Monday, March 06, 2006

The American 'Good Saddam' Faction

Michael Barone, writing in townhall examines the question of which groups of Americans gain by clinging to the notion that Saddam Hussein had no terrorist connections:
One group consists of Democratic politicians who oppose the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. The Minnesota Democratic Party recently protested as "un-American" an ad showing military veterans and their families supporting the president's policies for saying, "Our enemy in Iraq is al-Qaida -- the same terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11, the same terrorists from the first World Trade Center bombing, the USS Cole, Madrid, London and many more."
Barone (rather patiently) explains why the ad is correct. The other group with an interest in denying any Saddam-al Qaeda connection is made up of bureaucrats, protecting their turf.
The other group consists of intelligence and other career government professionals, many of them Arabists. Case in point: Paul Pillar, CIA national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, now retired, writing in the most recent Foreign Affairs magazine. The "greatest discrepancy between the administration's public statements and the intelligence community's judgments concerned not WMD (there was indeed a broad consensus that such programs existed), but the relationship between Saddam and al-Qaida. The enormous attention devoted to this subject did not reflect any judgment by intelligence officials that there was or was likely to be anything like the 'alliance' the administration said existed." But the Senate Intelligence Committee report showed that the CIA did obtain evidence of an al-Qaida-Saddam relationship from foreign intelligence and open sources.
Of course, the fact that al Qaeda is indeed fighting our troops in Iraq seems to make no impression on the 'Good Saddam' Faction. But Barone has a solution, start releasing some of the more than two million documents captured in Iraq since Saddam was toppled. That would likely provide answers, but bureaucrats and mid level appointees are blocking their release.