Aram Roston is a hell of a reporter.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that:
“The US intelligence community has received a substantial increase in the volume of threat-related intelligence reports. These credible sources suggest the possibility of attacks against the homeland around the holiday season and beyond.”
In his recent book, The Test of Our Times, America Under Siege, Ridge elaborated, writing:
“We had been monitoring a unique source of intelligence and communication that appeared to identify specific flights originating from Great Britain, France and Mexico that were either targets or carried terrorists.”
Well, in the new issue of Playboy, Roston — in an article: The Man Who Conned the Pentagon — carefully demonstrates that that pretty much was not the case.
What the US had received was, the “unique source of intelligence” that they were monitoring, was a substantial increase of lies from a man named Dennis Montgomery.
Montgomery claimed to have developed computer software that broke a secret code that had been embedded in Al Jazeera broadcasts, telling terrorists where and when to strike next.
In hindsight — if it had been true — it would have been like when Jeff Goldblum broke the alien code in Independence Day.
Roston demonstrates that, unfortunately for taxpayers, the only code that Montgomery seemed to have cracked was the one that allowed him to bilk the US Government (aka taxpayers) out of millions of dollars as well as disrupt travel plans for countless people, all while allowing the government to scare the heck out of its citizens.
“We were told that, like magic, these guys were able to exploit this Al Jazeera stuff and come up with bar codes, and these bar codes translated to numbers and letters that gave them target locations.” Roston quotes a counterterrorism official saying. “I thought it was total bullshit.”
Unfortunately, he was in the minority.
Writing about Montgomery is not Roston’s first experience writing about the role of questionable intelligence during the War on Terror.
He is also the author of The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi, which, in the words of Congressional Quarterly, is a “fascinating study of how the oleaginous former Iraqi exile leader separated the CIA and the Pentagon from hundreds of millions of dollars and conned credulous officials and reporters.”
And no discussion of questionable intelligence leading to action would be complete without referencing Curveball, the primary source for prewar intelligence that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons.
As Bob Drogin of the Los Angeles Times repeatedly demonstrated in articles and a book, Curveball’s information was inaccurate at best and fabricated at worst.
Drogin, in one story, quotes an intelligence official who dealt with Curveball describing him as “not a stable, psychologically stable guy.He is not a completely norman person.”
Anyway, I’m not saying you need to go out and buy Playboy but click on the link, read Aram’s story and maybe have some Dramamine on hand as your head spins around trying to figure out how the government could have been quite so gullible.
It makes you wonder what would have happened if the White House under the previous administration had received an email from someone who purported to be an African prince and needed their help getting his money safely out of the country.
All he needs is their bank account information and maybe their Social Security number…