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November 15, 2003

IRAQ-AL-QAEDA CONNECTIONS....The Department of Defense has issued an official response to the Weekly Standard's article about Iraq-al-Qaeda connections. On its surface, it seems to be saying that the Standard is full of shit:

News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

....The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA....The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

Still, something tells me there are levels within levels here. I'm not sure what's going on.

UPDATE: I wrote this in a rush before going out to dinner last night, so let me just add a couple of comments:

  • I have no doubt that Stephen Hayes accurately excerpted the memo.

  • It's pretty unusual for DoD to issue a press release like this. Sure, it's carefully worded, but it just wouldn't have been released at all unless someone important had some kind of serious problem with the raw data in Feith's memo. If you want to know what's going on, try to figure out who was behind this release and why. (I don't have any guesses at the moment.)

  • Anyone who believes that they can read the memo and "judge for themselves" is living in a fantasy. Analyzing intelligence isn't a job for amateurs, and every single one of the 50 points in Feith's memo may have a dozen other points indicating the opposite. We don't know, and that issue is smack at the center of the controversy over guys like Feith cherry picking the reports that support their views and ignoring everything else. Raw intelligence like this is worthless except to professional analysts and proves nothing.

I imagine we'll hear more about this later.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 15, 2003 06:41 PM | TrackBack


Comments

That is exactly what it is saying: WS article is full of shit. Hayes said the case was "closed" and cited this leaked memo as proof. Winger bloggers/commenters were nearly besides themselves with glee. Fact is, this is just another case of stovepiped intelligence, read Sy Hersh article, that the Wingers bought hook line and sinker. Instapundit was lamenting the fact that the SCLM hadn't caught this connection. DoD says it is just an index of supportive raw intelligence with no substantive analysis or conclusions.

HACKS!

Posted by: manyoso at November 15, 2003 06:54 PM | PERMALINK

Well the case certainly isn't closed. It is just another example of the Right grabbing onto any piece of raw intelligence that on the surface seems to help them idealogically. The DoD statement specifically refutes that the memo provides a "case closed" conclusion. Hayes just saw a bunch of raw intelligence and did his best administration pre-war skewing of intelligence results. That is all.

I think I have a new name for these pro-war idiots: neocon stovepipers. What do you think?

Posted by: manyoso at November 15, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

How do you get "WS article is full of shit" from "News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information... are inaccurate."

The following paragraph shows there is some substance to the report, though the "case closed" comment is certainly premature.

Posted by: Reg at November 15, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

"One of the questions posed by the committee asked the Department to provide the reports from the Intelligence Community to which he referred in his testimony before the Committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.

The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the Committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the Intelligence Community."

It seems to me that the DoD does not want to be backed into a corner. However, the points cited in the Weekly Standard are indeed summaries of the intelligence communities reports.

This is still a major news story and I would like to see the national newspapers and networks examine this closely before it is dismissed out of hand.


Posted by: Jediflyer at November 15, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

E-mail the Weakly Sub-Standard and ask them what the hell they're doing committing felonies to prove their bogus "connections" between Iraq and al-Qaeda:

editor@weeklystandard.com

Posted by: Old Hat at November 15, 2003 07:04 PM | PERMALINK

How about just neoconmen? Selling a new type of international snake oil that has all the laudatory benefits of the old pitch-blend with Radium mixtures sold around the turn of the century. (Before that damn FDA imposed all those anti-business regulations.)

Posted by: Derelict at November 15, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

"On its surface, it seems to be saying that the Standard is full of shit:"

Uh, nope!

"not an analysis of the substantive issue" ... "drew no conclusions" ... no kidding! Who even said it did? Certainly not the Standard! The Standard laid out some of the FIFTY pieces of "straight, fact-based intelligence reporting", which were often followed by "commentary and analysis".

But, of course, by impugning the source of the memo, you are ignoring the big story here... which is that all the Democrats who claimed that there is no evidence of an Iraq-AQ relationship LIED. Which is not surprising... it's well known that most Democrats are LIARS.

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's saying the WS is full of shit at all. What it is saying is that the connecting of the dots to a conclusion has not been done by the DoD. It doesn't deny the accuracy of any of the data contained in the appendices.

I'm capable of looking at the list of meetings etc. listed in the memo and concluding myself that there clearly was some kind of relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Posted by: spc67 at November 15, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

Reg,

Read it again:

The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

This in NOT how the WS article characterized it.

Repeat: The WS article is full of shit.

Posted by: Sovok at November 15, 2003 07:07 PM | PERMALINK

"E-mail the Weakly Sub-Standard and ask them what the hell they're doing committing felonies to prove their bogus "connections" between Iraq and al-Qaeda"

Uh, no.

All the connections the Weekly Standard laid out were from intelligence reports on the subject. It was only the author's opinion that the Dod wanted to back away from, as well as condemn the publishing of classified (why keep "bogus" stuff classified?) information.

Posted by: Jediflyer at November 15, 2003 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

Reg, uh, the "case closed" comment was not a comment. It was the title and point of the WS article. The DoD refuted that title and that point. Case isn't closed. This is just another case of neocon stovepipers who are using raw intelligence to further their own idealogy. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 15, 2003 07:11 PM | PERMALINK

What is it with you guys? Doesn't your common sense suggest that there was some sort of relationship between these two men and their organizations? After all, they're both in the same line of work: accumulation of power through murder, torture, destruction, enslavement...

I'm sure you're not the ones blaming the Administration for "failing to connect the dots" after 9/11, but these look alot like dots to me and the connections are pretty obvious...

Why can't you see it? (Maybe it's like those 3-D pictures where you have to squint and let go of your old ways of looking at things....)

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't you see it?

Because there's no evidence, maybe?

Because a "hunch" is no reason to start a stupid, diasterous war?

Posted by: Sovok at November 15, 2003 07:20 PM | PERMALINK

"This in NOT how the WS article characterized it."

Is it a congenital flaw of all leftwingnuts that they lack reading comprehension skills?

You all should try reading the Standard article again.

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap, it is not entirely unreasonable to believe some connection was made. However, it is not unreasonable to believe that no connection was ever made. Saddam was a hated secularist which was not Osama's cup of tea.

It is unreasonable to conclude such a connection was made based on cooked intelligence and its skewed interpretation to build a case for war. Such a connection exists? Prove it. Really, close the case. The fact that you can't, the WS can't, the administration can't, when it is incredibly obvious that you would kill to be able to do so... is highly suggestive that no substantive connection ever existed. Doesn't rule out that an Al Quaeda operative or two might have ate some hummus in Iraq at some time or other... they damn sure are in Iraq now. Still, if you want definitive relationships between Al Quaeda and middle eastern regimes why don't you make the case for Saudi Arabia... It'd be infinitely easier. Oh wait, that's right, it wouldn't further a neocon stovepipe agenda. At least, not yet.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 15, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh, Al is forced to plea for reading comprehension skills.

Al, would you argue that the case is still closed? Despite the DoD pronouncement?

Atrios, we really do need better monkeys.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 15, 2003 07:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Prove it. Really, close the case. The fact that you can't, the WS can't, the administration can't, when it is incredibly obvious that you would kill to be able to do so... is highly suggestive that no substantive connection ever existed."

Isn't this the same kind of flawed logic (that I am guilty of) that validated the Iraq has WMD argument? If you remember, 'since Iraq won't prove it doesn't have WMD and is not cooperating fully with inspectors, therefore it must have WMD.'

Posted by: Jediflyer at November 15, 2003 07:24 PM | PERMALINK

"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11," Bush told reporters as he met members of Congress on energy legislation.

With all this conclusive evidence, someone might want to clue in the chimp.

Posted by: libertas at November 15, 2003 07:27 PM | PERMALINK

Jag

No one doubts that Saddam and AQ ever had a cup of coffee together. They are, after all, both in the same part of the world, and share a common enemy. But that's apparently all that ever happened between them. Even the 'raw' intelligence (meaning the naked field reports of the officers relaying what someone told them, without analysis) makes very weak claims. When you compare what we have third hand from funky defectors about an Iraq/AQ relationship to what we know for certain about the relationships AQ has with many other players in the region, asserting that Saddam was a special threat because he was allied with AQ is ludicrous.

What is truly odious here is that Feith (or whoever in the admin did this) is willing to leak this 'top secret' intel data in the service of political cover, whereas if the Dems on that committee had breathed a word of the classified data they get to the press for the same purpose, Instpundit would be approvingly linking to a blog entry proposing that we forgo a trial for them and simply string them up.

Just kidding. Heh.

