Sunday, June 27, 2004

One You May Have Missed

Yesterday the Pittsburgh tribune Review ran an interview with Yossef Bodansky. Mr. Bodansky is a former consultant for both the Defense and State departments and the current director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. He was interviewed ahead of the release of his new book, "The Secret History of the Iraq War". In the interview he states the United States and other countries became aware that Saddam Hussein had begun training Al-Queda operatives in the fall of 2002:

Q: In your book you said you felt the U.S. should have gone to war with Iraq and Syria and Iran in 2002, specifically because of Iraq supplying "operational weapons of mass destruction to bin Laden's terrorists." Can you elaborate on that?

A: The Iraqis started to train bin Laden's people with weapons of mass destruction in the fall of 2002, specifically Unit 999 of Iraqi military intelligence, who were doing it in Salman Pak (a military base near Baghdad).

We learned about this first because Israel arrested three Palestinians who were also in Salman Pak and they talked about the training that bin Laden's people were provided with. Then subsequently the Turks captured somebody from that group ... and the French and other Europeans captured some of the trainees. So there's a full circle.

There's a lot of talking, living bodies who confirmed each other's stories, so that provided a casus belli, to my mind. ... Saddam Hussein had crossed the unthinkable threshold -- the one of handing over operational weapons to somebody like bin Laden -- and this is a development the civilized world could not tolerate.

Note that he states that the French also captured someone with the same information. This is the first time this revelation has been made publicly. He also had something to say about Iraq's WMD:

Q: What happened to the weapons?

A: The ones terrorists were given? We don't know. Saddam's weapons? Some were stored in Iraq in bunkers that we don't know where they are, along with a large portion of Saddam's own arsenal. We cannot find tanks and artillery and artillery shells and rocket launchers and rockets and a whole host of other items that we know existed. ... In the case of tanks and others, more than a division of Iraq's Republican Guards moved to Syria during the final phases of the war, just as Baghdad was falling.

Between this and that, we are still missing a lot of weapons. There are weapons of mass destruction buried in Iraq, and there are weapons that have been transferred to Syria. The book describes in great detail the units and facilities in Syria that are holding these weapons today. ...

There's not much to can be added. Mr. Bodansky also describes the Iraq War as "Mission Impossible", blaming much of the difficulty on poor intelligence, although he was for the war. It is interesting to note that although he says "victory" in Iraq is impossible, he thinks we should have gone to war with Iraq, Iran and Syria at the same time. If he believes victory in Iraq is impossible, how could he advocate going to war with all three at the same time. It has to be assumed that his book clarifies his position.

Read the interview here.