Matters of Interpretation

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Michael Getler's review of Jacob Weisberg's The Bush Tragedy (Book World, Jan. 20) cites what Weisberg describes as my "conspiracy theories" about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11. In his book, Weisberg provides just one fact that I supposedly used: "her tantalizing suggestion that the 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague."

That is not my "conspiracy theory." It belongs to Edward Jay Epstein. Czech authorities originally suggested Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence, and Epstein did the most to develop that -- in Slate, which Weisberg edits.

Nor was that point particularly important to my argument, which focused on Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first assault on the World Trade Center ( Study of Revenge, my book on the subject, was among Book World's "Expert's Picks" on Oct. 21, 2001). Subsequently, U.S. authorities identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 and explained that he was Yousef's uncle. Both men are originally from Baluchistan -- as is Ammar al-Baluchi, another of Mohammed's nephews, who served as Mohammed's "right-hand man" in carrying out the 9/11 attacks. Saddam's Iraq had extensive ties with the Sunni Baluch, whom it used during its war with Shi'a Iran. This remarkable terrorist family is the truly "tantalizing" point regarding Iraq and 9/11.


American Enterprise Institute

Washington D.C.

I was amazed to see Bhutan cited as one of the happiest places on earth in Daniel Gilbert's review of Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss (Book World, Jan. 20). It might interest your readers to know that, according to the U.S. Department of State, 60,000 Bhutanese refugees will soon be resettled in the United States. More than 107,000 Bhutanese have been living in refugee camps in Nepal for the past 17 years. Many wish to return to Bhutan but are unable to do so. So much for the "bliss factor" of that nation!



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