The energetic Reihan Salam has an interesting, and sane, post about the widely-ignored Institute for Defense Analyses study on possible connections between Saddam’s regime and Islamist terror organizations. Among other things, the report disproves the orthodox CIA view that ideological and theological differences between Ba’athists and Islamists kept them from cooperating. You can read Eli Lake’s story about the report here.
Goldberg is referring to this study, “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights From Captured Iraqi Documents,” which examined “more than 600,000 Iraqi documents, audio and video records” captured by U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion.
A more accurate rendering of the study’s findings is that, despite the many assertions to the contrary by the Bush administration and its media spear-carriers like Jeffrey Goldberg, an exhaustive review revealed no evidence of a meaningful relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The report’s abstract states that the “documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network,” though they did indicate some contacts between members of Saddam’s regime and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.
A Google search reveals Goldberg’s contention that the IDA study “was widely ignored” to be nonsense. In fact, the study was widely discussed and interrogated both in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere, including on this blog. What has been ignored, and rightly, are the rather pathetic attempts by neoconservatives to spin the report into a vindication of their views, which is where Eli Lake’s article comes in.
Lake’s article in the NY Sun, which has been relentlessly and repeatedly referenced by the right-wing blogosphere (a phenomenon which, while certainly revealing of how low conservatives’ standards of evidence fall when they get desperate, neither lends the article credibility nor accuracy) provides a classic example of attempting to derive capabilities from intentions.
No one denied, then or now, that Saddam Hussein wanted to hurt America; what the IDA report confirmed, however, was that, as of 2003, Saddam Hussein had neither the competence nor the capability to do so. This was cause for vigilance, but certainly not for an American invasion and occupation which continues to this day. Goldberg’s continuing effort to carve out a small island of vindication on the point of “Baathist-Islamist cooperation” while deflecting blame for his own role in getting up the Iraq invasion by acting as a conduit for pro-war propaganda, indicates that he still doesn’t get this.