Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama and al Qaeda in Iraq

In the debate Tuesday night Barack Obama said, "If Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

McCain responded, "I have news for Senator Obama. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. And that's why we're fighting in Iraq, and that's why we're succeeding in Iraq."

To which Senator Obama responded, "I have some news for John McCain, and that is there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq" (U.S. News).

Obama is clueless! First, Obama's assertion about there being no al Qaeda in Iraq before Bush and McCain (he left out the many Democrats in Congress including Hillary) decided to invade Iraq, is simply wrong. An ABC News report on Iraqi documents, and George Tenet (the Clinton appointed CIA director) both said that al Qaeda was in Iraq before we invaded!

Second, Obama is saying that if elected President he would pull out of Iraq, but if he discovered that al-Qaeda was setting up bases in Iraq, he would respond. Obama apparently didn't know that al Qaeda is already in Iraq and yet after being informed of that fact, he still wants to pull out immediately! So is he lying about responding? Or maybe his idea of a strong response would be to talk to al Qaeda leadership?

Obama is so clueless he would be a dangerous choice for President.

9 comments:

Brent said...

It's really sad there are still people who believe there was an Iraq/Al-Qaeda link prior to the invasion. I guess that's what comes from watching too much Fox News, and there's no convincing you now (just like there's no convincing 9/11 conspiracy theorists that they're crazy). (By the way, just because Tenet was appointed by Clinton doesn't make him right just because it's politically expedient for your party.)

Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the report said. Tariq Aziz, the detained former deputy prime minister, has told the FBI that Hussein "only expressed negative sentiments about [Osama] bin Laden."....

But the committee voted Thursday to release two chapters, one on the role that Iraqi exiles played in shaping prewar intelligence, the other on the accuracy of the prewar analyses of Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities and his suspected links to al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

White House spokesman Tony Snow dismissed the findings as old news. "If we have people who want to re-litigate that, that's fine," he said.


And that's from 2006 (link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/article/2006/
09/08/AR2006090800777.html). If even Tony Snow will acknowledge it, when will you? Do yourself a favor and read something besides Fox News and conservative blogs at least once in awhile.

Robert said...

I'm sure Al Qaeda will leave Iraq if Obama takes office.

"Oh sorry, there is a Democrat in office? In that case, we'll stop bombing people and murdering innocents. Just give me a second to pack up my bombs and go home."

Dennis said...

The report came from that bastion of right wing finaticism, ABC News, Brent.

Brent said...

What report? I provided documentation to back up my assertions - maybe you could do the same so I can look it over?

Dennis said...

"...ABC News reported on five recently declassified documents captured in Iraq. One of these was a handwritten account of a February 19, 1995, meeting between an official representative of Iraq and Mr. bin Laden himself, where Mr. bin Laden broached the idea of "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia" http://www.nysun.com/article/29746

Dennis said...

You might also check out http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,202271,00.html

I know you hate FoxNews but I'm sure even you wouldn't accuse them of fabricating the documents themselves.

Brent said...

I asked for a link to the ABC News report that you mentioned, and you provided links to two admittedly conservative news sources that give their own summaries. But that's fine, we'll discuss what you've given me. No, I don't believe that they would fabricate documents, but I do believe they would interpret them in a way that is beneficial to their cause and/or give them more credibility than they merit.

First, the articles that you linked are dated March 24 and July 6, 2006. The article that I provided, dated later (September 9, 2006), summarizes the findings of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and quotes two Republicans on the committee as agreeing with those findings. Tony Snow (even serving as White House spokesman at the time), did not raise the issue of your documents. I will also quote from another article, dated April 6, 2007, below:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report ... also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

...the report added, "the terms the Intelligence Community used to describe the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida were validated, [namely] 'no conclusive signs,' and 'direct cooperation . . . has not been established.'

Zarqawi, whom Cheney depicted yesterday as an agent of al-Qaeda in Iraq before the war, was not then an al-Qaeda member but was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents, according to several intelligence analysts. He publicly allied himself with al-Qaeda in early 2004, after the U.S. invasion."
(source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/05/
AR2007040502263_pf.html)

Let's remember how this discussion came about. Sen. Obama stated: "I have some news for John McCain, and that is there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq." To which you replied: "Obama is clueless! First, Obama's assertion about there being no al Qaeda in Iraq before Bush and McCain (he left out the many Democrats in Congress including Hillary) decided to invade Iraq, is simply wrong. An ABC News report on Iraqi documents, and George Tenet (the Clinton appointed CIA director) both said that al Qaeda was in Iraq before we invaded!"

Let's say that I even grant you that your articles, and the documents they reference, are 100% completely reliable and accurate, just for the sake of argument. At most they point to the following in regard to Iraq and al-Qaeda: there may have been a meeting/meetings in the 1990s between bin Laden and a representative of the Iraqi government. (And re-read the following quote from the article cited above: "the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts...") At best, that's what you've been able to demonstrate (and I don't believe that what you have provided adequately makes your case, given that even Republicans are not bringing up these documents and the article I provided, dated later, states findings of "no conclusive signs" of direct cooperation). And that means that Obama's assertion that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the invasion still holds true.

Dennis said...

It seems to me that we may just be splitting hairs. The article you cited said, "all confirmed' that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq."

The key words here are "not directly cooperating." Why not just say they were not cooperating if there was no cooperation at all. Apparently the cooperation was not official, but unofficial. Unofficial cooperation can be just as deadly as official cooperation. After all, the U.S. was not directly or officially interacting with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missle Crisis (it was all behind the scenes), but the interaction was no less real.

The article you cited went on to say, "the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts."

Limited contacts does not mean "no contacts."

It seems beyond doubt that there was some kind of contact between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war. How extensive that was, we may never know.

You concluded, "And that means that Obama's assertion that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the invasion still holds true."

No, it really doesn't. We many not know the extent of the involvment, but the idea that there was no involvment is just not true...not even by the evidence you cited!

But thank you for your evidence. I'll leave it to our readers to decide.

Brent said...

Read the entire exchange again, as reported by you:

In the debate Tuesday night Barack Obama said, "If Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

McCain responded, "I have news for Senator Obama. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. And that's why we're fighting in Iraq, and that's why we're succeeding in Iraq."

To which Senator Obama responded, "I have some news for John McCain, and that is there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq"


The exchange between McCain and Obama was about a physical presence by al-Qaeda in Iraq. (The only reason I responded to this at all was because you wrote: "Obama is clueless! First, Obama's assertion about there being no al Qaeda in Iraq before Bush and McCain ... decided to invade Iraq, is simply wrong.")

Frankly, from everything I read (and I have been open minded about this, believe it or not), Saddam hated al-Qaeda and never would have tolerated their presence in his country, over which he obviously wanted total control. And the evidence of any kind of significant cooperation between the two is also slim. But even if meetings did exist in the past, there is no evidence of a physical presence by al-Qaeda prior to the invasion. You can say "we may never know" all you want to try to maintain some semblance of hope, but unless new facts come out, you're grasping at straws. And that's what the McCain/Obama debate, and your support for McCain, was about.