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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bad Intelligence?

posted by on April 5 at 22:30 PM

Or willfully distorted b.s.? This MUST. READ. article from the Washington Post reports on a declassified DoD report that shows that Saddam Hussein was never thought to be associated with Al Qaeda by anyone—except Douglas Feith and his Pentagon propaganda office.

The opening salvo:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides “all confirmed” that Hussein’s regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released [today].

[…]

The report’s release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq “before we ever launched” the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

Flabbergasting enough up front—but on the off chance that you you can’t get through the entire piece, here’s the devastating closing graph:

[Abu Musab al-]Zarqawi, whom Cheney depicted [today] as an agent of al-Qaeda in Iraq before the war, was not then an al-Qaeda member but was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents, according to several intelligence analysts. He publicly allied himself with al-Qaeda in early 2004, after the U.S. invasion.

RSS icon Comments

1

Many will recall learning that Iraq had nothing to do with AlQuackaducka before/as the war started. But it's nice to have more confirmation.
It's begs the question though: Since all the official reasons for invading have been discredited, what are the REAL reasons we're over there?
¿Break open arab-socialist markets as Naomi Klein suggests?
¿Kick Iraq's ass for messing with oil markets like they were?
¿Surround China? Weaken their strategic fuel alliances with Iran, etc.?
¿Back up Israel?
¿Suck Saudi cock?
I really wish the media would investigate those questions.

Posted by treacle | April 5, 2007 11:57 PM
2

So Dick Cheney is a liar and the whole administration lied left and right to take this country to war.

Umm.. duh?

It's not even remotely in question that these guys are guilty of high crimes. The evidence will keep piling up, and nothing will keep being done about it.

Posted by Wake Me When Someone's On Trial | April 6, 2007 1:22 AM
3

It's not like this is a surprise, or was at the time by anybody with even a passing understanding of the mideast. Secular dictatorships like Iraq (and Syria, and Libya, despite what Bush may claim) are as much an enemy to al qaeda as the democracies of the west (and Iraq is even worse, in al qaeda's eyes, being infested with the "heresy" of Shi'ism). In fact, these countries are actually more offensive to bin Laden because they occupy land that used to be part of the Caliphate, yet their governments are not subservient to the extremes of Shariah that bin Laden demands. In al qaeda's view, all the "traditional" Islamic lands (which may or may not include former corners of the 8th C Islamic empire like Spain) must submerge into one vast umma, and secular national governments are a barrier to that goal. Saddam Hussien was certainly a bastard, but he understood who his enemies were. One was Iran (and it was to threaten them that he was always pretending to have more WMDs than he did, without fully realizing the problems that would cause or the pretext that would provide) and the other was anyone, foreign or domestic, who wanted to destroy his hold on power -- and al qaeda most certainly was that. He would not allow al qaeda to set up shop on Iraqi soil, or give them any kind of weapons, for fear they'd use the opportunity to come after him.

(There actually was one al qaeda- affiliated terrorist group operating on [nominal] Iraqi soil prior to March 2003: Ansar Al-Islam. But its base was in the autonomous Kurdish area, out of reach of Saddam in the USAF-enforced no-fly zone. Saddam couldn't touch them if he wanted to, and given that they were busy attacking the Kurds, he didn't want to. But the US could have gone after Ansar without invading Iraq, since this al-qaeda-affiliated terror camp was effectively being protected from Saddam by US forces.)

So no, this is no surprise to anyone who actually understood the middle east and al qaeda's goals within it, and yes, such people were pointing this out prior to the invasion; however, they were ignored, misunderstood, or simply not believed. Given that the people in power had so little understanding of basic facts in that part of the world, and no willingness to listen to actual experts who differed with their predetermined plans, this is not surprising either.

The sad thing is, there's no evidence the people in power have deepened their understanding to any measurable degree in the four years since. And -- judging by all the members of congress, both Democrat and Republican, who still don't understand basic facts like the difference between Sunni and Shi'a -- that seems unlikely to change.

treacle: short answer -- read Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Posted by Yusef | April 6, 2007 1:37 AM
4

1) Saddam used WMD's on many occasions.
2) Many Democrats considered Saddam to be a threat.
3) Saddam fired at coalition planes after the Desert Storm cease fire agreement.
4) Saddam's intelligence services made an assassition attempt on a former US President.
5) Saddam illegally threatened and expelled UNSUM inspectors.
6) There most certainly was evidence of cooperation between Saddam's redime and al Qaeda long before President Bush even took office. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040624-112921-3401r.htm

Please remember that Iraq has had two elections since that evil despot has been removed. The Iraqi people risked their lives for a chance at freedom and democracy. They had a turn out for the elections that was higher than US elections! It would be unAmerican to abandom them, especially as the surge is making progress. Don't let the left undermine and sabotage the mission of our troops.

Posted by nascar video | April 6, 2007 5:06 AM
5

@4.. you had my ear up until your last two f-in' stupid sentence sentences.

