Laurie Mylroie (born 1953) is a U.S. author who has written several controversial and heavily criticized books on the subject of Iraq and the War on Terror. Notably, Mylroie contends that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein sponsored the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and many subsequent terrorist attacks. She is one of a few commentators who has consistently held that Iraq was complicit and involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent anthrax postal attacks. Her writings are viewed as having been influential among neoconservatives during the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Mylroie earned a doctorate in Political Science from Harvard University and was employed in the school's Government Department. She was an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and an Iraq consultant for Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign for President.
In January 2009, the website TPMmuckraker discovered that Mylroie was the author of two 2007 reports about Iraq which were done for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment. This means that she had still been employed by the U.S. Government after her theories had been widely discredited.
Support for Saddam Hussein
In 1988, Laurie Mylroie published an article advocating "The Baghdad Alternative," which involved bolstering U.S. ties to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Ken Silverstein gives this summary:
- Iraq’s good fortune, said Mylroie, was due to the wisdom of Saddam, who was implementing an economic "perestroika" and political "glasnost." Iraqi officials interviewed by Mylroie told her that Saddam was "much concerned about democracy... He thinks that is healthy," and she wagered this was "not just idle chatter." From an American perspective, Mylroie concluded, "the more Saddam Hussein exercises control over the Baath Party, including the ideologues, the better."
- ... She proposed that the Bush (Senior) Administration should offer Saddam extensive economic and military aid. “Iraq and the United States,” she wrote, "need each other."
Isikoff and Corn write:
- Mylroie continued to advocate engaging Saddam, even after the Iraqi dictator slaughtered tens of thousands of Kurds in what became known as the Anfal campaign of 1987 and 1988. That horrific attack caused the Reagan Administration to formally condemn Iraq for its use of chemical weapons in September 1988. In May 1989, Mylroie wrote in The Jerusalem Post that Israel and the United States should not 'poke' Iraq 'with a stick' and should refrain from tossing 'idle threats and harsh words' at Baghdad. She suggested Iraq might become a benign, if not positive, presence in the region.
Isikoff and Corn argue that Mylroie "was looking to change the region through back-channel, private diplomacy – and she aspired to be a behind-the-scenes peacemaker who would broker a deal between Saddam and Israel." To this end, she met with Iraqi officials including Tariq Aziz. After Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, however, the would-be diplomat "turned against the dictator she had once wanted Washington to help, with the passion of one who felt personally betrayed."
In October 1990, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave a speech publicizing Mylroie's trips to Baghdad and Israel, which she later denied. Isikoff and Corn, however, interviewed five of her former associates (including Judith Miller) who all "confirmed that she had been a secret go-between between Baghdad and Jerusalem."
Iraq connection claims
|This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (May 2008)|
Mylroie's claims concerning links between Iraq and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were published in her book Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America (2000). "The New York FBI office, however, strongly believed Iraq was behind the 1993 Trade Center attack," she wrote. "The Clinton White House did not want to hear that and FBI Headquarters accommodated." Her book is based on an examination of the trial documents related to the 1993 bombing. "Only Laurie Mylroie appears to have gone through it carefully," said former CIA Director James Woolsey.
Mylroie's book states that Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi-American who mixed chemicals for the explosive, escaped to Iraq soon after the attacks. Ramzi Ahmad Yousef, commander of the operation, travelled under an Iraqi passport, although he is not Iraqi. Just a few months before the WTC bombing, Yousef claimed he'd lost his passport and got a new Pakistani passport in the name of Abdul Basit. (Yousef had three passports when he was arrested.) Mylroie examined files related to Basit and his family at the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry and found that various documents are missing, including photos and passport photocopies. She concludes that they tampered with, presumably during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990–91.
There is a notation in Basit's file, dating from the occupation period. Mylroie argues that this implies the file was of special interest to the Iraqis. The fingerprint cards in Basit's file match those for Yousef. Mylroie contends that the cards were switched by the Iraqis. She concludes that "Abdul Basit and his family were in Kuwait when Iraq invaded in August 1990; that they probably died then; and that Iraqi intelligence then tampered with their files to create an alternative identity for Ramzi Yousef."
Chaim Kaufmann notes that "On several occasions in 2001–02, Wolfowitz pressured CIA and DIA analysts to validate a claim in a book by Laurie Mylroie that Hussein had been behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Both agencies had studied the book long before and considered it meritless."
In March 2008, the Pentagon released its study of some 600,000 documents captured in Iraq after the 2003 invasion (see 2008 Pentagon Report). The study "found no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda."
The Pentagon study found that the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Yasin "was a prisoner, and not a guest, in Iraq." Among the documents released was a captured audio file of Saddam Hussein saying that he did not trust Yasin because his testimony was too "organized." Saddam speculated that the 1993 attack had been carried out by Israel or American intelligence, or perhaps a Saudi or Egyptian faction. Mylroie denied that this was proof of Saddam's non-involvement, claiming that "one common purpose of such meetings was to develop cover stories for whatever Iraq sought to conceal."
