T Nation

New Look at GWOT History


#1

Very interesting.

http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/03/leaving-20th-century.html

Leaving the 20th century

As more information becomes available about the recent past it becomes necessary for revise the conventionally accepted picture of the War on Terror in the light of new revelations. One site that illustrates the forthcoming flood is the Pajamas Media Iraq files dedicated to covering newly released documents confiscated during OIF ( http://blogs.pajamasmedia.com/iraq_files/ ). More new documents have just been released ( http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2006/03/silence_at_the.php ) and one can only guess what's in them. Some of the documents have already suggested that Saddam may have been in contact with Osama Bin Laden before September 11 to plot terror attacks against the US, though to what extent is yet unknown. A number of recent books have already made good contributions to recent history and more are in the works. Among them: George Packer's Assassin's Gate ( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?ISBN=0374299633&z=y&endeca=1&cds2Pid=154&linkid=637518 ), Bing Wests's No True Glory ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553804022?v=glance ) and most recently Gordon and Trainor's Cobra II ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553804022?v=glance ). Nobody is going to be completely happy with the new information. Saddam was not as innocent of WMD intentions as many Liberals retrospectively claimed him to be. He was more brutal than anyone could imagine him to be. Administrations supporters will be unhappy to learn that Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush probably made errors in judgement in the planning and execution of OIF. But Liberals will be saddened to discover that President Bush may not have been eager to invade Iraq at all, despite portrayals to the contrary by the press, deciding only after the intelligence community (which did not entirely cover itself with glory) convinced him that Saddam was an imminent threat. We learn that press exaggerations may have helped abort the first battle of Fallujah, probably to the detriment of the American cause. The recent histories will reignite the debate the role of Colin Powell; whether de-Baathization was a good move in retrospect and about a dozen other things. And about Donald Rumsfeld: the Jawa Report now thinks he should go ( http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/164270.php ). Suggestive stories are still pouring in. For example, it may be the case that Saudi Arabian and Pakistani engineers helped destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas ( http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C03%5C19%5Cstory_19-3-2006_pg7_38 ). Saddam apparently funded the Abu Sayyaf ( http://blogs.pajamasmedia.com/iraq_files/2006/03/saddams_philippines_terror_con.php ).

Sebastian Junger (of the Perfect Storm) says Pakistan is still supporting the Taliban and may have helped Osama Bin Laden escape American capture. Details in April's Vanity Fair ( http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2006/03/sebastian_junge.html ). Christopher Hitchens highlights the distortions that are closer at hand ( http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008120 ), pointing out Al Qaeda's almost Satanic and long-standing plan to set every ethnic group in Iraq against every other may succeed because of the US domestic preoccupation with the blame game. Aller gegen alle. And not just in Iraq.

Commentary

Photo: http://www.zombietime.com/global_day_of_action_march_18_2006/

It would have been surprising to discover a really simple narrative behind the events of the last four and half years. The public is only now beginning to catch a glimpse of the fantastic complexity that somehow lay beneath the placid exterior of the 1990s, an era that came to an end with everyone worrying about the millennium software bug but which failed to anticipate September 11. The emergence of bewildering detail is reassuring in this respect: the events since are not the simple contrivance of a few bureaucrats at the Mossad or the CIA. Real historical forces and not cheap conspiracies are at work, though perhaps not every politician has realized that yet


#2

Maybe off topic, but I have to ask...

If we are really in a Global War On Terror (as your thread states) and if it is going to last for decades (as some people say) then I have to say that sounds pretty serious...

So why isn't there a draft?

Is it because it's politically better for Bush to pay outside contractors 100k a year to do the same jobs that soldiers used to do, for less than half that amount?

If it really is a Global War On Terror then there should probably be a draft. We need to start training soldiers ASAP so that we have experienced people for the upcoming conflicts.


#3

You're right -- that was completely off topic.


#4

BB,

I haven't read all the links, but I have heard talk before that Rumsfeld needs to go, and I agree. The Pres. of the USA shouldn't have to apologize or explain that troops are or should be getting the armor/supplies they need.

About the release of documents, I think it's unfortunate that it happens now. People have a view of this war so cemented in their heads that I don't think it matters what new information comes out. If the previous decade didn't justify the conflict, these new documents aren't going to turn any heads.

