Alexander's Column

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence...

Mark Alexander · Dec. 5, 2003

Based on The Federalist’s assessment of open-source information combined with excellent leads from high-level military and intelligence analysts, we have vigorously defended our nation’s military assault on Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime. It can no longer be credibly argued but that these are major fronts in the conduct of our war against Jihadistan (that borderless nation of Islamic extremists with global reach, inhabited by al-Qa'ida and other Islamists who are targeting the U.S.). It has also been our considered position that Saddam’s WMD programs and his alliance with terrorist organizations was a major threat to U.S. national security – and will remain so until the products of his biological and nuclear programs are discovered and destroyed.

Of course, Operation Iraqi Freedom has its detractors. Most notable are those Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy and the ever-opportunistic “Braying Herd of Jackasses” seeking the Demo-nomination for president, who have openly called President George Bush a “liar” for his assertions justifying military intervention.

Their erroneous accusations notwithstanding, there is substantial new evidence emerging from truckloads of documents seized in the days following the fall of the Saddamite regime that the Butcher of Baghdad did, indeed, have direct links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa'ida network (links only the most nescient of observers would deny).

Translations of highly detailed Iraqi intelligence reports reveal, among many connections, that senior al-Qa'ida leader Abu Musaab Zarqawi met with Iraqi Intelligence Service officials on numerous occasions just prior to Saddam’s ouster; that Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s closest adviser, met several times with Iraqi Intelligence Service Deputy Director Faruq Hijazi prior to September 11, 2001; and that al-Qa'ida terrorists with Ansar al-Islam in Northern Iraq operated with impunity under Saddam’s orders. There is also specific evidence that high-level Iraqis traveled to Sudan in the mid-1990s to teach al-Qa'ida operatives how to make sophisticated vehicle bombs similar to those al-Qa'ida used against targets in Saudi Arabia and two U.S. embassies in Africa. This information utterly refutes a June United Nations terrorism-committee report which concluded, at that time, there were no links between Saddam and al-Qa'ida.

The new findings confirm an assertion about the Saddam-al-Qa'ida link by CIA Director George Tenet as far back as October, 2002, when he informed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “We have solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade. … We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities.”

Of course, the big question remains, where are Saddam’s WMD stores, particularly his nuclear components and his biological toxins – including large quantities of weapons-grade anthrax? Also in October of 2002, The Federalist reported that it would be unlikely that Allied Forces would discover Saddam’s WMD stores in Iraq – that the UN Security Council’s foot-dragging provided a large window for Saddam to export his biological and nuclear WMD. At that time, we wrote, “There is a substantial body of intelligence supporting our position that Iraq shipped some or all of its biological and nuclear WMD stores to Syria and Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley.”

It is our fervent hope that those weapons are still in that region and that we can keep the warfront on Jihadi turf rather than witness its devastation on our soil once again.

Regarding the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and the threat posed by their survival, it’s highly improbable, despite speculation to the contrary, that they still exercise any appreciable command and control of ongoing assaults against Allied targets. Such leadership would occasionally require sticking one’s head out of whatever hole it is in – and would thus allow us to lop it off. Still, it’s important to the emerging governments of Iraq and Afghanistan that both these murderous psychopaths be captured and/or killed. To that end, special units are conducting 24/7 hunt-and-kill operations in Iraq and along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Quote of the week…

“We will win because our cause is just. We will win because we will stay on the offensive. We will win because you’re part of the finest military ever assembled. And we will prevail because the Iraqis want their freedom.” –President George W. Bush

In other news…

President Bush’s Thanksgiving Day visit with our troops in Baghdad has, naturally, resulted in criticism from his Leftist opponents.

“He doesn’t understand what it takes to defend this country, that you have to have high moral purpose,” protests Howard Dean. “He doesn’t understand that you [had] better keep troop morale high rather than just flying over for Thanksgiving. … Mr. President, if you’ll pardon me, I’ll teach you a little about defense.” (This from a man who took a “bad back” deferment to avoid military service during the Vietnam war – then headed straight for the ski slopes of Aspen … a man who cut his national-security teeth on the mean streets of Montpelier.)

Jamal Simmons, spokesman for Wesley Clark, says, “The trip highlights how insecure Iraq is and shows how we need to get our allies in to get the American face off the occupation.” Sen. John Kerry complained, “When Thanksgiving is over, I hope our president will take the time to correct his failed policy in Iraq that has placed our soldiers in a shooting gallery.” (And just how did Kerry vote on this “failed policy”?)

Memo to Howard, John and Wes: There is an upcoming presidential election in France – and still time for you to make the residency requirements!

Former Clinton regime spokesman Joe Lockhart griped, “This is a president who has been unwilling to provide his presence to the families who have suffered but thinks nothing of flying to Baghdad to use the troops there as a prop.” However, Sen. Ms. Hillary Rodham-Clinton-Rodham praised the trip – as she was also in Baghdad dining in the same room as military personnel. “I thought it was terrific,” said Ms. Clinton.

Of course, there were a few differences in the tenor and tone of their visits, most notably, Commander-in-Chief Bush humbly joined enlisted personnel serving troops their meals, while Ms. Clinton and her entourage ushered themselves to the front of a long serving line for their meal.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who traveled with the President to Baghdad, got it right: “The President was concerned about one thing and one thing only: He wanted to spend time with the troops on Thanksgiving and he wanted to do it with front-line troops.”

The success of our military operations in Iraq, not to mention President Bush’s surprise visit to Baghdad, is good news for the campaign against Jihadistan, but bad news for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, which has been built around the “anti-war” theme and depends on failure in Iraq and a retreat in the war against Jihadistan.

For those who would like to see George Bush defeated in ‘04 – most notably al-Qa'ida terrorists around the world, and their sleeper cells in U.S. urban centers – they have an ally in Howard Dean. Indeed, they will likely work hard to support Dean’s candidacy by doing some murderous deeds prior to the '04 elections, thereby undermining U.S. support for the President’s policy in Iraq. If that ugliness spills over onto our shores again, it may also give Dean the economic downturn his campaign desires.

On cross-examination…

“Bush’s gutsy Thanksgiving engagement in the Iraqi sands sent a strategic message for all the world to hear: The United States is going to see this one through, and my presence here today is proof. … The President’s lead-from-the-front visit was clearly a lot more than a photo op. True, it was symbolic – but some symbols, like the American flag, have powerful, hopeful, enduring meanings.” –Peter Brookes