Thursday, October 07, 2004

The War on Terror: al-Qaeda and Iraq

In the aftermath of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, where the decision to go to war in Iraq was revisited, come reports in the mainstream media that the necessity of invading Iraq was much less than stated in the period leading up to the U.S. invasion of that country. USA Today is reporting that the chief American weapons inspector, Charles Duelfer, has submitted a one-thousand-page document that concludes there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor the facilities to manufacture such weapons. Glenn Kessler, in an article printed in the Washington Post, cites former members of the Bush administration and internal CIA documents to question the reasons given by the administration for invading Iraq, not the least of which was a "debunking" of a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq. This seems to be the generally accepted situation. Certainly, the candidates of the Democratic Party have been attempting to use this as a point in their criticism of President George Bush, accusing him of shifting the focus from the hunt for Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein -- wrongly, in their opinion -- which reports such as the ones citd above would seem to support.

However, as I noted a few days ago, this may not be the situation. That article discussed a report from CNS about documents showing a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Now, following links provided in an article entitled, "Iraqi Intelligence Documents" found at Blaster's Blog, some corroboration of the CNS reports can be found. There are two articles in today's Telegraph One discusses three documents from 1998, covering arrangements and expenses for a meeting between the Iraqi Mukhabarat (that is, the Iraqi Intelligence Service) and a representative of Osama bin Laden. Another, headlined, "The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden," by Inigo Gilmore, provides background information about these three documents. In this article, Gilmore writes,
The Telegraph found the file on bin Laden inside a folder lying in the rubble of one of the rooms of the destroyed intelligence HQ. There are three pages, stapled together; two are on paper headed with the insignia and lettering of the Mukhabarat.
(These articles were originally filed on April 27, 2004.)

There is also an article from the National Review Online, written by contributing editor Deroy Murdock. The story, dated June 3, 2004, entitled, "Baathist Fingerprints," discusses the "Prague connection" between Mohammed Atta, one of the 9-11 hijackers, and a representative of the Mukhabarat, based in part on reports from Czech Intelligence sources and documents from the Iraqi embassy in Prague.

Unfortunately, because of a system crash and reboot, I've lost a link to another blog with more information about the CNS documents. I will try to retrace my steps; and, if I can find that blog, I'll update this entry.

The current rhetoric from the campaign trail sharply criticizes President Bush and his administration for having taken our country "needlessly" into a war with Iraq, based upon incorrect/false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; and that his ties to al-Qaeda meant that Osama bin Laden might be able to obtain such weapons to use in additional attacks on, and in, the United States. At a certain level, such criticisms come very close to accusing the President of having lied to the American people, without doing so directly. If there is any basis in fact behind the reports from CNS, the Telegraph, and the National Review Online, it seems to me that such criticisms are out of line. This has a bearing on the election campaign, and the choice of a candidate for President of the United States -- but this is the basis for a separate entry in this blog...