Geoff left a comment in my post Who will the crocodile eat last? and I wanted to respond with another post altogether, because he brings the common arguments to the table that still seem to be used these days concerning Bush and the War on Terror.
"One thing comes to mind: there was no link between 9/11 and Iraq and even the Bush administration has admitted that."
There are many links however, of Iraq being directly involved in funding, training and giving logistic support to multiple Islamic terrorist groups, all of whom share a hatred for the US and its allies.
Stephen Hayes II
Tech Central Station
"Those who try to whitewash Saddam's record don't dispute this evidence; they just ignore it. So let's review the evidence, all of it on the public record for months or years:
* Abdul Rahman Yasin was the only member of the al Qaeda cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb to remain at large in the Clinton years. He fled to Iraq. U.S. forces recently discovered a cache of documents in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, that show that Iraq gave Mr. Yasin both a house and monthly salary.
* Bin Laden met at least eight times with officers of Iraq's Special Security Organization, a secret police agency run by Saddam's son Qusay, and met with officials from Saddam's mukhabarat, its external intelligence service, according to intelligence made public by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was speaking before the United Nations Security Council on February 6, 2003.
* Sudanese intelligence officials told me that their agents had observed meetings between Iraqi intelligence agents and bin Laden starting in 1994, when bin Laden lived in Khartoum.
* Bin Laden met the director of the Iraqi mukhabarat in 1996 in Khartoum, according to Mr. Powell.
* An al Qaeda operative now held by the U.S. confessed that in the mid-1990s, bin Laden had forged an agreement with Saddam's men to cease all terrorist activities against the Iraqi dictator, Mr. Powell told the United Nations.
* In 1999 the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that Farouk Hijazi, a senior officer in Iraq's mukhabarat, had journeyed deep into the icy mountains near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 1998 to meet with al Qaeda men. Mr. Hijazi is "thought to have offered bin Laden asylum in Iraq," the Guardian reported.
* In October 2000, another Iraqi intelligence operative, Salah Suleiman, was arrested near the Afghan border by Pakistani authorities, according to Jane's Foreign Report, a respected international newsletter. Jane's reported that Suleiman was shuttling between Iraqi intelligence and Ayman al Zawahiri, now al Qaeda's No. 2 man.
CIA Director George Tenet recently told the Senate Intelligence Committee: "Iraq has in the past provided training in document forgery and bomb making to al Qaeda. It also provided training in poisons and gasses to two al Qaeda associates; one of these [al Qaeda] associates characterized the relationship as successful. Mr. Chairman, this information is based on a solid foundation of intelligence. It comes to us from credible and reliable sources. Much of it is corroborated by multiple sources."
Now you can say that Saddam Hussein did not directly order the attacks of 9/11, but to then make the assumption that there was no connection between Hussein and Islamic terrorist organizations, including but not limited to Al-Qaeda, would be grossly misrepresenting the facts in front of us.
"Oh, and then there's the pesky problem of there being no weapons of mass destruction."
Yet. For the sake of argument, let's say that Saddam did not stockpile large quantities of WMD's. But what David Kay (US Weapons Inspector) did say to congress was very clear- that Saddam had "a large number of WMD program-related activities." And, he said, Iraq's leaders had intended to continue those activities.
"There were scientists and engineers working on developing weapons or weapons concepts that they had not moved into actual production," Kay said. "But in some areas, for example producing mustard gas, they knew all the answers, they had done it in the past, and it was a relatively simple thing to go from where they were to starting to produce it." And, he said, there is ample evidence that Iraq was moving a steady stream of goods shipments to Syria, but it is difficult to determine whether the cargoes included weapons, in part because Syria has refused to cooperate in this part of the weapons investigation.
What that says to me is two things. One, Saddam had every intention of avoiding his demise by lying to the UN about his intentions while he continued to pursue development of WMD's. And two, WMD's in Iraq that were made, and catalogued by the UN, are still missing.
According to Hans Blix in December 2002-
Iraq's 12,000-page report
"Regrettably, the 12,000-page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that will eliminate the questions or reduce their number."
On chemical bombs
"The (Iraqi weapons report) document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998; while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for."
On biological weapons
"There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared and that at least some of this was retained over the declared destruction date. It might still exist.
"Either it should be found and be destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was indeed destroyed in 1991."
"There remain significant questions as to whether Iraq retained Scud-type missiles after the Gulf War. Iraq declared the consumption of a number of Scud missiles as targets in the development of an anti-ballistic missile defense system during the 1980s, yet no technical information has been produced about that program or data on the consumption of the missiles."
On recently discovered documents
"The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the lacing enrichment of uranium, support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. This interpretation is refuted by the Iraqi side which claims that research staff sometimes may bring papers from their work places."
"On our side, we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes."
"Perhaps the Spanish government is pulling out of Iraq because in a democracy the right of a people to determine the policies (foreign or domestic) is the whole point of the matter."
It is correct that the majority of Spain did not want to be involved in the war in Iraq. But this same majority was ready to re-elect Aznars party prior to the bombings in Madrid. And the troops would have remianed under their watch. Therefore, one should say that the Spanish population wants to pull out of Iraq because of this terrorist attack. But this would be foolish. Al-Qaeda had already put every nation in Europe in the crosshairs well before the Liberation of Iraq. Osama even spoke specifically of the "tragedy of Andalucia" as a reason for attacking Spain.
"Had the Spanish public not been against the policy of participation in the illegal invasion of a foreign country *before* the bombs went of in Madrid, I might agree with you. "
The people that Spain elected to make these decisions were in favor. Had they not been, Spain would not have been there. It was debated in parliament much like it was in every other country that was involved. There was a sizeable portion of the US opposed to invading Iraq, but our congress approved the invasion almost unanimously.
"The bombs didn't change anyone's mind--their opposition to the occupation is longstanding. "
But they were prepared to elect the party that would have kept the troops in Iraq until the bombing took place. Do you believe the massive swing in sentiment was simply a coincidence?
I am interested in your response. Thanks for reading the blog Geoff-