The Buddhas story is pretty interesting, it makes me want to draw comic strips about Mohammed.


#5

http://abcnews.go.com/International/IraqCoverage/story?id=1734490&page=1

March 22, 2006 ? Following are the ABC News Investigative Unit's summaries of five documents from Saddam Hussein's government, which have been released by the U.S. government.

The documents discuss Osama bin Laden, weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda and more.

The full documents can be found on the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office Web site:

http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm.

Note: Document titles were added by ABC News.

"Osama Bin Laden Contact With Iraq"

A newly released pre-war Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein's government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995 after approval by Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, Saddam's presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995 and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio. The document states that further "development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what's open (in the future) based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation." The Sudanese were informed about the agreement to dedicate the program on the radio.

The report then states that "Saudi opposition figure" bin Laden had to leave Sudan in July 1996 after it was accused of harboring terrorists. It says information indicated he was in Afghanistan. "The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We're currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location," it states.

(Editor's Note: This document is handwritten and has no official seal. Although contacts between bin Laden and the Iraqis have been reported in the 9/11 Commission report and elsewhere, (e.g. the 9/11 report states "Bin Ladn himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995) this document indicates the contacts were approved personally by Saddam Hussein.

It also indicates the discussions were substantive, in particular that bin Laden was proposing an operational relationship, and that the Iraqis were, at a minimum, interested in exploring a potential relationship and prepared to show good faith by broadcasting the speeches of al Ouda, the radical cleric who was also a bin Laden mentor.

The document does not establish that the two parties did in fact enter into an operational relationship. Given that the document claims bin Laden was proposing to the Iraqis that they conduct "joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia, it is interesting to note that eight months after the meeting ? on November 13, 1995 ? terrorists attacked Saudi National Guard Headquarters in Riyadh, killing 5 U.S. military advisors. The militants later confessed on Saudi TV to having been trained by Osama bin Laden.)

"Osama bin Laden and the Taliban"

Document dated Sept. 15, 2001

An Iraqi intelligence service document saying that their Afghani informant, who's only identified by a number, told them that the Afghani Consul Ahmed Dahastani claimed the following in front of him:

That OBL and the Taliban are in contact with Iraq and that a group of Taliban and bin Laden group members visited Iraq.
That the U.S. has proof the Iraqi government and "bin Laden's group" agreed to cooperate to attack targets inside America.
That in case the Taliban and bin Laden's group turn out to be involved in "these destructive operations," the U.S. may strike Iraq and Afghanistan.
That the Afghani consul heard about the issue of Iraq's relationship with "bin Laden's group" while he was in Iran.

At the end, the writer recommends informing "the committee of intentions" about the above-mentioned items. The signature on the document is unclear.

(Editor's Note: The controversial claim that Osama bin Laden was cooperating with Saddam Hussein is an ongoing matter of intense debate. While the assertions contained in this document clearly support the claim, the sourcing is questionable ? i.e. an unnamed Afghan "informant" reporting on a conversation with another Afghan "consul." The date of the document ? four days after 9/11 ? is worth noting but without further corroboration, this document is of limited evidentiary value.)

"Election Campaign Laws in France"

Documents dated July-August 1999

Correspondence regarding election campaigns in France. This includes a document from the Iraqi intelligence service classified as "secret," ordering the translation of important parts of a 1997 report about campaign financing laws in France. It also includes a document from the foreign minister's office indicating the report was attached. The attached translated report included very detailed information about all the regulations regarding financing of election campaigns in France. Translation was done by someone called "Salam Abdul Karim Mohammed."

(Editor's Note: This is an intriguing document which suggests Saddam Hussein's regime had a strong interest in the mechanics and legalities of financial contributions to French politicians. Several former French politicians are implicated in receiving oil vouchers from Iraq under the U.N. Oil for Food program.)


#6

Oops -- two more docs went with the link above (darn jumps):

"Hiding Docs from the U.N. Team"

Document dated March 23, 1997

A letter from the Iraqi intelligence service to directors and managers advising them to follow certain procedures in case of a search by the U.N. team, including:

Removing correspondence with the atomic energy and military industry departments concerning the prohibited weapons (proposals, research, studies, catalogs, etc.).
Removing prohibited materials and equipment, including documents and catalogs and making sure to clear labs and storages of any traces of chemical or biological materials that were previously used or stored.
Doing so through a committee which will decide whether to destroy the documents.
Removing files from computers.

