Below Paul notes Caroline Glick’s Jerusalem Post column on Yasser Arafat’s responsibility for the 1973 assassination of United States Ambassador Cleo Noel and charge d’affaires George Curtis Moore in Khartoum. The PLO operation that led to the murder of Noel and Moore was given the name Cold River. This morning Jewish World Review has posted Glick’s column on Cold River here. It’s an important column.
In 2002 and 2003 I wrote two columns that were published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Arafat’s responsibility for this operation, the second of which (essentially this column) was based on contemporaneous State Department cables regarding the operation that had been produced to me in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Wall Street Journal (Robert Pollock and Noel Koch) and Insight Magazine (Kenneth Timmerman) have both noted Arafat’s responsibility for the murders based on interviews with National Security Agency analyst Jim Welsh or the recollections of government officials who had seen transcripts of the intercepted PLO conversations. According to a 1974 Chicago Tribune article by Thomas Ross, most of the State Department cables reflecting the NSA transcripts that Welsh worked from were apparently removed from government files long ago on the order of some American official. (Welsh argues that it was Henry Kissinger.) So were the transcripts themselves.
Among the few surviving State Department documents attributing responsibility to Arafat for Cold River is the summary declassified and released by the State Department this past May. The document is accessible here with a link to the document in PDF in the upper left hand corner. Drawing on the NSA intercepts, the summary is apparently the CIA/State Department account of Cold River on which the subsequent cables that State transmitted to American embassies around the world were based. It is the government’s “Q document” in the affair.
The story of Operation Cold River is a remarkable story in itself, as is the State Department’s suppression of crucial information related to Arafat’s personal responsibily for the operation. (Livingstone and Halevy report in Inside the PLO that in 1974, four of the principals in the Cold River operation including its mastermind accompanied Arafat to New York for his debut before the United Nations. One of them held himself out as a counterterrorism expert.) They are the kind of stories that the mainstream media pride themselves in bringing to light. To my knowledge, however, Glick’s column represents the first time that the State Department’s cover-up of Arafat’s responsibility for the murders has been mentioned in a major newspaper since a 1974 Chicago Tribune article by Thomas Ross. Although much more remains to be known about the origin and the rationale for the coverup, Glick’s column is itself therefore a signal event.
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