A little-noticed blog post by a veteran intelligence reporter averred Tuesday that the CIA's Iraq Operations Group weighed a plan prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion that sought to discredit Saddam Hussein by portraying him as gay.
According to Jeff Stein, a longtime intelligence reporter who first revealed that FBI officials had eavesdropped on a sitting Democratic congresswoman, the CIA's Iraq Operations Group considered creating a video that would the then-Iraqi leader having intercourse with a teenage boy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera,Ã¢â‚¬Â a former CIA official purportedly told Stein. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The CIA would have then Ã¢â‚¬Å“flood[ed] Iraq with the videos,Ã¢â‚¬Â the official added.
A third former CIA official said that the plan was shot down, in part, because others in the agency thought that claiming Saddam had sex with boys would do little to undermine him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Saddam playing with boys would have no resonance in the Middle East -- nobody cares,Ã¢â‚¬Â another purported CIA official is quoted as saying. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trying to mount such a campaign would show a total misunderstanding of the target. We always mistake our own taboos as universal when, in fact, they are just our taboos.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A current U.S. official told Stein he couldn't confirm or deny the former CIA employees' claims.
"While I can't confirm these accounts, if these ideas were ever floated by anyone at any time, they clearly didn't go anywhere," the official told Stein.
Stein notes, however, that the CIA did make a video in which a fake Osama Bin Laden enjoys a campfire and the company of his associates while bragging about their juvenile paramours.
The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from Ã¢â‚¬Å“some of us darker-skinned employees,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Eventually, Ã¢â‚¬Å“things ground to a halt,Ã¢â‚¬Â the other former officer said, because no one could come to agreement on the projects.
They also faced strong opposition from James Pavitt, then head of the agencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Operations Division, and his deputy, Hugh Turner, who Ã¢â‚¬Å“kept throwing darts at it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Fundamentalists in Iraq have shown disdain for their gay compatriots since Saddam's fall. In some cases, according to human rights activists, they've resorted to grotesque violence.
The television news agency Al Arabiya reported last year that a prominent Iraqi human rights activist asserted that some men have died after gruesome anal torture.
"A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using "Iranian gum,Ã¢â‚¬Â the network said. "Yanar Mohammad told Alarabiya.net that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.Ã¢â‚¬Â
"According to her," the report added, "the new substance 'is known as the American hum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.'"
Correction: Because of an editing error, the gender of the Democratic representative referenced in the second paragraph was incorrect in the initial version of this story. It has been corrected: the congresswoman in question was Jane Harman (D-CA).