October 5, 2004

Saddam and Zarqawi

This is supposedly news, but it actually doesn’t say much of anything.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A CIA report has found no conclusive evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein harbored Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which the Bush administration asserted before the invasion of Iraq.

“There's no conclusive evidence the Saddam Hussein regime had harbored Zarqawi,” a U.S. official said on Tuesday about the CIA findings.

But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that the report, which was a mix of new information and a look at some older information, did not make any final judgments or come to any definitive conclusions.

[…]

The CIA report concludes Zarqawi was in and out of Baghdad, but cast doubt on reports that Zarqawi had been given official approval for medical treatment there as President Bush said this summer, ABC said.
I don’t know what the report actually says. It isn’t available. In any case, it supposedly doesn’t arrive at any conclusions one way or another about Zarqawi’s alleged alliance with Saddam Hussein. But let’s take out Occam’s Razor.

As Christopher Hitchens once put it, Baghdad under Saddam Hussein was a place that was as difficult to enter as it was to leave. You couldn’t exactly waltz in there as a foreigner and check yourself into a hospital as if you were showing up to buy smokes at a corner grocery in Brooklyn.

And if Zarqawi wasn't welcome in Iraq, why did he choose Baghdad as a place to see a doctor? There are plenty of Arab countries that were not under sanctions that deprived them of medical supplies. There were plenty of Arab countries that are not totalitarian police states (Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait,) that he could have chosen instead. So, why Iraq?

If Zarqawi really was connected to Saddam Hussein, these sentences near the article’s conclusion should follow logically.
Before last year's invasion to topple Saddam, the Bush administration portrayed Zarqawi as al Qaeda's link to Baghdad. Following Saddam's capture in December and waves of suicide attacks on U.S. and Iraqi security forces which followed, Zarqawi quickly became America's top enemy in Iraq.
None of this makes a lot of difference in any case. We did not invade Iraq because of Zarqawi. We invaded Iraq to kick off a slum-clearance program in Araby.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 7:19 PM

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