The letter also advises them on how they should answer questions by U.N. team members. It says the intelligence service should be informed within one week about the progress made in discarding the documents.

(Editor's Note: This document is consistent with the Report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence, which described a pattern of deception and concealment on the part of Saddam Hussein's government towards the U.N. inspectors in the mid to late 90's. Hussein halted all cooperation with those inspectors and expelled them in October 1998.)

"Al Qaeda Presence in Iraq"

Document dated August 2002

A number of correspondences to check rumors that some members of al Qaeda organization have entered Iraq. Three letters say this information cannot be confirmed. The letter on page seven, however, says that information coming from "a trustworthy source" indicates that subjects who are interested in dealing with al Qaeda are in Iraq and have several passports.

The letter seems to be coming from or going to Trebil, a town on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. Follow up on the presence of those subjects is ordered, as well as comparison of their pictures with those of Jordanian subjects living in Iraq. (This may be referring to pictures of Abu Musaab al Zarqawi and another man on pages 4-6) The letter also says tourist areas, including hotels and rented apartments, should be searched.

(Editor's note: This document indicates that the Iraqis were aware of and interested in reports that members of al Qaeda were present in Iraq in 2002. The document does not support allegations that Iraq was colluding with al Qaeda.)


#7

Actually, because of the cost of benefits to a soldier, a $100,000 a year contractor isn't much more expensive and may be cheaper. when you add up the health benifits, the retirement, along with combat pay and being tax exempt most officers and senior enlisted are making at least $45,000 to $75,000 a year I would guess. Contractors aren't hired to replace infantry privates they replace expensive and hard to train special operators from what I've seen. I would guess that they are cheaper in the long run, considering that retirement pay is the biggest part of the defence budget.

Also I don't think the American public would stand for a draft. They want safety and protection, they just want someone else to do it.


#8

Have to question this. I HIGHLY doubt senior enlisted men make anywhere near $75,000, because I think that's in the neighborhood of what a lieutenant colonel makes. And as for contractors, you do avoid all the benefits and pensions and the like, but they often make more than $100,000.

A friend of mine is ex-Army infantry, 10th Mountain Division, now working as a contractor, and he said Blackwater (admittedly near the top of the pay scale) guys make $250,000 a year. More importantly, even though they're ex-military, contractors are mercenaries, not American soldiers. They are in it primarily for the money, and they are renowned for treating the Iraqis like dirt. Not real helpful in winning hearts and minds over there.


#9

http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_03_19_corner-archive.asp#093305

GEE, SORRY ABOUT THAT NO CONNECTION STUFF ? [Andy McCarthy]

The 9/11 Commission and its staff, aided and abetted by their fawning fans in the establishment press, did their level best to bury, marginalize and dilute any suggestion that Iraq and al Qaeda had a meaningful relationship. After all, the lack of a tie to the terrorists would have meant a lack of a rationale to extend the war on terror to Iraq, which would please war opponents, make the Bush administration appear foolish, and, in general, help the Kerry campaign. We talked about it here while it was happening back in summer 2004 (see, e.g., here: http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200406170840.asp and here: http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200406251321.asp ).

And boy did it ever work. The conventional wisdom became that there was no connection and, as Jonah's excellent article today details ( http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200603240743.asp ), the Bush administration assumed a self-defeating defensive posture, refusing to fight back when they had a very good case.

Well, well, well. It looks like the Iraq intel files may be starting to change perceptions. 9/11 Commission Bob Kerrey, for one, is certainly singing a different tune according to today?s NYSun:

[i] The new documents suggest that the 9/11 commission's final conclusion in 2004, that there were no "operational" ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, may need to be reexamined in light of the recently captured documents.

While the commission detailed some contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda in the 1990s, in Sudan and Afghanistan, the newly declassified Iraqi documents provide more detail than the commission disclosed in its final conclusions. For example, the fact that Saddam broadcast the sermons of al-Ouda at bin Laden's request was previously unknown, as was a conversation about possible collaboration on attacks against Saudi Arabia.

