Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quote of the Day: Saddam & al-Qaeda

This week's Senate Intelligence Committee reports are damning in proving that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda. Or are they?

Thomas Josceyln of the Weekly Standard begs to differ, pointing out that the "evidence" cited in the reports frequently ignores contradictory evidence, or gives unreasonable weight to certain facts. Case in point (emphasis mine):
The committee's staff made little effort to determine whether or not the testimony of former Iraqi regime officials was truthful. In fact, Saddam Hussein and several of his top operatives -- all of whom have an obvious incentive to lie -- are cited or quoted without caveats of any sort. In Saddam's debriefing it was suggested that he may cooperate with al Qaeda because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." According to the report, "Saddam answered that the United States was not Iraq's enemy. He claimed that Iraq only opposed U.S. policies . . ."

Anyone with even a partial recollection of the controversy surrounding Iraq in the 1990s will recall that Saddam made it a habit of cursing and threatening the United States. His annual January "Army Day" speeches were laced with threats and promises of retaliation against American assets. That is, when Saddam claimed that the United States was "not Iraq's enemy," he was quite obviously lying. But nowhere in the staff's report is it noted that Saddam's debriefing was substantially at odds with more than a decade of his rhetoric.
And, Joscelyn continued, the report insists Saddam Hussein had no ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led al-Qaeda's efforts in Iraq until his recent demise:
The staff cites debriefings which support this conclusion, but do not give any weight at all to testimony which runs counter to it. For example, the Phase I Senate Intelligence report noted that a top al Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah "indicated that he heard that an important al-Qaida associate, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, and others had good relationships with Iraqi intelligence."

Zubaydah's testimony has since been further corroborated by a known al Qaeda ideologue, Dr. Muhammad al-Masari . . . He told the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi that . . . "Saddam funded Al-Qaeda operatives to move into Iraq with the proviso that they would not undermine his regime."

Al-Masari claimed that Saddam's regime actively aided Zarqawi and his men prior to the war and fully included them in his plans for a terrorist insurgency. He said Saddam "saw that Islam would be key to a cohesive resistance in the event of invasion." Iraqi officers bought "small plots of land from farmers in Sunni areas" and they buried "arms and money caches for later use by the resistance."
A cursory examination of Zarqawi's cell in Iraq reveals that many of his top operatives were once Saddam's military and intelligence officers. It appears, therefore, al-Masari's testimony should be taken seriously. Yet, neither Abu Zubaydah's nor Al-Masari's statements are given any weight by the committee.
Joscelyn concludes:
This reports was never really about investigating the relationship between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda. It was about giving certain senators more ammunition against the president.
By the way, one of the senators on that committee is Oregon's Ron Wyden.


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