Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought. [more inside]
"... Al Qaeda was forcing local affiliates (or at least its Iraqi one) to sustain themselves financially. If local groups must make their own money, governments and counterterror operatives can use Al Qaeda’s need to raise money - often using illicit means and pressure against local citizens - against the organization. That kind of counterterrorism would look less like war, and more like careful police work against what amounts to a criminal syndicate or mafia." [Inside Al Qaeda’s hard drives
Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted.
A newly declassified report
(PDF) by the Pentagon's inspector general claims that Iraq was not working with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion and that the intelligence was manipulated
by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith
. On the same day as the report came out, Dick Cheney claimed that they did have a relationship
via Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
. Zarqawi may be dead, but he's still useful
. [Via TalkLeft.]
"Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
[NewsFilter] "Beginning of the End." The death of al Zarqawi
, in itself, may have been a bit of a pyrrhic victory
, but the latest news is a "treasure trove
" of intelligence from al Qa'ida in Iraq. Of course, al Qa'ida in Iraq is largely an open source
movement, so they never kept this exactly secret
--but now, it's being widely reported that al Qa'ida "sought war between US and Iran
." With speculation
that al Zaraqwi's death may lead to a drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq, might his death now also defuse tensions with Iran, as well? Did we end two
wars in one blow?
Newsfilter: CIA director Porter Goss resigns.
After taking some of the
heat for bad intelligence in the months before 9/11, Cheney's "cat's paw"
finally gets out of the kitchen.
"I've been silent long enough...
My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results." Marine Lieutenant General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's former top operations officer, becomes the latest military insider to raise his voice against the "zealots" who led the US into war in Iraq. He writes in Time
magazine: "Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again... After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war." During the Vietnam war, such discontent among soldiers sparked a massive campaign of disobedience and peace activism (as well as, more darkly, fragging
) within the ranks, as recounted in a new documentary called Sir! No Sir!
Can it happen again? Ask the Soldiers for the Truth
"I learned this week
that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story
..." President Bush really
did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here
.] And in yesterday's rare press conference
, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues
that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel
denounced by his own family, tribe.
Osama bin Laden, littérateur and new-media star
. A thought-provoking analysis of bin Laden's adept use of Koranic language and the Internet by Bruce B. Lawrence, an Islamic scholar at Duke who edited a new anthology of bin Laden's public statements called Messages to the World
. The Western media -- says the millionaire mass-murderer formerly trained as a useful ally by the CIA
via Pakistan's ISI
-- "implants fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media are doing!" Know thy enemy. [via Arts and Letters Daily.]
In other news,
let's all welcome the newest nation on our little planet, the Islamic Republic of Qaim. Newly created by the Iraqi faction of Al-Qaeda on the Iraqi side of the Iraqi-Syrian border, they're executing "collaborators" and at least one "prostitute". Their nearest neighbor's security forces -- the US Marines -- say they haven't heard anything about it.
'01 Memo to Rice Warned of Qaeda and Offered Plan
The Right and the Left are busy (see link beneath) attacking or defending Eason Jordan or Jeff Gannon, and meanwhile we learn that our clever, learned, trustworthy new Sec. of State had been given warnings about what might well take place and did nothing, allowing 9/11 to occur.
A strategy document outlining proposals for eliminating the threat from Al Qaeda, given to Condoleezza Rice as she assumed the post of national security adviser in January 2001, warned that the terror network had cells in the United States and 40 other countries and sought unconventional weapons, according to a declassified version of the document"
Rumsfeld doubts Saddam Laden link
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has cast doubt on whether there was ever a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
Iraq In Transition: Vortex or Catalyst? (PDF)
A key message of the report is that should Iraq fragment, a sectarian struggle between the Shi’a majority and Sunni minority is more likely to flare up in the context of a political breakdown. Al Qaeda and other militant Sunni groups will contribute to the polarisation between Sunnis, Shi’a and other religious groups in Iraq. A fragmented Iraq could provide a breeding ground for new militant factions, both Islamist and non-Islamist. Press release
Bush Insists on Iraq-Al Qaeda Links Despite Report
Not knowing when to give up and admit that he was wrong, Mr. Bush is digging in his heels and insisting, in spite of the 9/11 commision's findings to the contrary, that Saddam Hussein and Al-Queda are linked.
