Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I have had an interest in this debate, but it has not been covered to my satisfaction. The following is from The Corner at the National Review. But I guess I will have to get an account with the Wall Street Journal to read Epstein's article.

ATTA IN PRAGUE [Andy McCarthy]Ed Epstein has stayed on the case and has done the 9/11 Commission one better: he has actually conducted something resembling an investigation into whether the top hijacker met with in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent five months before 9/11. Ed’s report on what he found out, after traveling to the Czech Republic and meeting with the BIS (i.e., Czech Intelligence) officials who were personally involved in the matter is featured in the Wall Street Journal this morning (registration required).

His article will not be good news for the Richard Clarkes of Clinton revision-world, who maintain that the previous administration so intimidated Saddam after the attempted murder of the first President Bush in 1993 that the Iraqi dictator foreswore collaboration with terrorists against the U.S. – a claim that has never made any sense given that top Clinton officials (including the former president himself) continue to defend their Augugst 1998 bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on the ground that it was a joint Iraq/Qaeda/Sudan effort to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The bottom line, as Ed puts it, is that the Atta/Prague connection remains “consigned to a murky limbo” – largely thanks to American officials leaking the possibility while the Czechs were still trying to investigate it.

But this much is known – notwithstanding the energetic effort to suppress it by some former Clinton officials, Democrat partisans, and members of the intelligence community invested in the delusion that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. In 1998, Saddam began trying to blow up an American target, Radio Free Europe in Prague, by having Jabir Salim, his consul to the Czech Republic (but in reality, his top intelligence agent there), attempt to recruit terrorists to carry out the mission. This intelligence became known when Salim defected, and Clinton administration was so concerned about it that it took several steps to protect the facility.

Salim was replaced by Ahmad al-Ani, whom the BIS was obviously interested in – interest that only intensified when the BIS learned he was trying to access explosives and make contacts with “foreign Arabs.” It came to a head on or about April 9, 2001, when al-Ani was observed getting into a car with an unknown Arab male who was later identified as Atta – an identification that has never been disproved, despite Herculean efforts to knock it down. The Atta identification did not happen until after 9/11 (when Atta’s photo was splashed across the international press), but the Czechs were so worried about whomever al-Ani had met with back in April that they decided to take no chances: al-Ani was expelled due to suspicion of terrorism – four months before 9/11.

In the end, the FBI cannot account for where Atta was between April 4 and April 11, 2001, or how he spent the $8000 cash he abruptly withdrew on April 4 before he disappeared for a week. (They’ve pointed to use of his cellphone in the U.S. during that timeframe, but that, of course, does not mean Atta was the one using the cellphone.) Nor can the FBI explain why Atta stopped in Prague in June 2000 right before flying to the U.S. to begin the 9/11 preparations. The Czechs, meanwhile, regard as “pure nonsense” al-Ani’s protestations that he was nowhere near Prague the day he was seen meeting the man a witness has identified as Atta.

This is Able Danger all over again. The "Atta in Prague" possibility never fit the 9/11 Commission’s narrative, so it was buried with a shoddy, slap-dash investigation -- the same treatment Able Danger got; the same treatment the Clinton Justice Department's dramatic heightening of "the wall" between criminal investigators and intelligence agents got; the same treatment the internal assessment of the Clinton administration's performance in the run-up to the Millennium bombing plot got, and so on.

Meanwhile, in 1998 alone, we have $300K going from Iraq to Zawahiri (al Qaeda’s number 2); bin Laden’s famous February fatwa calling for the murder of all Americans and prominently featuring, as part of the justification, U.S. actions against Iraq; meetings in Iraq between Qaeda members and Iraqi officials in March; meetings in Afghanistan between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda leaders in July; the embassy bombings in August, after which, of all potential targets, the Clinton administration chose to retaliate against al Shifa, believed to be an Iraq/Qaeda joint weapons venture; an Iraqi member of al Qaeda (now held in Guantanamo Bay) traveling with Iraqi Intelligence to Pakistan to plot chemical mortar attacks on the American and British embassies there; and Iraq seeking to recruit Arab terrorists to blow up Radio Free Europe. Oh, and in February 1999, Richard Clarke objected to a suggestion that U-2 flights be used to try to find bin Laden because, if bin Laden learned the walls were closing in, Clarke wrote to Sandy Berger that “old wiley Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.”

But the anti-war left is probably right. There was no connection between Iraq and terrorism. None at all. I don’t know why the right-wing nuts keep insisting there was.Posted at 07:42 AM


The Carnival of Prewar Intelligence has been posted.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Daniel Drezner comments on the failure of international relations theory to deal with Al Qaeda.