After September 11, former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey was provided a government jet and FBI staff to investigate Mylroie's claim that Abdul Basit and Ramzi Ahmad Yousef were different people. Newsweek reported:
- The idea behind the mission was to check fingerprints on file in Swansea, Wales, where Basit had once gone to school, and compare them to the fingerprints of the Ramzi Yousef in prison.
- ... Justice Department officials tell Newsweek that the results of the Woolsey mission were exactly what the FBI had predicted: that the fingerprints were in fact identical. After the match was made, FBI officials assumed at the time that it had put the Mylroie theory to rest.
Mylroie, however, pointed to a British report stating the opposite: "Indeed, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper, latent fingerprints lifted from material Mr. [Basit] Karim left at Swansea bear 'no resemblance' to Yousef's prints. They are two different people."
The Guardian report cited this finding as evidence against Mylroie's theory:
- Mr Woolsey returned empty-handed. "The two sets of fingerprints were entirely different," says a source familiar with the investigation.
But Mylroie noted: "that conclusion actually supports my argument: Yousef’s inked prints (from JFK immigration) did not match the latent prints on Karim’s project. They are two different people."
David Plotz points out that most of Mylroie's critics question not the claim that these were two different people, but rather her assumption that this proves Iraqi culpability in the attacks:
|“||"The sharpest critique of Mylroie is that she discounts evidence that Yousef worked not for Iraq but for Osama Bin Laden... Bin Laden biographer Yossef Bodansky, Time magazine, and other media outlets concur that Ramzi Yousef worked for a Bin Laden-funded operation in the Philippines. So does American intelligence, apparently... Mylroie offers no real evidence linking Hussein to the 1998 bombings. Mylroie's strongest contention, that Ramzi Yousef is not Abdul Basit, does not confirm that Iraq bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. It just confirms that Ramzi Yousef is more mysterious than we suspect. It could still be that al-Qaida, not Hussein, provided Yousef with training, fake papers, and resources."||”|
Laurie Mylroie's former ally Daniel Pipes, of the Middle East Forum, called her theory "a tour de force, but it's a tour de force of alchemy. It has a fundamentally wrong premise." According to Andrew C. McCarthy, who had prosecuted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman after the 1993 bombing, "Mylroie's theory was loopy... Leaving aside various other implausibilities in her surmise, the government had several sources who knew Basit as Basit both before and after the time he spent in Kuwait."
Richard Perle, a national security advisor to various presidents, described her book in a blurb on its cover as "splendid and wholly convincing." Herbert E. Meyer, former vice chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, wrote that "Laurie Mylroie is right; Laurie is always right."
Angelo Codevilla, professor of international relations at Boston University and former Senate Staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services, described her book Bush vs. the Beltway as "the best available account of the reasoning behind the conduct of the war on terror," albeit too lenient on President Bush.
Mylroie has been criticized by many terrorism experts. CNN reporter Peter Bergen has referred to Mylroie as a "crackpot" and criticized her belief that "Saddam was not only behind the '93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself." Bergen also noted that Mylroie's argument depends entirely on
- a deduction which she reached following an examination of Basit's passport records and her discovery that Yousef and Basit were four inches different in height. On this wafer-thin foundation she builds her case that Yousef must have therefore been an Iraqi agent given access to Basit's passport following the Iraq occupation. However, U.S. investigators say that 'Yousef' and Basit are in fact one and the same person, and that the man Mylroie describes as an Iraqi agent is in fact a Pakistani with ties to al Qaeda.
Bergen claims that "an avalanche of evidence" refutes Mylroie's basic assumption.
Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, points out that "Mylroie's work has been carefully investigated by the CIA and the FBI.... The most knowledgeable analysts and investigators at the CIA and at the FBI believe that their work conclusively disproves Mylroie's claims.... Nonetheless, she has remained a star in the neoconservative firmament."
Dr. Robert S. Leiken of the Nixon Center comments on the lack of evidence in her work: "Laurie has discovered Saddam’s hand in every major attack on US interests since the Persian Gulf War, including U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and even the federal building in Oklahoma City. These allegations have all been definitively refuted by the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other investigatory bodies...."
Michael Isikoff and David Corn noted that "An editor who worked on Saddam Hussein & the Crisis in the Gulf recalled that Mylroie often became obsessed with individual facts and exaggerated their importance: 'She was capable of great insight and of investing the smallest detail with the most disproportionate weight. She was not always capable of making a straightforward, linear argument. Left to her own devices, she would seize on reeds she would think were redwoods."
