Don’t these guys in the Administration ever learn?
You may recall that prior to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration tried to foist the idea on the American people that Saddam’s Iraq was a training ground for terrorists.
Thanks to our brilliant intelligence services and the untiring efforts of left wing liberals, this dangerous lie was exposed and found to be utterly, completely, totally, and without question a prevarication.
Now there’s word that the Bush Administration is once again trying to promote this lie. Are these guys stupid or something? I mean, in order for anyone to believe them, they would have to have a huge amount of documentary evidence with pictures and testimony from Saddam’s henchmen. The evidence would have to be incontrovertible.
Thank goodness that kind of thing could never happen, right? RIGHT?
THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.
The secret training took place primarily at three camps—in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak—and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria’s GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.
The photographs and documents on Iraqi training camps come from a collection of some 2 million “exploitable items” captured in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan. They include handwritten notes, typed documents, audiotapes, videotapes, compact discs, floppy discs, and computer hard drives. Taken together, this collection could give U.S. intelligence officials and policymakers an inside look at the activities of the former Iraqi regime in the months and years before the Iraq War.
That thud you just heard was the collective sound of liberals hitting their heads on the floor after fainting.
I wrote here of Mr. Hayes’ herculean efforts to examine these non-classified documents. The fact was that at the time, the Pentagon seemed singularly unconcerned about the political ramifications of some of the things that might be found. They had a assigned a pitifully small number of researches to the task and were giving journalists like Mr. Hayes the runaround when they volunteered to go through some of the documents themselves. If what Mr. Hayes says here is true, that attitude may be changing:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has convened several meetings in recent weeks to discuss the Pentagon’s role in expediting the release of the information. According to several sources familiar with his thinking, Rumsfeld is pushing aggressively for a massive dump of the captured documents. “He has a sense that public vetting of this information is likely to be as good an astringent as any other process we could develop,” says Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita.
The main worry, says DiRita, is that the mainstream press might cherry-pick documents and mischaracterize their meaning. “There is always the concern that people would be chasing a lot of information good or bad, and when the Times or the Post splashes a headline about some sensational-sounding document that would seem to ‘prove’ that sanctions were working, or that Saddam was just a misunderstood patriot, or some other nonsense, we’d spend a lot of time chasing around after it.”
This is a view many officials attributed to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steve Cambone. (Cambone, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed.) For months, Cambone has argued internally against expediting the release of the documents. “Cambone is the problem,” says one former Bush administration official who wants the documents released. “He has blocked this every step of the way.” In what is perhaps a sign of a changing dynamic within the administration, Cambone is now saying that he, like his boss, favors a broad document release.
What this cache of information about the training of 8,000 terrorists in Iraq shows is that our intelligence agencies aren’t worth spit. What can you say about a culture that would rather be wrong about the facts than change their cherished, long held and flawed analyses?
This represents an extraordinarily troubling dysfunctionality at the top levels of our intelligence apparatus. Even with the most technologically sophisticated satellites and signals intercept equipment known to man, our “analysts” at the CIA were still unable to uncover a training program from which 2,000 hardened jihadists graduated every year. Could they have been blind to this danger because of stupidity? Or was there something more at work here?
Given the war being waged by the CIA over the last 3 years against this Administration, is it too farfetched to believe that the threat Saddam posed as a terrorist trainer and enabler was deliberately downplayed in order to try and convince the Administration not to go for regime change? How could they have missed this? It will take a tall amount of convincing for me to believe that somewhere in our National Reconnaissance Office – the top secret headquarters that analyzes intel from our spy satellites – that there aren’t pictures detailing exactly what is going on at those sites mentioned in Mr. Hayes article. Are we to believe that trained professionals were unable to spot these terrorist sites?
Someone at the CIA has some explaining to do.