Posted by: epist at November 15, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jediflyer, *big* difference. Seriously big difference.

Think about it. The administration was asking Iraq to prove a negative. I am asking these chuckleheads to prove a positive. They say they had a connection. They should be able to prove it.

If I were asking them to prove that Iraq had never made contact with Osama... you'd have a correct analogy. Just think about what form this hypothetical proof would take and you'll understand the logical impossibility.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 15, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the Intelligence Community. The selection of the documents was made by DOD to respond to the Committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions." - DOD statement

What it seems like is that the listing of meetings cited by Feith, and released by the WS, are raw reports, or at least one side of a larger case. Feith's operatives thus told him of these meetings between SH and AQ. But nobody has gone through any rigorous analysis to see if these meetings can be corroborated. It's like judging a case entirely on the prosecution's testimony without even listening to the defense's side. It isn't that these meetings definitely did not take place, but that no self-respecting intelligence analyst or policy maker would rely on the "report" alone. If anything the case is certainly not closed, Feith probably leaked the memo to gain political points (and should be fired - if it's proven) and the Weekly Standard is, as Kevin says, full of shit for asserting a conclusion based on absurdly selective bits of data.

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 07:31 PM | PERMALINK

All the DoD statement said was that the memo was not intended to be an analysis of the relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq and drew no conclusions. How in the hell does that translate into "the Weekly Standard is full of shit?"

The DoD may not have drawn any conclusions in this memo but that doesn't prevent the Standard from doing so, and I'd say that their conclusions seem to be reasonable ones, based on the evidence presented. At the very least, the evidence seems compelling and the DoD did nothing to refute any of it.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at November 15, 2003 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

OK, jaqcap- there was probably "some sort of relationship". Was/is there "some sort of relationship" between AQ and many of the US's purported allies in the region? If so, does it mean that, say, the governments of Saudi and Pakistan were behind the embassy bombings and 9/11? Is the existence "some sort of relationship" justification for invading? Or do the characteristics of the relationship have something to do with that?

Do you think "Case Closed" was an appropriate title, especially in light of the DOD document?

By the way, as I asked elsewhere in Comments at Calpundit- how did the WS staff get its collective mitts on a "top secret" memo? The author of the DOD memo seems to be wondering the same thing.

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 07:33 PM | PERMALINK

why can't we all just wait some time for independent corroboration and more in-depth analysis of the memo. Why do righties (and the WS) have to make asses of themselves by claiming this memo closes the case before it is counter-checked? and why do lefties have to make asses of themselves by saying the memo is wholly irrelevant and raising the bar up to the demand of a video of SH and OBL having tea while trading nukes?
That said, given the bad intelligence so far (regardless of why it was bad), I think it's reasonable to hold one's breath on this, and to place a greater onus on the pro-connection side because of its track record (e.g. on WMD).

Posted by: markus at November 15, 2003 07:33 PM | PERMALINK

Since there is a catfight between the Bush administration and the CIA, I don't really feel surprized at all after especially since the Wilson affair: this information could have been exposed before the war nevertheless it would have not justified the war either. It is maybe the information they used to go to the war in Iraq. Ahem.
:)

Posted by: Frenchy at November 15, 2003 07:35 PM | PERMALINK

Markus, maybe the answer to your question has to do with the WS publishing the memo and trumpeting "Case Closed", when case certainly isn't.

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

OMG! Not the "hated secularist" canard!

Well, I know that it disappoints those whose only familiarity with "proving the case" comes from the Practice or Perry Mason, but usually all you've got to work with is circumstantial evidence. You look at the facts: motives, meetings, opportunity, means, etc, and try to assemble a narrative which fits the facts... I don't do this stuff everyday anymore, but I've done plenty of civil and criminal jury and nonjury trials (and prepared for many more that never went to trial) and I've yet to see the sort of "case" you seem to be demanding... it's a fantasy, pal... in the real world, you take the facts (the "raw intelligence"), put it together and try to figure out what happened and (when you're worried about thousands of your brothers and sisters being reduced to raspberry jam, you also try to figure out what MIGHT happen)... and you go forward from there...
I've also come to learn that there is no power in the universe stronger than the "will not to believe" whether it's the bankrupt who thinks he really can refi his house or the about to be convicted who thinks he'll get acquitted... And it looks to me that you've got a bad case of the "will not to believe..." This is nothing new, of course... we've been able to lead horses to water for centuries, but we still can't make em drink...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 07:39 PM | PERMALINK

jaqcap, are you referring to a "will not to believe..." in the PNAC plan for establishing a New American Imperium in the Middle East as the best way to deal with Islamist terror?

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

Uhhh, right jag. Tell me, when you gather the facts to start constructing the narrative, do you use all the facts, or only those that support your prejudicial conclusion?

Posted by: epist at November 15, 2003 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

Robuzo, I mentioned your point in my post. What I don't get is why some on the left feel the need to go beyond correctly noting the WS's conclusion ("case closed") is BS. Why dismiss the raw intel out of hand?

Posted by: markus at November 15, 2003 07:49 PM | PERMALINK

So much talk and absolutely no proof. Case isn't closed. Just more faith based intelligence.

I'm sure you still think Saddam was in possession of massive WMD stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, that it was reconstituting its nuclear program, that it posed an immediate threat we just had to take out... despite the fact that no such evidence of threat, WMD or nuclear programs existed when we invaded. But Bush did say we found them. Rumsfeld did say we know where they are. And David Kay's report still isn't back yet. Can't argue with faith I suppose.

Posted by: Adam in MA at November 15, 2003 07:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mortal creatures that we are, living in this vale of tears, we are limited in many ways from gathering "all the facts" and we are further limited by our upbringing, training, and perspective... That said, we do not shirk our responsibility to see as clearly as we can, think as precisely as we are able, and act as courageously and with such wisdom as we can muster.
Prejudice in inevitable. Stasis is cowardice.

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap,
Would it make sense for a jury to decide a case solely based on the prosecution's testimony? The problem here isn't that a video of SH and OBL can't be produced, but that the eagerness with which folks at the Weekly Standard like to promote a RAW REPORT as if it were conclusive evidence gives great cause for skepticism of the larger argument. What I quibble with is not that SH and OBL never met or had any relationship but that the Feith memo alone demonstrates the kind of uniquely troublesome relationship (compared to say Saudi Arabia or Pakistan) that would justify invasion. Case is certainly far from closed.

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

Epist:

do you use all the facts, or only those that support your prejudicial conclusion?

Of course, that's what lawyers do - have you even seen one stand up and begin a trial by saying "my case has no merit, please rule in favor of my opponent".

I PERFECTLY willing to believe, just give me some @#$%* evidence!

Posted by: Sovok at November 15, 2003 07:52 PM | PERMALINK

Adam Adam Adam....
In the overwhelming percentage of serious life decisions which confront each of us, we make our decisions based on circumstantial evidence... it IS proof, all the proof anyone of rational mien needs... the mark of irrationality in this discussion is the rejection by you and those of your ilk to accept the sorts of evidence which you routinely accept on all sorts of other momentous personal and political questions... (leaving aside the fact that your standard of proof for Bush perfidy/incompetence is absurdly twisted in the opposite direction)...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 07:56 PM | PERMALINK

markus, I agree, the raw information needs objective analysis. What I wrote was by way of explaining that the response on the left is probably in large part a reaction to the unjustifiably triumphalist and dismissive tone taken by the WS.

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 07:59 PM | PERMALINK

jaq, stasis is usually preferable to recklessness; wasn't that how conservatives used to think, before they became neo?

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 08:02 PM | PERMALINK

Elrod...
What troubles me is that you've cast this as an adversary proceeding, rather than an effort to understand, you assume that Bush has evil intentions and now regally await proof that he does not... It now seems conceded that these guys "had hummus" or a "cup of coffee" together... [Although lefties used to strenuously deny even that] OK, what do guys, in the same line of business, talk about? The business! The common business with these guys was murder, torture, theft, terrorism, imprisonment, Death to America.... What more do you want? Tapes? Sworn testimony from the tea merchant? What would satisfy you?
I don't think anything that is likely to become available in the real world is likely to satisfy you... so, if you want to be Saddam/UBL/OBL/Whatever's defense counsel, go ahead, just own up to the fact that you're self-appointed....

