Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Iraq Intel Report

On Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report scrutinizing Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion. "What was the gist of the report, Darrell? Boil it down," you say. Well, OK, the administration claims linking Iraq and al-Qaida were complete balderdash. "Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or operational support."

Keep in mind that Iraq-supporting warmongers are running the Intel committee, so this isn't a mere partisan hit-job. In fact, the report is part of a five-part study that the Senate Intelligence Committee has undertaken examining the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq. Three committee reports remain classified (i.e., suppressed), including one which compares prewar statements by Bush administration officials to intelligence available at the time.

To take one example, before the war, leading administration figures parroted liars like Stepen Hayes, fomenting the charge that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was fitted with a prosthetic limb in a Baghdad hospital and stayed to recuperate in Baghdad as a VIP guest of Saddam Hussein's regime for months. This myth played into the notion that a sinister connection existed between al-Qaida and Hussein.

It still isn't clear whether Zarqawi sought medical treatment in Baghdad, but even if he did, is it hard to believe Saddam might not have been perusing check-in logs from the local hospital? That in fact a terrorist like Zarqawi, who was hostile to the secularism of the Hussein regime, might have snuck into town undetected. According to the Senate report, Saddam "attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture" him and the Iraqi regime "did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

Zarqawi, it must be remembered, operated from an area in northern Iraq outside Saddam's control, effectively protected by the American enforced no-fly zone.

The point is that Saddam was a thorough secularist and wanted nothing to do with the messianic aims of Wahabbi extremists like Zarqawi. Likewise, the divisions within Islam are significant, and we would do well to extricate ourselves from the region and allow them to fight among themselves.

Yet until immediately before the war, the president had no idea that Islam was a sectarian faith. Gee, that might have been handy to know before preparing a war, don't you think?

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