Sunday, November 16, 2003

Link between Iraq & al Quaeda Established

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda -- perhaps even for Mohamed Atta . . .

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. [. . .]

So says Stephen S. Hays in the article "Case Closed", Weekly Standard (11/14/03).

The Drudge Report posted a link to the article, leading to the collapse of the Weekly Standard's servers due to the overwhelming number of hits. Fortunately the blog Little Green Footballs and Fox News mirrored the article on their websites in the meantime, and the New York Post picked up the story on Saturday.

However, as noted by Lane Core and Catholic Light's Eric Johnson, the rest of the mainstream media appears to be rather hesitant to address the matter. I've personally searched some websites, and thus far have failed to see mention of it by CNN or MSNBC, much less a significant publication like the New York Times.

One would think that the existence of such a memo would deserve major attention by the rest of the media -- after all, it does appear to be a significant document in justifying U.S. action in Iraq, certainly a matter of public interest at this point in time.

In addition, Hays describes it as a "'Cliff's Notes' version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive":

. . . both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

UPDATE [11/17/03] - InstaPundit posts some additional links of reactions to the memo (and the DOD's qualified response) from the blogging community.

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The details of Hays' article appear to vindicate the position of Dan Darling, who made his case earlier this week on the justifiability of the war in relation to Catholic Just War doctrine. Of the three point argument for the necessity of the war offered by the Bush Administration -- WMD's; human rights abuses, and ties to Al Qaeda -- Darling finds the latter "the the key justification for any attempt to fit the war in Iraq into the Just War model."

Meanwhile, Mark Windsor of Vociferous Yawpings offers his reflections on using the Catechism as a critique of U.S. policy in Iraq:

The idea of brotherly love was woven into the fabric of just war doctrine . . . it’s easy to sit back and check-off the bullet points in the Catechism and say; “meets it here” or “misses it there” and draw a conclusion based on the hits or misses. But to do so is to look at only the outermost layer of DJW. To look at it in this way robs the Doctrine of its heart, and it’s not too much of a stretch to say that it robs the Doctrine of Christ.

and makes his own case as to why the U.S. action is justifiable. For Windsor, the matter of finding WMD's was incidental, the documented record of Saddam Hussein's extensive human rights abuses primary:

When considered with the background that spawned the Doctrine in the first place, we see a greater potential sin in our years of inaction and support for Saddam than in our decision to overthrow him last spring. If we read the checklist of DJW criteria without the interwoven idea of love, then we can come to a very different conclusion.

Much of the debate between Catholics over this war and CJWD focuses on reconciliation of U.S. policy with the first point ("the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain"); but I agree with Mark Windsor's post: non-intervention in the face of Iraq's outstanding crimes against humanity would have been morally reprehensible. 1 In retrospect, it was the moral obligation of the U.S. to assist in stopping Saddam's reign of terror which influenced my support of the war. The discovery of numerous mass graves indicating that possibly as many as 300,000 Iraqis were killed make me wonder why we didn't take action sooner.

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Meanwhile, Sandro Magister recently interviewed Louis Sako, bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Kirkuk on the current state of affairs in Iraq. While skeptical about the U.S.'s humanitarian claims for invading Iraq ("They have their interests, and they came to Iraq for those, not to liberate the Iraqis. But, in fact, freedom was the result"), he says that the reaction of the Iraqi populace is overwhelmingly positive and is optimistic about the nation's future.

Bishop Sakso also comments on the ongoing collaberation between Muslims and Christians to secure religious interests, ("we formed a mixed group of Christians and Muslims to defend the churches and mosques before and during the war. We furthermore promised conferences to explain Christianity and islam; many friendships were born, and some of the Muslims have welcomed our appeal for national unity"), the critical need to further dialogue between the two faiths, and calls for ecumenical assistance in rebuilding the nation of Iraq:

There are 700,000 Christians in Iraq, and in a year, when the emphasis on Iraq is gone, who will remember them? . . . I make this appeal to all the religious congregations: come to Iraq to lend a hand, especially in education, and not only for the Christians. Here in Iraq, man himself must be reconstructed, and we can’t do it alone.

  1. I hold the same opinion of the Clinton Administration's refusal to prevent the genocide of nearly a million Tutsis in Rwanda, documented by Nat Hentoff in a three part series (March 2; March 9; March 16) and by Philip Gourevitch in the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families (September, 1999).

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