Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 8, 2006
WAR: The Training Ground

Stephen Hayes' latest from the Weekly Standard breaks the most important story of the week (via Instapundit):

THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.

Now, this isn't entirely brand-new news to those of us who have followed Hayes' reporting. If Hayes is right, then the anti-war position can not possibly be defended - even if you set aside all of the other contacts between Saddam and terrorist groups, and set aside his violations of UN resolutions and the terms of the 1991 cease-fire, set aside his cat-and-mouse games with weapons inspectors and all the other WMD issues, set aside his corruption and evasion of the sanctions regime through the Oil-for-"Food" program and otherwise, set aside his open celebration of the September 11 attacks, set aside his history of attacks on neighbors, set aside his brutal abuse of his own people, and set aside the continuing cost we'd paid in keeping a military presence around him - there's really no way to argue that the United States could, in its right mind, have left a regime in power that was dedicated to training more anti-American terrorists.

Is Hayes right? Austin Bay thinks his account has the ring of truth, but as Jason van Steenwyk points out, Hayes spends the rest of his article complaining about the government's refusal to release documents rather than providing backup. Unfortunately, like the NSA story and similar stories based on anonymous sources or out-of-context documents provided to the press, this won't get support from the mainstream media in ferreting out what happened. But if we're going to keep debating the origins of the war, it should.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:28 PM | War 2006 | TrackBack (0)
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