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Note to Rice, ‘Bombingham’ Isn’t Iraq

Posted by Tony Listi on April 6, 2008

Rice, like Bush, is not a true and pure conservative.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/DianaWest/2008/04/03/note_to_rice,_bombingham_isnt_iraq

By Diana West
Thursday, April 3, 2008

I wonder if Condoleezza Rice was surprised by the headlines over her comment to The Washington Times that America suffers from a national “birth defect” — namely, the practice of slavery at the time of the nation’s founding.

Make that the first founding. She said she considers the civil rights movement to be the nation’s “second founding.” The secretary of state made another point. She said “one of the primary things” that attracted her to the candidacy of George W. Bush “was not actually foreign policy.” Rather, she explained, “it was No Child Left Behind.” She continued: “When he talks about `the soft bigotry of low expectations,’ I know what that feels like.”

Rice has actually said all of this before, including more emphatic remarks on No Child Left Behind and “soft” bigotry. “I’ve seen it. Okay?” Rice said in 2005 to The New York Times. “And it’s not in this president. It is, however, pretty deeply ingrained in our system and we’re going to have to do something about it.” Rice offered as an example her own high school teacher who suggested she was junior college material.

Maybe someone should inform the secretary of state that being underestimated, turned down or shunted aside is, alas, part of the human experience, not the exclusive function of race. But it’s probably too late for that. As secretary of state — not, say, secretary of education — Rice has long been doing “something about it” on the world stage. Instead of different states and school systems, she’s been working with different countries and belief systems. Suddenly, things about the Rice Doctrine — better, the No Country Left Behind Doctrine — begin to fall into place.

I’ve written before about how Rice makes faulty comparisons between the evolution of democratic principle (all men are created equal) in the United States and the introduction of democratic procedure (ballot boxes) to the Middle East, always ignoring both the miracle of our 18th-century Constitution, which contained the blueprint for abolition, and the dispiriting reality of 21st century Islamic constitutions, which charter Sharia states where freedom of conscience (among other things) doesn’t exist. I’ve written also about how she sees the transformation of her once-segregated hometown of Birmingham, Ala., as the blueprint for democratizing the Islamic world. Hers is a worldview personal to the point of autobiographical, as when she explains how, as a daughter of Birmingham (or “Bombingham,” as she has called it), she can relate both to Israeli fear of Palestinian bombs, and Palestinian “humiliation and powerlessness” over Israeli checkpoints, which she sees as a form of segregation. What she never seems to realize is that such “segregation,” far being the sort of prejudice she remembers, is actually an Israeli line of defense against the ultimate prejudice of Palestinian bombs.

Considering her remarks about America’s “birth defect” — an egregious term for any secretary of state to use about a nation that has brought more liberty to more races, colors and creeds than any in history — I am struck anew how deeply Rice’s vision of race in America, or, perhaps, in segregated Birmingham, affects her vision of America in the wider world. It is as if Rice sees American influence as a means by which to address what she perceives as disparities of race or Third World heritage on the international level.

This would help explain her ahistorical habit of linking the civil rights movement to the Bush administration’s effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, in a 2003 speech to the National Association of Black Journalists, she argued that blacks, more than others, should “reject” the “condescending” argument that some are not “ready” for freedom. “That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it’s wrong in 2003 in Baghdad,” she said. In 2006, she made a similar point. “When I look around the world and I hear people say, `Well, you know, they’re just not ready for democracy,’ it really does resonate,” Rice told CBS’s Katie Couric. “It makes me so angry because I think there are those echoes of what people once thought about black Americans.”

There’s something shockingly provincial at work here. In seeing so much of the world through an American prism of race, Rice has effectively blinded herself to historical and cultural and religious differences between Islam and the West. To put it simply, neither Baghdad nor Gaza is Birmingham. And nothing in all of history quite compares to Philadelphia.

Diana West is a contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of the new book, The Death of the Grown-up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.

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Posted in American History, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Iraq War, Israel and the Middle East, Political Philosophy, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, The Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Iraq Supported Jihadist Terrorism, Media Misrepresents Report

Posted by Tony Listi on March 17, 2008

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/889pvpxc.asp?pg=1 

Saddam’s Dangerous Friends
What a Pentagon review of 600,000 Iraqi documents tells us.
by Stephen F. Hayes
03/24/2008, Volume 013, Issue 27

This ought to be big news. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda’s second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon. “Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.” According to the Pentagon study, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was one of many jihadist groups that Iraq’s former dictator funded, trained, equipped, and armed.

