Deconstructing the Iraq - 9/11 non-connection

Readers of certain spy novels, such as those of John Le Carre, are familiar with the art of misdirection in the realm of cloak—and—dagger secret operations. Truth itself is often fiction. Little, if anything, is what it seems.

No such subtlety for the 9/11 Commission. No siree, Bob! A few simple facts tell the whole story and that's all there is to it.

See, for example, the second paragraph on page eight of Staff Statement no. 16, "Outline of the 9/11 Plot":
While Hanjour and Hazmi were settling in New Jersey, Atta and Shehhi were returning to southern Florida. We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9. Based on the evidence available —— including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting —— we do not believe that such a meeting occurred. The FBI's investigation places him in Virginia as of April 4, as evidenced by this bank surveillance camera shot of Atta withdrawing $8,000 from his account. Atta was back in Florida by April 11, if not before. Indeed, investigation has established that, on April 6, 9, 10, and 11, Atta's cellular telephone was used numerous times to call Florida phone numbers from cell sites within Florida. We have seen no evidence that Atta ventured overseas again or re—entered the United States before July, when he traveled to Spain and back under his true name. Shehhi, on the other hand, visited Cairo between April 18 and May 2. We do not know the reason for this excursion.
I didn't realize that Atta had a cell phone that automatically recognized him like the new Infiniti —— or is it the Lexus? —— does its owner and therefore could not possibly be used by anyone but him. Is it inconceivable  that Atta had someone create a false trail of his movements?

If you're being watched or think there's a possibility, just make sure the paper or electronic trail accurately traces every step. Isn't it possible that this fine, upstanding person would use a false passport to exit and reenter the country —— thus covering his movements and preventing revelation of his meeting with Iraqi intelligence? He wouldn't do that, would he?

What was the $8,000 used for? Couldn't be a round—trip to Prague and back, could it? Guess not.
As late as September of 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported:
About a month after September 11, reports surfaced that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi embassy official and intelligence agent named Ahmed al—Ani. Al—Ani was later expelled from the Czech Republic, in connection with a plot to bomb Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Iraq. Despite repeated attempts to discredit the report of a meeting between the two, Czech officials at the cabinet level have stuck by the story. Al—Ani has been captured in Iraq, and the public deserves to know what he's telling U.S. officials about that meeting.
Why those silly Czech dolts! Don't they know any better than to stick to such an obvious fantasy? Don't even think about giving any credence to the Czech independent weekly Respekt's article published on the web by World Press Review. Just listen to Newsweek. They know better than anyone else.
Especially when it comes to documentation. For as they so astutely report:

Mneimneh, the Iraqi document expert, says that there are other reasons to discount the handwritten memo touted by the Telegraph. The document includes another sensational second item: how Iraqi intelligence, helped by a "small team from the Al Qaeda organization," arranged for a shipment from Niger to reach Iraq by way of Libya and Syria. . ..

Mneimneh says the wording of the document makes him highly suspicious: Iraqi intelligence officials were notoriously conservative and rarely —— if ever —— put incriminating information in writing. The reference to the Iraqi intelligence working with a "small team from the Al Qaeda organization" is "too explicit," he says.

But why is this too explicit? After all, those silly Iranians broadcast in the exact same code that they had just learned had been broken, that it had been broken! Isn't that also 'too explicit'? But everyone seems to believe the Iranians' too explicit communications, when it comes to discrediting Chalabi. And it couldn't possibly be that those Iraqis would ever think one step beyond the obvious, by planting an obvious satetment that no one would believe because it was obvious?

Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute seems to think like Le Carre. His National Review Online article makes a pretty good case that most intelligence information that gets 'leaked' about an individual is just plain false. That the U.S. should discover or be given documents that are meant to mislead should not come as a surprise. That one way of doing this is to state the truth openly, thereby having it be dismissed as 'too explicit' doesn't seem too great a stretch.

So why would Atta having someone else use his cell phone for a few days and using a false passport be so ridiculous a notion that we can axiomatically discount his trip to Prague?

Beats me —— and also author Edward J. Epstein .