well as by four body guards and an algerian nurse, Bin Laden was admitted to the American Hospital, a building of glass and marble situated between Al-Garhoud Bridge and Al-Maktoum bridge.

Each story of the hospital has two VIP suites and around 15 rooms. The millionaire saudi was admitted to the reknowned department of urology headed by Dr. Terry Callaway, an expert on kidney stones and male infertility. In the course of several telephone calls, Callway did not wish to respond to our questions.

In March of 2000 the weekly journal, Asia Week, published in Hong Kong, raised questions about Ben Laden’s health, stating that he suffered fromm a serious physical problem and more precisely that he was in danger due to a kidney infection that had spread to the liver and required the care of a specialist. According to legitimate sources, Ben Laden had delivered to a post in Kandahar a mobile dialysis machine sometime in the first part of the year 2000. According to our sources, “this trip for reasons of Ben Laden’s health” was not the first. Between 1996 and 1998, Osama ben Laden went to Dubai several times for health purposes.

On September 27th, 15 days after the World Trade Center attacks, prompted by the request of America, the Central Bank of Arab Emirates froze the accounts and investments of 26 people or organizations suspected of contact with the Ben Laden organization, notably those of the Dubai Islamic Bank.

“Relations with the Arabian Emirates have always been close”, explains our source. The princes of the royal families which had recognized the taliban regime, visited Afganistan frequently. A prince of one of the royal families regularly partook of hunts on property owned by Ben Laden, whom he had known and socialized with for a number of years.

Daily flights between Dubai and Quetta are guaranteed by both Pakistan Airlines and the Emirate airlines. Emirate and saudi private aircraft fly to Quetta frequently even though these are not recorded in the flight plans at the airport.

Thoroughout his stay in the hospital, Osamma Ben Laden received visits from many family members and saudi arabian and emirate personalites of status. During this time, the local representative of the CIA was seen by many people taking the elevator and going to Ben Laden’s room.

Several days later the CIA person bragged to his friends about having visited the saudi millionaire. From authoritative sources, this CIA agent visited CIA headquarters July 15th, the day after the Ben Laden’s departure for Quetta.

At the end of July, emirate customs officials arrested a franco-algerian islamic activist, Djamel Beghal at the airport of Dubai. At the beginning of August, French and American authorities were notified. Interrogated by local authorities in Abu Dhabi, Begal says that he had been called to Afghanistan at the end of 2000 by Abou Zoubeida-Quaida. Beghal’s mission was to blow up the US Embassy, avenue Gabriel, near the Place de la Concorde in Paris, upon his return to France.

According to various arab diplomatic sources and french intelligence itself, precise information was communicated to the CIA concerning terrorist attacks aimed at american interests in the world, including within its own territory.

In August, at the US Embassy in Paris, an emergency meeting was called with the DGSE and the highest american officials. Extremely bothered, these latter requested from their french peers exact details about the algerian activists, without explaining exactly the nature of their inquiry. When asked the question, “what do you fear in the coming days?”, the americans responded with incomprihensible silence.

Contact between the CIA and Ben Laden goes back to 1979 when, representing the family business in Istanbul, Ben laden begins to enrol volunteers from the arab-muslim world for the afghan resistance against the Red Army. Looking into the attacks of August 1998 on the American Embassies in Nairobi, Keny and Dares-Salam, Tanzania, FBI investigators discovered that the traces left by the blast indicated that they were from an american militairy explosive and that these explosives had been delivered three years before to Afghan arabs, the famous international brigage of volunteers, fighting on the side of Osama Bin Laden during the Afghanis war against the Soviet army.

On further investigation, the FBI discovered certain that had been put together between the CIA and its “islamic friends” over the years. The meeting in Dubai is, so it would seem, consistent with a “certain american policy”.

What should we conclude from this story? That the CIA is incompetent beyond anyone’s wildest imagination? That the story is a fake? That “Le Figaro” got conned? That the typical cave in Afghanistan is wired to allow the use of a dialysis machine? Or that the story is true — the best example of American intelligence FUBAR in the last 50 years?

The CIA has denied everything:

“Complete and utter nonsense,” said Anya Guilsher, a spokeswoman for the Central Intelligence Agency. “It’s false, and I told Le Figaro that, too.”

With a highly detailed, fully verifiable response like this from a spokeswoman of an agency that gets paid to deceive people, how could anyone possibly believe the story? Who could believe that something like this could take place? Only conspiracy theorists, right-wing crazies, and non-patriotic types.

There is another story, a version of which was posted on Matt Drudge’s site. It comes from Seymour M. Hersh, in an article in the NEW YORKER (Sept. 22), “King’s Ransom.” I call this story. . . .


I reproduce here the relevant section of Hersh’s article, which dealt mainly with the corruption and weakness of the regime in Saudi Arabi, officially our major Arab ally nation in the Middle East, and also the source of the funding for the Wahabi Islamic schools that supply bin Laden with his volunteers. This story is also a corker. And there has been so official suggestion that it’s wrong.

While the intelligence-community members I spoke with praised the Air Force and the Navy for their performance in Afghanistan last week, which did much to boost morale in the military and among the American citizenry, they were crestfallen about an incident that occurred on the first night of the war — an incident that was emblematic, they believe, of the constraints placed by the government on the military’s ability to wage war during the last decade.