The study was commissioned by the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, and produced by analysts at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded military think tank. It is entitled “Iraqi Perspectives Project: Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents.” The study is based on a review of some 600,000 documents captured in postwar Iraq. Those “documents” include letters, memos, computer files, audiotapes, and videotapes produced by Saddam Hussein’s regime, especially his intelligence services. The analysis section of the study covers 59 pages. The appendices, which include copies of some of the captured documents and translations, put the entire study at approximately 1,600 pages.

An abstract that describes the study reads, in part:

Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a ‘de facto’ link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.”

Among the study’s other notable findings:

In 1993, as Osama bin Laden’s fighters battled Americans in Somalia, Saddam Hussein personally ordered the formation of an Iraqi terrorist group to join the battle there.

For more than two decades, the Iraqi regime trained non-Iraqi jihadists in training camps throughout Iraq.

According to a 1993 internal Iraqi intelligence memo, the regime was supporting a secret Islamic Palestinian organization dedicated to “armed jihad against the Americans and Western interests.”

In the 1990s, Iraq’s military intelligence directorate trained and equipped “Sudanese fighters.”

In 1998, the Iraqi regime offered “financial and moral support” to a new group of jihadists in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

In 2002, the year before the war began, the Iraqi regime hosted in Iraq a series of 13 conferences for non-Iraqi jihadist groups.

That same year, a branch of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) issued hundreds of Iraqi passports for known terrorists.

There is much, much more. Documents reveal that the regime stockpiled bombmaking materials in Iraqi embassies around the world and targeted Western journalists for assassination. In July 2001, an Iraqi Intelligence agent described an al Qaeda affiliate in Bahrain, the Army of Muhammad, as “under the wings of bin Laden.” Although the organization “is an offshoot of bin Laden,” the fact that it has a different name “can be a way of camouflaging the organization.” The agent is told to deal with the al Qaeda group according to “priorities previously established.”

In describing the relations between the Army of Muhammad and the Iraqi regime, the authors of the Pentagon study come to this conclusion: “Captured 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 vision.”

As I said, this ought to be big news. And, in a way, it was. A headline in the New York Times, a cursory item in the Washington Post, and stories on NPR and ABC News reported that the study showed no links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

How can a study offering an unprecedented look into the closed regime of a brutal dictator, with over 1,600 pages of “strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism,” in the words of its authors, receive a wave-of-the-hand dismissal from America’s most prestigious news outlets? All it took was a leak to a gullible reporter, one misleading line in the study’s executive summary, a boneheaded Pentagon press office, an incompetent White House, and widespread journalistic negligence.

On Monday, March 10, 2008, Warren P. Strobel, a reporter from the McClatchy News Service first reported that the new Pentagon study was coming. “An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.” McClatchy is a newspaper chain that serves
many of America’s largest cities. The national security reporters in its Washington bureau have earned a reputation as reliable outlets for anti-Bush administration spin on intelligence. Strobel quoted a “U.S. official familiar with the report” who told him that the search of Iraqi documents yielded no evidence of a “direct operational link” between Iraq and al Qaeda. Strobel used the rest of the article to attempt to demonstrate that this undermined the Bush administration’s prewar claims with regard to Iraq and terrorism.

With the study not scheduled for release for two more days, this article shaped subsequent coverage, which was no doubt the leaker’s purpose. Stories from other media outlets tracked McClatchy very closely but began to incorporate a highly misleading phrase taken from the executive summary: “This study found no ‘smoking gun’ (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda.” This is how the Washington Post wrote it up:

An examination of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents, audio and video records collected by U.S. forces since the March 2003 invasion has concluded that there is ‘no smoking gun’ supporting the Bush administration’s prewar assertion of an ‘operational relationship’ between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, sources familiar with the study said.”

Much of the confusion might have been avoided if the Bush administration had done anything to promote the study. An early version of the Pentagon study was provided to National Security Adviser Steve Hadley more than a year ago, before November 2006. In recent weeks, as the Pentagon handled the rollout of the study, Hadley was tasked with briefing President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. It’s unclear whether he shared the study with President Bush, and NSC officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But sources close to Cheney say the vice president was blindsided.

