Sunday, July 18, 2004

Iraq, the Intelligence Report, and Terrorism

The elite media wasted little time noting the conclusion reached in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report that:
"The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably assessed that there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda throughout the 1990s, but that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship."
Naturally, this has been trumpeted as refuting the notion of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. However, that is only true if you actually avoid reading the relevant section of the report. The leading journalist on this issue, Stephen Hayes, has read the report, and notes the following:
The text of the Senate report tells a very different story. The panel based much of its analysis on a CIA product published in January 2003 called Iraqi Support for Terrorism--the most restrained of five CIA reports on Iraq and terror. The findings will surprise Americans who have relied for their information about the Iraqi threat on the establishment news media.

"Iraq continues to be a safehaven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States, Israel, and other allies. Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorism. During the last four decades, it has altered its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It continues to harbor and sustain a number of smaller anti-Israel terrorist groups and to actively encourage violence against Israel. Regarding the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship, reporting from sources of varying credibility points to a number of contacts, incidents of training, and discussions of Iraqi safehaven for Osama bin Laden and his organization dating from the early 1990s.
His new article, "The Missing Link", is available on the Weekly Standard Web site. I strongly advise giving it a look.
Meanwhile, over at the Winds of Change blog, Dan Darling also read over the report and provides one of his usual excellent analyses. He provides a good summary of the Iraq-al Qaeda section, even filling in some of the redacted gaps:
In general, this document is a lot better than that Staff Statement No. 15 that was churned out by the 9/11 commission. One other thing to be mentioned, incidentally, is that this report specifically undercuts some of the 9/11 Commission's key findings with respect to Iraq and al-Qaeda. It cites post-1999 contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, which the 9/11 commission claims to possess no information on. Perhaps someone should hand the commission members a copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee report?

Also, this demolishes 2 of Richard Clarke's key claims with respect to Iraq: that there was no Iraqi involvement in terrorism post-1993, and that there is no evidence whatsoever of Iraqi support for al-Qaeda. Both of these claims, to put it quite simply, can now be shown to be factually untrue.
Once again, the entire piece is worth a look.


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