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Monday, July 26th 2004


Damned if you do (Iraq), Damned if you don't (9/11 attacks)

Put yourself in the mood of 9/11 - that horrible day - then put yourself in the shoes of George W. Bush and read the highlighted words below DIRECTLY FROM THE 9/11 REPORT. Had he NOT ACTED - he would be criticized for that the SAME WAY he is criticized for NOT STOPPING the 9/11 attacks. READ THE FREAKIN' REPORT. Search for keywords like, Iraq, Al-Qaeda, Sudan, chemical, etc. Paragraph #1586 (on page 325) On the morning of September 11, 2001...President Bush reluctantly acceded to this advice and, at about 10:10, Air Force One changed course and began heading due west.The immediate objective was to find a safe location—not too far away—where the President could land and speak to the American people. Paragraph #1590 (on page 326) In the late afternoon, the President overruled his aides’ continuing reluctance to have him return to Washington and ordered Air Force One back to Andrews Air Force Base. He was flown by helicopter back to the White House, passing over the still-smoldering Pentagon.At 8:30 that evening, President Bush addressed the nation from the White House. Paragraph #1630 (on page 335) “Paul was always of the view that Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with,” Powell told us.“And he saw this as one way of using this event as a way to deal with the Iraq problem.” Powell said that President Bush did not give Wolfowitz’s argument “much weight.”67 Though continuing to worry about Iraq in the following week, Powell said, President Bush saw Afghanistan as the priority. Paragraph #1637 (on page 336) Franks told us that he was pushing independently to do more robust planning on military responses in Iraq during the summer before 9/11—a request President Bush denied, arguing that the time was not right. (CENTCOM also began dusting off plans for a full invasion of Iraq during this period, Franks said.) Paragraph #1705 (on page 349) These policy challenges are linked to the problem of imagination we have already discussed. Since we believe that both President Clinton and President Bush were genuinely concerned about the danger posed by al Qaeda, approaches involving more direct intervention against the sanctuary in Afghanistan apparently must have seemed—if they were considered at all—to be disproportionate to the threat.
With UN sanctions set to come into effect in November, Clarke wrote Berger that “the Taliban appear to be up to something.”89 Mullah Omar had shuffled his “cabinet”and hinted at Bin Ladin’s possible departure. Clarke’s staff thought his most likely destination would be Somalia; Chechnya seemed less appealing with Russia on the offensive. Clarke commented that Iraq and Libya had previously discussed hosting Bin Ladin though he and his staff had their doubts that Bin Ladin would trust secular Arab dictators such as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qadhafi. Though intelligence gave no clear indication of what might be afoot,some intelligence reports mentioned chemical weapons,pointing toward work at a camp in southern Afghanistan called Derunta. On November 4,1998,the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed its indictment of Bin Ladin,charging him with conspiracy to attack U.S.defense installations. The indictment also charged that al Qaeda had allied itself with Sudan, Iran,and Hezbollah. The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaeda had “reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.” 109 This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq–Al Qida agreement.” He (Clarke) wrote Deputy National Security Advisor Donald Kerrick that one reliable source reported Bin Ladin’s having met with Iraqi officials, who “may have offered him asylum.” Other intelligence sources said that some Taliban leaders,though not Mullah Omar, had urged Bin Ladin to go to Iraq. If Bin Ladin actually moved to Iraq,wrote Clarke, his network would be at Saddam Hussein’s service,and it would be “virtually impossible”to find him. Better to get Bin Ladin in Afghanistan,Clarke declared.134 Berger suggested sending one U-2 flight,but Clarke opposed even this. It would require Pakistani approval, he wrote; and “Pak[istan’s] intel[ligence service] is in bed with”Bin Ladin and would warn him that the United States was getting ready for a bombing campaign:“Armed with that knowledge,old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.” Bin Ladin now had a vision of himself as head of an international jihad confederation. In Sudan,he established an “Islamic Army Shura”that was to serve as the coordinating body for the consortium of terrorist groups with which he was forging alliances. It was composed of his own al Qaeda Shura together with leaders or representatives of terrorist organizations that were still independent. In building this Islamic army,he enlisted groups from Saudi Arabia,Egypt,Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman,Algeria, Libya,Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, and Eritrea. Bin Ladin was also willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq, even though Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, had never had an Islamist agenda—save for his opportunistic pose as a defender of the faithful against “Crusaders”during the Gulf War of 1991. Moreover, Bin Ladin had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan,and sought to attract them into his Islamic army.53 To protect his own ties with Iraq, Turabi reportedly brokered an agreement that Bin Ladin would stop supporting activities against Saddam. Bin Ladin apparently honored this pledge,at least for a time,although he continued to aid a group of Islamist extremists operating in part of Iraq (Kurdistan) outside of Baghdad’s control. In the late 1990s,these extremist groups suffered major defeats by Kurdish forces. In 2001,with Bin Ladin’s help they re-formed into an organization called Ansar al Islam. There are indications that by then the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al Islam against the common Kurdish enemy.54 With the Sudanese regime acting as intermediary, Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request.55As described below, the ensuing years saw additional efforts to establish connections.

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Posted by Kathleen A:

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Saturday, August 21st 2004 @ 12:40

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