The key to the stateside propaganda campaign was, as Casey's Power Point presentation describes it, a "Selective Leak to Dexter Filkins," a reporter at the New York Times, who appears to have unwittingly played the role Judy Miller did in the smoke and mirrors over WMD.
The leak was of an alleged letter from Zarqawi to senior Al Qaeda leadership —reportedly intercepted by U.S. forces —looking for help in breeding sectarian violence in Iraq.
In retrospect everything about the supposed letter from Zarqawi seems fishy as hell —in particular the terrorist's fawning admiration of the resolve of American troops and the "suffocation" of U.S. anti-insurgency efforts, and Zarqawi's professed unwillingness to disrupt an Iraqi democracy after the "zero hour" —the handover of sovereignty: "We will have no pretexts."
If this were a legitimate document, and Zarqawi were indeed a driver of the insurgency, the violence in Iraq should have flamed out by now. History, certainly, has not borne this out.
Below are excerpts of the front-page story Filkins filed February 9th, 2004, with emphasis added:
U.S. Says Files Seek Qaeda Aid in Iraq Conflict
By Dexter Filkins
Baghdad, Iraq, February 8th —American officials here have obtained a detailed proposal that they conclude was written by an operative in Iraq to senior leaders of Al Qaeda, asking for help to wage a "sectarian war" in Iraq in the next months.
The Americans say they believe that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has long been under scrutiny by the United States for suspected ties to Al Qaeda, wrote the undated seventeen-page document...The document was made available to The New York Times on Sunday, with an accompanying translation made by the military...
The document would constitute the strongest evidence to date of contacts between extremists in Iraq and Al Qaeda....A senior United States intelligence official in Washington said, "I know of no reason to believe the letter is bogus in any way."...
Without providing further specifics, the senior intelligence officer said there was additional information pointing to the idea that Al Qaeda was considering mounting or had already mounted attacks on Shiite targets in Iraq...
In the document, the writer indicated that he had directed about twenty-five suicide bombings inside Iraq. That conforms with an American view that suicide bombings were more likely to be carried out by Iraqi religious extremists and foreigners than by Hussein allies.
...The Americans are an easy target, according to the author, who nonetheless claims to be impressed by the Americans' resolve. After significant losses, he writes, "America, however, has no intention of leaving, no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes."
...With some exasperation, the author writes: "We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases.
"By God, this is suffocation!" the writer says.
But there is still time to mount a war against the Shiites...before the turnover of sovereignty in June. After that, the writer suggests, any attacks on Shiites will be viewed as Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence that will find little support among the people...because..."the sons of this land will be the authority," the letter states. "This is the democracy. We will have no pretexts."