Monday, March 27, 2006

Lost in translation - Miguel Guanipa

Lost in translation - Miguel Guanipa

Lost in translation
By Miguel Guanipa (03/27/2006)

On a statement issued recently by the Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney, she described the president's press conference on the war on Iraq as an effort to offer "the same divisiveness and distortions" and the same "rosy rhetoric and continued commitment to a failed strategy". She also assured the American public of the Democrat's "commitment to aggressively (fight) the war on terror and ensure America’s security".

On another front, a group called “Progressive Democrats of America” sponsored a protest in Market Square a few days ago which called for an end of the Iraq occupation. Cyndi Sheehan brought cheers from the audience of about 200 of the faithful after she recommended that the day be devoted to the “brave and wonderful young people who have had their lives stolen by George W. Bush”.

At the same rally U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) quoted Tacitus analogically referring to the war when he said “They gave us a desert and called it peace”

Critics of the war continue to contend that Bush initiated a war by using lies and misinformation. Others prominent democrats have called it a “debauched crusade against terror” and questioned whether anyone can be called a democrat who does not oppose the occupation of Iraq. This relentless criticism has continued unabated since the day George W. Bush notified Saddam Hussein that he had 48 hours to vacate his country. One of the crucial justifications under attack by opponents of the war has been the alleged terrorist connection between Iraq and the terrorist group headed by Osama Bin Laden named al Qaeda.

On 2003 former senator Max Cleland, D-GA told the United Press International that “the administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaeda) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war”. In a March 21, 2004 interview, former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke declared that there was “no evidence that Iraq was supporting Al Qaeda, ever”. On August 7, 2003 Former Vice President Al Gore claimed that “The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama Bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction”. He has also stated that the president used a “mixture of documents that turned out to be forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda” to convince the country that Iraq was a threat to the United States. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that the claims of an Iraq-al Qaeda links showed some “evidence of exaggeration”. Jane Hartman, a Democrat in the House select committee on Intelligence concluded that the evidence on the al Qaeda links with Iraq was “sketchy”. Senator Dianne Feinstein believed that “..The al Qaeda connection was hyped and exaggerated”.

Space does not permit the quoting of more recent untoward characterizations of the Bush administration’s alleged Iraq-al Qaeda connection by many other high ranking democrats, but suffice it to say they are legion. And they have been willingly joined in their assessments by an all too compliant media.

The links between Iraq and Al Qaeda were labeled a “myth” by the editor of the Los Angeles Times”. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman declared that there was no smoking gun when it came to the alleged evidence of an Al Qaeda-Iraq connection. Jason Zengerly, a senior editor at the New Republic called the alleged connection “quackery”. Not to be outdone, William O. Beeman of the Pacific News Service called the Al Qaeda-Iraq connection “tenuous at best” and argued that Secretary Colin Powell’s testimony before the United Nations was based on a “specious argument” and “deceptive rhetoric”. He also called the Iraqi violation of U.N. resolutions “so petty…it is hard to imagine sending 200,000 troops into Iraq to correct them”. Even funny anchor man John Steward parodied once that the link the president claimed existed between Iraq and Al Qaeda was supported by the fact that both words contained the letter Q.

Sited claims of a link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden have been called from totally ridiculous to ideologically incompatible. Saddam himself once cried that he would not be ashamed to admit a relationship with al Qaeda, but there was simply no reason to develop such a relationship. Recent Iraqi intelligence documents released by the U.S. government prove this is only one of the many lies he asked the world community to believe.

Here are some of the facts.

On February 18, 1998, ten months before operation Desert Fox in which the Clinton administration launched missile strikes against Iraq, an intelligence memo detailing upcoming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad was found in a building that had been bombed during that conflict. Four days later a fatwa was issued by bin Laden in which he accused the United States of “occupying the lands of Islam…plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors and turning its bases into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples” Therefore he urged his followers to “ …kill all Americans and their allies--civilians and military--(which) is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it”. Soon afterwards, Saddam Hussein paid $300,000 to Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of bin Laden’s top deputies who also serves as his physician and is presently wanted by the F.B.I. for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi,Kenya.

In a speech that month, Clinton declared that “We have to defend our future from these predators on the 21st century…..They will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them”, and that “There (was) no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein”. Seldom has he been more accurate in his assessment of the threat posed by the unholy alliance between al Qaeda and Iraq which democrats have tried so hard to belittle in their desire to score political points.

Given the recent release of declassified intelligence briefs documenting the clear connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, it is shocking to think that the media and democrats privy to most of this information chose to put partisan politics above the security of this country.

Yet past liaisons between the executive branch of power and the media have not always been this hostile.