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 08:04 PM | PERMALINK

Jag,
Of course all decisions are made on "circumstantial" evidence. And no evidence is truly objective either. We all use our prejudices to help us process the data that we take in. That's why successful organizations bring people together who have different biases so alternatives can be hashed out and prejudices gradually discarded in favor of some sort of "objective truth". So when a national security team continually accepts certain pieces of intelligence that lead to a certain massive policy decision, and ignores (note: not confronts logically but ignores, because it doesn't meet the presupposed conclusion) intelligence that militates against that course of action, then we can rightly say that that national security team is acting recklessly.

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

jaqcap, just who has too much will to believe? I'd say: The Weekly Standard. After looking at the DoD memo, it's perverse not to see as denying that the "case" is "closed". Sure, it's not saying that the AQ/Saddam connection is false. Even I think it's too early to say that definitively, and I am a Bush-hater and think there are strong reasons to be very skeptical of such a connection.[*]

You, Al, Reg, and the others are also failing to tackle two other issues: the first is the disgraceful hypocrisy about release of classified information and the politicization of intelligence. You can't say that leaking a classified memo (pehaps only the parts favorable to the AQ/Saddam claim) to a partisan journal isn't politicization. Where are the calls to throw Republicans off the Intelligence Committee. No, instead you use the distorted, incorrect gloss applied to this memo of Feith (A Boy who Cried Wolf on WMD, and whose credibility should be very low indeed) to impugn Carl Levin and anyone else who takes DoD's own attitude towards these claims. The second issue is simple: this Administration has no trouble in dissembling to us. Remember Rumsfeld saying he knew where the WMD were? Their credibility on Iraq is as little as Clinton's on sex. There's just no reason to believe a word they say.

[*] Actually, I think one can concede that Saddam and Al Qaeda had some contact. I bet if we tracked all of our intelligence assets and intermediaries, we'd discover that we had some contact with Al Qaeda. The question is whether Saddam and Al Qaeda had any sort of operational alliance, and so far corroborated evidence for that (like the Atta in Prague story would be, except that it is almost certainly untrue) is very thin.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 15, 2003 08:15 PM | PERMALINK

Stasis is the coward's soul-death. I think it's best explained as follows:

Lord, Grant Me
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I'm not always serene, courageous or wise, but I avoid mewling, whining, and feckless sowing of rumor and doubt.

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 08:15 PM | PERMALINK

"you assume that Bush has evil intentions and now regally await proof that he does not"

Not really assume. And not really "evil" either. It's just that one piece of the pre-war picture after another has come unraveled. And not in some minor fashion. Take WMD. I used to ask people, somewhat jokingly as the war began, "Imagine if they didn't find weapons of mass destruction?" I believed they were there. Most people believed they were there. I had doubts about whether the war, at this time, was justified. I would have based it on humanitarian grounds alone, from the getgo, but I felt the WMD claim seemed strong enough as it stood. (The best justification for the war, IMO, was that the sanctions, which successfully contained Saddam with respect to his WMD ambitions, were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Since lifting the sanctions would have been impossible from a WMD proliferation standpoint, invasion was the only option. I would have bought that argument entirely, considering I am a liberal interventionist and I DO believe American military might can be used for good around the world). Even diehard Bush-supporting Republicans, like my father in law, thought it would be ridiculous that we wouldn't find WMD. The fact that we didn't find WMD means that something's gone wrong. Was it the CIA's fault? The neocons' fault? Deliberately cooked intel? Just bad intel from a lot of different sources? Off to Syria? Destroyed on 3/19? I don't know. I do know that my trust in statements emanating from the Administration about our enemies was diminished. And it's with that hesitancy that I read, and draw my own conclusions, about Feith's intel report.

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 08:22 PM | PERMALINK

If that is what you get out of Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer, then no, I'd say wisdom is not your strong suit.

Posted by: Robuzo at November 15, 2003 08:23 PM | PERMALINK

There isn't much in that memo that was really new, which means that the kind of thoughtful analysis that we are waiting for has already been done. Why wasn't that analysis leaked? Why are we going with unsubstantiated raw data and pretending that we can now say "case closed?"

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 08:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap: "What is it with you guys? Doesn't your common sense suggest that there was some sort of relationship between these two men and their organizations? After all, they're both in the same line of work: accumulation of power through murder, torture, destruction, enslavement".

Folks, the guy isn't kidding. He really thinks that all ruthless murderers are friends with one another. Probably they have a clubhouse somewhere and meet to cuddle and give each other massages and sing songs together.

As bad guys, jagcap, Osama and Saddam are/were competitors, and ideologically and nationally (Osama basically wants/wanted to take over Saudi Arabia) they are also enemies. This doesn't make cooperation impossible, but it does make it unlikely.


Probably there WAS some sort of relationship between the two, but Osama's support came from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt, and Pakistan. There's really no big mystery.

Posted by: Zizka at November 15, 2003 08:26 PM | PERMALINK

There isn't much in that memo that was really new, which means that the kind of thoughtful analysis that we are waiting for has already been done. Why wasn't that analysis leaked? Why are we going with unsubstantiated raw data and pretending that we can now say "case closed?"

Paul--you've hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Bailey at November 15, 2003 08:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well. Let's chase that rabbit down the hole... what about WMD? We know SH had em... the UN said so, he'd used them, etc, etc... they even had brand new atropine injectors in some of the first positions we overran... since then, we've found all sorts of efforts to conceal these programs and thwart the UN inspectors... Based on what we know now... Why would you question the WMD rationale? Were you looking for a gassed-up ICBM? Sure, it'd have been nice to find stuff that would convince Al-Jeezera, but we adults know that the world doesn't always work that way and it doesn't shake us (or our beliefs) to the core...
BTW, I take issue with the notion that "sanctions" caused ANY deaths at all (the Pope notwithstanding)... it was Saddam who killed those people by stealing the money that was available for their food and medicine and using it to fund terrorists (at the very least, pay bounties to Palestinian suicide bombers) and further oppress the Iraqi people through favoritism and self-aggrandizment...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 08:30 PM | PERMALINK

jag sez:

"(leaving aside the fact that your standard of proof for Bush perfidy/incompetence is absurdly twisted in the opposite direction)"

Hear hear.

Posted by: me at November 15, 2003 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

I am astonished that anyone is gives this latest leak any credence whatsoever. It seems apparent to me that it is complete nonsense from beginning to end. Let me list a few reasons.

(1) If there really were substantive contacts between SH and OSB, these would have been trumpeted loudly before the war began. Why rely on dodgy yellowcake, when SH and OSB are collaborators?

(2) If this intelligence had any substance, it would have been given to a real newspaper, not the Weekly Standard. The WS had one big advantage: they'd print it without asking any questions.

(3) These are the same people who fed us Yellow Cake and WMDs. I bet the sources for the supposed meeting are the *very same* expatriots, in fact. The meetings are as real as the tons of anthrax.

If I am wrong, I'll apologize, but I would be very, very surprised if that turned out to be the case. It sounds exactly of the caliber of the hydrogen balloon trailors.

Posted by: EmmaAnne at November 15, 2003 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap, could you lay off the philosophy stuff? Your factual speculations and assertions are bad enough, but when you start doing epistomology and the serenity prayer I get queasy.

Posted by: Zizka at November 15, 2003 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap,
You don't get it. Elrod isn't talking about Bush. None of us are. Bush didn't provide this intelligence. Instead, it was people like Ahmad Chalabi. There was an article out a month ago or so with quotes from the DoD, etc., saying that the Iraqi exiles' intelligence on WMD had, in many, many cases, been completely made up and had almost all been entirely useless. These same sources are the ones providing the pieces of raw intel found in this report. For example, item 13 is about the supposed meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence official Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani in Praque, which has been debunked (we now believe Atta was in the US during the time the meetings supposedly took place, IIRC). If that one is verifiably wrong, how many others are as well?
The point most people here are trying to make is that this is the exact same type of intelligence, from the exact same type of sources, that told us about all of Saddam's stockpiles of WMD. Until these claims and their claimants have been scrutinized, the rational person would be wise to put as much stock in them as the WMD intelligence.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 08:33 PM | PERMALINK


jag, give it up, buddy. You *cannot* reason with these people. They just gainsay, change the topic or otherwise run away.

Do what I do and just troll the dimwits; they're not worth any serious intellectual effort.

Posted by: me at November 15, 2003 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, philosophy/english undergrad... some things get under your skin.

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 08:35 PM | PERMALINK

me...
Better to light one candle than curse the darkness...
Candle lit, see ya!

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 08:37 PM | PERMALINK

"You can't say that leaking a classified memo (pehaps only the parts favorable to the AQ/Saddam claim) to a partisan journal isn't politicization."

And we know who leaked the memo because... ?

