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Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

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The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical
Pharmaceutical company
The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces, and markets drugs licensed for use as medications. Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to deal in generic and/or brand medications and medical devices...

 factory
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 in Khartoum North
Khartoum North
Khartoum North is a city close to, but distinct from, Khartoum in central Sudan. The city is close to the confluence of the White and Blue Nile on the eastern bank of the Blue Nile. The city, which had in 1993 a rapidly growing population of 900,000, is connected by bridges to Khartoum and Omdurman...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, was constructed between 1992 and 1996 with components imported from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

The industrial complex was composed of around four buildings. It was the largest pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum and employed over 300 workers, producing medicine both for human and veterinary use. The factory was used primarily for the manufacture of anti-malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 medicines and veterinary products.

The factory was destroyed in 1998 by a missile attack launched by the United States government, killing one employee and wounding eleven. Critics of the attack have estimated that up to tens of thousands of Sudanese civilians died throughout Sudan as the supply of necessary drugs was cut off. The US government stated several reasons for its attack:
  • Retaliation for previous attacks on US embassies in several Africa
    Africa
    Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

    n countries.
  • The alleged use of the factory for the processing of VX nerve agent.
  • For alleged ties between the owners of the plant and al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

    .


These justifications for the bombing were disputed by the owners of the plant, the Sudanese government, and other governments.

Destruction


On August 20, 1998, the factory was destroyed in cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

 strikes launched by the United States military allegedly retaliation for the August 7 truck bomb
Car bomb
A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

 attacks on its embassies in Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam , formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: ...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, and Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 (see 1998 U.S. embassy bombings). The administration of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 justified the attacks, dubbed Operation Infinite Reach, on the grounds that the al-Shifa plant was involved with processing the deadly nerve agent VX, and had ties with the Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 group of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, which was believed to be behind the embassy bombings and Operation Bojinka. The August 20 U.S. action also hit al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, to where bin Laden had moved following his May 1996 expulsion from Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

.

Evidence


The key piece of physical evidence linking the al-Shifa facility to production of chemical weapons was the discovery of EMPTA in a soil sample taken from the plant during a CIA clandestine operation. EMPTA, or O-Ethyl methylphosphonothioic acid
O-ethyl methylphosphonothioic acid
O-Ethyl methylphosphonothioic acid is an organophosphate compound. A dual-use chemical, it has constructive uses in the synthesis of pesticides and pharmaceuticals, and it is also a precursor in the synthesis of nerve agents such as Agent VM and Agent VX...

, is classified as a Schedule 2B compound according to the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

 and is a VX
VX (nerve agent)
VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

 precursor. Although several theoretical uses for EMPTA were postulated as well as several patented processes using EMPTA, such as the manufacture of plastic, no known industrial uses of EMPTA were ever documented nor any products that contained EMPTA. It is, however, not banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention as originally claimed by the US government. Moreover, it does not necessarily follow from the presence of EMPTA near (but outside) the boundary of Al-Shifa that this was produced in the factory: EMPTA could have been "stored in or transported near al-Shifa, instead of being produced by it," according to a report by Michael Barletta.

Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering
Thomas R. Pickering
Thomas Reeve "Tom" Pickering , is a retired United States ambassador. Among his many diplomatic appointments, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992.-Early life:...

 claimed to have sufficient evidence against Sudan, including contacts between officials at Al-Shifa plant and Iraqi chemical weapons experts, with the Iraq chemical weapons program the only one identified with using EMPTA for VX production. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a Sudanese opposition in Cairo led by Mubarak Al-Mahdi, also insisted that the plant was producing ingredients for chemical weapons. Former Clinton administration counter terrorism advisor Richard Clarke
Richard A. Clarke
Richard Alan Clarke was a U.S. government employee for 30 years, 1973–2003. He worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National...

 and former national security advisor
National Security Advisor
A National Security Advisor serves as the chief advisor to a national government on matters of security. He or she is not usually a member of the Cabinet but is usually a member of various military or security councils....

 Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Samuel Richard "Sandy" Berger was United States National Security Advisor, under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001. In his position, he helped to formulate the foreign policy of the Clinton Administration...

 also noted the facilities alleged ties with the former Iraqi government. Clarke also cited Iraq's $199,000 contract with al Shifa for veterinary medicine under the UN's Oil for Food Program.

Officials later acknowledged, however, "that the evidence that prompted President Clinton to order the missile strike on the Shifa plant was not as solid as first portrayed. Indeed, officials later said that there was no proof that the plant had been manufacturing or storing nerve gas, as initially suspected by the Americans, or had been linked to Osama bin Laden, who was a resident of Khartoum in the 1980s."

However, a Clinton State Department official had stated that a money manager for Bin Laden had claimed that Bin Laden had, indeed, invested in Al Shifa. And that the Al Shifa manager even lived in the same Sudan house Bin Laden himself had previously lived in.

The U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Bureau of Intelligence and Research
The Bureau of Intelligence and Research is an intelligence bureau in the U.S. State Department tasked with analyzing information. Originally founded as the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services , it was transferred to the State Department at the end of World War II...

 wrote a report in 1999 questioning the attack on the factory, suggesting that the connection to bin Laden was not accurate; James Risen reported in the New York Times: "Now, the analysts renewed their doubts and told Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Oakley that the C.I.A.'s evidence on which the attack was based was inadequate. Ms. Oakley asked them to double-check; perhaps there was some intelligence they had not yet seen. The answer came back quickly: There was no additional evidence. Ms. Oakley called a meeting of key aides and a consensus emerged: Contrary to what the Administration was saying, the case tying Al Shifa to Mr. bin Laden or to chemical weapons was weak." The Chairman of El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries, who is critical of the Sudanese government, more recently told reporters, "I had inventories of every chemical and records of every employee's history. There were no such [nerve gas] chemicals being made here."

Nonetheless, Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen testified to the 9/11 Commission in 2004, characterizing Al Shifa as a "WMD-related facility", which played a "chemical weapons role" such as to pose a risk that it, with the help of the Iraqi chemical weapons program connections he also testified to, might help Al Qaeda get chemical weapons technology.

Sudan has since invited the U.S. to conduct chemical tests at the site for evidence to support its claim that the plant might have been a chemical weapons factory; so far, the U.S. has refused the invitation to investigate. Nevertheless, the U.S. has refused to officially apologize for the attacks, suggesting that some privately still suspect that chemical weapons activity existed there.

The Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

 attack was noted for its outstanding precision, as successive missiles all but leveled the Al-Shifa works with minimal damage to surrounding areas, although one person was killed and ten wounded in the attack.

Directly after the strike the Sudanese government demanded that the Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 conduct an investigation of the site to determine if it had been used to produce chemical weapons or precursors. Such an investigation was from the start opposed by the US. Nor has USA ever let an independent laboratory analyze the sample allegedly containing EMPTA. Michael Barletta concludes that there is no evidence the al-Shifa factory was ever involved in production of chemical weapons, and it is known that many of the initial US allegations were wrong.

Consequences


The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

headlined the story with "[T]he loss of this factory is a tragedy for the rural communities who need these medicines" quoting Tom Carnaffin, technical manager with "intimate knowledge" of the destroyed plant. One month later, a correspondent of the same paper, Patrick Wintour, elaborated that the plant "provided 50 percent of Sudan’s medicines, and its destruction has left the country with no supplies of chloroquine
Chloroquine
Chloroquine is a 4-aminoquinoline drug used in the treatment or prevention of malaria.-History:Chloroquine , N'--N,N-diethyl-pentane-1,4-diamine, was discovered in 1934 by Hans Andersag and co-workers at the Bayer laboratories who named it "Resochin". It was ignored for a decade because it was...