After the erroneous report from McClatchy, two officials involved with the study became very concerned about the misreporting of its contents. One of them said in an interview that he found the media coverage of the study “disappointing.” Another, James Lacey, expressed his concern in an email to Karen Finn in the Pentagon press office, who was handling the rollout of the study. On Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled for release, Lacey wrote: “1. The story has been leaked. 2. ABC News is doing a story based on the executive summary tonight. 3. The Washington Post is doing a story based on rumors they heard from ABC News. The document is being misrepresented. I recommend we put [it] out and on a website immediately.”

Finn declined, saying that members of Congress had not been told the study was coming. “Despite the leak, there are Congressional notifications and then an official public release. This should not be posted on the web until these actions are complete.”

Still under the misimpression that the Pentagon study undermined the case for war, McClatchy’s Warren Strobel saw this bureaucratic infighting as a conspiracy to suppress the study:

The Pentagon on Wednesday canceled plans for broad public release of a study that found no pre-Iraq war link between late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al Qaida terrorist network. . . . The reversal highlighted the politically sensitive nature of its conclusions, which were first reported Monday by McClatchy.

In making their case for invading Iraq in 2002 and 2003, President Bush and his top national security aides claimed that Saddam’s regime had ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.

But the study, based on more than 600,000 captured documents, including audio and video files, found that while Saddam sponsored terrorism, particularly against opponents of his regime and against Israel, there was no evidence of an al Qaida link.

An examination of the rest of the study makes the White House decision to ignore the Pentagon study even more curious. The first section explores “Terror as an Instrument of State Power” and describes documents detailing Fedayeen Saddam terrorist training camps in Iraq. Graduates of the terror training camps would be dispatched to sensitive sites to carry out their assassinations and bombings. In May 1999, the regime plotted an operation code named “Blessed July” in which the top graduates of the terrorist training courses would be sent to London, Iran, and Kurdistan to conduct assassinations and bombings.

A separate set of documents presents, according to the Pentagon study, “evidence of logistical preparation for terrorist operations in other nations, including those in the West.” In one letter, a director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) responds to a request from Saddam for an inventory of weapons stockpiled in Iraqi embassies throughout the world. The terrorist tools include missile launchers and missiles, “American missile launchers,” explosive materials, TNT, plastic explosive charges, Kalashnikov rifles, and “booby-trapped suitcases.”

The July 2002 Iraqi memo describes how these weapons were distributed to the operatives in embassies.

Between the year 2000 and 2002     explosive materials were transported to embassies outside Iraq for special work, upon the approval of the Director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The responsibility for these materials is in the hands of heads of stations. Some of these materials were transported in the political mail carriers [Diplomatic Pouch]. Some of these materials were transported by car in booby-trapped briefcases.

Saddam also recruited non-Iraqi jihadists to serve as suicide bombers on behalf of the Iraqi regime. According to the study, captured documents “indicate that as early as January 1998, the scheduling of suicide volunteers was routine enough to warrant not only a national-level policy letter but a formal schedule–during summer vacation–built around maximizing availability of Arab citizens in Iraq on Saddam-funded scholarships.”

The second section of the Pentagon study concerns “State Relationships with Terrorist Groups.” An IIS document dated March 18, 1993, lists nine terrorist “organizations that our agency [IIS] cooperates with and have relations with various elements in many parts of the Arab world and who also have the expertise to carry out assignments” on behalf of the regime. Several well-known Palestinian terrorist organizations make the list, including Abu Nidal’s Fatah-Revolutionary Council and Abu Abbas’s Palestinian Liberation Front. Another group, the secret “Renewal and Jihad Organization” is described this way in the Iraqi memo:

It believes in armed jihad against the Americans and Western interests. They also believe our leader [Saddam Hussein], may God protect him, is the true leader in the war against the infidels. The organization’s leaders live in Jordan     when they visited Iraq two months ago they demonstrated a willingness to carry out operations against American interests at any time.”

Other groups listed in the Iraqi memo include the “Islamic Scholars Group” and the “Pakistan Scholars Group. ”

There are two terrorist organizations on the Iraqi Intelligence list that deserve special consideration: the Afghani Islamic Party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad of Ayman al Zawahiri.

This IIS document provides this description of the Afghani Islamic Party:

It was founded in 1974 when its leader [Gulbuddin Hekmatyar] escaped from Afghanistan to Pakistan. It is considered one of the extreme political religious movements against the West, and one of the strongest Sunni parties in Afghanistan. The organization relies on financial support from Iraq and we have had good relations with Hikmatyar since 1989.

