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Posted: 3/19/2006 7:57:36 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/26/2006 10:01:38 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Friday, March 17, 2006
Mirror room at the Funhouse

Iraq the Model got his hands one of the untranslated Saddam-era documents now being released to the public, (possible in part through the efforts of Roger Simon) Omar writes:


Our friend Roger directed me to one document he though was interesting, and reading it, I believe he is right about it. Find my (hopefully accurate) translation of this document HERE.


Here are some excerpts from Omar's translation from a document dated September 15, 2001:


Our Afghani source #002 (info on him in paper slip '1') has informed us that Afghani consular Ahmed Dahistani (info on him in paper slip '2') had spoken before him of the :following 1-That Usama Bin Ladin and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and that a group from the Taliban and Usama Bin Ladin's group had conducted a .visit to Iraq 2-That America possesses evidence that Iraq and Usama Bin Ladin's group had .cooperated to strike targets inside America 3-In case Taliban and Usama's group are proven involved in those sabotage .operations, it will be possible that America directs strikes at Iraq and Afghanistan 4-That the Afghani consular had heard about the Iraq connections with Usama Bin .Ladin's group during his presence in Iran 5-In the light of what preceded we suggest writing to the Intentions Committee about .the above information



Commentary

Recall that al-Qaeda had been publicly identified as the perpetrator of the September 11 attacks immediately after they occured. So Afghani source #002, supposing he were genuine, would simply be confirming what was publicly known. What's interesting is the if-then appreciation of points number 3 and 4.

3-In case Taliban and Usama's group are proven involved in those sabotage .operations, it will be possible that America directs strikes at Iraq and Afghanistan

4-That the Afghani consular had heard about the Iraq connections with Usama Bin .Ladin's group during his presence in Iran



David Corn doesn't think the documents prove anything. I'm not sure whether Mr. Corn had included Omar's translated document in his assessment.

Conservatives and war-backers have been howling for the release of all these documents because they believe--or hope--that they will contain a smoking-gun memo showing that Saddam had oodles of WMDs or was buddy-buddy with bin Laden. But so far, no soap. At least not from the first nine documents posted by the military. One actually shows that Iraqi intelligence in August 2002 was looking for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. This suggests Zarqawi was not given office space in Baghdad by Saddam, which is what some war supporters practically have claimed.



Part of the problem in assessing the newly released documents is that their contents must be evaluated after translation for reliability and put into their context. It's not necessarily the case that what they say is "true" in the setting that we find ourselves in today. Consider David Corn's suggestion that Saddam's regime was hostile to al-Qaeda because he was looking for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Does this necessarily contradict Omar's translated document, which talks about "the Iraq connections with Usama Bin Ladin's group during his presence in Iran"? Zarqawi's allegiances may have been far different in 2002 from what they are today. Far more interesting is why Iraq should have been dealing with OBL pre-September 11 when he was in Iran. What was OBL doing there? Why should sensitive discussions between Saddam and the world's most wanted terrorist be conducted where Iraq could not possibly control the venue? Unless Iran was part of the discussions.

The questions will mount before the answers become clear. But one thing seems fairly sure. It was a good move to release the documents. After all, if secrets are going to be leaked to the press why not leak them to the public. That way the public can figure things out for themselves.


posted by wretchard at 4:19 PM
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 9:16:55 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/19/2006 9:17:52 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Saddam and Abu Sayyaf
Steve
Stephen Hayes looks at some of the infromation available from the recently released Iraqi documents in a Weekly Standard column, Saddam’s Philippines Terror Connection. In it, he notes (again) the connection between the Hussein regime and Abu Sayyaf.

Security Watchtower has taken a look as well.


Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, was expelled from the Philippines on 13 February 2003 after he was linked to two bombings that killed two people, including an American soldier. Two Indonesian members of Jemaah Islamiyah and a Jordanian with links to Hamas were also involved in the attacks.