, the standard treatment for malaria." He continued that, despite this, the British Government (who publicly backed the U.S. attack) refused requests "to resupply chloroquine in emergency relief until such time as the Sudanese can rebuild their pharmaceutical production." The factory was a principal source of Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

's anti-malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and veterinary drugs according to the CBW Conventions Bulletin.

Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 from 1996 to 2000, Werner Daum
Werner Daum
Werner Daum is a German diplomat. From 1992–1995 he was Head of the Human Rights Department in the German Mission in Geneva; as such he represented Germany in the Commission on Human Rights and various other Human Rights bodies of the UN in Geneva....

, wrote an article in 2001 in which he called "several tens of thousands of deaths" of Sudanese civilians caused by a medicine shortage a "reasonable guess". The regional director of the U.S. based Near East Foundation
Near East Foundation
The Near East Foundation , formerly the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief , is a Syracuse, NY-based American development agency founded in 1915....

, who had field experience in the Sudan, wrote an article in the Boston Globe with the same estimate and said "without the lifesaving medicine [the destroyed facilities] produced ... tens of thousands of people - many of them children - have suffered and died from malaria, tuberculosis and other treatable diseases ... produced 90 percent of Sudan's major pharmaceutical products ... Sanctions against Sudan made it impossible to import adequate amounts of medicines required to cover the serious gaps left by the plant's destruction ... Millions must wonder how the International Court of Justice in The Hague will celebrate this anniversary". The Al-Shifa facility was "the only one producing TB drugs - for more than 100,000 patients, at about 1 British pound a month" and "the only factory making veterinary drugs in this vast, mostly pastoralist, country. Its speciality was drugs to kill the parasites which pass from herds to herders, one of Sudan's principal causes of infant mortality".

In "9-11", Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 argued that the bombing of Al-Shifa was a horrendous crime committed by the United States Government that resulted in the deaths of several tens of thousands of Sudanese people from treatable diseases such as malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 because they were deprived of medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

s manufactured at the plant. "Insofar as such consequences ensued, we may compare the crime in Sudan to the assassination of Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

, which helped plunge the Congo into decades of slaughter, still continuing, or the overthrow of the democratic government of Guatemala in 1954, which led to 40 years of hideous atrocities; and all too many others like it."

The estimates of the death toll were disputed by Keith Windschuttle
Keith Windschuttle
Keith Windschuttle is an Australian writer, historian, and ABC board member, who has authored several books from the 1970s onwards. These include Unemployment, , which analysed the economic causes and social consequences of unemployment in Australia and advocated a socialist response; The Media: a...

 and by Leo Casey, who said the figures were "fabricated out of whole cloth". Windschuttle claimed that Daum "had done no research into the matter" and that "the reports of the Sudanese operations of the several Western aid agencies, including Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

, Médecins sans Frontières
Médecins Sans Frontières
' , or Doctors Without Borders, is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland...

, and Norwegian People’s Aid, who have been operating in this region for decades, will not find any evidence of an unusual increase in the death toll at the time."

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 reported that the bombing had the unintended effect of stopping relief efforts aimed at supplying food to areas of Sudan gripped by famine caused by that country's ongoing civil war. Many of these agencies had been wholly or partially manned by Americans who subsequently evacuated the country out of fear of retaliation spurred by negative responses by the Sudanese government. A letter by that agency to President Clinton stated "many relief efforts have been postponed indefinitely, including a crucial one run by the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee is a leading nonsectarian, nongovernmental international relief and development organization based in the United States, with operations in over 40 countries...

 where more than fifty southerners are dying daily". Mark Huband in the Financial Times wrote that the attack "shattered ... the expected benefits of a political shift at the heart of Sudan's Islamicist government" towards a "pragmatic engagement with the outside world".

Criticism


Outspoken Clinton critic Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

 wrote that the factory "could not have been folded like a tent and spirited away in a day or so. And the United States has diplomatic relations with Sudan. ... Well then, what was the hurry? ... There is really only one possible answer to that question. Clinton needed to look 'presidential' for a day."