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

"There isn't much in that memo that was really new, which means that the kind of thoughtful analysis that we are waiting for has already been done. Why wasn't that analysis leaked?"

Uh, becuase it wasn't in the memo. Duh.

(Why wasn't in the memo? Because that wasn't what the Int. Comm. asked Feith to give them!)

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 08:41 PM | PERMALINK

According to a news report on NPR a month or two ago, which summed up the then-current thinking on whether the pre-war claims by the Bush administration had held up, the CIA's best assessment as to a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida was that:

a) there were some contacts between the two.

b) but these contacts were minimal and not particularly substantive.

c) and were primarily intended as a means for Hussein's intelligence services to keep an eye on al Qaida

d) since Hussein regarded al Quaida as a potential threat (i.e., assassinate him, fuel a Shiite uprising, and establish a fundamentalist state).

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 08:42 PM | PERMALINK

"(1) We know SH had em... (2)the UN said so, (3)he'd used them, etc, etc."

(1) Apparently we did not know SH had em, at least not after 1991.
(2) The UN said they couldn't account for discrepancies in the discovered WMD and declared WMD. Many people drew the conclusion that that meant the WMD still existed. Nobody thought of the other possibility: that Saddam was bluffing to scare his neighbors and his internal enemies.
(3) In 1988, and President Reagan refused to condemn him when he gassed Halabja.

We don't need to find a gassed up ICBM, but we do need to find something even remotely suggesting that weapons exist. Not the intentions to restart a program in the future.

As for sanctions, I think that argument is downright silly. We all know what a despicable pig Saddam is. We all knew that he would steal the oil-for-food money for his own military. We all knew that sanctions would only end up hurting the innocent because Saddam would make sure that his ass was covered. And yet we still went ahead with the sanctions. It's not like we were sanctioning Gandhi. Given the larger context of who we were dealing with it's ridiculous to suggest that the sanctions regime didn't result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Which is why the sanctions regime had to end, and the only acceptable alternative, given his WMD and megalomanical ambitions would be invasion.

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 08:43 PM | PERMALINK

"me" wrote: "You *cannot* reason with these people"

No, I can't. It's just too easy.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 08:43 PM | PERMALINK

And we know who leaked the memo becasuse... ?
Al, are you trying to claim it was a Democrat that leaked a memo supporting the administration's position to the Weekly Standard? Was this same Democrat the one who outed Plame? We may not know who it was, but it should be pretty obvious that it was somebody in the administration.

If there was any truth to this, why did Bush feel the need to correct Cheney's allusion that there was a link between Saddam and Osama?

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 08:44 PM | PERMALINK

"For example, item 13 is about the supposed meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence official Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani in Praque, which has been debunked (we now believe Atta was in the US during the time the meetings supposedly took place, IIRC)."

Another lie - it has NOT been debunked. As the memo says, the Czech Interior Minister stands by it. (And don't try to reply that Vaclav Havel disputes it, since the Czech intelligence reports to the Interior Minister, and NOT to Havel.)

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Probably there WAS some sort of relationship between the two, but Osama's support came from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt, and Pakistan. There's really no big mystery."

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are much more dangerous to our security than Iraq ever was. Saddam Hussein was primarly supporting Hammas

Pakistan nurtured the Taliban, they helped them in to power. Where do most people bet OBL is? Pakistan.

Musharraf came to power by a military coup d'etat. He does not represent the people, which is why he is hamstrung in his efforts to turn over OBL. If he did, he would not only lose power, I doubt he would leave the country alive.

Iraq was small fish in the al-Qaeda sponser network(if at all,but I don't doubt there were some negotiations between the two),compared to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. How many Saudi terrorists hi-jacked those planes vs Iraqis?

Sudan, the Philippines and Indonesia are other dangerous hotbeds of Muslim extremism.

Saddam was/is a horrible human being, but there is ample evidence to suggest OBL had no love for him and would be happy to see him removed from power. I don't doubt they both tried to use the other though.

The raw intelligence quoted in the WS article might be accurate, but what isn't mentioned in the article/memo is the contrary raw intelligence. As the White House,CIA and other agencies have said, *all* raw intelligence has to be analyzed in order to come to a conclusion.

So while I agree the DoD isn't saying the raw intelligence quoted is inaccurate(just as they don't say the contrary raw intelligence is inaccurate), they are saying the conclusions the WS and FOX made today were.

Posted by: Jennie at November 15, 2003 08:46 PM | PERMALINK

Al wrote: "Uh, becuase it wasn't in the memo. Duh."

Nice way to miss the point, Al. Since it seems to have gone over your head, I'll spell it out for you:

1. The thoughtful analysis has been done.

2. Since the administration has presented none of this information in making its case for war with Iraq, we can therefor conclude that the thoughtful analysis has indicated that there is reason to disbelieve and/or be skeptical of the raw, unsubstantiated data.

3. Hence, the release of this memo was a desperate attempt to grab news headlines and to once again try for a public relations bonus without the need to actually, say, prove anything.

Simple enough for you, Al?

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, I have no idea who leaked the memo. And neither do you.

If you want my speculation, it would be somebody on the Intelligence Committee, probably a staffer. (You know, sometimes those pesky Int. Comm. staffers do things that their bosses don't like. Just ask Sen. Rockefeller.) But again, I have no idea. Also, think about this - if you were a Democrat who wanted to leak something, and you didn't want anyone to think it was a Democrat who leaked it, would you send it to the Standard or to The Nation?

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Al, show me one article in the Weekly Standard planted by liberal Democrats, and we can have a discussion of who leaked this memo. Keep ignoring the obvious, guys.

I will say one thing: DoD was on this so fast that I think for a change the retraction will get as much play as the false "Case Closed" claim that set it off.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 15, 2003 08:49 PM | PERMALINK

I am not endorsing this theory but some are saying that Bush did not leak it because it would not be to his advantage yet. If Dean got the nomination, Bush could use this to bust his butt and secure the election for himself. Right now, one of the trailing democrats might of used this (such as Lieberman or Gephardt who supported the war, just not the way Bush went about it) in order to catch up to Dean.

Again, I am not actually advocating this theory, so don't yell at me.

Posted by: Jediflyer at November 15, 2003 08:49 PM | PERMALINK

The "sanctions didn't kill people, Saddam did" argument can be summed up as this:
"I just gave a loaded gun to that known murderer; I didn't know that he was going to kill somebody with it."

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 08:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Simple enough for you, Al?"

Simplistic is more like it.

If the administration had wanted to leak something to support its case before the war, it could have leaked THESE FIFTY ITEMS! So, really, the inference you are drawing from the lack of a leak is really off the mark.

Here's what I inference I draw from the lack of a leak of the "thoughtful analysis":
It's classified, and so far nobody has disregarded the classification.

Pretty simple.

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 08:54 PM | PERMALINK

Here's one for you, Al. If you were a reporter at the Weekly Standard and a Democrat broke national security laws to leak a memo to you, would you publish the memo or the name of the Democrat?

I have no idea who leaked the memo. And neither do you.
We may not know who it was, but it should be pretty obvious that it was somebody in the administration. (Why am I getting this weird feeling of deja vu? How odd...)

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 08:56 PM | PERMALINK

Paul B wrote: "There isn't much in that memo that was really new..."

EmmaAnne wrote: "If there really were substantive contacts between SH and OSB, these would have been trumpeted loudly before the war began."

These two excuses for ignoring the memo seem contradictory. Either the new info is minimal or it's so great as to not be believable.

IMHO the leaked memo is conclusive evidence that there was was some degree of cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda. It follows that there was some risk that Iraq might develop various WMDs and make them available to al Qaeda. There is no doubt that al Qaeda would be thrilled to use WMDs against us.

The possibility that Saddam's present or future WMDs might be used against Americans was a good reason to remove him from power IMHO.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2003 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

Al wrote: "Another lie - it has NOT been debunked. As the memo says, the Czech Interior Minister stands by it"

So? Our own intelligence services place Atta in the United States at the time of this so-called meeting, Al. It's been investigated and debunked.

Jennie wrote: "Saddam was/is a horrible human being, but there is ample evidence to suggest OBL had no love for him and would be happy to see him removed from power.

Precisely. There was no way that Hussein was going to turn over to bin Laden anything that could later rebound back against him. Neither of these men were idiots and neither of them trusted each other.

"I don't doubt they both tried to use the other though."

Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Even though that Ansar al-Islam tie has proven mighty hard to document, I never had too much trouble believing it. Think of it: a thorn in the side of both the United States and the Kurds, hitting people that Hussein had no reason to love or protect, and all he would have had to do was funnel a little money their way and a few supplies? Why not? What did he have to lose? Even if America struck back, they'd be doing it in territory he didn't control.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 08:59 PM | PERMALINK

Al, a bunch of these were leaked before the war. The Atta/Iraqi connection in Prague was a huge leak before it was debunked a weak or two later. A bunch of the other items I have seen in one form or another. And yet Bush still publically contradicted Cheney a few weeks ago about there being an Iraqi/Al Qaeda link.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 08:59 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, you need to be a little more accurate. Bush corrected Cheney on a supposed Iraqi-9/11 link, not on an Iraqi-Al Qaida link. Bush has not backed down on that (he just hasn't substantiated it).

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

I was under the impression that it was only the Iraqi-Sept 11 connection that Bush contradicted Cheney on. Bush had been pushing the general Iraq-Al Qaeda from the beginning.

Posted by: Jediflyer at November 15, 2003 09:02 PM | PERMALINK

David wrote: "These two excuses for ignoring the memo seem contradictory"

Actually, David, Emma and I are both pretty much saying the same thing. This isn't new; it has been investigated, and if the raw data had, in fact, been substantiated, it would have been trumpeted far and wide by now.

David wrote: "IMHO the leaked memo is conclusive evidence that there was was some degree of cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda."

David, raw unsubstantiated intelligence information is never "conclusive evidence." That's why our intelligence agencies have to perform the analyses that they do, to judge whether the information is credible.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, have another candle...

Uh, I still say Saddam killed his people, not the sanctions, and maybe it'd help you to think about it like this:

"I've got a known murderer holed up with hostages and he's threatening to starve them to death unless I give him some machine guns. I don't give him the machine guns, but I do give him plenty of canned goods and bottled water to keep everybody alive. Instead of sharing out the food and water, the murderer hoards the food and occasionally cuts a hostage's throat with a broken water bottle or bashes one's head in with a can of food."
Why you can't see the simplest things is a source of constant amazement.

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

"So? Our own intelligence services place Atta in the United States at the time of this so-called meeting, Al. It's been investigated and debunked."

Wrong again. It's been investigated, and no firm conclusion has been drawn. Are there some (that's some, not all) in the FBI/CIA would doubt the meeting occurred? Surely. But the doubt of some does not equal "debunked".

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 09:07 PM | PERMALINK

Al wrote: "Here's what I inference I draw from the lack of a leak of the "thoughtful analysis": It's classified, and so far nobody has disregarded the classification."

And he has the nerve to call my explanation "simplistic?"

I'm not even going to bother....

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong again, Al. The FBI has the receipts of Atta's comings and goings at that time. It's been investigated and debunked, and all your claims to the contrary can't change that.

Nice try, though.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:09 PM | PERMALINK

David,
You are making the same error of mistaking these items as facts. They are not. You have know idea who the people making these claims are, who the people they are making the claims about are, if it was even possible, given what we know, that these meetings took place, etc. Well, you don't know me either. So I'll tell you a little secret: I was Saddam's personal bodyguard for eight years up until just before the U.S. invaded earlier this year and he never once met with anybody from Al Qaeda. In fact, he often railed against them, calling Osama a "troublemaker."

Now, until you hear from a trusted source about whether that claim or any of the 50 in that memo could possibly be true, you might not want to draw any conclusions.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2003 09:09 PM | PERMALINK

Shit, sorry, the above post was of course me, Nathan, not David. I placed the wrong name in the wrong place. My bad.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 09:11 PM | PERMALINK

"This isn't new; it has been investigated, and if the raw data had, in fact, been substantiated, it would have been trumpeted far and wide by now. ... David, raw unsubstantiated intelligence information is never 'conclusive evidence.'"

Do I have to reinterate my point about the lack of reading comprehension skills among the leftwingnuts?

From the article: "Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources."

Sheez...

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 09:11 PM | PERMALINK

Do I really have to reiterate my point about the lack of reading comprehension skills among the rightwingnuts who can't tell the difference between official statements of the U.S. intelligence services and a propaganda statement from a rightwingnut magazine?

Here's a tiny hint, Al: who actually wrote that little quote you cited?

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

Do I have to reinterate my point about the lack of reading comprehension skills among the leftwingnuts?

From the article: "Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources."

Al, it is precisely Weekly Standard spin like this that the lightening quick DoD response meant to shut down by reiterating that it was raw intelligence in the memo, offering no conclusions whatsoever.

Posted by: Bailey at November 15, 2003 09:18 PM | PERMALINK

Al: From the article: "Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources."


Yes. It was so detailed, conclusive, and corroborated that the DoD felt compelled to dar "no conclusions."

Posted by: Brent at November 15, 2003 09:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sound and Fury signifying nothing...
C'mon now Al & PaulB... shake hands and make up...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm off for now, but I'll just close with one final comment: every single time we've heard "case closed" when it came to matters dealing with Iraq, on further investigation, we have found that the evidence just didn't hold up. Every single time.

Now if someone can explain to me why this time it's going to be different, I'd love to hear it. But I do hope you will forgive me if I remain skeptical.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

sorry. draw "no conclusions."

Posted by: Brent at November 15, 2003 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap,
So sanctions equal giving somebody "plenty of canned goods and bottled water"? My analogy wasn't great, but I was trying to convey the point that many people predicted the effects of sanctions, we saw the effects of sanctions, and we continued to use them. I'm sorry, but the lack of medical supplies alone resulted in many deaths. Could Saddam have changed that? Definitely. Could we have changed that? Definitely. The one does not excuse the other.

But lets go with your analogy. Only, instead of sending in food and water, though, we withheld food and water, trying to starve the murderer out. Instead, he ate what little food was in the building while the hostages starved to death.

Actually, that is a pretty good analogy, jagcap.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

OK, but let's remember the difference between skepticism and cycnicism...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jag, I don't take Al seriously enough to be mad at him. He's just a troller on this site, devoid of any real thought or logic. I only play with him when I'm bored. But as I said, it's time for me to head out for the evening, so goodnight, all.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2003 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

No No No!
We did not leave Iraq to stew in its own juice... the oil for food program had the capacity to allow in plenty of food & medicine, but the program was hijacked by Hussein... I really have to object to your rewrite of history...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Al, if the Committee on Space Launches asked the DoD for all of their reports on UFOs, how many pages do you think it would run? I'd say, a lot more than 50 points.

Remember, 50 × 0 = 0.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 15, 2003 09:23 PM | PERMALINK

Pentagon puts a stake in the Iraq-al Qaeda Weekly Standard leaked memo.

http://www.dod.mil/releases/2003/nr20031115-0642.html

DoD Statement on News Reports of al-Qaida and Iraq Connections

News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 27, 2003 from Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in response to follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by the committee asked the Department to provide the reports from the Intelligence Community to which he referred in his testimony before the Committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.

The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the Committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the Intelligence Community.

The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the Intelligence Community. The selection of the documents was made by DOD to respond to the Committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.

Posted by: ascap_scab at November 15, 2003 09:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Every single time we've heard "case closed" when it came to matters dealing with Iraq, on further investigation, we have found that the evidence just didn't hold up. Every single time."

And the media rarely trumpets the discrediting with the same verve as they do the original "breaking story". Obviously it's right-wing bias :)

BTW, this reminds me of when Michael Irvin was accused of raping some woman in Dallas and he yelled at the media, "You better report it when it turns out it's a lie as big as you're reporting this now." I don't know why that image keeps coming back but it does...

Posted by: Elrod at November 15, 2003 09:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap,
Who is rewriting history? We enacted economic sanctions that prevented Iraq from selling any oil, its primary export and the source of the majority of that government's income. Then we allowed Iraq to sell a little bit in the oil for food program, which Saddam hijacked to try to replace the lost revenue he needed to keep his regime afloat. Big surprise, that Saddam's primary concern was Saddam. If Saddam can keep his regime going and feed the Iraqi people, great, but when push comes to shove, Saddam cares more about Saddam than the Iraqi people.
Are you claiming that if we hadn't had economic sanctions, all of those people would have still died? Had do you completely excuse us from any culpability? Who imposed economic sanctions?

In your version of reality, there would be no "accessory" crimes. "But I didn't pull the trigger, did I?" would be all anyone would need to get off.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong again, PaulB. The FBI has evidence of where Atta was on April 11, 2001 -- two days AFTER the date of the alleged meeting.