Phone records also revealed contacts between Hussein and Abu Sayyaf. He was in fact, continuing tactics first used by Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the IIS plotted attacks against U.S. targets in several nations, including the Philippines.



Link Posted: 3/26/2006 9:42:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/26/2006 9:45:31 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Monday, March 20, 2006
More GWOT documents are released

Athena at Terrorism Unveiled describes the release of more war-related documents for public review and the challenges it will create.


Recently, the public has been tossed a gem of what was previously unavailable open-source: Guantanamo Bay transcripts of detainee interrogations. There is an all-out organized effort to sift through these transcripts (some sets which are very lengthy), and write-up nuggets of information found within them. See GroupIntel for more. Thus far, Dan Darling has done a relentless job at reviewing them and has sent along overviews.


But Athena adds this caution.


But, herein lies the problem. Experienced analysts are needed, yet ones who haven't been stymied into accepting and spouting the typical intel community line. What's needed are analysts who can offer solid assessments based on the data. And from that, offer predictions that, inherently, cannot be within the data.


Commentary

The release of detainee interrogation transcripts is unlikely to be the last event of the sort. There are many other research situations, some in the natural sciences, where there is more data than human analytical capability which can benefit from a dataset release to the public. Data dumps may not long be confined to Iraq-related documents. Supposing that were so, the organization of the blogosphere itself is likely to evolve to meet the challenge. Since not all bloggers will be equally interested in detainee interrogations, networks of specialists are likely to arise in order to perform data mining. A market in information nuggets will probably arise to consume the product.

If I am broadly right then there will probably be a demand for information tools which will allow for collaborative analysis of large data sets. A surprising number of tools are already available commercially, including Instant Messaging, e-mail and various types of groupware. HTTP itself allows the authoring of documents which one can progressively "drill-down" until a source document is reached. And specialized software or portals could be written to enhance collaboration among a distributed group of researchers. It sounds pretty exciting. Considering the general rise of knowledge workers in the economy, these developments are not only natural but probably inevitable.

Societies with well educated, technically capable populations and a large degree of freedom will benefit the most from opportunities like these, while restrictive societies will benefit least. While it would seem natural for bloggers in the Arab world to best take advantage interrogation transcripts or untranslated documents, it may be Israelis, many of whom understand Arabic and English, who will have the initial lead because of their technical sophistication and unrestricted access to the Internet. As the information economy spreads there will be economic pressure on restrictive societies, including Osama's, where women are confined, to adapt or be left behind. Philip Bobbitt wrote that America's key strategic adaptation during the Cold War was developing the Globalized economy in its face-off with world Communism. To Bobbitt, Globalization was America's Communism-killer -- it forced Communist societies to stop being Communist in order to survive -- and the catalyst for unanticipated terrorist challenges from the Third World. It will be interesting to see what the shift to the Information Economy will do to radical Islam, just as to note what future enemies will be engendered by it.


posted by wretchard at 12:00 PM | 39 comments links to this post
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 9:51:11 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Leaving the 20th century

As more information becomes available about the recent past it becomes necessary for revise the conventionally accepted picture of the War on Terror in the light of new revelations. One site that illustrates the forthcoming flood is the Pajamas Media Iraq files dedicated to covering newly released documents confiscated during OIF. More new documents have just been released and one can only guess what's in them. Some of the documents have already suggested that Saddam may have been in contact with Osama Bin Laden before September 11 to plot terror attacks against the US, though to what extent is yet unknown. A number of recent books have already made good contributions to recent history and more are in the works. Among them: George Packer's Assassin's Gate, Bing Wests's No True Glory and most recently Gordon and Trainor's Cobra II. Nobody is going to be completely happy with the new information. Saddam was not as innocent of WMD intentions as many Liberals retrospectively claimed him to be. He was more brutal than anyone could imagine him to be. Administrations supporters will be unhappy to learn that Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush probably made errors in judgement in the planning and execution of OIF. But Liberals will be saddened to discover that President Bush may not have been eager to invade Iraq at all, despite portrayals to the contrary by the press, deciding only after the intelligence community (which did not entirely cover itself with glory) convinced him that Saddam was an imminent threat. We learn that press exaggerations may have helped abort the first battle of Fallujah, probably to the detriment of the American cause. The recent histories will reignite the debate the role of Colin Powell; whether de-Baathization was a good move in retrospect and about a dozen other things. And about Donald Rumsfeld: the Jawa Report now thinks he should go. Suggestive stories are still pouring in. For example, it may be the case that Saudi Arabian and Pakistani engineers helped destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas. Saddam apparently funded the Abu Sayyaf.

