Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Iraq's connection to terrorists.

It turns out that maybe Iraq had connections to al Qaeda after all. Some will say this justifies our invasion of Iraq, but I can't get over the fact that President Bush was told before the invasion that Iraq had no connections to terrorists. I wrote about this before, so I won't rehash it, but the short version now appears to be:
  1. President Bush told Iraq is not a threat.
  2. President Bush invades anyway (thousands die).
  3. Evidence now suggests that Iraq was a threat.
I don't think you can justify a bad decision on the basis of it turning out well after all, but set that aside.

What is the new evidence? Well, from the interrogation of a detainee, we've learned that:
In August 1998, the detainee traveled to Pakistan with a member of Iraqi Intelligence for the purpose of blowing up the Pakistan, United States and British embassies with chemical mortars.
Sounds bad, but on the other hand, it doesn't look like such a huge connection to me. Was this Iraqi Intelligence agent working on official business, or was he a double agent or something? We don't know.

The connection itself is slim enough, in my opinion, but there's another problem articulated by The White House:
We know that members of al Qaeda are trained to mislead and to provide false reports. We know that's one of their tactics that they use.
I've written about this idea too, and the short version is that I don't take that line as gospel, but it's a possibility.

If this detainee were tortured, I don't think we can rely on anything he said. I don't know that he was tortured, and I certainly don't know that he lied. I don't understand, though, how one could believe that detainees lie and this story is credible. It's based entirely on a detainee's statements!

Some say the Bush administration should be screaming this news from the rooftops. Shout it out, freedom fighters: Iraq really was a threat.

I think there are two reasons this isn't happening.
  1. The next obvious question people will ask is, "what do you mean 'really was'?" It will become clear in short order that Iraq was thought not to be a threat before the war. Then comes the question we set aside earlier: is it OK to drive drunk as long as the pedestrian you run over is a terrorist?
  2. While I've characterized this case as not-so-clear-cut, it's possible that if you look at it closer, the ambiguity disappears, and it turns out there really isn't a connection here after all. Maybe what they're not telling us is that they know for a fact the Iraqi Intelligence agent was not operating with Baghdad's approval.
The third view is that the story is solid but the administration is poor at communication. I think the third view is correct on the latter but not the former.

(Having written this, I'm taken aback by how light on facts it really is. Rest assured, gentle reader, I'm well aware of how much of what I wrote was opinion and not concrete.)
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