Posted by: Jim | September 29, 2006

Did Saddam Hussein Train Terrorists?

This topic keeps coming up. There are those who still believe that he did. Indeed, the “status quo” at one time was that this was true, and it helped justify the invasion of Iraq. I’ve since heard a number of times that these allegations were proven false, but didn’t really do any research to dig up news articles.

Even though the burden of proof lies with the people who claim that Hussein trained terrorists, I will help show the truth. We are, after all, the Meat of the Madness.

First, a very compelling story came out from a defected army officer of Hussein’s army that Saddam had worked with Al Qaida operatives, that they had a fuselage of a jetliner and were running training missions. This story was filled with details that just made it sound true, and was key in establishing a link between Hussein and Al Qaida, and helped garner anti-Saddam sentiment among American citizens that would pressure Congress into approving the war.

If only it had been true.

Later, as shown in an article printed in Knight-Ridder in March, 2004. “… many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, weren’t confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.

“Nevertheless, U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors’ reliability.”

Knight-Ridder offers a mea cupla, admitting that they themselves ran some of the false news items as they were fed to them through governmental channels.

“The articles made numerous assertions that so far haven’t been substantiated 11 months after Baghdad fell [emphasis mine], including charges that … Iraq trained Islamic extremists in the same hijacking techniques used in the Sept. 11 strikes and prepared them for operations against Iraq’s neighbors and possibly the United States. Two senior U.S. officials said that so far no evidence has been found to substantiate the charge.”

The initial descriptions explicitly stated that biological weapons were found in fake water wells around Baghdad. No fake water wells have been found. There was an explicit detail that there was a laboratory under a Hospital. This was not found either.

Judith Miller, who was the journalist who printed the testimony from the defector, had not replied to inquiries made by Knight-Ridder at the time this article was written.

The testimony came to us via Ahmad Chalabi, a man with a long history of telling grand lies to governments, and whose organization (the INC) the CIA and State Department have long viewed as unreliable. As stated by Knight-Ridder, “U.S. intelligence officials have determined that virtually all of the defectors’ information was marginal or useless, and that some of the defectors were fabricators or embellished the threat from Saddam.”

Ah but the lies had already achieved their goal. We were already occupying Iraq by the time they were uncovered, and the news cycles spent on the lies dwarfed the news cycles spent on uncovering the lies. So many Americans still believe the lies.
There were other stories as well that implicated that Iraq trained terrorists. They were all (conveniently) completely unsubstantiated, like a hand-written note showing that Mohammad Atta was at the head of his class in terrorism training. The author and origin of the note, of course, are not verifiable. To wit, I once got an e-mail from the President of the United States. It turned out to be just my friend goofing around spoofing an e-mail address.

Is it hard to believe that there were forces at work who wanted the US to invade Iraq? Was it hard for them to know that all they needed to do was concoct evidence that tied Iraq to 9/11? No, it wasn’t hard, because the Cheney/Rumsfeld team were telescoping their intense search to find intelligence leading to this conclusion. It also made them susceptible to hoaxes. It also made it extremely easy for people with supportive evidence (even though it was unsubstantiated) to be ushered to the nearest news outlet at the beck and call of the Bush regime.

Do I think Saddam was a good guy? Absolutely not. I think he was guilty of a host of crimes–however, harboring or training terrorists was not one of them.

So, Saddam did not train terrorists. Anyone saying as much on this blog will be grilled to prove it.

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