Well, would he really have stayed in Prague for only one day, you ask? Yep. The year before, in May 2000, he travelled to Prague, from Germany, for exactly one day before returning to the US. Why would he go to Prague for only one day? Could he have a contact there? Someone, like, say, Al-Ani?

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 09:37 PM | PERMALINK

So Nate, we are criminals, too because we refused to the let the criminal Saddam Hussein rearm after his invasion of Kuwait was reversed?
"Keep his regime afloat" (WTF?!) The yo-yo head built dozens of gold-plated toilet equipped palaces, it wasn't about "keeping his regime afloat" And besides, hundreds of thousands of the folks that didn't starve, he shot, you know, like in the movies, with bullets to the head... unless you doubt the reports of the mass graves all over the place...
Gosh, I had no idea of the depths or breadth of your moral obtuseness...if your sensibility is at all common among lefties, it becomes painfully clear how you can cleave to ANSWER as your standard bearer and blinker yourselves to reality... Yikes!!

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes. It was so detailed, conclusive, and corroborated that the DoD felt compelled to dar 'no conclusions.'"

Brent, if you had bothered to read the Standard article - or even the DoD release - you would understand that the memo was a response to a request to provide factual intelligence, and not to provide conclusions. Again, reading comprehension, folks.

Posted by: Al at November 15, 2003 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Next you'll be blaming the Holocaust on America, since it was party to the Treaty of Versailles, which led inexorably to the rise of Hitler... ad tedium...

Posted by: jagcap at November 15, 2003 09:45 PM | PERMALINK


"Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal."

No matter what the DoD says about the WS article, it's clear that they are saying that the activities of Feith and WS are deplorable and may be illegal.

Case Closed.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 15, 2003 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46460-2003Nov15.html

From the WP article:

The CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has found no evidence that former president Saddam Hussein tried to transfer chemical or biological technology or weapons to terrorists, according to a military and intelligence expert.

[...]

Yesterday, allegations of new evidence of connections between Iraq and al Qaeda contained in a classified annex attached to Feith's Oct. 27 letter to leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were published in the Weekly Standard. Feith had been asked to support his July 10 closed-door testimony about such connections. The classified annex summarized raw intelligence reports but did not analyze them or address their accuracy, according to a senior administration official familiar with the matter.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 15, 2003 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Al:
Brent, if you had bothered to read the Standard article - or even the DoD release - you would understand that the memo was a response to a request to provide factual intelligence, and not to provide conclusions.

I certainly read both. My point al, which you have made for me with your own characterization of the memo as a document that was not intended to "provide conclusions," is that it makes little sense to then refer to individual elements of data in that same document as "conclusive." That is what the WS did and it is that point that you repeated in your earlier post. However one feels about the reliability of this information, making that distinction would not seem to involve a particularly keen sense of comprehension.

Posted by: Brent at November 15, 2003 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Jagcap,
I doubt all of those were built after 1991. Some of them probably were, but the Iraqis also rebuilt a bunch of bridges, power plants, and other basic infrastructure. No one is saying Saddam was not a bad man. But the people he murdered have no bearing on the results of our sanctions. The one does not excuse the other. (I'm getting that feeling of deja vu again). Again, I'll ask you: are you claiming that if we hadn't had economic sanctions, all of those people would have still died? If you want to argue that their deaths were justified, go ahead, but I don't see how you can completely absolve the United States from all responsibility. Perhaps this attitude is why the School of the Americas is still around: "But we just train them. We don't tell them what to do with the knowledge of how to torture suspects."

No, the Holocaust was not something we bear direct responsibility for, although in hindsight we could have tried to stop it earlier. I don't know much about America's role in allowing the Holocaust to happen, but my understanding is that we ignored a lot of information coming out of Germany and that most Americans didn't believe the Holocaust had happened until American G.I.s were stumbling over mass graves. Whether we should have given more credence to those reports or not, what the intentions of our leaders were, I don't know. Until I know more, I'll reserve judgment.

And if you are going to use my name, I prefer Nathan.

Posted by: Nathan at November 15, 2003 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

To the question "could we predict the attacks of 9/11", the Rand Corporation had analysed on March 2001 in front of the USAF academy an attack on the WTC.

Posted by: Frenchy at November 15, 2003 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Whats really interesting to me is how this thread is a perfect example of how Bushco could have been so wrong in its intel.By all accounts Cheney and Libbey were convinced the CIA were witholding intel so they just stovepiped raw data such as this. In fact ,detailed professional analysys had discredited most all of these same reports. They wanted to believe so badly they bypassed the conventional vetting process to their peril.

Posted by: shakes at November 15, 2003 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

I bet if we tracked all of our intelligence assets and intermediaries, we'd discover that we had some contact with Al Qaeda.

Well, yeah. From the very beginning. CIA training and US funding for the mojahedeen (al-Qaeda was founded an organization to support the mojahedeen, and may well have received some of the resources channelled to to Islamists via Pakistan's ISI).

For that matter, to the very end: Thomas Kean, Amerada Hess, Delta Oil, Khalid bin Mahfouz: Kean a director and shareholder of Amerada Hess, Amerada Hess is partnered with Delta Oil in the development and exploration of oil fields in the Caspian region*, bin Mahfouz is one of Delta Oil's investors: and bin Mahfouz's younger sister is married to Osama bin Laden. Who is Thomas Kean? He's Bush's appointee to oversee the 9/11 investigation.

I can come up with two bullet points proving that Bush and al-Qaeda "had a connection". Indeed, if I use "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" I can make the point that as the US and al-Qaeda were both the enemy of Saddam Hussein, "clearly" (using right-wingnut logic) the US and al-Qaeda must have been allies.

None of this is proof that Bush&Co actually conspired with al-Qaeda, whether to bring about September 11 or for any other purpose, since 1989. (That they did "conspire with" al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is historic fact: but it was a relationship of convenience, not of love.)

*The Caspian Region: (cite: the Caucasian states of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia; the post-Soviet Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, ..... also Afghanistan

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 16, 2003 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I can come up with two bullet points

(That should have been: "I can come up with two bullet points in under an hour on the Internet" - the significant point being how easy it is to do it, and how little significance this kind of bullet-point listing of random facts is.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 16, 2003 12:49 AM | PERMALINK


Shakes,

That is exactly the problem with this administration and the partisans who support it.

We're told that "raw data" provides conclusive proof and is free to distribute to the public (in its best interest, of course). But what about detailed analysis of this raw data that could prevent the type of partisan bickering that we have now? Oh, well, detailed analysis is "Top Secret", it takes "too long" to analyze this information in-depth, all of our "good people" are too busy searching for WMD. The American public is truly better served by rumour and innuendo, not honest debate about the true issues.

Am I worried about the one Al Qaeda camp in Iraq (that may or may not have existed) or the 100+ camps in Bangladesh? If you're really trying to find Al Qaeda and militant Islam fundamentalists, you can find a more of them everywhere BUT Iraq.

I hate to say it, but the REAL war on terrorism has fallen under the radar of most Americans. The real "front" on the war is fought in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. These are the countries where Al Qaeda are mainly funded and supported.

You wanna talk about genocide? Torture Chambers? Rape Rooms? You can find it NOW in Bangladesh. NOW.

http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Bgd-summary-eng

http://www.hinduhumanrights.org/savvys.pdf

http://www.mukto-mona.com/human_rights/ethnic_clensing_Bangladesh.html


This weekend Fox News has been repeating warnings about "dirty" bombs. But, so far, I haven't seen any mention of the 200+ grams of uranium that was in possession of militant Islamist fundamentalists in Bangladesh this summer. This administration has lost its focus in Afghanistan, is clearly losing the upper hand in Iraq, and won't dare talk about its promise to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501030616-457395,00.html

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 01:33 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, while Douglas Feith and the True Believers at the Weekly Standard are playing cover-your-ass, the whackjobs in al-Qaeda are making omnious threats like this one (via the Village Voice):

http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD60903

Good show, Bush! Way to keep your eyes on the ball!

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 02:30 AM | PERMALINK

I suppose it depends on what the meaning of "full of shit" is.

Posted by: tristero at November 16, 2003 03:40 AM | PERMALINK

Goddamnit, this is a huge red herring to retroactively justify the war and as long as the neocons can confuse the public with twisted intelligence to convey the impression that somehow SH was behind 9/11 they will continue to do so, hoping that something will stick.

Czech intelligence has repeatedly debunked the Atta meeting in Prague as unsupported by eveidence and President Havel has told Bush personally that there is next to nothing behind these claims.