In 2008, Laurie Mylroie reviewed Willful Blindness by Andrew C. McCarthy, who had prosecuted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman after the 1993 bombing. Mylroie denied that Rahman had ordered the bombing of the World Trade Center and claimed that other elements of the plot had been organized by Sudan. She accused McCarthy of understating "the degree to which the extremists were penetrated by the intelligence agencies of several states."
Replying on National Review Online, McCarthy accused Mylroie of misunderstanding "the difference between intrigue and evidence, between history and prosecution." Calling Rahman "the central figure in the overarching conspiracy," he wrote: "At trial, we proved that Sheikh Abdel Rahman had close ties to Hassan al-Turabi, leader in the early 1990s of Sudan's de facto government, the National Islamic Front." At this point her former ally Daniel Pipes wrote a blog entry attacking "Laurie Mylroie's Shoddy, Loopy, Zany Theories." Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard added: "no one I know took her arguments very seriously."
Mylroie responded to McCarthy, arguing that the case against Rahman was "weak" and "different acts of violence, including the WTC bombing, were somewhat artificially linked" to strengthen the charges against him. She emphasized McCarthy's comment that Rahman was never charged with the "substantive crime" of bombing the World Trade Center. The debate continued in the New York Sun.
- Saddam Hussein & the Crisis in the Gulf (with Judith Miller). Random House (1990). ISBN 0-09-989860-8
- Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America. The AEI Press (2000). ISBN 0-8447-4127-2
- Bush vs. the Beltway: How the CIA & the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror. ReganBooks (2003). ISBN 0-06-058012-7
- Wolfowitz's girlfriend problem Salon.com, April 19, 2007
- Risen, James. "Easy Target", New York Times. August 24, 2003.
- Hume, Brit (July 15, 2013). "The American Spectator : Contributors : Laurie Mylroie". Spectator.org. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Justin Elliott, "Saddam-Qaeda Conspiracy Theorist Surfaces Writing Iraq Reports For The Pentagon", TPMmuckraker, January 29, 2009
- Silverstein, Ken. The Pentagon’s Iraq Expert, Harper's Magazine. January 29, 2008.
- Ken Silverstein, Laurie Mylroie’s Song of Saddam, Harper's, August 28, 2007, quoting Laurie Mylroie, "The Baghdad Alternative," Orbis, Vol. 32, No. 3, Summer 1988.
- Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (New York: Crown, 2006) p. 69.
- Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (New York: Crown, 2006) p. 70.
- "Laurie Mylroie on Sept. 11 & Iraq". NationalReview.com. May 29, 2002. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMB: Who is Ramzi Yousef? And Why It Matters – The National Interest". Fas.org. Winter, 1995/96. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Chaim Kaufmann, Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas, International Security (Summer 2004).
- Eli Lake, Report Details Saddam's Terrorist Ties, New York Sun, March 14, 2008
- Laurie Mylroie, More To Uncover on Saddam, New York Sun, April 2, 2008
- Terror Watch: Justice System on Trial – Newsweek National News – MSNBC.com[dead link]
- Mylroie, Laurie (April 3, 2004). "Very Awkward Facts". OpinionJournal.com. Archived from the original on April 11, 2004. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "Al-Qaida and Iraq: how strong is the evidence?". The Guardian. January 30, 2003. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "Symposium: The Saddam-Osama Connection: Part IV". FrontPage Magazine. February 11, 2005. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- David Plotz, "Osama, Saddam, and the Bombs," Slate Magazine (28 September 2001).
- 9/11 Commission Report, Notes: "KSM notes that Yousef was not a member of al Qaeda and that Yousef never met Bin Ladin." (p. 489); "We have found no credible evidence to support theories of Iraqi government involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing." (p. 559)
- Still Willfully Blind After All These Years[dead link]
- Miller, Judith. "The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Meyer, Herbert E. (April 8, 2004). "Connecting the Dots". NationalReview.com. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "Unequal Struggle". FindArticles.com. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Bergen, Peter (2003). ""Armchair Provocateur"". Washingtonmonthly.com. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack New York: Times Books, 2005, p. 145. ISBN 0-8050-7941-6
- "Symposium: The Saddam-Osama Connection: Part II". FrontPage Magazine. February 11, 2005. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris (New York: Crown, 2006) p. 69.
- Laurie Mylroie, Willful Blindness: Prosecuting the War on Terror, New York Sun, April 23, 2008.
- Daniel Pipes (2008). "Laurie Mylroie's Shoddy, Loopy, Zany Theories – Exposed". Danielpipes.org. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "McCarthy on Mylroie". WeeklyStandard.com. April 30, 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Writing Blind[dead link]
- Laurie Mylroie vs. Andrew McCarthy, Setting the Record Straight, New York Sun, May 8, 2008.
- Mylroie, Laurie, "LaurieMylroie.com", Laurie Mylroie's homepage
- Entry about "Laurie Mylroie" on Sourcewatch
- Mylroie, Laurie, Mylroie's statement for the 9/11 Commission (July 2003).