This week opponents of the war were given a treat. They were told-in a single article-based on a single anonymous source-that a report which hadn’t been released said there was never any ties between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the al-Qaida network of terrorist groups. Millions of the war’s opponents were instantly elated with glee at the idea that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the war against the al-Qaida terrorist network; that the invasion was completely disconnected from any threat to the United States.
Disregarding the misplaced glee for a moment, let’s face some facts. The report described in the article was finally released to the public, and its contents are almost completely contrary to the leaked “article” that described it beforehand.
In fact, if anything this new study should finally put to rest the false perception that Saddam’s regime was too secular to work with radical Islamic holy warriors, and it should be a genuine wake up call for people who continue to ignore the threat posed by state-sponsors of terror like Saddam Hussein once was.
Let’s take a closer look at this “article.”
“Study: Iraq had no link to al-Qaida
Pentagon finds the ‘bulletproof’ prewar evidence turned out bogus”
By WARREN P. STROBEL
March 10, 2008, 11:46PM
WASHINGTON — An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.
-The opening line is false for two reasons. First it describes it as “exhaustive” which typically means complete, and it’s not. In fact the report itself says in every single area of study that more research is needed; i.e. the intelligence has not been exhausted. Second, it claims that there is no evidence of “operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network,” but in fact the report itself is packed with evidence of operational ties between Saddam’s regime and various groups that are components/participants/elements/members of the network. For example the report confirms that Egyptian Islamic Jihad was supported by Saddam’s regime at a time when 2/3 of the al-Qaida network’s leadership (2/3 of the leadership prior to 2003 was comprised of members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The report is also packed with examples of Saddam’s regime recognizing, supporting, and working with Egyptian Islamic Jihad; i.e. with 2/3 of al-Qaida leadership.
The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy Newspapers. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.
-The problem with this statement is that the “other terrorist groups” mentioned were al-Qaida affiliates (or elements of the al-Qaida network) at the time that documents show Saddam’s regime supported them. The “article” goes on to suggest that the operations primarily targeted “Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.” That’s a convenient way of saying that Saddam’s Intelligence Service (the IIS) and the Saddam Fedeyeen (Martyrs of Saddam terrorist group) worked with al-Qaida affiliates in Northern and Southern Iraq to maintain control in areas where his conventional forces lacked such ability. It’s also a very deceitful to say “others he considered enemies of his regime” rather than what the report actually says: targets in France, London, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UN targets, and Americans.
The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al-Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report. He and others spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because the study isn’t due to be shared with Congress and released before Wednesday.
-Earlier the “article” mentioned that the report being described hasn’t been released at the time of writing the “article.” That means that the entire declaration-false declaration [that Saddam’s regime had no substantive ties to Osama Bin Laden] is based on a single, anonymous, U.S. official. There is no corroboration, just the word of a single anonymous source.
President Bush and his aides used Saddam’s alleged relationship with al-Qaida, along with Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, as arguments for invading Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam’s secular dictatorship.
-In complete and total contrast to the “article” which claimed. “ Pentagon finds the ‘bulletproof’ prewar evidence turned out bogus” the reality is that the report itself is in fact packed with captured documents supporting the idea that in many cases with many examples and many different groups, Saddam’s regime did cooperate with radical Islamist terror groups, and often those groups were in fact al-Qaida affiliates.
Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited multiple linkages between Saddam and al-Qaida in a watershed February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council to build international support for the invasion.
-This is true, but (perhaps due to space and word limit constraints) the “article” fails to mention that almost all of the statements Secretary of State Powell made were repeated from the 1998 Clinton Administration indictment of Osama Bin Laden, and they were later repeated again by the bi-partisan and independent 911 Commission.
Almost every one of the examples Powell cited turned out to be based on bogus or misinterpreted intelligence.
-This is not true, and it is in fact quite the opposite again. Most of Secretary Powell’s statements regarding regime ties to al-Qaida were true, and only a few were found to be incorrect.
As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al-Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq.
“The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” the president said.
-This statement has absolutely nothing to do with the report that is the “article’s” subject. The report in question looks at the pre-war relationship between Saddam’s regime and the al-Qaida network NOT the presence of al-Qaida groups inside Iraq four years after the invasion. However, it should be noted that the groups currently in Iraq that are typically referred to as, “al-Qaida in Iraq” are actually a collection of groups that were inside Iraq before the invasion, worked with both Saddam’s regime, and worked with the al-Qaida hierarchy before the invasion. The people who are today’s “al Qaida in Iraq” were radical Islamic terrorists working inside Iraq before the invasion. They just have a common name now.
The new study, titled “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents,” was essentially completed last year and has been undergoing what one U.S. intelligence official described as a “painful” declassification review. It was produced by a federally funded think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, under contract to the Norfolk, Va.-based U.S. Joint Forces Command.
While the documents reveal no Saddam-al-Qaida links, they do show that Saddam and his underlings were willing to use terrorism against enemies of the regime and had ties to regional and global terrorist groups, the officials said.
-While the “article” claims the captured documents “reveal no Saddam-al-Qaida links” they clearly do in many places according to the report itself rather than the word of the one anonymous U.S. official.
However, the U.S. intelligence official, who has read the full report, played down the prospect of any major new revelations, saying, “I don’t think there’s any surprises there.”
Saddam, whose regime was relentlessly secular, was wary of Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaida, although like many other Arab leaders, he gave some financial support to Palestinian groups that sponsored terrorism against Israel.
-It’s interesting that immediately after the “article” says, “Saddam and his underlings were willing to use terrorism against enemies of the regime and had ties to regional and global terrorist groups,” the “article” then tries to fawn off the very fact it previously stated by dismissing Saddam’s secularism as if it prevented his regime from working with Islamic extremists (which the report says the documents show did in fact happen on many occasions).
There’s no reason to believe that the “article” deliberately sought to mislead anyone which was almost completely false. Put simply, now that the report itself is out, and one no longer needs to rely on a wannabe Deepthroat, secret U.S. official as a source. We can all see what the real findings are, and those findings are simple:
- Saddam Hussein’s regime-secular as it was-worked with Islamic radical terrorist groups, and this is now proven not only by pre-war tidbits of intelligence, but by detainee interrogations and in particular captured documents and tapes.
- Saddam Hussein’s regime was a state-sponsor of radical Islamic terrorist groups including groups that served as the attack tentacles of the al-qaida terrorist network, and in supporting these operations the Iraqi regime was in frequent contact with terrorist legends and leaders who oh-so-coincidentally were in charge of 2/3 of the al-qaida network’s core.
No ties to al-qaida? That mantra-based in every case on half quotes from various investigations-is now debunked. Yes, there were ties, and they were significant.
However, given the immense-near total disparity between the claims put forth describing the latest volume of the Iraqi Perspectives Project report and the actual contents of that report, it seems that a RETRACTION OF THE ARTICLE IS NECESSARY lest one try to stand on falsehoods so clearly eclipsed by facts that can be found by so simply by just reading the actual report rather than an anonymous U.S. official’s whispers.
More specific details of the report can be found here:
Oddly enough, opponents of the war don’t seem interested in reading the actual article and commenting on its specifics (certainly not with entire quotes, but perhaps with half quotes)