Said Mr. Bush, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."
I guess that'll be good enough for just under half the population.
FORMER WHITE HOUSE TERRORISM ADVISOR: BUSH ADMIN WAS DISCUSSING BOMBING IRAQ FOR 9/11 DESPITE KNOWING AL QAEDA WAS TO BLAME
Former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke tells Lesley Stahl that on September 11, 2001 and the day after - when it was clear Al Qaeda had carried out the terrorist attacks - the Bush administration was considering bombing Iraq in retaliation. Clarke's exclusive interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday March 21 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. "They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," says Clarke
CIA Seeks Probe of Iraq-Al Qaeda Memo Leak
The CIA will ask the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a 16-page classified Pentagon memo that listed and briefly described raw agency intelligence on any relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, according to congressional and administration sources...and if this probe is like so many others, that will be the end of this news item
No Iraq link to al-Qaida
"The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned." [more inside]
Judge Finds Documentation Connecting Iraq with Al-Qaeda?
Federal appellate Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of Nashville is in Iraq as one of 13 experts selected by the U.S. Justice Department to help rebuild Iraq's judicial system. And in an article from the Tennessean
, he claims to have found a newspaper published in the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper
, run by Uday Hussein, in which was a "List of Honor" containing the names of 600 men in high esteem by the former ruling regime. Among these was, apparently, ''Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan.''
Al-Qaeda fighting with Iraqis, British claim
So say interrogated Iraqi POWs. But wait. Al Qaeda the group that killed 3 thousand Americans and now they are inside Iraq helping Saddam? Were they there when Blix lads inspecting? Do the French know about this? If so, do they think we should give Al Qaeda a chance to reform?
Standing With Osama? "Some of the more bilious right-wing pundits... have taken to describing those who oppose the invasion as 'siding with Saddam.' But if such sleazy rhetoric is allowable, then maybe we should say that those like our President, who seem to have ignored Osama’s decrees, or like Powell, who are hawking a Saddam/Al Qaeda connection based on overblown evidence, are standing with Osama."
Is this accusation fair? If so, is it productive? I doubt it, but I'm not certain. Rohan Gunaratna, the author of "Inside Al Qaeda,"
warns that an invasion of Iraq would undermine the international campaign against Al Qaeda
and give terrorist groups a new lease on life. Oh well, at least it's funny
. [Via Cursor
.] [More inside.]
In what might be a preview of Secretary of State Powell's address to the United Nations tomorrow, Jeffrey Goldberg takes a look at how the Intelligence Community is re-thinking it's analysis of the Iraq/al-Qaeda connection
James Woolsey, who served as President Clinton's first C.I.A. director, said that it is now illogical to doubt the notion that Saddam collaborates with Islamist terrorism, and that he would provide chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda. "At Salman Pak"-a training camp near Baghdad-"we know there were Islamist terrorists training to hijack airplanes in groups of four or five with short knives," Woolsey told me. "I mean, hello? If we had seen after December 7, 1941, a fake American battleship in a lake in northern Italy, and a group of Asian pilots training there, would we have said, 'Well, you can't prove that they were Japanese'?"
America Still Unprepared - America Still in Danger,
a new report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations
, claims that "a year after September 11, 2001, America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil. In all likelihood, the next attack will result in even greater casualties and widespread disruption to American lives and the economy. The need for immediate action is made more urgent by the prospect of the United States going to war with Iraq and the possibility that Saddam Hussein might threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in America." While of al Qaeda, George Tenet says
that "the threat environment we face is as bad as it was before Sept. 11. It is serious—they have reconstituted, they are coming after us." This is not comforting (more inside.)
