The LA Times, unable to decide whether there Feith memo makes the case for an Iraq-Al Qaeda link, published two commentaries today about the memo.
One, “Making an Iraq-Al Qaeda Link” is by Stephen F. Hayes, the author of the Case Closed article. That article started the renewed debate about Iraq-Al Qaeda collaboration which I have been following in these posts.
Hayes writes in the LA Times that there is now evidence demonstrating that those who are dismissive of the allegations of Iraq-Al Qaeda collaboration are wrong. Hayes relies on a number of quotes from the Feith memo in support of the argument that there was cooperation between Iraq-Al Qaeda. Three quotes concern explosive and weapons training Iraq provided to Al Qaeda:
"An Iraqi intelligence officer said that as of mid-March, the Iraqi Intelligence Service was providing weapons to Al Qaeda members located at a training camp in northern Iraq, including rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-18) launchers."Hayes concludes by warning that those clinging to the conventional wisdom that there were no connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq do themselves and the country a disservice by ignoring the relationship between Hussein and Bin Laden, two of America's most dangerous and determined enemies.
"Bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the [Iraqi Intelligence Service's] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at Bin Laden's farm in Khartoum [Sudan] in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996."
Referring to information from an interview with former deputy director of Iraqi intelligence: "He said that in a 1994 meeting with Bin Laden in the Sudan, Bin Laden had requested that Iraq assist Al Qaeda with the procurement of an unspecified number of Chinese-manufactured anti-ship limpet mines … Bin Laden also requested the establishment of Al Qaeda training camps inside Iraq."
The other, commentary “'Evidence' for Link Is Administration Ploy,” is by Christopher Scheer. Scheer asserts that the Weekly Standard’s publishing extensive excerpts of a leaked of the Feth memo is nothing more than an attempt to “retroactively defend the debunked claims that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had meaningful ties.”
Maybe because I have strongly supported the liberation of Iraq, but Scheer’s article strikes me as nothing more than another antiwar rant.
Scheer’s one rational point is that raw intelligence shouldn't be divulged publicly because it is riddled with unverifiable hearsay. I say those of us who are untrained in intelligence analysis just aren’t competent to judge it. This is why I continue to beg the mainstream media to use their contacts to do some serious investigative reporting evaluating the Feith memo. Opinion pieces won’t resolve the issue.