A document found with Saddam Hussein in his “spider hole” warned his followers against allying themselves with foreign fighters and jihadists, cautioning that their agenda didn’t mesh well with the Ba’athists’.
The document appears to be a directive, written after he lost power, from Mr. Hussein to leaders of the Iraqi resistance, counseling caution against getting too close to Islamic jihadists and other foreign Arabs coming into occupied Iraq, according to American officials.
Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.
A new, classified intelligence report circulating within the United States government describes the document and its contents, according to administration officials who asked not to be identified. The officials said they had no evidence that the document found with Mr. Hussein was a fabrication.
This is the second blow to the White House’s charge that Iraq and al Qaeda had found common cause against the United States, either before the war or after it. The CIA earlier had said that interrogation of top al Qaeda figures in custody revealed that Osama bin Laden had rejected plans to ally with Iraq.
But what’s really interesting is that this leak sounds like it came from the CIA, which is still furious over _L’Affair Plame,_ the outing of Valerie Plame, Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife and an undercover operative working on WMD, by the White House. To wit:
As President Bush sought to build a case for war with Iraq, one of the most hotly debated issues was whether Mr. Hussein was in league with Mr. bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Senior officials at the Pentagon who were certain that the evidence of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda were strong and compelling found themselves at war with analysts at the C.I.A. who believed that the evidence showed some contacts between Baghdad and the terrorist organization, but not an operational alliance.
At the Pentagon, several officials believed that Iraq and Al Qaeda had found common ground in their hatred of the United States, while at the C.I.A., many analysts believed that Mr. bin Laden saw Mr. Hussein as one of the corrupt secular Arab leaders who should be toppled.
So now we have former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s charges that Iraq was target No. 1 from the earliest days of this administration, the War College’s report blasting Operation Iraqi Freedom as a distraction at best and now a leak — likely from the CIA — that Saddam specifically avoided alliances with Islamists.
All of these keep adding up to one, or possibly two conclusions: That President George W. Bush either a) willfully lied (I refuse to use the anodyne term, “misreprepresented”) about Iraq and the threat it posed, or b) the intelligence the White House received was about as bad as it could be. In the latter case, the incompetence is criminal. In the case of the former, the president is.
I believe there are still a few patriots in the CIA hoping to reign in Bush so the harm his minions at the Department of Defense have done won’t be repeated in another term and another war. Some will say what these leakers are doing is treasonous. I say to stay silent is treason. To stand by and do nothing while intelligence is manipulated and plans are drawn up against who knows what other countries — Syria is looking nervously over its shoulder at the “Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000468.php#000468 — would be to betray their oaths to the Constitution and to the agency they serve.
There will be more revelations, possibly more damaging. In April, former National Security Council member Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside the White House’s War on Terror — What Really Happened hits the shelves.
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