Sebastian Junger (of the Perfect Storm) says Pakistan is still supporting the Taliban and may have helped Osama Bin Laden escape American capture. Details in April's Vanity Fair. Christopher Hitchens highlights the distortions that are closer at hand, pointing out Al Qaeda's almost Satanic and long-standing plan to set every ethnic group in Iraq against every other may succeed because of the US domestic preoccupation with the blame game. Aller gegen alle. And not just in Iraq.

Commentary


Photo: http://www.zombietime.com/global_day_of_action_march_18_2006/

It would have been surprising to discover a really simple narrative behind the events of the last four and half years. The public is only now beginning to catch a glimpse of the fantastic complexity that somehow lay beneath the placid exterior of the 1990s, an era that came to an end with everyone worrying about the millennium software bug but which failed to anticipate September 11. The emergence of bewildering detail is reassuring in this respect: the events since are not the simple contrivance of a few bureaucrats at the Mossad or the CIA. Real historical forces and not cheap conspiracies are at work, though perhaps not every politician has realized that yet.


posted by wretchard at 5:02 AM | 100 comments links to this post

Link Posted: 3/26/2006 10:00:50 AM EDT
A bridge in Brooklyn

One of the more interesting articles today is from Mark Steyn who reminds those who object to toppling Saddam Hussein just how much they hated containing him. Bottling up Saddam Hussein required parking most of the carrier fleet in the Persian Gulf and keeping large ground and air forces on his borders. Steyn writes:


"Your president has won," Jean Chretien told ABC News in early March 2003. So there was no need to have a big ol' war because, with 250,000 American and British troops on his borders, Saddam was "in a box." "He won," said Mr. Chretien of Bush. "He has created a situation where Saddam cannot do anything anymore. He has troops at the door and inspectors on the ground... You're winning it big." That's easy for him to say, and committing other countries' armies to "contain" Iraq is easy for him to do. A quarter million soldiers cannot sit in the sands of Araby twiddling their thumbs indefinitely. "Containment" is not a strategy but the absence of strategy ...


And containment, as Steyn noted, didn't mean you escaped blame. In fact the policy of containment was often equated with genocide. Yes, you read that right. Not invading Iraq was counted as genocide.


And, in place of congratulations for their brilliant "containment" of Saddam, Washington was blamed for UN sanctions and systematically starving to death a million Iraqi kids - or two million, according to which "humanitarian" agency you believe. The few Iraqi moppets who weren't deceased suffered, according to the Nobel-winning playwright and thinker Harold Pinter, from missing genitals and/or rectums that leaked blood contaminated by depleted uranium from Anglo-American ordnance.


If since Operation Iraqi Freedom the Press has been largely silent about the host of people with missing genitals leaking blood from their rectums the answer to the mystery is quite simple. Steyn says: "Touring Iraq a few weeks after the war, I made a point of stopping in every hospital and enquiring about this pandemic of genital-less Iraqis: not a single doctor or nurse had heard about it." The interesting thing about some of the death figures attributed by the antiwar crowd to America is that they are the sum of supposed deaths from invading Iraq and not invading it. Union is an operation in logic as well as a railroad station in Washington DC.

