Friday, October 15, 2010

Neither Confirmed nor Denied

While reading Woodward's book about Obama's dealings with Af-Pak I noticed a new story on Fox reporting from London that General Petraeus, while speaking to a military think tank, dropped a few nuggets about negotiations between the Taliban and Karzai (us):
First Petraeus went on the record about US involvement in assisting the budding peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“We do facilitate several on-going initiatives,” he said. He went on to say that it would be hard for a Taliban figure to travel through Afghanistan to Kabul if NATO was not a “witting” participant.
He went on to downplay the efforts as nothing formal, saying that it would be hard for any Talibanis to reach Kabul without help from NATO forces and that we've killed a bunch of their hierachy of late. But it does shockingly suggest that an entity created by entities in Pakistan, who supported the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and who've shown little compunction to change their ways, might soon be sitting across the peace table from messers Karzai or Holbrooke. While I'm only about half-way through "Obama's Wars" there does seem to be a central theme--not about winning--but about getting out. 2011 is fast approaching.

Hollywood Bob's beyond top secret inside edition (no doubt sprinkled with heaping helpings of literary licensed BS) doesn't go into detail about the Taliban's past as others have. Since we are told repeatedly by the smart people to "know thine enemy", it might behoove everyone to resolve the history of the Taliban before we negotiate peace with them.

So back to the past. The debate about Iraq's involvement with WMDs is officially over--it ended in 2005 when president Bush replied, "nothing" when quizzed about Saddam's connections to 9/11. What Bush didn't negate was the role Iraq played as to international terrorism at large, including possible arrangements with the Taliban. Strangely, Dubya's 2005 admission was made before the captured Iraqi documents stored in the Project Harmony database were fully translated.

The GWoT is full of loose ends. Apart from the more recent truthery questions we still don't know much about legacy operators such as master bomb maker Abu Ibrahim, a Palestinian last seen in Iraq. Or Abdul Yasin, an Iraqi-American involved with mixing the bomb ingredients in the first WTC attack. Or Mubarak al-Duri, who was described by the 9/11 Commission as a WMD procurement agent for bin Laden--again, last seen heading to Iraq. In other words, history doesn't stop at the Bush inaugural.

We never learned why legacy Arab terrorist Abu Nidal "killed himself" in August 2002 with several bullets to the head after a friendly visit by the Muhkabarat intelligence. There were rumors circulating in the region that the sickly 65 year old former master terrorist was going to spill the beans on Saddam's connections to Islamic terrorism in exchange for better health care in the west. Hey, some Muslims believed he was a double agent--so why wouldn't Saddam have wanted him dead as his usefulness had run out?

Nidal's demise seemed to tie in nicely with a report in late 2003 from the London Telegraph that 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had visited Baghdad sometime before July 1, 2001 to meet with the terrorist emeritus for some kind of final blessing after showing off his terror skills. Western liberal media outlets jumped on the story and tamped it down quickly, and it went away. In truth the document which purported such could have been a fraud sold to someone who wanted badly to believe since there was conveniently also something about Niger and uranium just as the Plame scandal was beginning to get legs. But it was never officially confirmed as fraud, as is the case with so many of these things.

Years later Ron Suskind wrote a book claiming the White House ordered George Tenet to forge a hand-written document between Tahir Habbush, the head of Iraqi Intelligence (IIS), and Saddam claiming a link between Atta and Iraq. This seemed to tie directly into the Atta in Baghdad claim. Suskind's anonymous CIA sources provided no documented physical evidence. Even a copy of such a letter on White House stationery would be hard to authenticate in this day and age, but of course many on the left wanted to believe Suskind's story (and by extension Habbush) because it condemned the "real" enemy within.

Admittedly, it's strange that Habbush, the Jack of Diamonds on the 55 card most-wanted deck, has never been found, since he alone could probably confirm any links with entities such as the Taliban or bin Laden or other Islamic groups (EIJ). Then again, he could also lie, since he was basically a paid liar. According to reports he was supposedly providing insider information to western intelligence in early 2003 like another Iraqi higher-up Naji Sabri, and both of them claimed Saddam had no WMD stocks. But who can refute the position of George Tenet, that both might have been telling us exactly what Saddam wanted them to tell us? How does an objective person trust a proven liar on a subject that would clearly call for a lie?

For instance, it is beyond dispute that Mohammed Atta spent 11 days in Spain in July 2001, yet it's still inconclusive as to where he was the entire time or whom he met. The CIA depended on the testimony of Ramzi binAlshibh, who claimed they met privately and with no one else, but how can anyone trust information coming from coercion? We have been told that 'torture' is unreliable.

Anyway, at least one journalist bothered to wonder about the trip:
The second one was just after most of the contingent of muscle hijackers had arrived in Florida in July. During that second trip, July 7 to July 19, Atta clocked 1,908 kilometers on his rented Hyundai and changed hotels frequently -- except for five nights, where he vanished from all hotel registries.
Another fabulous revelation that didn't receive much coverage occurred even earlier. The Instapundit pointed to a story in the Nashville Tennessean (now disappeared) about a Judge working for the CPA in Iraq who had been given evidence of a link between the terror moguls:
So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''

The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. . . .