What is not disputed is that Mahmoud Ahmad, the chief of Pakistan's intelligence service ISI, sent $100.000 to Atta through Saudi Arabian channels, while he was in close contact with US intelligence officials and lawmakers. What is not disputed is that Al Quaeda is hiding in and operating out of southwestern Pakitstan.

But somehow Pakistan ended up being an ally in the war on terror, while Iraq was attacked no matter how inconclusive the intelligence.

Posted by: novakant at November 16, 2003 03:59 AM | PERMALINK

The enemy of my enemy is the enemy of my friend who is also my enemy, which makes him my friend, but also my enemy, ultimately. Unless he has oil, then we're friends no matter what.

Moral clarity. Duh.

Posted by: Old Hat at November 16, 2003 04:06 AM | PERMALINK

Well we have all kinds of fragmentary estimates and old reports regarding WMD's that were collated together and reported by Mr. Powell. They are of the same informational form as this Feith collation. But with regard to WMD's we had the opportunity to investigate this 'intelligence' for over 8 months and turned up nothing. What fool wouldn't be sceptical of this latest 'report'. The administration has continually said intelligence is imperfect and unreliable at times. Now all the sudden its the gold standard?

Posted by: blake at November 16, 2003 04:20 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, wake me when the 9/11 allegations against Saddam are within two orders of magnitude of that pointing to the Saudi Royal Family....

Posted by: Social Scientist at November 16, 2003 05:13 AM | PERMALINK

In the overwhelming percentage of serious life decisions which confront each of us, we make our decisions based on circumstantial evidence... it IS proof, all the proof anyone of rational mien needs... the mark of irrationality in this discussion is the rejection by you and those of your ilk to accept the sorts of evidence which you routinely accept on all sorts of other momentous personal and political questions... (leaving aside the fact that your standard of proof for Bush perfidy/incompetence is absurdly twisted in the opposite direction)...

Jagcap, the first thing an analyst would have to do is take each item of the data and evaluate the reliability fo both the source and the data itself. Each such evaluation requires access to a great deal of other data - data not available to us on the outside.

Then the more reliable elements have to be considered in context with what is already known reliably.

An attorney, or anyone else, who has no training in Intelligence analysis and who does not have access to the rest of the processed and unprocessed data and prior conclusions is not able to do decent and ~relaible~ analysis.

One item that bears on the reliability of the Weekly Standard's analysis is its history of biased reporting. They are known to start with a desired conclusion and select the data that proves that conclusion. When the source of data or analysis in known to be unreliable, the output of that source cannot be more reliable than the source itself.

This, of course, applies only to the analysis the Weekly Standard did. We have no idea what the reliability fo the various sources of the data are.

Posted by: Rick B at November 16, 2003 06:18 AM | PERMALINK

Nathan and Al --

I accept your points. The stuff in the memo provided by Feith isn't conclusive. Still, it isn't chopped liver, either. Feith is (I think) the #3 man in the Defence Dept, not some anonymous poster. This data was formally provided to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

IMHO this memo makes it likely that there has been a considerable degree of cooperation between al Qaeda and Saddam. A likelihood of a relationship implies a possibility that Saddam might have shared WMDs with al Qaeda. Hd might have even given them nukes if and when he had developed them. That doesn't constitute an imminent threat, but it may well justify a pre-emtive attack. As the President said, with a threat that awful, we can't afford to wait until it's imminent.

Ultimately, someone had to guess or evaluate how likely Saddam was to develop more WMDs and how likely it was that his WMDs would have been shared with al Qaeda. Bush's decision to take Saddam out was based on a conservative, pessimistic evaluation. Others might have leaned more toward optimism, and not attacked. Thankfully we'll never know what he or his sons would have done with future WMDs.

BTW this sort of situation is dealt with in mathematical game theory (which Bush may have studied at Harvard Business School.) There's a game called "Sentry's Dilemma." It postulates a situation where the results of inaction are very, very awful. The implication is that one should take action even if there's a small chance that it's needed.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2003 06:44 AM | PERMALINK

David,

You are assuming an absolutely closed system with only two players:Saddam and Al Quaeda. But of course, what was actually facing Bush in making his decision to go to war were a number of players: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and lots and lots of other countries each with known ties to Al Quaeda, known supply lines and money lines. Pakistan, for one, had nuclear capabilities. The act of terrorism to which we were responding (9-11) famously required no WMD's for its destructive power. We knew, and have known since before the last "selection" that bombs and weapons of many kinds could be brought into our country through the unprotected ports and rail system. So, when Bush chose to do something rather than nothing, he wasn't choosing one of two courses: attack Iraq or do nothing. He was actively choosing to
1) mobilize the world against Iraq (but he failed)
2) turn his back on legal and non-military means of fighting the war on terror internationally.
3) not to attack al quaeda anywhere *but* Iraq.

Its trivially true that the buck stops at the president's office and that he had to make some kind of choice. A choice I, for one, don't envy him. But he choose to make one choice among many, with all its ups, downs, and dangers. Its our job as thinking citizens to evaulate that choice, both in the light of the information he claims to have had, and the information that has now emerged. Most of us find the decision flawed, wrongheaded, and just plain dangerous. The resurgence of al quaeda in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the influx of Al quaeda and other "foreign terrorists" in Iraq and the absolute lack of WMD's in Iraq all mean that bush's big gamble (for which he would have rightly been applauded if he'd won) gets all the praise that a failed, flawed gamble usually gets: absolutely none. That's why they call it a gamble. And its why they call losers "losers."

aimai

Posted by: aimai at November 16, 2003 07:09 AM | PERMALINK

David:
BTW this sort of situation is dealt with in mathematical game theory (which Bush may have studied at Harvard Business School.) There's a game called "Sentry's Dilemma." It postulates a situation where the results of inaction are very, very awful. The implication is that one should take action even if there's a small chance that it's needed.

I don't know much about the Sentry's Dilemma game which you mention but I would suggest that there are at least a couple of major problems with approaching this situation with that sort of logic. The first is that what we are talking about is not a game in which a few players, their choices and outcomes can be isolated and philophized upon. On the contrary, this is an enormously complicated geopolitical conflict which involves thousands of moving parts and very high stakes in the real world -- stakes which are raised significantly by any especially agressive moves.

The second is that "not going to war" is not the same as "inaction" in this situation.

The fact is that in this situation, we are faced with evidence which in the best possible light can be described as worthy of investigation, and the reality that the more aggressive sorts of action we can take will certainly cost the lives of both innocent civilians and our own soldiers. It will also cost us our international credibility, deteriorate our ability to confront other more credible global threats, and damage key relationships in the region. I would argue that choosing to war or not to war in that circumstance is not a choice between optimism and pessimism but between prudent consideration and impulsive aggressiveness.

Posted by: Brent at November 16, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

David,

Your analysis is totally off base, because you're assuming it was part of a good-faith, rational decision process. The PNAC program calls for the serial invasion of an unspecified number of ME countries. Iraq was favored as the first because it's a good staging area for others. The plan at least 10 years old, and its proponents said that it couldn't be sold to the public, but would have to wait for a "Pearl Harbor-type incident". They decided 9/11 was close enough, and convinced Bush by early 2002. All they wanted from the intelligence agencies was support for the decision, not objective facts. If anything from Bush's B-school experience was applied, it was marketing, not game theory.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 16, 2003 08:05 AM | PERMALINK

The DoD press release is incredibly damning. It damns the Weekly Standard, who have demonstrated astonishingly poor judgment by converting raw data into conclusions, something our own intelligence community has not done. And to make it a cover story, no less!

It damns the right wingers eager to find a justification, any justification, for Bush's folly.

And it damns the trolls that want "to rub our noses in it."

Over in comments at Atrios, I actually gave the WS story some credence. If legit, this story is big news. I couldn't decide whether it helped Bush more than it hurt Bush because while it may have provided cause for war, it showed that Bush knew a lot more pre 9/11 than he has been letting on.

Well, folks, it wasn't legit. The article converts uncorroborated rumour and innuendo into what it considers legitimate intelligence. Astonishing that the WS would do such a thing. Talk about hacks.

If the WS knows something apart from the DoD press release, it had better let us know soon, or their poor credibility will be completely shot to hell.


Posted by: 537 votes at November 16, 2003 08:27 AM | PERMALINK

The DoD release is saying that the Feith memo is in response to specific questions and is not the entire intelligence picture and that leaking classified info is usually illegal and often a bad idea. It didn't say the raw data was bogus which in some cases had multiple confirmations.