When America decided after September 11 that Saddam constituted an imminent danger it didn't act precipitously. It spent nearly six agonizing months trying to get the UN to act under Resolution 1441. That delay, far from being free, imposed enormous costs, the greatest of which was that it allowed Saddam to get ready for the most telegraphed invasion in recent history. Ace of Spades notes derisively that those who thought a little more diplomacy would have won France and Russia to the American side should think again. According to ABC News recently released documents suggest that the Russian ambassador -- representative of one America's partners for peace in the Security Council -- leaked the US war plans to Saddam Hussein.


Two Iraqi documents dated in March 2003 — on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion — and addressed to the secretary of Saddam Hussein, describe details of a U.S. plan for war. According to the documents, the plan was disclosed to the Iraqis by the Russian ambassador.

The first document (CMPC-2003-001950) is a handwritten account of a meeting with the Russian ambassador that details his description of the composition, size, location and type of U.S. military forces arrayed in the Gulf and Jordan. The document includes the exact numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, different types of aircraft, missiles, helicopters, aircraft carriers, and other forces, and also includes their exact locations. The ambassador also described the positions of two Special Forces units.

The second document (CMPC-2004-001117) is a typed account, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hammam Abdel Khaleq, that states that the Russian ambassador has told the Iraqis that the United States was planning to deploy its force into Iraq from Basra in the South and up the Euphrates, and would avoid entering major cities on the way to Baghdad, which is, in fact what happened. The documents also state "Americans are also planning on taking control of the oil fields in Kirkuk." The information was obtained by the Russians from "sources at U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar," according to the document.



Commentary

Michael Oren in his account of the Six Day War of 1967 describes the agony of IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin as he watched Arab armies massing at Israel's borders without the power to strike because the Israeli cabinet was divided over whether to absorb the first blow to prove their innocence in the conflict or strike first to gain the military advantage. It's a stark illustration that inaction has a price; that when you "give Peace a chance" you give up other chances. The containment strategy followed against Saddam Hussein and Islamic terrorism before September 11 wasn't cost-free: it gave Saddam and Islamic fundamentalism time to plot, spy and act. It ceded the initiative to them. Mark Steyn's retrospective and information now emerging from Saddam Hussein's archives demonstrate that there was never any such as thing as a free lunch. A bill was always in the mail.


posted by wretchard at 1:50 AM | 160 comments links to this post

Link Posted: 3/26/2006 10:09:24 AM EDT
Criswell predicts ...

Pajamas Media has posted a translation of Iraq Document CMPC-2003-001950 which recounts the information provided by the Russian Ambassador to Saddam Hussein. Point numbers 3 to 5 in the document say:


3- During the meeting the ambassador gave us the following information about the US military presence in the Gulf as per the 2nd of March:


Number of troops: 206,500 out of which 98,000 naval forces and 36,500 infantry. 90% of theses forces are in Kuwait and on the Navy ships. [emphasis mine]

US troops have reached the island of Bubiyan (Bubiyan is largest Kuwaiti island in the Kuwaiti coastal islands chain)

Number of tanks: 480 Number of armored cars: 1132 Number of artillery: 296 Number of Apache helicopters : 735 Number of fighter planes: 871 Number of Navy ships: 106. 68 in the Gulf and the rest in Oman (State of Oman), Aden (Yemen), the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Number of air carriers: 5. One nuclear powered. Three in the Gulf one in the Mediterranean and one on its way. Number of Cruise missiles: 583 based on the US Navy and distributed on 22 ships. Number of Cruise missiles on planes: 64 Number of heavy bombers B-52 H: 10 in the Indian Ocean. Number of B1-B: 8 present in the US base of Thumarid in Oman.



4- The ambassador pointed that what worried us (most probably “us” refers to the Russians) was the increase in the number of planes in Jordan where the number of planes in Al Sallt base was as follows: 24 planes F-16 10 planes Tornado 11 planes Harrier He also mentioned that there were 10 A-10 tank destroyers in the Jordanian base of King Faysal.