In his book Holy War, Inc., Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst who has long been skeptical of Iraq-al Qaeda connections, describes Hekmatyar as Osama bin Laden’s “alter ego.” Bergen writes: “Bin Laden and Hekmatyar worked closely together. During the early 1990s al-Qaeda’s training camps in the Khost region of eastern Afghanistan were situated in an area controlled by Hekmatyar’s party.”

It’s worth dwelling for a moment on that set of facts. An internal Iraqi Intelligence document reports that Iraqis have “good relations” with Hekmatyar and that his organization “relies on financial support from Iraq.” At precisely the same time, Hekmatyar “worked closely” with Osama bin Laden and his Afghani Islamic Party hosted “al Qaeda’s terrorist training camps” in eastern Afghanistan.

The IIS document also reveals that Saddam was funding another close ally of bin Laden, the EIJ organization of Ayman al Zawahiri.

In a meeting in the Sudan we agreed to renew our relations with the Islamic Jihad Organization in Egypt. Our information on the group is as follows:

It was established in 1979.

Its goal is to apply the Islamic shari’a law and establish Islamic rule.

It is considered one of the most brutal Egyptian organizations. It carried out numerous successful operations, including the assassination of [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat.

We have previously met with the organization’s representative and we agreed on a plan to carry out commando operations against the Egyptian regime.

Zawahiri arrived in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, and “from the start he concentrated his efforts on getting close to bin Laden,” according to Lawrence Wright, in The Looming Tower. The leaders of EIJ quickly became leaders of bin Laden’s organizations. “He soon succeeded in placing trusted members of Islamic Jihad in key positions around bin Laden,” Wright reported in the definitive profile of Zawahiri, published in the New Yorker in September 2002. “According to the Islamist attorney Montasser al-Zayat, ‘Zawahiri completely controlled bin Laden. The largest share of bin Laden’s financial support went to Zawahiri and the Jihad organization.”

Later, Wright describes the founding of al Qaeda.

Toward the end of 1989, a meeting took place in the Afghan town of Khost at a mujahideen camp. A Sudanese fighter named Jamal al-Fadl was among the participants, and he later testified about the event in a New York courtroom during one of the trials connected with the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in East Africa. According to Fadl, the meeting was attended by ten men–four or five of them Egyptians, including Zawahiri. Fadl told the court that the chairman of the meeting, an Iraqi known as Abu Ayoub, proposed the formation of a new organization that would wage jihad beyond the borders of Afghanistan. There was some dispute about the name, but ultimately the new organization came to be called Al Qaeda–the Base. The alliance was conceived as a loose affiliation among individual mujahideen and established groups, and was dominated by Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The ultimate boss, however, was Osama bin Laden, who held the checkbook.

Once again, it’s worth dwelling on these facts for a moment. In 1989, Ayman al Zawahiri attended the founding meeting of al Qaeda. He was literally present at the creation, and his EIJ “dominated” the new organization headed by Osama bin Laden.

In the early 1990s, Zawahiri and bin Laden moved their operations to Sudan. After a fundraising trip to the United States in the spring of 1993, Zawahiri returned to Sudan where, again according to Wright, he “began working more closely with bin Laden, and most of the Egyptian members of Islamic Jihad went on the Al Qaeda payroll.” Although some members of EIJ were skeptical of bin Laden and his global aspirations, Zawahiri sought a de facto merger with al Qaeda. One of his top assistants would later say Zawahiri had told him that “joining with bin Laden [was] the only solution to keeping the Jihad organization alive.”

Again, at precisely the same time Zawahiri was “joining with bin Laden,” the spring of 1993, he was being funded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As Zawahiri’s jihadists trained in al Qaeda camps in Sudan, his representative to Iraq was planning “commando operations” against the Egyptian government with the IIS.

Another captured Iraqi document from early 1993 “reports on contact with a large number of terrorist groups in the region, including those that maintained an office or liaison in Iraq.” In the same folder is a memo from Saddam Hussein to a member of his Revolutionary Council ordering the formation of “a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil, especially Somalia.” A second memo to the director of the IIS, instructs him to revise the plan for “operations inside Somalia.”

More recently, captured “annual reports” of the IIS reveal support for terrorist organizations in the months leading up the U.S. invasion in March 2003. According to the Pentagon study, “the IIS hosted thirteen conferences in 2002 for a number of Palestinian and other organizations, including delegations from the Islamic Jihad Movement and the Director General for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz.” The same annual report “also notes that among the 699 passports, renewals and other official documentation that the IIS issued, many were issued to known members of terrorist organizations.”

