Thursday, May 13, 2004
The Anti-Terror / Anti-Evil-Doer President In Action
Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind
Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq
With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.
But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.
The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.
“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.
Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.
The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.
“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.
And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.
Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News
Anti-terror president doesn't go after a known terrorist because he doesn't want to mess up the Get Saddam Hussein™ campaign.
But, of course there is more to the story.
Thursday, 13 Mary 2004, the CIA said that the person who beheaded Nicholas Berg was none other than Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
CIA Says Al-Zarqawi Beheaded Berg in Iraq
WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the person shown on a video beheading an American civilian in Iraq, based on an analysis of the voice on the video, a CIA official said Thursday.
Intelligence officials conducted a technical analysis of the video released on an Islamic web site and determined "with high probability" that the person shown speaking on the tape — wearing a head scarf and a ski mask — is al-Zarqawi, a CIA official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The speaker — determined to be al-Zarqawi — is then shown on the video decapitating American citizen Nicholas Berg, the official said.
Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press
And of course, there is even more to the story.
In looking up al-Zarqawi on the web I came across an article, apparently pre-invasion, which is indicative of the story the way Bush Administration was trying to spin the justifications of a preemptive invasion of Iraq.
U.S. Intelligence Is Tracking New Terror Mastermind and His Network
Feb. 24 — When the bombs start falling in any war with Iraq, one of the prime targets will be a nondescript cluster of huts in the Kurdish hills, where an emerging terrorist mastermind is believed to be running a poison factory.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has put the camp and its creator — a 36-year-old Jordanian named Abu Mussab al Zarqawi — at the heart of the U.S. justification for attacking Iraq.
The camp, though located on Kurdish territory outside of Saddam Hussein's control, is believed to house a poison laboratory whose very existence, Powell said, points to a "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network."
Derek Thomson, ABC News
Some might say, in light of the NBC News story above, that neither Mr. Powell or the Administration was being honest and forthright with the American people about the justifications for the preemptive invasion of Iraq.
Some say that for an anti-terror president determined to get the evil-doers, the failure to go after Abu Musab Zarqawi, preferring instead to preemptively invade Iraq, constitutes a major failure.
Some might also say that this is just another example, part of an ever growing list of examples of incompetence, why Mr. Bush, the anti-terror, anti-evil-doer President, should not hold office.