5- The ambassador also pointed that a certain number of the 82nd Division (82nd Airborne) which was deployed in Afghanistan started coming to Kuwait. The number of troops has reached 750 soldiers.



Some or most of the information on the US order of battle must have come from Russian intelligence sources. The tally of US Naval units for example, or the count of B52-Hs in the Indian Ocean would most likely have been obtained by technical means like satellite surveillance or naval sensors. But the curious thing about the order of battle given to Saddam on March 2 is that the 4ID does appear in it at all. It was potentially the most dangerously placed American unit of all and the most powerful. Yet the Russian ambassador treats the 4ID as if didn't exist.

A contemporaneous account from the New York Times describes what happened the day before the Russian Ambassador provided his order of battle to Saddam.


Turkish Parliament Refuses to Accept G.I.'s in Blow to Bush, By Dexter Filkins, New York Times -- ANKARA, Turkey, March 1 - The Turkish Parliament today dealt a major setback to the Bush administration's plans for a northern front against Iraq, narrowly rejecting a measure that would have allowed thousands of American combat troops to use the country as a base for an attack. ... The final tally was 264 to 251, with 19 abstentions ...

Even before the vote, American officials signaled that they were confident that American forces would probably be allowed to stage through Turkey. When asked on Friday whether the Pentagon was past the point where it needed a definitive answer from the Turks, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "No." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld added, "We'll be all right." Pentagon officials have said that Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has backup plans for moving American forces into northern Iraq. "General Franks, as we speak, is looking at lots of options," General Myers said on Friday.



Despite what Secretary Rumsfeld and Generals Myers and Franks were saying on March 1 about "lots of options", the Russian Ambassador was certain by March 2 that the 4ID was out of the battle. In the event the US landed the 173 Airborne Brigade in Kurdistan in late March. As to the 4ID itself as contemporaneous Fox News release tells the story:


Friday, March 14, 2003 -- WASHINGTON — Signaling impatience with the Turkish government, the Pentagon on Friday began moving warships out of the Mediterranean into the Red Sea, where they could launch long-range cruise missiles on a path to Iraq that would not go over Turkey, officials said. Of the approximately one dozen ships to be shifted, a first group of five transited the Suez Canal on Friday, harbor officials at Egypt's Port Said said. They identified the ships as the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke of the Theodore Roosevelt battle group and the destroyer USS Deyo of the Harry S. Truman battle group.


Update
The other striking thing in Document CMPC-2003-001950 was why the Russians should be particularly worried about the smallest component of the deployment:


4- The ambassador pointed that what worried us (most probably “us” refers to the Russians) was the increase in the number of planes in Jordan where the number of planes in Al Sallt base was as follows: 24 planes F-16 10 planes Tornado 11 planes Harrier He also mentioned that there were 10 A-10 tank destroyers in the Jordanian base of King Faysal.


Why were these relatively small forces so worrisome? My guess is their location near the Iraq-Syrian border and the composition of these air units were suggestive of support for an air assault attack on traffic to and from Syria. What was moving between Iraq and Syria that would be of concern to the Russians?

Commentary
The Pajamas documents provide a peek into the greatest diplomatic catastrophe associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom. The elimination of the 4ID from Turkey relieved Saddam at a stroke from the problem of facing a two front war. The US lost the use of its most powerful ground unit and faced the excruciating logistical problem of sailing it thousands of miles to attack along another axis. It deprived America of crucial manpower in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam. It eliminated the unit tasked with tackling the Sunni Triangle and forced other units to spread out and take up the slack. How did this debacle happen? What were its consequences? Readers are invited to comment.


posted by wretchard at 2:50 PM | 66 comments links to this post
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 10:13:09 AM EDT
Keep it up! Eventually something will stick in the MSM...hopefully.
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 10:26:17 AM EDT
Are you telling me that this was not about oil?
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