Saturday, November 15, 2003

Connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda

It has long been a point of contention in any debate on the War in Iraq about whether there was any connection at all between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. I, personally, believed there was but was hesitant about supporting the launch of the war when it occured without more evidence. The White House and 10 Downing Street both claimed to have such evidence before the war. While I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, it began to look very suspicious as the weeks went by without knowing what that information was. I'm just that kind of American - I like to know why my government is involved in the affairs it's pursuing. Even though I believed that a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda existed, there was precious little corroboration on the matter.

Until now, apparently.

Citizen Smash was the 1st blog I saw this reference on and I have now seen a few providing unofficial mirrors for it. There's a memo from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is dated 27 October, 2003. In it, in a numbered bullet format, are about 50 points of intelligence analysis dealing with the connection between Iraq and terrorist activities against the US and her allies, most specifically with regard to Al Qaeda. It details the presence of a working relationship between Saddam's regime in Iraq and bin Laden's Al Qaeda. I won't go into the details of it - you can read the article yourselves and get the whole flavor. (If you have trouble getting the link, try here, here, or here.)

Briefly put, there's evidence that members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service met with members of Al Qaeda's officer corp and with terrorist plotters involved in a number of high-profile attacks including the 9/11 hijack attacks in New York and Washington. The memo goes on to cite examples of interaction between the two all the way up to 2003 when the war started. I consider this to be valid information and sufficient evidence to substantiate a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Knowing Al Qaeda's motives and determination to attack us, and knowing Iraq's capabilities and projected enhancements of those capabilities, I do absolutely consider such an alliance to be a threat to this country. It was a threat powerful enough and imminent enough in nature to warrant our posture before the war. Hussein's repeated refusals to adhere to the UN resolutions within the time frame specified were justification enough to act. Yes, I would like to have known this before the 1st shot was fired, but I understand that such information cannot always be released publicly. I am satisfied with this evidence.

The memo, a 16-page document, reads like a general overview, however, and I'd be interested in knowing the full information behind that overview. I look forward to having that information released as well.

Update: 11/16/2003 The DoD has released a statement that the above-mentioned memo was 1) leaked, and they wished it hadn't been, and 2) was a list and description of other reports produced by the NSA, DIA, or the CIA. The reports are classified and are considered to be raw intelligence, not analysis. They contend that the memo released and leaked drew no conclusions. While I certainly found enough information in the release to feel comfortable drawing conclusions, I wanted to post this update in the interest of fair disclosure and completeness.