I grow tired of the spin that the 'left' will be at fault if, when this occupation ends, it doesn't end perfectly.

a) When it does end, it won't end well - it can't.

b) The fault will be shared by all of us.

Posted by Sean | April 6, 2007 6:41 AM
6

...damn typos @5... somebody fix that for me...

Posted by Sean | April 6, 2007 6:43 AM
7

GROSS.

Not even slightly surprising, but still.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | April 6, 2007 8:57 AM
8

"Nascar video": The list of countries with "links" to Al Qaeda, or people who later became part of Al Qaeda, or funding that ended up in the hands of Al Qaeda, is an extremely long one. The country at the top of that list is the United States. The groups and people who coalesced under the rubric "Al Qaeda" were heavily funded by the USA, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and beyond. And we have "links" with Al Qaeda NOW, as the Bush Administration seeks a way out of the chaos we have unleashed in Iraq; the US is talking to, and funding, Al Qaeda spinoffs in Iraq RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

There are also a number of other countries with just as egregious a list of violations of human decency. There's one in particular I can think of, which not only ALREADY HAS nukes, but is known to have sold and otherwise disseminated nuclear-weapons knowledge to many other countries and groups, with no more severe penalties than a nod and a wink, and which freely supports terror in both Afghanistan and Kashmir, and which Bush can't stop slobbering over every chance he gets. Would it be a good idea to bomb Pakistan?

So, unless you're advocating bombing half the countries in the world, including your own, maybe you should shut the fuck up. You are the one who is on the wrong side of history, not just in the Middle East but in the loss of freedom everywhere including the USA.

No one on the left or the center or the right has seriously suggested that Saddam wasn't a bad guy. Did the Clinton Administration spend a lot of time worrying about him? Yes, yes they did. Not in the way the vacuous Washington Times article suggests -- seriously, that thing doesn't even remotely pass logical muster -- but in a way that might have proved fruitful if Bush & Co. had even the slightest interest in diplomacy and foreign affairs.

The truth is, the wispy threads that lead to and from Bin Laden are extremely complex, as are most things in the real world outside of Wolfowitz's fantasy world. The money trail alone passes through dozens of countries, including lots of countries that are officially "enemies" of Al Qaeda. In the grammar of Middle East politics it's not at all surprising to see hazy connections between people who may or may not be Al Qaeda some of the time, and people who may or may not be connected to Syria some of the time, or Iraq, or the US, or Saudi Arabia, or anyone else. All sorts of people use Al Qaeda, both the actual organization and people, and the symbolic power of the name, to further their goals. Including some people in the White House.

None of which has FUCK ALL to do with whether unilaterally attacking and overthrowing Saddam was a good idea, which it probably wasn't, or whether the plan to do so and the plan for afterwards were competently compiled and executed, which they absolutely were not.

Face it, Nascar video: your side fucked up big time. A bigger bunch of bumbling, freedom-hating liars, cheats, and thieves couldn't have been assembled by the USA's worst enemies. 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result, and 300 million Americans are paying a heavy price as well. Frankly I'm getting a little sick of hearing from you.

Posted by Fnarf | April 6, 2007 9:11 AM
9

This article has a lot more to say about the Iraq situation despite it's ending on overly optimistic note.

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/McCaffrey_Report_032707.pdf

Some excerpts:

""Thousands of IED attacks (2900) per month"

"Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate"

Attacks on US troops are from both Sunnis and Shias

"3 million Iraqis are internally displaced or have fled to Syria or Jordan"

"The technical and educated elites are going into self-imposed exile---a huge brain drain that imperils the ability to govern."

"The Maliki government has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged. It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.

There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation--- not health care, not justice, not education, not transportation, not labor and commerce, not electricity, not oil production. There is no province in the country in which the government has dominance. The government cannot spend its own money effectively. ($7.1 billion sits in New York banks.) No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi---without heavily armed
protection.

In total, enemy insurgents or armed sectarian militias (SCIRI, JAM, Pesh Merga, AQI, 1920’s Brigade, et. al.) probably exceed 100,000 armed fighters. These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted ISF. They do not depend fundamentally on foreign support for their operations.
Most of their money, explosives, and leadership are generated inside Iraq. The majority of the Iraqi population (Sunni and Shia) support armed attacks on American forces. Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000+) --- the armed insurgents, militias, and Al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently re-generate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up--- not down--- as they incur these staggering battle losses.

US Army and Marine Corps readiness ratings are starting to
unravel. Ground combat equipment is shot in both the active and reserve components. Army active and reserve component recruiting has now encountered serious quality and number problems. In many cases we are forced to use US contractors to substitute for required military functions. (128,000 contractors in Iraq---includes more than 2000 armed security personnel.) Waivers in US Army recruiting standards for: moral turpitude, drug use, medical issues, criminal justice records, and non-high school graduation have gone up significantly. We now are enlisting 42 year old first term soldiers. Our promotion rates for officers and NCOs have skyrocketed to replace departing leaders. There is no longer a national or a theater US Army strategic reserve. (Fortunately, powerful US Naval, Air Force, and nuclear capabilities command huge deterrence credibility.)

