A new book on the government's secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme.
Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad of Cleveland made the dangerous trip to Iraq on the CIA's behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear programme because -- he said -- it had been dead for a decade.
New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction. His book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" describes secret operations of the George W. Bush administration's war on terrorism.
The major revelation in the book has already been the subject of extensive reporting by Risen's newspaper: the National Security Agency's eavesdropping of Americans' conversations without obtaining warrants from a special court.
The book said Dr. Alhaddad flew home in mid-September 2002 and had a series of meetings with CIA analysts. She relayed her brother's information that there was no nuclear programme.
A CIA operative later told Dr. Alhaddad's husband that the agency believed her brother was lying. In all, the book says, some 30 family members of Iraqis made trips to their native country to contact Iraqi weapons scientists, and all of them reported that the programmes had been abandoned.
In October 2002, a month after the doctor's trip to Baghdad, the U.S intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear programme.
In the book, which quotes extensively from anonymous sources, Risen said the NSA spying programme was launched in 2002 after the CIA began to capture high-ranking al-Qaida operatives overseas, and took their computers, cell phones and personal phone directories.
The CIA turned the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses from the material over to the NSA, which then began monitoring the phone numbers -- in addition to anyone in contact with the telephone subscribers, the book said, saying this led to an expansion of the monitoring, both overseas and in the United States.
The book said the NSA does not need approval from the White House, the Justice Department or anyone else in the Bush administration before it begins eavesdropping on a specific phone line in the United States.