Galloway papers deemed forgeries
Iraq experts, ink-aging tests discredit documents behind earlier Monitor story.
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The second to examine the papers was Gerald Richards, a forensics document examiner. A former chief of the document operations and research unit at the FBI, Mr. Richards is now an independent consultant based in Laurel, Md.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Richards scanned the Galloway papers under ultraviolet and infrared light for obvious physical signs of forgery.
In his tests, Richards found nothing untoward. Pen usage in the papers was consistent with standard bureaucratic procedure, he noted. For example, the pen used to sign the documents was different from the one that was used to write the date. That might indicate that an official signed the document, while an aide dated them.
"There is nothing that would indicate to me they are forgeries," says Richards. "If they are, it's somebody who knows what he's doing."
Richards cautioned that his type of examination is just one aspect of document forensics. Another, of equal or greater importance, is textual analysis.
For that, Bruce Fudge directed the Monitor to Hassan Mneimneh. As head of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project in Washington, Mr. Mneimneh has custody of some 3.2 million Iraqi government documents captured by the US or its allies in the 1991 Gulf War. He and his analysts have been poring over this trove for years in an effort to learn more about Iraq's intelligence services, military, and bureaucratic operations.
Mneimneh's first instinct was that something was not quite right about the Monitor's documents.
"I have literally reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents, and these [are] by far the neatest, tidiest I have ever seen," he says.
There is, for instance, the matter of the papers' handwritten dates. Purportedly, the documents as a whole cover a period starting in 1992 and ending in 2003. Yet the dates are written in nearly identical fashion - as if the same person were dashing them off all at once.
According to their dates, each individual document moved remarkably quickly through the Iraqi bureaucracy. From initiation at the lowest level to approval at the top allegedly took two or three days. Also, there are no reference numbers next to the signatures of officials who allegedly reviewed them and passed them on to other departments, for example. The Iraqi bureaucracy typically included such numbers for filing purposes, this expert says.
In addition, Mneimneh observes that signatures are followed by the official's name, written out, and then that person's rank, such as colonel, rather than the customary signature followed only by a title.
Finally, this expert found the language in the Monitor's six documents to be suspiciously blunt. The papers describe specific amounts of money requested and paid out, and to whom.
The Iraq Research and Documentation Project has many papers detailing payments to informers and government agents, and typically the language used in them is indirect. Invariably they do not name the person who is actually getting the money.
"They usually use a euphemism.... Then there is a file somewhere else where they correlate the euphemisms to actual names," Mneimneh says.
After examining copies of two pages of the Daily Telegraph's documents linking Galloway with the Hussein regime, Mneimneh pronounces them consistent, unlike their Monitor counterparts, with authentic Iraqi documents he has seen.
Moreover, a direct comparison of the language in the Monitor and Daily Telegraph document sets shows that they are somewhat contradictory.
The papers in the Monitor's possession alleged that Galloway began receiving funds from Iraq in the early 1990s. One of the Daily Telegraph's, dated January 2000, alleges that Iraqi officials were just beginning their consideration of a financial relationship with Galloway.
Of the Monitor's papers, he says, "My gut reaction to [these documents] is that they are extremely suspicious."