Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saddam's terror training camps - and how Stephen Hayes misses the mark 
Stephen Hayes is reporting that Saddam's regime was running three separate training facilities in Iraq - in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak - graduating 2,000 foreign terrorist every year from 1999 to 2002. The total number of terrorists graduated from these training camps was approximately 8,000, according to Hayes' reporting.

Inexplicably, although Hayes claims his reporting is confirmed by eleven separate government officials who verify the existence and character of the documentation of Saddam's training program, not one goes on the record. Michael Tanji declines to confirm or deny the reporting.

Nor does Hayes produce the documents themselves, nor even quote meaningly from them.

If Hayes and other conservatives are going to bitch about why the traditional media doesn't pick up the story, that's why.

We do have this passage, quoting an anonymous source:

Speaking of Ansar al Islam, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that operated in northern Iraq, the former high-ranking military intelligence officer says: "There is no question about the fact that AI had reach into Baghdad. There was an intelligence connection between that group and the regime, a financial connection between that group and the regime, and there was an equipment connection. It may have been the case that the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] support for AI was meant to operate against the [anti-Saddam] Kurds. But there is no question IIS was supporting AI."

The official continued: "[Saddam] used these groups because he was interested in extending his influence and extending the influence of Iraq. There are definite and absolute ties to terrorism. The evidence is there, especially at the network level. How high up in the government was it sanctioned? I can't tell you. I don't know whether it was run by Qusay [Hussein] or [Izzat Ibrahim] al-Duri or someone else. I'm just not sure. But to say Iraq wasn't involved in terrorism is flat wrong."

That much I don't doubt at all. But I'd like to see the docs. The Israelis were able to come up with checks written by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists. The docs are out there. When will Pentagon Public Relations chief Lawrence DiRita finally get off his ass and get serious about putting them out there?

Hayes' article strays from supporting the bombshell - the existence and scale of the training camps in Iraq and the connections of their graduates to Al Qaeda - and becomes instead a meta-piece on the difficulties of going throgh the crates and crates of millions of captured documents.

To the extent Hayes fails to support his bombshell, he misses the mark.

Time for the MSM to file a FOIA for all documents relating to terrorist activities at Salman Pak, Samarra, and Ramadi from 1999 to 2002, though.

Think it'll happen?

Splash, out


Jason, enjoy your blog. I would note that Hayes has filed a FOIA request far more specific than the one you suggest and has still gotten the complete runaround for various DoD entities. Here are two articles on point.

I think this article is an attempt to stir things up to the point where the relevant docs get disclosed.
So only the NY Times and the Washington Post are allowed to print explosive stories citing anonymous sources?

It seems Hayes is in compliance with journalism standards set by the self-styled "newspaper of record."
I hate to agree with anybody named Anonymous, but I'm afraid he's right. The reason that the traditional press isn't all over this isn't the lack of sources speaking on the record, it's that the off-the-record sources aren't saying things that agree with the traditional press's storyline. Stories with a lot thinner sourcing than this run all the time - as long as they fit the agenda.
This certainly jives with what I've heard from residents of Arab Jabour and Al Boetha, who refer to part of Salman Pak as "the place where they trained terrorists before the war."

Sorry I can't go into more detail, but for what it's worth, Hayes' report lines up with everything I've seen on the ground there.
"If such terrorist training places had been in existence verification of these would have not been missed by the most "powerful"intellegence agencies wouldn't have missed and helped Bush to crow more about it."
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