Here is a bit from the editorial in todays Wall Street Journal-
Five years on, few Iraq myths are as persistent as the notion that the Bush Administration invented a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Yet a new Pentagon report suggests that Iraq's links to world-wide terror networks, including al Qaeda, were far more extensive than previously understood.
Naturally, it's getting little or no attention. Press accounts have been misleading or outright distortions, while the Bush Administration seems indifferent. Even John McCain has let the study's revelations float by. But that doesn't make the facts any less notable or true.
The redacted version of "Saddam and Terrorism" is the most definitive public assessment to date from the Harmony program, the trove of "exploitable" documents, audio and video records, and computer files captured in Iraq. On the basis of about 600,000 items, the report lays out Saddam's willingness to use terrorism against American and other international targets, as well as his larger state sponsorship of terror, which included harboring, training and equipping jihadis throughout the Middle East.
"The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam's 'coercion' toolbox, not only cost effective but a formal instrument of state power," the authors conclude. Throughout the 1990s, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) cooperated with Hamas; the Palestine Liberation Front, which maintained a Baghdad office; Force 17, Yasser Arafat's private army; and others. The IIS gave commando training for members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the organization that assassinated Anwar Sadat and whose "emir" was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became Osama bin Laden's second-in-command when the group merged with al Qaeda in 1998.
At the very least the report should dispel the notion that outwardly "secular" Saddam would never consort with religious types like al Qaeda. A pan-Arab nationalist, Saddam viewed radical Islamists as potential allies, and they likewise. According to a 1993 memo, Saddam decided to "form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil; especially Somalia," where al Qaeda was then working with warlords against U.S. humanitarian forces. Saddam also trained Sudanese fighters in Iraq.
The Pentagon report cites this as "a tactical example" of their cooperation. When Saddam "was ordering action in Somalia aimed at the American presence, Osama bin Laden was doing the same thing." Saddam took an interest in "far-flung terrorist groups . . . to locate any organization whose services he might use in the future." The Harmony documents "reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term version."
For 20 years, such "support" included using Fedayeen Saddam training camps to school terrorists, especially Palestinians but also non-Iraqis "directly associated" with al Qaeda, continuing up to the fall of Baghdad. Saddam also provided financial support and weapons, amounting to "a state-directed program of significant scale." In July 2001, the regime began patronizing a terror cartel in Bahrain calling itself the Army of Muhammad, which, according to an Iraqi memo, "is under the wings of bin Laden."
It's been a continued talking point by not just the anti-war critics but also Barack Obama that this war was a mistake and we should leave Iraq immeadiately. Ignoring the fact that leaving Iraq right now would cause a complete reversal in the progress made in securing a safe and free Iraq, the simple fact is that removing Saddam from power was the right thing to do in terms of protecting US interests while dissolving a major financier and organizer of Islamic terrorism. The documents that have now been examined in greater detail further confirm this to be true.
The undeniable facts about Saddam Hussein and his regime should leave no doubt whatsoever about this simple fact- He was consistently and proactively arming, training, funding, and harboring Islamic Terrorist groups throughout Iraq and the world at large. I've probably linked this page a few times before, but for added benefit for those who continue to deny this truth, I ask that you once again read the page by Delroy Murdock- Hussein and Terrorism.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that when Barack Obama continues to make the point that "there weren't any terrorists in Iraq until we invaded" that he should be told that he is a LYING FOOL. The one most specific example of this would be Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Zarqawi, who would eventually find himself on the wrong end of some US laser-guided munitions, was working directly with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to the war in Iraq. Once the Taliban was removed from power Zarqawi's next stop was in to the loving embrace of the Hussein regime, where he reportedly checked into Olympic Hospital, an elite facility run by the late Uday Hussein. This was all PRIOR to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
So either Obama is lying and knows better, which makes him deceitful, or he doesn't know this which makes him a fool. Not a great choice, in my opinion.
The final point I want to make concerns the lack of direct operational ties between Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Many anti-war folks like to point to this as the evidence that Hussein had NO TIES AT ALL to Islamic terrorism. But those who do this ignore the very real fact not only is Osama and Al-Qaeda hardly the only Islamic terrorist group, but after further reading of the evidence it appears that Saddam was in bed with everyone BUT Osama, which is very strange indeed.
Removing Saddam Hussein from power made the US and the world a safer place.
Update: I would be doing a disservice if I wrote another post about Iraq without including a link to the extraordinary journalism coming from one of the blogosphere's finest contributors, Michael Totten. Mr. Totten has voluntarily travelled extensively throughout Iraq and several other mid-east nations over the past few years entirely through reader support through his blog. He is probably one of the only people in the world who will give you the truth about what is going on in Iraq right now. There is no middleman, no mangerial editor, no press deadline to his reports. There is his blog, and his pictures, and that's it. He is also one of the few people getting out the messages that our soldiers want you to know about. If you are reading Michael Totten, you will be informed about Iraq and the conditions on the ground.
I wish I could contribute more, but I try and drop some money in his tip jar when I can, and if you like what you read you can do the same.
Micheal Totten's Middle East Journal