Has IR theory been irrelevant to the debates? To find out, I just spent a few hours looking at the contents of the last four years of the six leading journals for International Relations theory (International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, World Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies - see the end of the post for discussion of these choices), along with the American Political Science Review. I used an exceedingly loose definition of "about al-Qaeda" - i.e. I included everything about terrorism and counter-terrorism, even if it barely touched at all on al-Qaeda or Islamism itself; and I included review essays, even if they did not include any original research.

The results were even more striking than I expected. All told, these seven journals published 796 articles between 2002-2005. I found a total of 25 articles dealing even loosely with al-Qaeda, Islamism, or terrorism. That's just over 3% of the articles. Now, there's lots of important stuff out there in the world, and there's no reason for the whole field to be following the headlines, but still... 3%?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Louis Freeh's comments at the Wall Street Journal. The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it "was not historically significant." This astounding conclusion--in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings--raises serious challenges to the commission's credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Christopher Hitchens has an article at Slate discussing the charges by Democrats that Bush lied about Iraq.

Norman Podhoretz's article, "Who is Lying About Iraq," at Commentary magazine.

The New York Times view?

GOP commercial!

2003 Washington Post Poll: 69% of Americans thought it was "very or somewhat likely" Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 attack 84% thought it was "very or somewhat likely" that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop WMD.

Friday, November 11, 2005


I watched Bill O'Reilly toss "softball" questions to Mary Mapes last night. She has a new book out telling her version of the Bush national guard documents scandal on CBS and is still convinced the documents are real. One of the experts Mapes used has found factual problems in her book's account. See Memo-Gate. It looks like a "my word against yours" situation, but I am inclined to believe the document experts account.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Evidently the Kurds are starting a series of media ads "The Other Iraq." These ads praise America! The Kurds are the most forthright supporters of the US in the Middle East. However, by linking its existence to the US, Kurds are also taking great risks. The Kurds risk becoming an isolated island in the middle of a anti-American region and also become dependent on continued US involvement in the region.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I haven't seen much evidence of radical Muslim involvement in the recent rioting in France, although I sense that there was some kind of planning. Also I tend to believe that when these kind of disturbances erupt, there are multiple causes. However, it appears that several weeks ago An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France which it describes as "enemy number one", intelligence officials said Tuesday. Expatica However, this is an Algerian organisation which obviously causes it to focus on France.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Strategy Page has an interesting comment on why urban schools are less fertile military recruiting fields than rural schools.

The U.S. Department of Defense sees urban schools as ones of its biggest recruiting obstacles. Not because leftist teachers in some of those schools try to keep recruiters out, but because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in those schools. While only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 44 percent of the qualified recruits come from these areas. What’s strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less. Per capita, young people in rural areas are 22 percent more likely to join the army, than those of the same age in urban areas.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Stephen Schwartz has an informative article at Tech Central Station on Islam in Europe. http://techcentralstation.com/110705A.html


A couple of observations about the ongoing Muslim rioting in France: 1. I first picked this up on some blogs as I was surfing through a number I look at each day or so. I don't recall the exact time span, but it was at least 4 or 5 days before I began to see CNN and Foxnews dealing with the incidents. Perhaps some newspapers already had noted the problems, but I don't think it was a headline issue. 2. France and the rest of Europe face a tremendous challenge in coping with a rather large minority of unemployed immigrants who have not been integrated into European culture. Governments may "buy" peace, but I don't know how long this will work. For all the problems America faces, the US has done a better job (but certainly not an excellent job) of Americanizing minorities. This has not been intentional on America's part, but in part is a result of the kinds of immigrants who have arrived.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


See http://www.law.com/jsp/dc/PubArticleDC.jsp?id=1130332860379&hub=TopStories (Legaltimes.com) for a discussion of Jay Sekulow's lifestyle--3 homes, personal jet, limousines. . . Very disappointing if true, but mammon may have won again.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Gateway Pundit has an excellent summary of the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame controversy. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2005/10/before-novak-joe-wilson-speech-that.html There is an audio of Wilson's speech.

Among the items said (quoting Gateway Pundit):

In this speech, Ambassador Joseph Wilson:

* describes himself as the investigator sent to Niger by the government
* details the African trip as only he is capable of
* says the government sent him there and not the CIA (a lie)
* says there was nothing to the uranium story (a lie)
* describes the US as "occupiers" of Iraq (a shocking statement at the time)
* describes a conspiracy to help Israel dominate the Palestinians
* calls the Administration warmongers and a--holes
* says Bush is in office for sex