Scenes from a miscarriage

Thanks to John for his kind words below regarding my Weekly Standard article, “How Arafat got away with murder.” And special thanks to Standard editor Bill Kristol for his encouragment and to managing editor Claudia Anderson and assistant managing editor Victorino Matus for their work on the piece. Herewith a few notes.
1. From the first moment that the terrorist operation resulting in the murders of Cleo Noel and Curt Moore was launched the government had first-hand knowledge of the essential elements of the story. The government nevertheless maintained a public silence regarding the basic facts. I explore the question why in the article.
2. The basic facts regarding Arafat’s responsibility for the murders of Noel and Moore have been publicly known since 1973. David Ottaway’s Washington Post article of that year accurately outlined the essential elements of the story.
3. The government denied its knowledge of these facts or its possession of the evidence of Arafat’s guilt at crucial moments, including the 1986 Judiciary Subcommittee hearing convened by Senator Jeremiah Denton.
4. I wondered when I set to work on the article if key latter-day figures who dealt with Arafat like our former chief Middle East negotiator Ambassador Dennis Ross knew the facts regarding our knowledge of Arafat’s culpability for the murders. I think the answer is “no,” consisistent with what Ambassador Ross told me.
5. Reading Kissinger’s invaluable memoir Years of Upheaval, I infer that the government worked out a sort of modus vivendi with Arafat in late 1973 and early 1974.
6. Ambassador Ross told me that he was surprised to learn during his service of the CIA’s long standing arrangement with Arafat, dating back to the mid-1970’s, for the exchange of information for the purpose of protecting American diplomats. Ambassador Ross’s statement supports my reading of Kissinger’s memoir.
7. Given the publication of Inside the PLO in 1990 and Assassination in Khartoum in 1993, both cited in my article, the ignorance (if that is what it was) of responsible American officials regarding Arafat’s actions is lacking in excuses.
8. Key figures involved in the story, figures such as Henry Kissinger and Jim Welsh, are still alive. (Former deputy director of central intelligence Vernon Walters, another key figure, is deceased.) It seems to me that much additional research is warranted and should be undertaken while these key figures are still capable of contributing their testimony.
9. I wrote the article to discover how the State Department came to post the 1973 CIA summary of the Khartoum operation on its Web site this past May. To my knowledge, the posted summary is the first time the document has been released in unredacted form. Now is the time to seek the release in unredacted form of all remaining documents regarding the Khartoum operation.
10. While Arafat is beyond the reach of justice, we are currently engaged in building up his successor and right hand man. The story I have tried to tell in the Standard article is not merely of historical interest.
PAUL adds: Scott deserves great credit for writing this piece and for pursuing the story over the years. His chilling opening paragraph is among the most important and best written ever to appear on Power Line. Here it is again:

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.

Actually, as Scott notes later in his article, in the summer of 2002 State Department official Gregory Sullivan went beyond silence and denial and insulted Scott and his efforts to find the truth. I hope I’m wrong in suspecting that Sullivan’s gratuitous stridency in support of a lie on behalf of a murderer speaks volumes about the culture of our State Department.


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