That is the story of the ''Honor Roll of 600,'' and why I believe that President Bush was right when he alleged that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama and was coordinating activities with him.

It does not prove that they engaged together in any particular act of terror against the United States.

But it seems to me to be strong proof that the two were in contact and conspiring to perform terrorist acts.
Instapundit mentioned he had once clerked for this Democratic judge and also mentioned the possibility somebody was trying to dupe him with disinformation but the story met the fate of so many others--it just died away without being confirmed or denied, just like the story about Uday Hussein's newspaper mentioning a possible bin Laden attack on America before the attack, which found its way into the Congressional Record.

Yes, yes, bloggers and other non-official sources have been harping on these things for years, to no formal conclusion. Back to evidence. What does the Project Harmony document trove reveal? According to the Joint Forces Command's analysis released in 2008 they revealed that Iraq was more than happy to work with various terrorists:
In same folder is a copy of an order from the Presidential Secretary to the IIS, directing a task for the Afghan Islamic Party. The task is not specified, but the relationship with an organization the IIS identifies as an "extreme political religious movement" is explicitly described.

42 Other documents in this folder include the following:
• A memorandum from the IIS to the Presidential Secretary discussing cooperation with Islamic Organizations in Egypt (Jamaal Islamiya) in planning for an insurgency against the Egyptian government.
• A memorandum asking that the IIS Directorate be kept informed on all
non-Iraqis training in Saddam Fedayeen camps.
• A list of 100 non-Iraqi Fedayeen in Iraq that details when they had finished
their commando courses and the operations in which they had already
• A memorandum discussing a letter sent by Tariq Aziz [Deputy Prime
Minister] to Egyptian Islamic Groups, encouraging their cooperation
in "acts of insurgency against the Egyptian Government.
The Afghan Islamic Party is led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and is/was just as religious as the Taliban. For some reason the mainstream media headlines ignored these items and crowed about there being "no smoking gun link between Saddam and al Qaeda". That certainly helped Obama get elected although he surely knows all about these details by now.

Other documents also pointed to several meetings between Iraq and agencies allied with Zawahiri Islamic Jihad and the Taliban, especially a meeting between Iraq's VP and later Habbush and one of the founders of the Taliban Fazlur Rahman of Pakistan:
Fazlur Rahman: I am the one who started with this issue, the relation between Taliban and Iraq, and it is our idea. The brothers in Afghanistan are facing the pressure of America, and are struggling against America and aim to have some connections between Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is a good start to establish the relations with Iraq and Libya and our association has taken this responsibility upon her. I already met with Mr. the Vice-President and the previous head of the directorate, may God rest his soul (translator’s note: apparently the head of the directorate passed away) and both proposed that Hekmatyar and the Taliban should get to an agreement. I spoke with the Taliban about this issue and they started meeting with delegations from the Islamic Party, and I met Mullah Omar and his reply was positive.
Keep in mind this purported meeting would have occurred after bin Laden's World Islamic Front fatwa against America in 1998, which Ray Robison believes was signed by Fazlur Rahman even though the Rahman on the letter identified as a terror leader in Bangladesh. Neither confirmed nor denied.

But let's say there were connections made on behalf of the Taliban by Rahman to garner support from Saddam. The Taliban was Sunni and operating on Iran's eastern flank (Iran was backing the Northern Alliance) so it would have made some sense aside from the bin Laden angle. Remember Richard Clarke's famous quote about how UBL might "boogie to Baghdad" if we shot and missed, must have been some consensus then about Iraq and the Taliban.

As to the Butcher, he operated as do all thugs and mobsters--by mutual back-scratching. Iraq would have expected Rahman to lobby for lowering the UN sanctions (which according to David Kay and Charles Duelfer would have opened the door for new WMD programs) and perhaps help AQ put the pressure on America as to the no-fly zones. Again, neither confirmed nor denied.

Why go over all this stuff? Mysteries are interesting but they also relate to our present situation. American citizens are living happily under a conventional wisdom that Bush lost Afghanistan by diverting resources to Iraq in a fruitless endeavor to take out the Dorito-eating non-threat who couldn't possibly work with Islamists--just name your favorite conspiracy reasons. Woodward's book carries a similar meme (so far) and will probably get few raves in Bush circles. And we have a president who owes his very office to the fact he once called Iraq a 'dumb war' and continues to heap blame on his predecessor for going into Iraq and neglecting the real war on the real central front of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

So why, according to Woodward's recent interviews, is the man who had the superior judgment to say Iraq was a non-factor and who pointed us to the real enemy in Af-Pak already "psychologically out" of Afghanistan? Has the greater threat already been diminished to the point America can now 'absorb' the kind of attacks he expects going forward?

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