The 9/11 Commission Report evaluated such so-called "Wag the Dog" theories (the strikes being motivated to deflect attention from domestic, political troubles), and found no reason to believe them, nor disbelieve the testimony and assertions of former President Clinton, former Vice President Gore, CIA Chief Tenet, nor former security advisors Berger and Clarke that the destruction of Al Shifa was still, as of 2004, a justifible national security target. Page 118

The U.S. Justice Department, under President George W. Bush, produced an alleged al-Qaeda defector as a witness on February 13, 2001, in its ongoing case against Osama Bin Laden. The witness, Jamal Ahmad al-Fadl, testified that Al Qaeda operatives he was involved with had been engaged in manufacturing chemical weapons in Khartoum, Sudan, around 1993 or 1994. Page 524

According to The Guardian, "The factory's owner, Salah Idris, vigorously denied that he or the factory had any link with such weapons or any terrorist group. He is now suing the US government for £35 million after hiring experts to show that the plant made only medicines. Despite growing support for Idris's case in the US and Britain, Washington refuses to retract any of its claims and is contesting the lawsuit."

The Sudanese government wants the plant preserved in its destroyed condition as a reminder of the American attack and also offered an open door to the U.S. for chemical testing at the site, however, the U.S. refused the invitation. Sudan has asked the U.S. for an apology for the attack but the U.S. has refused on the grounds it has not ruled out the possibility the plant had some connection to chemical weapons development. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/20/international/africa/20khartoum.html?8hpib

The bombing of the al-Shifa factory resurfaced in the news in April 2006, due to the firing of former CIA analyst Mary O'Neil McCarthy
Mary McCarthy (CIA)
Mary O'Neil McCarthy is a former United States Central Intelligence Agency employee who last worked in the Office of the Inspector General. In her career, she was an intelligence analyst and National Intelligence Officer for Warning...

. McCarthy was against the bombing of the factory in 1998, and had written a formal letter of protest to President Clinton. According to former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer
Michael Scheuer
Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies...

, she had voiced doubts that the factory had ties to al Qaeda or was producing chemical weapons. The New York Times reported: "In the case of the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan, her concerns may have been well-founded. Sudanese officials and the plant's owner denied any connection to Al Qaeda. In the aftermath of the attack, the internal White House debate over whether the intelligence reports about the plant were accurate spilled into the press. Eventually, Clinton administration officials conceded that the hardest evidence used to justify striking the plant was a single soil sample that seemed to indicate the presence of a chemical used in making VX gas."

Responsibility


Thomas Joscelyn quotes Daniel Benjamin, a former NSC staffer: "The report of the 9/11 Commission notes that the National Security staff reviewed the intelligence in April 2000 and concluded that the CIA's assessment of its intelligence on bin Laden and al-Shifa had been valid; the memo to Clinton on this was cosigned by Richard Clarke and Mary McCarthy, the NSC senior director for intelligence programs, who opposed the bombing of al-Shifa in 1998. The report also notes that in their testimony before the commission, Al Gore, Sandy Berger, George Tenet, and Richard Clarke all stood by the decision to bomb al-Shifa." http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/145uivdz.asp

Former Secretary of Defense Cohen defended, in his testimony to the 9/11 Commission in 2004, along with other cited Clinton security cabinet members in their separate 9/11 Commission testimony, the decision to destroy Al Shifa.: "At the time, the intelligence community at the highest level repeatedly assured us that "it never gets better than this" in terms of confidence in an intelligence conclusion regarding a hard target. There was a good reason for this confidence, including multiple, reinforcing elements of information ranging from links that the organization that built the facility had both with Bin Laden and with the leadership of the Iraqi chemical weapons program; extraordinary security when the facility was constructed; physical evidence from the site; and other information from HUMINT and technical sources. Given what we knew regarding terrorists’ interest in acquiring and using chemical weapons against Americans, and given the intelligence assessment provided us regarding the al-Shifa facility, I continue to believe that destroying it was the right decision."Page 14

External links