Saturday, September 16, 2006

How bad is the Senate report on Saddam's ties to terrorism? 
Very bad, says Stephen Hayes.

Indeed, as Stephen Hayes demonstrates, the Senate's report is an example of breathtaking selectivity and willful ignorance of demonstrated fact. A few of Hayes' specific criticisms:

The report, which concludes that Saddam had no ties with Al Qaeda (in direct opposition to the conclusions of the 9/11 commissioners - whose views are routinely ignored in incompetent press coverage of the Senate report) makes NO MENTION of Abdul Rahman Yasin, who conspired with Ramzi Yousef, a nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, to bring down the World Trade Center in 1993. Rahman was eventually captured. Yasin fled to Iraq, where Saddam's government provided him with a job and a house.

The report fails to deal with this inconvenient fact pattern at all.

There is NO MENTION of expense reports from the Iraqi Intelligence Service unearthed by the Toronto Star, which contain an exchange of memos between IIS officers about who will pay for a March 1998 trip to Baghdad by a "trusted confidante" of Osama bin Laden.

There is NO MENTION of documents showing that the Iraqi regime cultivated a relationship with bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, throughout the 1990s.

Says Hayes:

Time magazine's Joe Klein, an Iraq War critic who is dubious of a broader Iraq-al Qaeda relationship, noted last week: "Documents indicate that Saddam had long-term, low-level ties with regional terrorist groups--including Ayman al-Zawahiri, dating back to his time with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. There is strong evidence as well that elements of the Special Republican Guard ran terrorist training camps." (One quibble: Is it possible for the leader of Iraq to have "low-level" ties with the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad?) The 9/11 Commission reported that Zawahiri "had ties of his own to the Iraqis." In June 2003, U.S. News & World Report described what a defense official called a "potentially significant link" between Iraq and al Qaeda that came, at that early date, from a single source. "A captured senior member of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, has told interrogators about meetings between Iraqi intelligence officials and top members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group that merged with al Qaeda in the 1990s. The prisoner also described $300,000 in Iraqi transfers to the organization to pay for attacks in Egypt. The transfers were said to have been authorized by Saddam Hussein."

There is NO MENTION of documents conclusively demonstrating that Saddam Hussein was providing cash to Abu Sayyaf, Al Qaeda's branch manager in the Philippines.

Another tantalizing detail:

There is no mention of alleged Iraqi complicity in Abu Sayyaf attacks in October 2002 that claimed the life of U.S. Special Forces soldier Mark Wayne Jackson. One week after that attack, Filipino authorities recovered a cell phone that was to have detonated a bomb placed on the playground of a local elementary school. The cell phone , which belonged to an Abu Sayyaf terrorist, had been used to make calls to Abu Sayyaf leaders. Investigators also discovered that the phone had also been used to call Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, just 17 hours after the attack that took the life of the American soldier. Hussein was ordered out of the Philippines for his associations with terrorist groups, including Abu Sayyaf.

There is NO MENTION of the fact that according to a 1998 indictment of Osama Bin Ladin, the Clinton Administration believed that Bin Ladin had arranged for safe harbor with the government of Iraq, and that he had arranged to work cooperatively with Iraq on the development of WMD.

There is NO MENTION of the numerous Clinton Administration claims that Bin Ladin was working with Saddam on chemical weapons development in Sudan.

There is NO MENTION of signals intelligence connecting Sudanese officials at the al Shifa chemical plant with Emad al Ani, Iraq's chief VX nerve agent expert. There is also NO MENTION that Richard Clarke had concluded that the nerve agent samples recovered from al Shifa in Sudan were the exact same formula as that used in Iraq.

There is NO MENTION of documents recovered establishing that the Saddam Fedayeen had, beginning in 1994, been conducting military training camps for volunteers from all over the Arab world - and had continued to do so at least through January 2003.

There is NO MENTION of Blessed July, an operation ordered by Uday Hussein in which London was specifically targeted for terrorist attacks.

The report concludes that Hussein did not harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates. But the report itself concedes that Hussein himself ordered the release of a Zarqawi associate who was himself implicated in the murder of Lawrence Foley.


And those are by no means an exhaustive list of Hayes' criticisms. But the mind-numbing list of outright omissions alone defy credulity. When so much information which in itself, if true, is dispositive, is simply left out, the authors of the report cross the frontier of incompetence into the zone of intellectual dishonesty.

Saddam's hands were filthy with terrorism. Clinton knew it. Cohen knew it. There is no intellectually honest way to avoid that conclusion.

Splash, out


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