Rob Richer

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Person.png Rob RicherRdf-icon.png
(spook)

Rob Richer is a former CIA officer in the Near East Division.[1]

Rob Richer spent three decades in the CIA's clandestine service before leaving to help run the private espionage firm Total Intelligence Solutions in 2005. The Way of the World looks at Richer's plan to run a private sector version of the Armageddon Test--an undercover operation to buy black-market uranium--in conjunction with his old partner Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. The book also looks at Richer's role in the rise of Jordan's King Abdullah and in prewar intelligence concerning Iraqi WMD.[2]

Habbush letter

Author Ron Suskind cites Richer as a key source for the claim that the White House ordered the CIA to plant a forged letter in the media linking Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda. Shortly after the book's publication, the White House released a statement on Richer's behalf repudiating the allegation.

"I never received direction from George Tenet or anyone else in my chain of command to fabricate a document from Habbush as outlined in Mr. Suskind's book," Robert Richer, the CIA's former deputy director of clandestine operations, said in the statement.[3]

Journalist Dan Froomkin observed of this denial: "the statement sent out on behalf of the former CIA officials raises more questions than it answers. Did they perhaps get such instructions from people out of their chain of command? (US Vice President Dick Cheney springs to mind.) Maybe someone ordered them to create a forgery, but didn't explicitly mention Habbush?[4]

Suskind responded by releasing a transcript of an interview with Richer:

Ron: The intent--the basic raison d'etre of this product is to get, is to create, here's a letter with what's in it. Okay, here's what we want on the letter, we want it to be released as essentially a representation of something Habbush says. That's all it says, that's the one paragraph. And then you pass it to whomever to do it. To get it done.
Rob: It probably passed through five or six people. George probably showed it to me, but then passed it probably to Jim Pavitt, the DDO, who then passed it down to his chief of staff who passed it to me. Cause that's how--you know, so I saw the original. I got a copy of it. But it was, there probably was--
Ron: Right. You saw the original with the White House stationery, but you didn't--down the ranks, then it creates other paper.
Rob: Yeah, no, exactly. But I couldn't tell you--again: I remember it happening, I remember a terrible brief kinda joking dialogue about it, but that was it.[5]

Richer subsequently threatened legal action in a statement which said the conversation had been recorded without his knowledge:

"It is important to note, however, in the transcript just released, I make no mention of having received an order to fabricate the letter as claimed by Mr. Suskind in his book. I do speak to discussions regarding using Habbush, which were frequent during that period, but what I was talking about was the possibility of using him to tamp down the insurgency – not to influence western public opinion.
"I note from the edited transcripts posted by Mr. Suskind that I stated: "this was a non-event.” The fabrication of a letter as claimed by Mr. Suskind would have been much more than a "non-event." I also say that the project “died a natural death.” An order such as the one outlined by Mr. Suskind would have been a huge event – and in my opinion illegal. An order to fabricate such a document would have been rejected out of hand and it is improbable to believe anyone would write such a request. In the edited transcript I am vague on the circumstances of whatever the issue was regarding Habbush. I would have had much clearer recollections of an issue or order of the sensational magnitude outlined by Mr. Suskind," Richer said.[6]

Affiliations


References

  1. White House 'buried British intelligence on Iraq WMDs', by Tim Reid and Sam Coates, The Times, 6 August 2008.
  2. Ron Suskind: The Way of the World: Rob Richer, accessed 8 August 2008.
  3. The White House's Weak Denials, by Dan Froomkin, washingtonpost.com, 6 August 2008.
  4. The White House's Weak Denials, by Dan Froomkin, washingtonpost.com, 6 August 2008.
  5. The Way of the World transcripts, accessed 8 August 2008.
  6. Congress to 'Review' Charges CIA Prepared Forged Iraq, 9/11 Letter, by Jason Leopold, the Public Record, 11 August 2008.