The Pentagon study goes on to describe captured documents that instruct the IIS to maintain contact with all manner of Arab movement and others that “reveal that later IIS activities went beyond just maintaining contact.” Throughout the 1990s, the Iraqi regime’s General Military Intelligence Directorate “was training Sudanese fighters inside Iraq.”

The second section of the Pentagon study also discusses captured documents related to the Islamic Resistance organization in Kurdistan from 1998 and 1999. The documents show that the Iraqi regime provided “financial and moral support” to members of the group, which would later become part of the al Qaeda affiliate in the region, Ansar al Islam.

The third section of the Pentagon study is called “Iraq and Terrorism: Three Cases.” One of the cases is that of the Army of Muhammad, the al Qaeda affiliate in Bahrain. A series of memoranda order an Iraqi Intelligence operative in Bahrain to explore a relationship with its leaders. On July 9, 2001, the agent reports back: “Information available to us is that the group is under the wings of bin Laden. They receive their directions from Yemen. Their objectives are the same as bin Laden.” Later, he lists the organization’s objectives.

Jihad in the name of God

Striking the embassies and other Jewish and American interests anywhere in the world.

Attacking the American and British military bases in the Arab land.

Striking American embassies and interests unless the Americans pull out their forces from the Arab lands and discontinue their support for Israel.

Disrupting oil exports [to] the Americans from Arab countries and threatening tankers carrying oil to them.

A separate memo reveals that the Army of Muhammad has requested assistance from Iraq. The study authors summarize the response by writing, “the local IIS station has been told to deal with them in accordance with priorities previously established. The IIS agent goes on to inform the Director that ‘this organization is an offshoot of bin Laden, but that their objectives are similar but with different names that can be a way of camouflaging the organization.'”

We never learn what those “previous priorities” were and thus what, if anything, came of these talks. But it is instructive that the operative in Bahrain understood the importance of disguising relations with al Qaeda and that the director of IIS, knowing that the group was affiliated with bin Laden and sought to attack Americans, seemed more interested in continuing the relationship than in ending it.

The fourth and final section of the Pentagon study is called “The Business of Terror.” The authors write: “An example of indirect cooperation is the movement led by Osama bin Laden. During the 1990s, both Saddam and bin Laden wanted the West, particularly the United States, out of Muslim lands (or in the view of Saddam, the “Arab nation”).  .  .  .  In pursuit of their own separate but surprisingly ‘parallel’ visions, Saddam and bin Laden often found a common enemy in the United States.”

They further note that Saddam’s security organizations and bin Laden’s network

were recruiting within the same demographic, spouting much of the same rhetoric, and promoting a common historical narrative that promised a return to a glorious past. That these movements (pan-Arab and pan-Islamic) had many similarities and strategic parallels does not mean they saw themselves in that light. Nevertheless, these similarities created more than just the appearance of cooperation. Common interests, even without common cause, increased the aggregate terror threat.

As much as we have learned from this impressive collection of documents, it is only a fraction of what we will know in 10, 20, or 50 years. The authors themselves acknowledge the limits of their work.

In fact, there are several captured Iraqi documents that have been authenticated by the U.S. government that were not included in the study but add to the picture it sketches. One document, authenticated by the Defense Intelligence Agency and first reported on 60 Minutes, is dated March 28, 1992. It describes Osama bin Laden as an Iraqi intelligence asset “in good contact” with the IIS station in Syria.

Another Iraqi document, this one from the mid-1990s, was first reported in the New York Times on June 25, 2004. Authenticated by a Pentagon and intelligence working group, the document was titled “Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals.” The working group concluded that it “corroborates and expands on previous reporting” on contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. It revealed that a Sudanese government official met with Uday Hussein and the director of the IIS in 1994 and reported that bin Laden was willing to meet in Sudan. Bin Laden, according to the Iraqi document, was then “approached by our side” after “presidential approval” for the liaison was given. The former head of Iraqi Intelligence Directorate 4 met with bin Laden on February 19, 1995. The document further states that bin Laden “had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative”–a comment that suggests the possibility had been discussed.

Bin Laden requested that Iraq’s state-run television network broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and the document indicates that the Iraqis agreed to do this. The al Qaeda leader also proposed “joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia. There is no Iraqi response provided in the documents. When bin Laden left Sudan for Afghanistan in May 1996, the Iraqis sought “other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his current location.” The IIS memo directs that “cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement.”

