How Arafat Got Away With Murder

That’s the title of Scott’s brilliant piece in the current Weekly Standard, which is available online as of this morning. Scott brought to light the State Department’s cover-up of Arafat’s responsibility for the murder of two of its own diplomats, Cleo Noel and George Moore, several years ago, after serving a Freedom of Information Act request for State’s cables and other documents on the murders. He has continued to develop the story since then, and the Standard article is based on his interviews of some of the key people involved, as well as on publicly available documents. Scott begins:

Twenty years before he joined Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin in Washington for that famous handshake–and proceeded to become Clinton’s most frequent foreign guest at the White House–Yasser Arafat planned and directed the murder of an American ambassador and his deputy chief of mission. From the first moment of the deadly operation, which took place in Khartoum on March 1, 1973, the State Department possessed direct evidence of Arafat’s responsibility, yet neither the State Department nor any other government agency made public its knowledge. Indeed, as recently as the summer of 2002, the State Department denied that such evidence existed. Across seven administrations, the State Department hewed to silence and denial.

The story takes us back to the cold war era of the early 1970s, when Arafat’s Black September organization was the most feared terrorist group in the world:

In late February 1973, the National Security Agency listening post in Cyprus picked up radio traffic including Arafat, Salah Kalaf (a cofounder of Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization faction, Fatah), and others strongly suggesting that a PLO operation was about to be conducted in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. National Security Agency analyst Jim Welsh received word of the operation at his post in Washington and helped draft a message warning the U.S. embassy in Khartoum that a PLO operation was imminent. Welsh and his NSA colleagues marked the message for transmission with a “flash” (highest) precedence. The State Department watch officer unaccountably downgraded the message for routine transmission. As a result, it arrived several days late.

What ensued was a cold-blooded murder, ordered personally by Bill Clinton’s favorite house guest, Yasser Arafat. Scott’s exposition of the details of the crime and the cover-up that followed is not to be missed.
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