"This is a very significant set of facts," former 9/11 commissioner, Mr. Kerry said yesterday. "I personally and strongly believe you don't have to prove that Iraq was collaborating against [ACM note ? I suspect he misspoke and meant ?collaborating with?] Osama bin Laden on the September 11 attacks to prove he was an enemy and that he would collaborate with people who would do our country harm. This presents facts should not be used to tie Saddam to attacks on September 11. It does tie him into a circle that meant to damage the United States."

Mr. Kerry also answered affirmatively when asked whether or not the release of more of the documents captured in Iraq could possibly shed further light on Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda. The former senator was one of the staunchest supporters of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which made the policy of regime change U.S. law. [/i]

#10

Your numbers are based on basic pay, not calculating the combat zone tax exclusion, hostile fire pay, familiy seperation pay, and "special" pays. I know what I'm making right now and I know what my buddies at Blackwater and Triple Canopy are making. The ones who actually put money away for retirement, have life insurance, long term disability insurance, and health insurance for them and their family are not making a lot more than me. And if I get shot at the military has a responsibility to get medevacs and close air support to me. They have no such requirements for contractors.

A lot of my single buddies are racking up the cash. If something were to happen to them they would be fucked though. completely fucked. A buddy of mine got shot in iraq, he got home with no job, no insurance, and a huge medical bill from an army hospital. It's not free for contractors. He went from being "rich" to being poor in a hurry.

Depending on what your military skills and security clearance were, a contractor might make $120,000 to $140,000 a year. An E-7 makes about $60,000 to $65,000 a year in a combat zone. But the E-7 also gets a defined benifits retirement plan, free health care, and almost guaranteed work even after the war. How much is that worth? I bet more than $60,000.

In the long run, who knows how long the contracting gig is sustainable? After all they don't really train guys, they just hire operators who get out.


#11

You can go here and play around with some of the calculators to get an idea of how much the military retirement is worth, what the actual pay is like (not just base pay) I think people underestimate the value of the military retirement because they don't realize the huge cost increases of health insurance under normal retirement plans as you age, and they fail to take into account that the military retirement is always adjusted for inflation , unlike most retirement plans.

http://www.defenselink.mil/militarypay/pay/index.html

Being a contractor has other benefits besides pay, but the issue at hand is total cost to the Government and I will stand by my claim that contractors are cheaper than the equivalent number of soldiers after accounting for health care and benifits. Much cheaper.


#12

Fair enough, but the cost of heavy reliance on contractors instead of soldiers still has to be calculated in more than financial terms.


#13

I agree 100%


#14

Some excerpts from a WSJ op-ed today by Laurie Mylroie, an adjunct fellow at American Enterprise Institute.

[i]
Most dramatically, an Iraqi intelligence report, apparently written in early 1997, describes Iraqi efforts to establish ties with various elements in the Saudi opposition, including Osama bin Ladin. Until 1996, the Saudi renegade was based in Sudan, then ruled by Hassan Turabi's National Islamic Front. One of Iraq's few allies, Sudan served as an intermediary between Baghdad and bin Ladin, as well as other Islamic radicals. On Feb. 19, 1995, an Iraqi intelligence agent met with bin Ladin in Khartoum. Bin Ladin asked for two things: to carry out joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia and to broadcast the speeches of a radical Saudi cleric. Iraq agreed to the latter, but apparently not the former, at least as far as the author of this report knew. Notably, the report also states, "we are working at the present time to activate this relationship through new channels."

...

Another newly released document bears the name of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. It is a flyer from the "Committee for Arab Liaison with the Islamic Emirate" (i.e., Afghanistan) for recruiting volunteers in Iraq to fight in Afghanistan. It explains that the "Arab brothers" who wish to go there should send a written proposal "so that we can know him and his needs." Zarqawi is among six people listed as individuals to contact.

...

Other documents from this database were leaked some time ago. Perhaps because their provenance was not understood, these 30 pages did not receive the attention they merited. Particularly notable is an order issued by Saddam on Jan. 18, 1993: "hunt Americans on Arab territory, particularly in Somalia."

...

Another report explains that the IIS had reached an agreement with the deputy head of Sudan's ruling National Islamic Front "to use the Islamic Arab elements that had been fighting in Afghanistan and now have no place to go and who are physically present in Sudan, Somalia and Egypt." The IIS also agreed with Khartoum to renew its relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad -- headed by Ayman al Zawahiri, familiar as al Qaeda's most prominent contemporary spokesman.