In another instance, the new Pentagon study makes reference to captured documents detailing the Iraqi relationship with Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines founded by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law. But the Pentagon study does not mention the most significant element of those documents, first reported in these pages. In a memo from Ambassador Salah Samarmad to the Secondary Policy Directorate of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, we learn that the Iraqi regime had been funding and equipping Abu Sayyaf, which had been responsible for a series of high-profile kidnappings. The Iraqi operative informs Baghdad that such support had been suspended. “The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons. From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them.” That support would resume soon enough, and shortly before the war a high-ranking Iraqi diplomat named Hisham Hussein would be expelled from the Philippines after his cell phone number appeared on an Abu Sayyaf cell phone used to detonate a bomb.

What’s happening here is obvious. Military historians and terrorism analysts are engaged in a good faith effort to review the captured documents from the Iraqi regime and provide a dispassionate, fact-based examination of Saddam Hussein’s long support of jihadist terrorism. Most reporters don’t care. They are trapped in a world where the Bush administration lied to the country about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and no amount of evidence to the contrary–not even the words of the fallen Iraqi regime itself–can convince them to reexamine their mistaken assumptions.

Bush administration officials, meanwhile, tell us that the Iraq war is the central front in the war on terror and that American national security depends on winning there. And yet they are too busy or too tired or too lazy to correct these fundamental misperceptions about the case for war, the most important decision of the Bush presidency.

What good is the truth if nobody knows it?

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

See also:

NRO’s Andy McCarthy CONNECTED: Iraq and al Qaeda
TWS’ Stephen F. Hayes The New Report on Iraq and Terror
The NY Sun’s Eli Lake Report Details Saddam’s Terrorist Ties
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey Saddam supported at least two al-Qaeda groups: Pentagon

Posted in Government and Politics, Iraq War, The Media, Old and New, The War on Terror | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Berkeley Leftists Gone Wild

Posted by Tony Listi on March 3, 2008

I thank God I don’t live in California with people like that. And yet my personal safety aside, it would be a lot more fun to fight for the cause in the heart of the opposition. These leftists brand all soldiers as war criminals, display vulgarity, and then encourage violence against, if not outright attack, a College Republican (so much for peace!). Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

Posted in Government and Politics, Iraq War, Protests | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Christianity, Peace, and War (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007

Now, secondly, does God command Christians to be pacifists?

First of all, God himself is no pacifist and does not wish peace to come to all people:

“Peace, peace to the far and the near, says the LORD; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea which cannot be calmed, And its waters cast up mud and filth. No peace for the wicked! says my God” (Isaiah 57:21).

“He judges and wages war in righteousness” (Rev 19:11).

However, one might argue that war and violence is to be waged by God alone, not his people. After all, vengeance is his (Rom 12:19) and we are commanded to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. While the Israelites were commanded by God to wage war, Jesus gives no such command and seems to prohibit violence. The closest Jesus himself came to violence is whipping the money-changers (Jn 2:14-16; see also Mk 11:15-16, Mt 21:12-13, Lk 19:45-46).

What about national self-defense? There is much to support it in the Old Testament. With regard to the New Testament, according to St. Augustine, while Jesus tells each of us to personally to turn the other cheek and offer no resistance to one who is evil, the state rightfully holds the sword that can be used in defense against evil:

“But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer” (Rom 13:4).

Also, why does Jesus instruct his disciples to arm themselves if not to use them for some purpose? “[O]ne who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Lk 22:36).

(See also http://www.lawandliberty.org/defense.htm and http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/qselfdefense.html)

In addition to these Scriptural supports, there is just war theory that was developed by the Catholic Church. Also, biblically and as well as historically, soldiers were not told to leave the army when they became Christians.

Therefore, Christianity, at least, does not advocate state pacifism. And if the Iraq War was waged in self-defense, then it was not a violation of Christian teaching.

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Iraq War, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christianity, Peace, and War (Part 1)

Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007

“Conservative Christians abandon their Christian duty to be peacemakers when they support a warhawk president.”

There are two fundamental questions raised by this statement: What is peace for the Christian? Are Christians commanded to be pacifists? There is no distinction between just and unjust war in this statement, unless “warhawk” is clumsily meant to imply “unjust war.” 

First of all, peace for the Christian is something that comes from God, from the Prince of Peace more specifically:

“Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control, since he is not the God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor 14:33).” 

