Politics & Policy

Smoking in The Background

The Bush administration sits on some telling documents.

President Bush’s recent speeches and media appearances defending the Iraq war are welcome and much-needed. They also seem to be paying dividends. Support for his handling of Iraq stood at 46 percent, up 10 points since November, in a December 15–18 ABC News/Washington Post poll. Nevertheless, Team Bush still fails to deploy readily available ammunition to combat those who demand America’s retreat from Iraq.

On two key fronts–Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass death and his generous support for Islamofascist terrorists–the Bush administration maddeningly conceals evidence that justifies the president’s decision to topple Hussein. This information should be rolled out to counteract the destructive arguments of Democratic chief Howard Dean, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator John Kerry, and other Bushophobes who relentlessly carpet-bomb American efforts in Iraq.

Stephen Hayes reveals the latest squandered opportunities in the December 19 Weekly Standard. Hayes–the pioneering author of The Connection: How al Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America–reports here, here, and here on the Pentagon papers. These mainly unclassified Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) materials implicate Hussein’s government in multifarious mischief. Much of it violated Article H, Clause 32 of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, which prohibited Baghdad from supporting or associating with terrorists. The Pentagon’s HARMONY database identifies these memos, photographs, videotapes, and other records via highly tantalizing summaries:

‐ “Correspondence between various Iraq organizations giving instructions to hide chemicals and equipment”

‐ “Title: Order from Saddam Hussein to present $25k to Palestinian Suicide Bombers’ Families

Short Description: Order from Saddam to give money to suicide bombers’ families, letters from al-Kilani Said Ahmed, a leader of the National Islamic Front in Afghanistan (and who used to receive payments from Saddam).

Agency: DIA

Document Date: Mar-02

Document #: ISGP-2003-00014647″

‐ “Category: Al Qaida

Title: Letters, logbook, training manual from Al Qaida Chemical Plant regarding Chem Warfare

Short Description: Contains papers concerning Iraqi officials, prices of equipment, training plans, and actions by high level officers all concerning chemical warfare

Agency: DIA

Document Date: Feb-02

Document #: ICSQ-2003-00025586″

‐ “Title: IIS Correspondence for the Iraq Embassy in the Philippines and Iraqi MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs].

Short Description: Various correspondence e.g. visa forms, trade delegations, full reports on the connections between Abu Sayaf and the Qadafi Charity Establishment. Report on a certain individual traveling to Pakistan and involvements with bin Laden.

Agency: DIA

Document Date: Mar-01

Document #: ISGP-2003-00014100″

“Does the correspondence between the Iraqi Embassy in Manila and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs shed any new light on the $25 million ransom that Muammar Qaddafi paid Abu Sayyaf in the summer of 2000, ostensibly to secure the release of 25 Westerners held hostage by the Filipino al Qaeda affiliate?” Hayes wonders. “Who traveled to Pakistan? What was his involvement with bin Laden? Did he have anything to do with the Iraqi government?”

The following text might offer answers:

‐ “Title: Secret Meeting with Taliban Group member and Iraqi Government

Short Description: Mtg between al Qaida and Iraqi government and decision to operate

Agency: DIA

Document Date: Nov-00

Document #: ISGP-2003-00014127″

So, a record dated ten months before 9/11 indicates that Saddam Hussein’s employees clandestinely met Taliban and al Qaeda agents regarding a “decision to operate.” Meditate on that.

According to documents Hayes cites, the former director of Iraq’s Intelligence Directorate 4 met bin Laden on February 19, 1995. Baghdad considered bin Laden an “Iraqi intelligence asset” as far back as 1992, one communiqué reads. After bin Laden left Sudan for Afghanistan in May 1996, Hussein wanted “other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his [bin Laden’s] current location.” The Iraqi intelligence memo continued: “Cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement.”

Naturally, the White House and Pentagon are busy defending Bush’s policies by translating and authenticating these and similar records and promoting them among congressional and journalistic supporters and detractors.

Wrong!

The Bush administration inexplicably suppresses such papers. They reject requests for unclassified files from Hayes, America’s most broadly published expert on Hussein’s terrorist credentials. Hayes, who generally supports the president on Iraq, is flummoxed: “The Bush administration seems remarkably uninterested in discovering, now that we have reams of material from Saddam’s regime, what the actual terror-related and WMD-related activities of that regime were.”

Incredibly, the Pentagon’s Doc-Ex, or document exploitation project, may close December 31. Its roughly 700 translators in Doha, Qatar have analyzed 50,000 items among some two million captured in Iraq. This public-diplomacy treasure trove could remain hidden from the public. Far worse, intelligence data on potential mass-murder conspiracies may stay unread until after a Baathist-inspired attack kills more Americans or our allies.

The White House should pump up the volume and showcase these papers. Even now, proof that Hussein possessed weapons of mass death and sponsored terrorist butchers, including Osama bin Laden, will demonstrate the necessity of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The alternative is to keep this vital evidence under wraps and hope that Howard Dean and the Congressional Defeat Caucus quietly disappear.

Deroy Murdock is a New York-based syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. His research on Baathist terrorist philanthropy is at www.HUSSEINandTERROR.com.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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