Newsweek magazine ran an article In January 11, 1999, which stated that “Saddam Hussein….. (was) reaching out to Islamic terrorists, including some who may be linked to Osama Bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile accused of masterminding the bombing of two embassies in Africa last summer” ABC reported On January 15, 1999 that “Intelligence sources say Bin Laden’s long relationship with the Iraqis began as he helped Sudan’s fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire WMD’s”. This information was corroborated by three separate intelligence agencies.

The Washington Post ran an Associated Press dispatch in February 1999, that declared unambiguously that “The Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (had) offered asylum to Bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against Western powers”.

On the same year the Congressional Research Service published a report in which is stated that “If Iraq’s Saddam Hussein decide(s) to use terrorists to attack the continental United States (he) would likely turn to bin Laden’s al Qaeda” and that “Al Qaeda poses the most serious terrorist threat to U.S. security interests, for al Qaeda’s well trained terrorists are engaged in a terrorist jihad against U.S. interests world wide”.

Bear in mind, most of this “unbiased “reporting was conducted during Bill Clinton’s term. It was also the Clinton Administration that indicted Osama Bin Laden in the spring of 1998, prior to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa, citing Al Qaeda’s agreement to collaborate with Iraq on weapons of mass destruction. The indictment read as follows: “Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that (regarding) particular projects, specifically including weapons developments, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq“.

Pre-war Iraqi documents released by U.S. intelligence services indicate that on February 19, 1995 after direct official approval by Saddam Hussein one of his government representatives met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan. The purpose of this meeting as stated in the documents was to foster “development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what is open based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation”. Other meetings personally approved by Saddam Hussein between Bin Laden and a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995 are also made mention of in the 9/11 commission report.

According to Iraqi Intelligence documents obtained by the Iraq Survey Group after the war began, Osama bin Laden met with Intelligence officials in Syria in the spring of 1992. An undated internal memo in the same group of documents also discussed strategy for an upcoming meeting between Iraqi Intelligence, Bin Laden and a representative of the Taliban. The posted agenda for the meeting was “attacking American targets”.

On October 7, 2002, CIA director George J. Tenet wrote a letter to Senate intelligence chairman Bob Graham in which he detailed the CIA’s reporting on weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s link to al Qaeda. In it he described “solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda going back a decade” and that credible information indicated that Iraq and al Qaeda had discussed “safe heaven an reciprocal non-aggression”. The letter also offered reports of al Qaeda members seeking contacts with Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities.

This type of information has been repeatedly corroborated by Iraqi defectors who have claimed that Saddam’s regime trained “non-Iraqi Arab terrorists” for years at a camp in Salman Pak, located in the southern region of Baghdad. The existence of this camp was confirmed by U.N inspectors. In it they found training facilities for terrorists which included a Boeing 707 in which defectors claimed terrorists were trained to assassinate, kidnap or hijack their enemies. It was also confirmed by these defectors that this type of training was mostly directed towards American targets and interests.

It is not that journalists and politicians have not been exposed to these facts in the past, but that they have chosen, in their juvenile animosity against the current administration, to not only distort them, but to ignore certain critical parts of this reality because full disclosure would support the president’s decision of going to war with Iraq; a decision they have furiously opposed from the very beginning.

While the truth often carries with it very uncomfortable realities, it is supposed to be the job of the media to report these realities in an objective and impartial manner. But the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend did not only appeal to people like Saddam when he planned an alliance with Bin Laden, who bore an equal animosity towards a common nemesis, but also to the Democrats and the liberal media here at home, who saw the potential of using what they though to be a tenuous link at best as a political weapon against the one they deride as an illegitimate president.

Sadly the media assumed the dignified role of whistle-blower and fancied itself forced to embellish stories and concoct far fetched conspiracies, not unlike they did with Cheney’s hunting accident. These constructs naturally tended to reflect their ideological leaning. In the end this proved detrimental to us as information consumers.

There are many Iraqi Intelligence documents that are yet to be fully translated by the U.S. government. Thus far the ones that have been translated yield a picture of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden that appears to extend far beyond what the 9/11 Commission Report euphemistically dubbed a “collaborative relationship”. One may say this presents a golden opportunity for the media to reclaim its role as the impartial messenger it should be and for democrats to rally around a common cause and work together with their republican peers in making the safety of our country a primary concern.

But it is unlikely that democrats and the left leaning media, who are more interested in engaging in adolescent snipping at the president, will be convinced that such a relationship between the sinister duo ever existed unless nothing short of a picture of Osama and Saddam French kissing on a park bench in Fallujah square is produced. And even then it’s hard to say that they will be persuaded.

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