Good article on standards for evaluating intelligence data from the Foreign Policy Research Institute:

http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Diplo&month=0311&week=c&msg=FB1y0SDKZUoPuM53zs2C0g&user=&pw=

Posted by: mark safranski at November 16, 2003 08:29 AM | PERMALINK

The DoD release is saying that the Feith memo is in response to specific questions ...

It said that the materials weren't dispositive of the issue of Iraqi-AlQaeda cooperation. But that's what the WS is claiming. So it implicitly says theyy'e lying.

It didn't say the raw data was bogus which in some cases had multiple confirmations.

But manyy of the charges were old, and wouls have been useful in justifying the invasion if they had been considered reliable. It looks like the valid parts weren't new and the new parts weren't valid.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 16, 2003 09:24 AM | PERMALINK

This is old news. Last October, CIA director George Tenet wrote the following in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee:

• We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade.
• Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qa'ida have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.
• Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qa'ida members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
• We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qa'ida members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
• Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al-Qa'ida, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.

That wasn't Doug Feith, or the Weekly Standard -- it was the director of the CIA. Tenet is a Democrat, and he was appointed by Clinton.

The Feith memo provides some background into these statements, but there's nothing new there.

Posted by: Jeff at November 16, 2003 09:32 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny that Al keeps trying valiantly to defend that Mohammad Atta Czech Republic meeting story, because that story is a very good case study in why this latest set of raw data from the Weekly Standard should be ignored.

When the story first broke, the rightwingnuts like Al were just sure that they finally had the "smoking gun" with which to tie Saddam Hussein to al Qaida and, indirectly, to 9/11. Once the details became fully known, though, it became apparent that there was a lot less there than met the eye.

The coverage of this story began with an article in the Los Angeles Times on 9/19/2001. It didn't end until over a year later when Czech officials, including Jiri Kilar, the police chief, and Vaclav Havel, the president of the Czech Republic, conclusively denied the story. The twists and turns the story took between those two dates is instructive in highlighting the problem with using the kind of raw data in the WS memo to declare "case closed."

What it came down to in this case was that the whole story was based on a single report of an unreliable informer to the Czech counter-intelligence service. There was, and is, no corroborative evidence of any kind and there is plenty of counter-evidence that contradicts the story.

A story like this shows up in the raw intelligence data and, if that's all you're looking for, you're going to point to it, as quite a few people did at the time, and say, "See? Case closed!" What doesn't show up in the raw data is the evidence and analysis (of which there is an abundance) that debunks the story.

Oh, and Al? It's been debunked. Nobody in our intelligence services believes the story anymore. The only people who still point to it are rightwingnuts like yourself. Sorry to burst your bubble, but hey, that's reality. Deal with it.

Posted by: PaulB at November 16, 2003 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

What I find enormously disturbing is this "faith-based" intelligence thing that smothers any attempt at truth. Same thing happened during the Clinton years. Continuous manufactured "evidence," scandals, accusations. Inability to prove them. Argument, between those who genuinely would accept evidence if it were provided, and those who insist that conclusive evidence is present merely because the accusation has been made. In other words, bearing false witness has become the way to control the policies and direction of the United States. Any time the wingnuts want to take control of the agenda, all they have to do is make some shit up (or find someone else to make the shit up so their fingerprints are not on it), then there are scores of true believers who will argue the point past exhaustion, past all reason, beyond any possibility of objective analysis. I honestly think that there is an enormous number of insane people who are taking over the country.

Posted by: fear is the mind killer at November 16, 2003 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

"We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade."

Right Jeff, and we have solid reporting of senior level contacts between the U.S. and bin Laden going back 2 decades.

Those al Qaeda operatives who are supposed to be in Iraq right now must be incredibly good, since we haven't been able to capture a single one of them.

Oh, and George Tenet is a liar because he was appointed by Clinton? I'll remember that one when the next Clinton appointee gets attacked.

Posted by: KeithH at November 16, 2003 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I read the DoD response, it stated that there are no NEW evidences. Not that there are NO evidences for Al Qaeda and Iraq connections.

Furthermore it states that Feith is illegally leaking intelligence to the publich which may cause harm to national security.

I guess next thing is he's getting fired from his job?

Posted by: whitevandriver at November 16, 2003 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

If there is no NEW evidence and all of the OLD evidence has already been discounted or put into its proper perspective....what, exactly, is the hangup here?

Posted by: Bailey at November 16, 2003 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

This article sums it up quite nicely.

Posted by: novakant at November 16, 2003 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is just the standard m.o. for the Bush Administration. Feed these unsubstantiated rumors to the right-wing media, including the Weak Standard and Faux News. The media goes nuclear and reports these rumors as fact, wihout listing the "caveats" of raw data. They'll spend all weekend saying that there is concrete, conclusive evidence that Saddam and bin Laden had an elaborate working relationship.

When the DoD or Intelligence Community give us the actual analysis of the raw data, the Weak Standard and Faux News briefly mention it for less than a minute and then do their best to discredit the analysts. That's why Faux News viewers believe that a decade-old piece of a centrifuge is evidence of "recent" nuclear activity, that's why Weak Standard readers believe that Iraq's aluminium tubes were evidence of "recent" nuclear activity.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

novekant,

That is a good article. Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, it deals with "facts" and "analysis" which makes it worthless to the majority of the Ditto-Heads who read the Weak Standard.

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 16, 2003 02:00 PM | PERMALINK

Hey the link to the DoD article is down.
What gives?
I think that the back-channel between the Pentagon and the Weekly Standard must have been fairly active.
How can those guys face themselves?
They are probably saying that it's all part of the war effort, so justified.
Trouble is, was the war justified?

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at November 16, 2003 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

DoD Statement on News Reports of al-Qaida and Iraq Connections
News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 27, 2003 from Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in response to follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by the committee asked the Department to provide the reports from the Intelligence Community to which he referred in his testimony before the Committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.

The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the Committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the Intelligence Community.

The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the Intelligence Community. The selection of the documents was made by DOD to respond to the Committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.

-END-

Posted by: reco at November 17, 2003 01:24 AM | PERMALINK

To those who bring up what may be stronger link with Saudi Arabia...

...that may well be true. However, this ignores the fact that invading Saudi Arabia would no doubt have caused a global depression. By invading a major state supporter of terror which is out of the oil market already but which has reserves which rival Saudi Arabia, you limit your economic downside while sending a message to the other regimes that need to break ties with the radicals. Over time, the end of sanctions will diversify the oil supply and limit our dependence on Saudi Arabia, and if need be, we can deal with them more aggressively. I doubt we will ignore Saudi Arabia forever, though I hope that the strategy is to back them into reform rather than stage yet another invasion.

Posted by: RD at November 17, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing - there are people in this thread who actually think doug feith should be taken seriously. The man has a track record on iraq at this point, and it's completely inaccurate.

That alone calls his memo into question....

Posted by: howard at November 17, 2003 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

>> jagcap.

Yeah Jagcap and the Black Panthers, IRA and Rush Limbaugh listeners are also working with Al-Qaeda.

Dork.

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at November 17, 2003 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

>>Mortal creatures that we are, living in this vale of tears, we are limited in many ways from gathering "all the facts" and we are further limited by our upbringing, training, and perspective... That said, we do not shirk our responsibility to see as clearly as we can, think as precisely as we are able, and act as courageously and with such wisdom as we can muster.
Prejudice in inevitable. Stasis is cowardice.
Posted by jagcap at November 15, 2003 07:50 PM

Good lord, so much bullshit in such a short space. If it's a quote form someone else, it ain't working here.

But what does it all mean?

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at November 17, 2003 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

More on Atta.

Prague Revisited
The evidence of an Iraq/al-Qaida connection hasn't gone away.
By Edward Jay Epstein
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003, at 10:13 AM PT

http://slate.msn.com/id/2091354/

Posted by: pshaw at November 18, 2003 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Seven months later, still no WMD's, still no credible evidence of mutual support between Saddam and al Qaeda.

I hear that they had internet access in Iraq, at least before the war. Do you think Saddam might have been smart enough to google "al Qaeda"?

If he did, he would have seen their primary stated objective was as follows:

The organization's primary goal is the overthrow of what it sees as the corrupt and heretical governments of Muslim states, and their replacement with the rule of Sharia (Islamic law).

Coercing the US through terrorism to get out of the Middle East is a means to that end.

So why exactly would Saddam cooperate to strengthen a group who's primary stated goal is to overthrown people just like HIM?

The really bizarre thing here is that we did al Qaeda's bidding when we removed a "corrupt and heretical government of a Muslim state."

Call me contrarian, but if someone attacks me, the last thing I want to do is help them out in any way.

Cap

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