Elephant in the living room: A radical Islamic Nuclear Pakistan
(NYT reg. : name-metafilter password-metafilter) "Hard-line Islamic parties did unexpectedly well in Pakistan's election last week, and Pervez Musharraf's hold on power may be slipping. Do I need to point out that Pakistan is a lot bigger than Iraq, and already has nuclear weapons?...These guys [Bush Adm]want to fight a conventional war; since Al Qaeda won't oblige, they'll attack someone else who will [Iraq]. And watching from the alley, the terrorists are pleased. " -Paul Krugman, once again forced to state the obvious; the US is, effectively, helping with Al Qaeda's goal of radicalizing Islamic populations. In parts of Pakistan, they call Musharaff "Busharaff", and Nick Kristoff notes
"Even in Kuwait, where Yankees have the best possible claim on Arab gratitude, a significant minority of men and women regard us as worms" and that "The most common name given to Pakistani boys born after 9/11 in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province reportedly was Osama." What does this have to do with a war in Iraq? Well.........
“President Bush’s case against Saddam Hussein ... relied on a slanted
and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday.” Another article on the same subject says, “Rumsfeld’s recent remark that the United States has ‘bulletproof’ evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Hussein struck many in the intelligence community as an exaggerated
assessment of the available evidence.” One paper explains the differences this way, “The C.I.A. has to maintain its credibility
for objective estimates. The White House is mobilizing the public and preparing foreign nations for a potential American invasion of Iraq.”
Saddam Hussein Trained Al Qaeda Fighters - Report
Blair's evidence to convince the Brits that attacking Iraq is going after Saddam is needed because he has been directly involved with Qaeda network.
U.S. Stops Iraq-Al Qaeda Talk
From the Washington Post. Beyond the superficial significance of administration back-tracking, in regards to intelligence there seems to be two key aspects to this story: 1) The article talks about how the CIA was unable to "validate two prominent allegations made by high-ranking administration officials," implying that Bush/Cheney/etc. have been making baseless assumptions about Iraq in their pro-war arguments, and 2) it brings into question whether we know anything at all about Iraq, anyway. What if the same can be said of Hussein's nuclear plans?
How Al Qaeda Slipped Away
"American officials concede that there was a mass escape from Tora Bora—as well as a broader exodus by various routes into Pakistan and Iran—but insist that Al Qaeda now is crippled and too busy running to do much damage. “Perhaps we could have got them wholesale,” says one senior Defense official. “Now we’re doing it retail. In the end, it doesn’t make much difference. We’re getting them.”" We might want to take care of this before we "invade" Iraq
An excellent piece of media analysis
by Michael Wolff in New York Magazine looking at the current summer-movie-plot version of Al Qaeda being artfully constructed by the NY Times ...
Then, perhaps most disconcertingly, the overall narrative itself is patently a dumbed-down rehash. It's Cold War stuff. There is the ubiquitous and yet unknown and unknowable enemy. There's the international jihad, which, with only minor adjustments, replaces the international communist conspiracy. There's the sudden purported hegemony of the Muslim world -- a new Soviet-bloc-style ideological monolith. There is the otherworldly dedication of operatives bent on overthrowing the West. There are the cells. There is the myth of superhuman discipline. There is now, even, the developing Kremlinology of the next tier of men who replace Osama. And at the center of the story, of course, is the bomb. Whether in massive retaliatory form or as a dirty-bomb package, it serves the same effect.
(link cribbed from Altercation
Every multiculturalist is a recruiting officer for al-Qa’eda.
The Spectator's cover story this week suggests that white intellectuals' posture of hatred for Western civilization is at least somewhat responsible for British Muslims' hatred of the West. Is this a revealing insight, or just a twisted blame-the-victim argument? Or both?
Powell vs. The Pentagon.
According to CNN, Colin Powell is "pushing for a limited military component," and wants to place more emphasis on financial, legal, political and diplomatic tools. But (as you might expect), the Pentagon wouldn't mind taking down Saddam Hussein while we're in the neighborhood. In other CNN news, the US appears sensitive to the need to support its decisions, and will be making the case for bin Laden's guilt
to the Pakistanis. I find both of these items somewhat encouraging. How about you?