Saturday, September 16, 2006

How Bad Is the Senate Intelligence Report? Steven Hayes deconstructs the report and tears the committee a new one.

There is much to quarrel with in the report. But it is worth spending a moment to consider the vast amount of information that was left out of the committee's treatment of Iraq's links to al Qaeda. A few examples:

There is no mention in the report of Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who admitted mixing the chemicals for the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, cited in the July 2004 Senate report as an al Qaeda operation. The mastermind of that attack, Ramzi Yousef, is the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Two weeks after the bombing, according a July 2004 report issued by the same Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Yasin fled to Iraq with Iraqi assistance. ABC News reported in 1994 that a Baghdad neighbor of Yasin's told them that he travels freely and "works for the government."

There is no mention of documents recovered in postwar Iraq confirming that the Iraqi regime provided Yasin with housing and funding after his return to Iraq until the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. Vice President Dick Cheney has discussed these documents in television and radio interviews.

There is no mention of documents unearthed by reporters with the Toronto Star and the London Telegraph. The documents, expense reports from the Iraqi Intelligence Service, contain an exchange of memos between IIS officers about who will pay for a March 1998 trip to Baghdad by a "trusted confidante" of Osama bin Laden. The documents were provided to the U.S. intelligence community. "I have no doubt that what we found is the real thing," wrote Mitch Potter, a reporter for the Toronto Star, and one of the journalists who found the documents in the bombed-out headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service days after the fall of Baghdad. Intelligence and military sources tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the documents are corroborated by telephone intercepts from March 1998.

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