“The way of peace have they [pagans/non-Christians] not known” (Rom 3:17). 

“Having made peace through the blood of his cross . . .” (Colossians 1: 20). 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 1).

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Coloss 3:15). 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

But from the last verse especially, it is clear that the peace of Christ is something different from the peace of the world. It is the peace of being reconciled with God. Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed as spreading the peace of Christ. Christians should seek after and spread Christ’s peace first and foremost.

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Rom 12:18). We should strive, if possible, for peace with all nations. But Scripture tells us we will not be able to create world peace, the absence of violent conflict among nations:

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7, emphasis mine).

In fact, at the end of times, the Lamb calls forth war for his own purposes: “Another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take peace away from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And he was given a huge sword” (Rev 6:4). 

Only when justice is established at the Last Judgment by Christ can peace, both Christ’s peace and world peace, reign. Why? Because then Christ will be our King and all nations will be subject to him:

“For you have assumed your great power and have established your reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come…” (Rev 11:17-18).

“Out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod…” (Rev 19:15).

“The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). 

Take notice that real peace on earth only comes after justice has been established. Justice takes precedent over peace, conceived of as the absence of conflict. In fact, God’s justice is established by war and violence first and then comes everlasting peace. Government also is given the sword to establish justice (Rom 13:3-4). Thus if the Iraq War was just (meant and able to establish justice), then it was not a violation of the command to be peacemakers. Indeed, where injustice reigns there can be no peace. There was no real peace under Saddam Hussein before the invasion.

Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed also as “Blessed are those who establish justice,” for there is no peace without justice.

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Press Reports: We are Winning in Iraq

Posted by Tony Listi on November 19, 2007

http://www.newsweek.com/id/70990

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07322/834685-373.stm

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-concerned19nov19%2C0%2C973036.story?coll=la-home-center

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/18/AR2007111801449.html?hpid=topnews

Even the mainstream media is starting to catch on. Could it be that President Bush was right?Could it be that what seemed like stubborness was actually courage, patience, and prudence in the face of popular unrest and impatience? Could it be that history will judge President George W. Bush to have been a steady leader in the fight against al-Qaeda and in the quest to stabilize the Middle East? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but the fact that one can even begin to ask such questions is remarkable considering the past criticism of the Administration.

Everyone was skeptical of the surge, but there is no denying now its positive impact on the ground in Iraq. America has done its part; it’s up to the Iraqis to seal the deal with political reconciliation and compromise.

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The Gathering Storm of the 21st Century: America’s War Against Islamic Fascism

Posted by Tony Listi on November 17, 2007

I watched this version of the speech: http://www.isi.org/lectures/lectures.aspx?SBy=search&SSub=speaker&SFor=Santorum

It is one of the most enlightening, powerful, and inspiring speeches I’ve ever heard!

Posted in Government and Politics, Iraq War, Islam, Politics and Religion, The War on Terror | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

LTG RICARDO S. SANCHEZ CRITICIZES THE MEDIA

Posted by Tony Listi on October 16, 2007

How powerful is the media, the guardians of the truth of daily events? It never gets bad press. That’s a pretty good position to be in.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “Who will guard the guardians?”- Juvenal (through Plato’s Republic)

“For some it seems that as long as you get a front-page story, there is little or no regard for the collateral damage that will be caused. Personal reputations sometimes have no value. They report with total impunity, and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct. Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance. The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media, appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry.

“Once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda-driven biases sometimes contributes to this corrosive environment. All these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America, in some instances. Over the course of this war, tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for our country because of the tremendous power and impact of the media — and by extension, you individually, the journalists.

“My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these worthy ethical standards and have allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers, and what they see and read on the Web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases, or agendas.”

For full text of Sanchez’s speech: http://www.militaryreporters.org/sanchez_101207.html

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Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled

Posted by Tony Listi on October 16, 2007

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/14/AR2007101401245_pf.html

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled 

Many Officials, However, Warn Of Its Resilience 

By Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 15, 2007; A01
 

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

Read the rest of this entry »

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LOSING THE STRUGGLE FOR IDEAS: Lessons of Vietnam for Iraq and the War on Terror

Posted by Tony Listi on October 10, 2007

Watch this lecture here.

Click on the link below to see more clearly the slide show presentation he presents:

LOSING THE STRUGGLE FOR IDEAS: Lessons of Vietnam for Iraq and the War on Terror

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