Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Washington Post Op-ed Page Outdoes Itself

Christina Shelton argues that the question of what sort of relationship Ba'athist Iraq and al Qaeda had is an open question which will be resolved only when people get around to analysing documents seized 4 years ago

"A more complete understanding of Iraq's relationship with al-Qaeda will emerge when historians can exploit the numerous seized documents free from the politics of the Iraq war."

Right, because the people who seized those documents weren't interested in evidence of such a relationship. Shelton appears to be arguing that she didn't hype the claim that there was a significant relationship in 2002, but do do so, she continues to make bold insinuations based on the idea that documentary evidence has been ignored for 4 years.

She re-re-re argues the case

Since 2002, information from interviews of people being held in custody regarding contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda has not always been reliable. Detainees may say what they think captors want to hear, or they may contradict themselves. For example, one al-Qaeda operative (Abu Zubaida) claimed that there were no ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, then said any relationship would be highly compartmentalized. Another (Ibn al-Shayk al-Libi) said that Iraq provided al-Qaeda operatives with training in chemical and biological weapons; then he recanted. Such testimony should not be taken at face value.

She does not note the circumstances under which al-Libi made his original accusation (under torture in Egypt) which would have prevented any reasonable person from taking them seriously. Thus the Washington Post is more than three years behind this blog (and counting) She quotes Tenet in 2002 making a claim clearly based on al-Libi without noting the error and the awful trade craft which lead to that error. Now she tells us, as if she is the first to discover this fact, that testimony extorted under torture should not be taken at face value. She fails to note that he current versions of all of the top Iraqi and al Qaeda operatives is consistent.

More reliable information probably will come from seized Iraqi documents -- especially those of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), which was the conduit for al-Qaeda contacts. One IIS document dated March 28, 1992, cited Osama bin Laden as having a good relationship with the IIS bureau in Syria. Another says that the IIS director met with bin Laden in Sudan in 1995.

1992 ? 1992 ! Hell Bin Laden had a good relationship with the USA until 1990. Shelton is so desperate for something, anything, on Iraq, that she is willing to cite diplomatic contacts which pre-date the formation of al Qaeda. The meetin is the same old same old which has been discussed for years and amounts to a less close relationship with Iraq than with most other Arab countries.

Then Shelton goes totally completely utterly nuts on the op-ed page of the Washington Post. She defends her credibility by citing James Woolsey "James Woolsey, a former director of central intelligence, has written that captured documents indicated a participant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (Abdul Rahman Yasin) was living in Iraq and receiving a monthly stipend." She does this in the context of discussing documents captured after the invasion of Iraq (Woolsey was long since retired to wingnutistan at the time).

This is a warm over of a claim made by Laurie Mylroie and affiliated nutcases (like Woolsley) before the invasion. Let's ask the Wikipedia about him "One of seven men indicted for 1993 WTC attack, with full knowledge and approval of US Attorneys involved in the case, Yasin was set free and encouraged to leave the US." OK the wikipedia is not edited, but I would think that such a claim, slanderous if false, would have been deleted by now if it weren't true no ?

The introduction of the column appears to indicate that Shelton aims to refute the claim that she dishonestly overstated evidence of Iraqi assistance to al Qaeda. The last paragraph impels and different interpretative scheme. The column only makes sense if Shelton's aim was to remove all doubt about her complete dishonesty.

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