That night, an unmanned Predator reconnaissance aircraft, under the control of the C.I.A., was surveilling the roads leading out of Kabul. The Predator, which costs forty million dollars and cruises at speeds as slow as eighty miles an hour, is equipped with imaging radar and an array of infrared and television cameras that are capable of beaming high-resolution images to ground stations around the world. The plane was equipped with two powerful Hellfire missiles, designed as antitank weapons. The Predator identified a group of cars and trucks fleeing the capital as a convoy carrying Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader. Under a previously worked-out agreement, one knowledgeable official said, the C.I.A. did not have the authority to “push the button.” Nor did the nearby command-and-control suite of the Fifth Fleet, in Bahrain, where many of the war plans had been drawn up. Rather, the decision had to be made by the officers on duty at the headquarters of the United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, at MacDill Air Force Base, in Florida.

The Predator tracked the convoy to a building where Omar, accompanied by a hundred or so guards and soldiers, took cover. The precise sequence of events could not be fully learned, but intelligence officials told me that there was an immediate request for a full-scale assault by fighter bombers. At that point, however, word came from General Tommy R. Franks, the CENTCOM commander, saying, as the officials put it, “My JAG — Judge Advocate General, a legal officer — “doesn’t like this, so we’re not going to fire.” Instead, the Predator was authorized to fire a missile in front of the building — “bounce it off the front door,” one officer said, “and see who comes out, and take a picture.” CENTCOM suggested that the Predator then continue to follow Omar. The Hellfire, however, could not target the area in front of the building — in military parlance, it could not “get a signature” on the dirt there — and it was then agreed that the missile would attack a group of cars parked in front, presumably those which had carried Omar and his retinue. The missile was fired, and it “obliterated the cars,” an official said. “But no one came out.”

It was learned later from an operative on the ground that Omar and his guards had indeed been in the convoy and had assumed at the time that the firing came from rocket-propelled grenades launched by nearby troops from the Northern Alliance. A group of soldiers left the building and looked for the enemy. They found nothing, and Omar and his convoy departed. A short time later, the building was targeted and destroyed by F-18s. Mullah Omar survived.

Were I the President of the United States, I would have flown Gen. Franks and his Judge Advocate General to Washington. I would have met with them in the Oval Office. I would have said the following:

“Corporal Franks, I am reassigning you and Private Dork to guard duty on one of the Aleutian Islands. Here are your orders.


This is not what President Bush did. So, where is Gen. Franks today? He is putting together the anti-Taliban coalition. He was in Pakistan this week. He has been in Riyadh recently. He is trying to get leaders of Islamic nations to commit to supplying the combined alliance with ground troops. The leaders are understandably cool to the suggestion. A newspaper in India reports the following.

The United States has begun consulting with Pakistan and other allies about launching a large-scale ground attack on Afghanistan.

According to The Nation, a Pakistani newspaper seen as close to the military, General Tommy Franks, commander-in-chief of the US Central Command, discussed this with President Pervez Musharraf during their meeting on Monday.

According to the newspaper, Franks, whose command covers Pakistan and Afghanistan, said that Washington, frustrated by the stalemate in the bombing war, was “now planning to launch a massive attack on Afghanistan involving ground troops from ‘friendly’ countries and coalition partners.”

So far, Gen. Franks is having about as much success convincing our allies as he did in killing Mullah Omar.

Major General Rashid Qureshi, the military spokesman, insisted today that Pakistan’s cooperation continued to be limited to intelligence, air space use and logistics support.

This doesn’t sound like much commitment. Time is running out. Winter is coming.

Analysts in Washington have argued that if the US air war failed to make substantial political and military gains before the winter, Washington would have to push forward the date for the deployment of ground forces.

The US has already positioned troops for such a ground assault. CNN reported that some 2,200 US Marines on assault ships off the coast of Pakistan had recently been deemed ready for combat. The Northern Alliance has also moved hundreds of elite fighters today near the front north of Kabul. This is being seen as the first tangible sign that the alliance is preparing for a move on the capital city.

Let’s see. We have 2,200 Marines. We may have several hundred elite United Front warriors. In winter. In the Himalayas. (OK, the Pamirs. But it’s sure not Florida.) In the 1980’s, the Soviet Union committed about 100,000 of its best troops to a similar campaign. The USSR was on Afghanistan’s border. Its supply lines were shorter than ours by about 12,000 miles. The Soviets fought for ten years. They lost. Meanwhile. . . .

The General rejected suggestions that the US-led anti-Taliban campaign was in stalemate, saying the operation was still in line with the timetable set by the Pentagon.

General Franks has his work cut out for him. I hope he took his Judge Advocate General with him. I hope he leaves him behind on assignment in Pakistan through the winter. But probably he’s still in Florida. The winters are nicer in Florida than in the Pamirs.


If we are to believe the first two stories, we had Osama bin Laden in our hands and Mullah Omar in our sites, but both of them got away.

Still, the war against terrorism goes on. It will go on “for as long as it takes.”

I’ll bet the government is now monitoring the sales of dialysis machines, worldwide, waiting for a purchase by someone named Mustafa. Then it will send in the CIA to follow the trail.

I’m sorry. This really is a serious matter. But I grew up when afternoon TV shows for kids still ran Max Sennett’s silent film comedies. My favorites were the Keystone Cops.

They say that life imitates art. But did it have to imitate the Keystone Cops?

November 5 , 2001

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© 2001