Still another report describes Iraq's earlier agreement with Islamic Jihad, concluded on Dec. 24, 1990, as the start of the Gulf war loomed. Iraq was to provide training, financing and supplies to the organization "to execute martyr operations" against the members of the U.S.-led coalition, of which Egypt was a key Arab member. However, as this document explains, those operations stopped immediately after the cease-fire.

In 1993, Iraq was cautious about backing Egyptian terrorists, more so than the Sudanese. When Khartoum informed Baghdad that it was sending an Islamic Jihad leader, who had been based in Afghanistan and then lived in Sudan, to Iraq on a Sudanese plane carrying meat (this exemption from the general ban on flights to Iraq was granted by the U.N. Security Council), the IIS asked that the visit be postponed. Sudan insisted, and the IIS approved on condition the visit be kept secret. Subsequently, the IIS recommended that assistance to the Egyptian group be limited to financial support.

Two documents relate to Iraq's proscribed WMD programs. One is a table, providing details of a Sept. 6, 2000, contract for the production of "the malignant pustule" -- the Pentagon official who leaked these documents believed it referred to anthrax -- along with earlier contracts for sterilization and decontamination equipment. Another table describes an Aug. 21, 2000, contract for the production of mustard gas and earlier contracts for protective equipment. Small amounts of material are mentioned: three ampules of "the malignant pustule" (an ampule is a small, sealed glass vial) and five kilograms of mustard gas. These contracts could have represented test runs, or, as a former U.N. weapons inspector suggested to me, the material could have been intended for terrorism.
[/i]

Perhaps the news media should be covering these more prominently?


#15

BB,

Excellent article.

Key: "Particularly notable is an order issued by Saddam on Jan. 18, 1993: "hunt Americans on Arab territory, particularly in Somalia."

Blows away the "what did Iraq ever do to us?" crap.

Anyway, we have to decide upon our target audience. I'm of the opinion that we are wasting our time trying to enlighten the pox's/harris'/bradley/ron33's of the world. In order to combat them, we would have to use the small soundbite. Often the soundbite leaves out important supporting information.

I favor tailoring our message to Moderate Democrats/Republicans who can connect dots. Further, they would be more likely to read more than the first and last sentences of an article.

Therefore, my suggestion is that we combine our resources under one title.

Something like: saddam/wmd/terrorism.

Please feel free to start it if you agree.

JeffR


#16

Some more interesting stuff:

Tom Joscelyn, in an interview with FrontPage magazine:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=22055

EXCERPT:

[One document which describes Iraqi contacts with bin Laden himself, also shows that] Iraq was in contact with Dr. Muhammad al-Massari, the head of the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR). The CDLR is a known al Qaeda propaganda organ based in London. The document indicates that the IIS [i.e., the Iraqi Intelligence Service] was seeking to "establish a nucleus of Saudi opposition in Iraq" and to "use our relationship with [al-Massari] to serve our intelligence goals." The document also notes that Iraq was attempting to arrange a visit for the al Qaeda ideologue to Baghdad. Again, we can?t be certain what came of these contacts. Just recently, however, al-Massari confirmed that Saddam had joined forces with al Qaeda prior to the war. Al-Massari says that Saddam established contact with the "Arab Afghans" who fled Afghanistan to northern Iraq in 2001 and that he funded their relocation to Iraq under the condition that they would not seek to undermine his regime. Upon their arrival, these al Qaeda terrorists were put in contact with Iraqi army personnel, who armed and funded them. Obviously, this paints a very different picture of prewar Iraq than many would like to see. Interestingly enough, the existence of this document was first reported by The New York Times in the summer of 2004, several weeks after the 9-11 Commission proclaimed that there was no operational relationship between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. For some reason, the Times decided to sit on the document while splashing the 9-11 Commission's conclusion on the front page.

Bolding added.


#17

Interestingly enough, the existence of this document was first reported by The New York Times in the summer of 2004, several weeks after the 9-11 Commission proclaimed that there was no operational relationship between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. For some reason, the Times decided to sit on the document while splashing the 9-11 Commission's conclusion on the front page.

Why am I not surprised?