Austin Bay recently posted a letter he received from StrategyPage contributor Harold Hutchison wherein he postulates the Z-man is likely to get lousy marks on his annual performance review:
Zarqawi’s only saving grace would be a solid staff (to wit, people to handle details like planning, finances, and other matters) that would at least be able to restrain his indiscriminate impulses. The problem is, his antagonizing of the local populations means that too many people are willing to tip off American or Iraqi forces. That means Zarqawi’s support structure is being rolled up - not good news for ZarqawiAs to the last part, aside from several erroneous reports of his death, we've been told he's but a gnat's eyelash away from capture for awhile now. Yet despite one stupid attack after the next, nobody seems eager to collect any rewards.
But I'm more intrigued with the first part. Mr. Hutchison believes Z-man maintains a "solid staff to handle details". That's pretty impressive for a guy that Jordanian King Abdullah called a "street thug". Conversely, the 'dead enders' and 'Saddamists' were pretty good in handling details.
Surely you remember those guys, the ones printed on the deck of cards? We've heard nary a whimper about them of late. Matter of fact, the MSM talking heads didn't even consider them when discussing possible perpetrators of the Golden Shrine bombing. So, if they're still players in this game they've effectively cloaked themselves.
Personally I'd feel much better if they could tell us the whereabouts of the remaining most wanted "card guys", specifically the King of Clubs. I understand he used to be pretty good with details, himself.
This site has updated information on the deck of cards, dated February 2006. Notice a few are still on the lam, notably former intelligence officials involved with the SSO and IIS intelligence services or Mukhabarat.
INTELLIGENCE PRODIGY? 3/6/06
Front Page magazine has run several interviews with a young man who claims extraordinary knowledge of world affairs pertaining to the GWoT. His name is Ryan Mauro, and he's 19. Here's the latest, and here's one previous. Is he for real? Well, read his opinions and decide for yourself.
Here are some of his contentions. Similar to a few bloggers or lone wolf authors, he debunks the relative importance of AQ in Iraq and instead places the blame for the insurgency on Ba'athists operating from Syria, believing the whole thing is being run by our dead friend Izzat al-Douri. Such an assertion, if independently verified, might change the public perception of the entire war.
As to the WMD musical chairs saga, he believes Russia was involved in helping Saddam move them to Syria before the war. It's a compelling story also being currently bolstered by several former regime defectors and a few retired American officials. A caveat--all of them seem to be writing books. Heck, Ryan has already written one.
But a glaring question jumps out. Why would this type of blockbuster information be carried to the American public by a 19 year old volunteer at a think tank? Using Occam's Razor alone would suggest discounting any intelligence blockbusters coming the likes of a 19 year old kid. If nothing more it's a bad idea considering what the Bush bashers would do with such fodder.
Yet, if those same ideas were put forth by David Kay, Charles Duelfer or James Woolsey, the weight of their reputations would instantly lend credit to the story and preclude the MSM from easy ridicule. They remain silent.
Young Ryan recently spoke at the somewhat tainted Intelligence Summit held in DC a few weeks ago. This much-anticipated event was clouded early by a funding scandal resulting in the resignations of two of its most influential members. That left Bill Tierney to lead the charge, who just might be a tad "out there" based on his media interviews and seminar speech. Perhaps knowledge of this is why our two former DCIs bailed out. I guess credibility is sometimes worth more than loyalty.
But perhaps that's the answer. For example, if Russia were involved in the moving of Saddam's WMDs logic would follow they would end up on Bush's terrorist supporter state hit list. Does anyone really think we're ready to engage Putin or Assad?
Yet I tend to believe Ryan's thesis. Not because I want to but because it makes the most sense. Let's quickly go over some plausible possibilities:
1. Saddam thought he had a WMD program, but his scientists and minions were fudging all along because they couldn't actually deliver one.
This one sounds possible on the surface, but Saddam's thugocracy was Soviet-style-- the kind where poeple tend to rat on each other to keep themselves from being killed. I find it hard to believe such a ruse could have been maintained.
2. Saddam knew he didn't have programs, but didn't want anyone else to know.
This is more likely, since deterrence is what WMD weapons do best, even when they're of the phantom variety. As long as others believe they exist, they're effective. Yet we know he had the materials at some point and had used them, so this also has some holes.
3. Saddam destroyed the weapons in the 90s or before the invasion, but didn't tell the UN.
Fine, but if he destroyed them anytime near the war startup the world was watching. It would have been risky and difficult, since being caught would have proven he was not in compliance. We did notice the convoys of trucks heading across the border to Assad-land, though.
4. Saddam moved weapons systems and material before the invasion using pre-arranged agreements with other nations.
Since we know he actively tried to hide programs that were later discovered, and that he'd already used WMDs, and that he still had dreams of uniting Pan-Arabia, this seems the most likely fit. And this is what Ryan is suggesting. Now, step back and let the bashing commence.