Con Coughlin’s Intelligence Failure Redux: Iran-Turkey deal

The Daily Telegraph foreign editor and correspondent Con Coughlin wrote a piece on September 14, 2010, in the British newspaper alleging that the party of the Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received $25 million from Iran. Coughlin provides no proof to support his claim, simply citing “Western diplomats” as his source, only once quoting an official described as a “senior Western diplomat.”

And if the U.S. audience is to learn from its mistakes, they should be leery of poorly sourced claims linking supposedly hostile actors into a conspiracy. Part of the justification for the Iraq War, after all, was a result of the Bush administration trumpeting ties between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. Those dubious claims turned out to be based on poor or incomplete intelligence, but that did not stop the press at the time from repeating the bad information they had been given, often by unnamed officials.
In fact, one of the journalists who happened to pass on false claims to his readers during the Iraq war was none other than Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph. In that instance, he took the notorious “Habbush letter” and reported its contents – alleging direct links between Saddam, Al Qaeda, and the 9/11 plot — on the front page of the Telegraph. The piece was accompanied the same day by a longer item by Coughlin where he wrote of the letter’s origins:


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