First his rather startling admissions:
Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. (2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence)I wonder when J-Kel first thought this. His conversion must've been a recent. Take a look at this column from almost exactly 4 years ago about a memo leaked to Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard. Here's what Jack had to say back then:
Pretty clearly, Jack thought back then that there was a presence. Where did the training take place if not in Iraq? Where was al-Qaida supposed to "hide out" if not in Iraq? Was Iraqi intelligence (or whomever was doing the funding or training) so powerful that these operational links existed but only outside the borders of Iraq? There's no hint in the column that he thinks the Hayes article was incorrect.
The content of the memo, which was written by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee in response to their questions, is worth more attention than Pincus gave it. It describes a secret relationship between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida that began in 1990 and intensified after the first Gulf war.
The Iraqis provided al-Qaida terrorists with training (particularly in the manufacture and use of biological and chemical weapons), false documents, money and some weapons, and a place to hide out when the heat was on.
In exchange, Osama bin Laden agreed to lay off Saddam (some in al-Qaida regarded his secular regime as nearly as offensive to Allah as the Jews or the Americans); to assist Iraq in smuggling into the country materials prohibited by the United Nations, and to attack some targets of interest to Iraq.
Here's the article, by the way. The first paragraph:
OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD. [emphasis added]Does Jack Kelly now think the Feith memo/Hayes article is wrong? If so, he should tell us. By the way, the Department of Defense issued a statement about the memo saying the news reports about the memo (i.e. the Hayes article) are "inaccurate." Hayes disagreed.
And then there's this:
It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. (8th paragraph, 4th sentence)I'm glad I was sitting down when these words crossed my field of vision. That's a huge concession from Commando Kelly, doncha think?
But let's get back to the column. Jack seems to have had a change of mind regarding the so-called "flypaper" strategy. Take a look at the whole 8th paragraph:
Canadian columnist David Warren speculated some years ago that enticing al-Qaida to fight there was one of the reasons why President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The administration has made so many egregious mistakes that I doubt the "flypaper" strategy was deliberate. But it has worked out that way. It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. But it's pretty clear now it was a blunder for al-Qaida to have done so.Now take a look at what he wrote in late August of 2003:
Or this from early August, 2003:
To win the war on terror, we have to kill the hard-core terrorists. It is better to fight them in Iraq, where our soldiers can kill them without reading them their Miranda rights first, than it is to wait for them to strike in Chicago or New York.
We have a "flypaper" strategy. It's working.
The Canadian columnist David Warren has suggested that the United States has a "flypaper strategy" to entice terrorists from the region into Iraq so that they might be killed there. This is not the sort of policy one announces, but it could be true, and it would be shrewd if it were true.4 years ago he said it would be "shrewd" if it were true. Now he doubts it was deliberate, considering the "many egregious mistakes" of the Bush Administration. When did he change his mind?
But all this is still beside the point a bit. The whole article is about how al-Qaida is losing in Iraq. As if al-Qaida is the only terrorist organization in Iraq. As if al-Qaida is the only problem facing US Troops in Iraq. The implication is that if al-Qaida is losing in Iraq, we must be winning - for al-Qaida is the enemy.
Now remember, Jack's already asserted that al-Qaida was NOT a presence in Iraq before the invasion, so it follows that al-Qaida must then be one of the non-Iraqi groups (i.e. foreign fighters), right?
Right. Now get a gander at this from the Congressional Research Service:
In testimony before Congress in January 2007, the then Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (John Negroponte) said that foreign fighters constitute less than 10% of the insurgents in Iraq.Kinda puts Jack Kelly's whole argument in a whole new light, don't it?