Friday, April 6, 2007

AP Continues Disinformation Campaign on Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection

Consider the following article:

Cheney reasserts al-Qaida-Saddam link
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaida links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.

Cheney contended that al-Qaida was operating in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion led by U.S. forces and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida. Others in al-Qaida planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June," Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. "As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq."

However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of the deposed Iraqi leader and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.

The Sept. 11 Commission's 2004 report also found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network during that period.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble. In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate.

The report, which had been released in summary form in February, said that former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith had acted inappropriately but not illegally in reviewing prewar intelligence. Levin has claimed that Feith's intelligence assessment was wrong and distorted but nevertheless formed part of the basis on which President Bush took the country to war.

Although Feith's assessment in mid-2002 offered several examples of cooperation between Saddam's government and al-Qaida, the report said, the CIA had concluded months earlier that no evidence supported the existence of significant or long-term relationships.

This sort of disinformation and rewriting of history ought to be criminal. This AP story is fraught with error and is typical of mainstream reporting on the Iraq-AlQaeda relationship.

Consider the following quotes taken from the 9/11 commission report and reproduced below:

"In building this Islamic army, [Bin Laden] enlisted groups from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, and Eritrea."
Page 76, 9/11 Commission Report

"al Qaeda contacts with Iran continued in ensuing years. Bin Ladin was also willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq..."
Page 61, 9/11 Commission Report

"In 2001, with Bin Ladin’s help they re-formed into an organization called Ansar al Islam. There are indications that by then the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al Islam against the common Kurdish enemy."
Page 61, 9/11 Commission Report

"With the Sudanese regime acting as intermediary, Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request. As described below, the ensuing years saw additional efforts to establish connections."
Page 61, 9/11 Commission Report

"...Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response."
Page 66, 9/11 Commission Report

"In mid-1998, the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative.

In March 1998, after Bin Ladin’s public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin’s Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis.

Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
Pages 65-66, 9/11 Commission Report

Another interesting quote from the 9/11 Commission Report is on page 128:

The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaeda had “reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.” This passage led [Richard] Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to [Sandy] Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq–Al Qida agreement.” Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the “exact formula used by Iraq.”

9/11 Commission superstar witness Richard Clarke speculated that a large Iraqi Presence at a chemical facility in Khartoum, Sudan - the place where Bin Laden set up shop after being kicked out of Saudi Arabia - was "probably a direct result" of the Iraq-Al Qaeda agreement. A sealed indictment dating from 1998 discussed a cooperative agreement between Iraq and Al Qaeda regarding weapons development.

Yet the AP refuses to acknowledge "connections" or "links" between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

The AP points out that Cheney contended that an Al Qada linked group had been operating in Iraq (supported by 9/11 Commission report, page 61), and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was operating within Iraq (widely known and supported by the Iraq War resolution signed by CONGRESS, which stated, "Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq").

Cheney said "They [Al Qaeda] were in Iraq before we invaded" the AP's proof to the contrary is ... what exactly?

The AP is saying that a recently declassified report proves that Iraq and Al Qaeda were not "working together" which is not at all the same charge as "there are no Iraq Al Qaeda connections."

Additionally, this new report directly contradicts the 9/11 Commission report's allegation that the Iraqi government may have worked together with Ansar al Islam, the 1998 sealed indictment mentioned in the 9/11 commission report, and Richard Clarke's Clinton-era speculations about Iraq/Al Qaeda cooperation.

I have not yet had the opportunity to read this recently declassified report; however, if the AP's interpretation of that report is as wrong as their interpretation about the 9/11 commission report, then the report probably adds support to Cheney's position.

Here is a fair question, "are links the same thing as cooperation?"
I point out the links.
You say "no cooperation."

Are we even talking about the same thing? Is no cooperation proof of no links? I am even giving benefit of doubt to the claim of no cooperation. Before there is cooperation, there must first be links. The links are indisputable. That is what Cheney keeps pointing out. The left keeps claiming no cooperation. I believe the left is wrong, but there is only circumstantial evidence of cooperation. And what exactly constitutes cooperation?

We know that Al Qaeda members were given safe passage, medical treatment, etc from Iraq. We know that Iraq offered to let Bin Laden move to Baghdad and set up in Iraq. Does that constitute cooperation? At one time, Bin Laden was seeking to overthrow Saddam, but they essentially called a truce. Is that cooperation? It seems that way to me.

Did Saddam give Al Qaeda guns and ammo? I don't know. Did Saddam help Al Qaeda carry out attacks? I don't know. Is that required in order for the Iraq war to be justified? Is that the standard that must be reached to appease the left?

If so, I guess we can't really make the left happy. Their standards are too high. I recognized Iraq as a threat that in a post 9/11 world that could no longer be left alone. The majority of Americans agreed. We weren't misled. We knew what a threat Saddam posed to the world.

And you know what? I am happy we liberated Iraq. I am proud of my country for doing the right thing. For keeping America safe. For bringing another Democracy to the Middle East.

I know Iran is still a problem. I know Syria is still a problem. I even think the rhetoric coming out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia is troubling, but I believe peace is possible as long as we support victory in Iraq and elsewhere.

I am mad as hell that the AP tries to cast doubt upon Cheney and Bush by claiming as "proof" the higher standard of "operational support" not being certain (therefore not established) against the lower standard of "links" (which have been proven). It is patently dishonest reporting.

1 comment:

Ikez said...

Nice post. I am a former journalist that has focused on Saddam's terror links for four years. I called the AP and the LA Times and Washpost writers on these stories and these guys had zero background on this topic and this was there first time covering the topic. When I asked them a few basic questions they didn't have a clue.
Of course that lead 700 papers/news outlets to pick up the work of people with writing skills but no subject knowldege.

It's really sad. I manage the site and plan on posting more about this topic in the future.

Keep up the good work.