We are at the “knee of the curve.” Two million+ troops of the smallest active Army force since WWII have served in the war zone. Some active units have served three, four, or even five combat deployments. We are now routinely extending nearly all combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These combat units are being returned to action in some cases with only 7-12 months of stateside time to re-train and re-equip. The current deployment requirement of 20+ brigades to Iraq and 2+ brigades in Afghanistan is not sustainable."


Note this is all from a after action report from a retired US Army general.

In addition, IIRC we just shipped two units over to Iraq (including the one Bush just spoke to) without even giving them their usual desert warfare training and acclimitization training. Although, maybe they don't need the acclimitization so much given that it may be their fifth deployment (sarcasm), and they may have only been home for 7 months, likely they could have used the time to integrate new members into their units.

Fuck why we got into it to begin with!

Posted by K X One | April 6, 2007 9:13 AM
10

Do not take this to be a defense of Cheney. But it is worth noting, for the sake of concentrating the critique of this disaster, that Cheney's claim al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq before the war is not the same as saying Hussein was working with al-Qaeda. Those are two distinct statements.

Posted by Just sayin' | April 6, 2007 9:20 AM
11

The fellows who took down the World Trade Center were operating inside the US. What's your point? Should the USAF bomb the White House?

Posted by Fnarf | April 6, 2007 10:09 AM
12

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous
than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

- Martin Luther King, Jr. –

Posted by truthseeker | April 6, 2007 10:42 AM
13

@ #10 Just sayin': I understand the difference you're trying to make, BUT al-Zarqawi didn't swear allegiance to the US until after the invasion, as Annie points out.

@#4 nascar video:
1- so has the US. Why didn't Reagan attack Hussein if that's the criteria? Instead, a smiling Rumsfeld sold him weapons.

2- Saddam was an evil sonofabitch, no disagreement. But so are the dictators in half the world. Should we attack all those nations as well? Moreover, we had him under a glass box between the no-fly zones and UN sanctions, so the level of this "threat" was rather low considering how much monitoring power we had on him. Instead of continuing to just monitor him while we took care of al-Qaeda and the 9/11 perpetrators, we let bin Laden et al. escape to Pakistan and dumped our resources into a strategically unimportant war.

3- you think this super costly war is justified because of his saber-rattling? Talk about killing a fly with a sledgehammer.

4- the real reason for the war. "He tried to kill my daddy."

5- yes, which simply prolonged our monitoring of him. There was nothing for them to find anyways. Moreover, the expulsions meant we could continue sanctions and monitoring against him. This would have actually been helpful, as it would've freed up resources for catching bin Laden and the 9/11 plotters.

6- assuming those links between Iraq and al Qaeda are true, which is highly doubtful, they amount to nothing more than an agreement not to fight each other. Yusef is totally correct, super-fundamentalist al Qaeda hates secular Iraq. Read the headlines today, and you'll see that Sunni Iraqis are fighting not only the US and the Shiites, but the Sunni radicals of al Qaeda.

And how can Britain bring its troops home and the White House says, "Mission Accomplished" to them, but if we bring ours home it's "Mission Failed". I say our military accomplished its goal of deposing Saddam. Obviously the goal wasn't to set up a new government, given the utter lack of resources provided by Bush for that job. So our goal is finished, we succeeded, "Mission Accomplished", bring 'em home!

Posted by him | April 6, 2007 11:12 AM
14

Yusuf, thanks for the background; and book suggestion, I'll check it out.

Nascar-video: Tighten up your game, dude. Those are some pretty weak arguments. "The democraps thought Saddam was a threat"? Oh. Really. To WHOM, my friend.. a threat to WHOM? The US? no. Israel? well, now, see... "Saddam used WMDs"...and the US sold him those WMDs to use. "Evidence of cooperation with Qaedorks"...based on a statement by a US President and Defense Sec. Please. That's reliable? Not really.

Fnarf @8: Fnarf unleashed! Seriously, I'm with you. If the US is going to be moral cop, let's treat everyone equally.

KXOne @9: Well, see, if we know the ACTUAL reasons we got into this bloody mess, perhaps the US population would mobilize and do something about it. Like end it. But I agree with you, I seriously doubt we can win a guerilla war in the sand. Fuck, all the troops themselves are wondering why we are there, and are fucked up because they KNOW they kill innocents reguarly (I know some of these guys, they are depressed as a rule). Check the link on my name for more interesting opinion.
Perhaps we need to support AWOL troops more, and more publically too.

Him @13: About point #2-- many don't know that Saddam was messing with oil markets.. alternately pumping to maximum, then shutting the spigots. The price of oil was bouncing around before the 2003 invasion. So he did have (limited) economic power that he was using to tweak the US oil companies, and, well, prolly Saudi Arabia too.. although I'm sure they were only benefitting in the end. Look up Greg Palast for more info on that.
On point #4-- well, seriously now. That's not the reason.
On point #6-- Al Qaedink is Wahhabi, not Sunni.

Posted by treacle | April 6, 2007 4:01 PM

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