Bush Misleads on al Qaeda; Former CIA Offical Says al Qaeda Thrives on the American Occupation

If only the media had debunked Bush on al Qaeda like this before the war. The New York Times reviews the manner in which Bush has been distorting al Qaeda links in Iraq. Especially note the assessment at the end of that “Al Qaeda, both in Iraq and globally, thrives on the American occupation.”

In rebuffing calls to bring troops home from Iraq, President Bush on Thursday employed a stark and ominous defense. “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq,” he said, “were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that’s why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.”

It is an argument Mr. Bush has been making with frequency in the past few months, as the challenges to the continuation of the war have grown. On Thursday alone, he referred at least 30 times to Al Qaeda or its presence in Iraq.

But his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.

There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

The American military and American intelligence agencies characterize Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as a ruthless, mostly foreign-led group that is responsible for a disproportionately large share of the suicide car bomb attacks that have stoked sectarian violence. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, said in an interview that he considered the group to be “the principal short-term threat to Iraq.”

But while American intelligence agencies have pointed to links between leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the top leadership of the broader Qaeda group, the militant group is in many respects an Iraqi phenomenon. They believe the membership of the group is overwhelmingly Iraqi. Its financing is derived largely indigenously from kidnappings and other criminal activities. And many of its most ardent foes are close at home, namely the Shiite militias and the Iranians who are deemed to support them.

“The president wants to play on Al Qaeda because he thinks Americans understand the threat Al Qaeda poses,” said Bruce Riedel, an expert at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and a former C.I.A. official. “But I don’t think he demonstrates that fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq precludes Al Qaeda from attacking America here tomorrow. Al Qaeda, both in Iraq and globally, thrives on the American occupation.”

If the goal is to reduce the risk of an attack on the United States, we must end the occupation which has strengthened al Qaeda.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    JollyRoger says:

    We have done everything Osama wanted us to do. We left the Holy Lands and we set him up a first-class urban warfare training ground.

    No wonder he made that video just before the election. He has been riding high courtesy of his monkey in DC.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Plus one of the primary goals of al Qaeda has been to overthrow non-Muslim fundamentalist governments such as Saddam’s. We saved him the trouble.

    We also provided a tremendous recruitment program for them.

  3. 3
    battlebob says:

    Lind has been saying this since before the invasion…
    http://www.d-n-i.net/ and poke around.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Battlebob,

    Many people have been saying it. I’ve had other posts with people saying it. It is so important that it is worth repeating over and over, especially when there is a new credible source.

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