My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Monday, March 17, 2008

What the Pentagon report missed...

A terrific report by Richard Miniter of what the Pentagon report on the Iraq-Al-Qaeda connection missed....
The report utterly demolishes the myth that Saddam Hussein, a “secular dictator,” would never work with radical Islamists. The report contains a wealth of information demonstrating that Saddam Hussein was in touch with nearly every Islamist terrorist group in the Middle East and that his intelligence services had standing orders to monitor and reach out to any group of significance. That includes factions of Fatah, Hamas, the Army of Mohammed, and even Iran’s favorite terror group, Hezboallah. Of course, Hussein also worked with a number of Al-Qaeda proxies. Claudia Rossett has a good summary here. But the bigger point remains unnoticed: secular socialist Saddam did work with Islamist terrorists, despite their “ideological differences.”

The report was not “exhaustive,” as McClatchy Newspapers and others described it. Virtually every news story and blog post says that the researchers surveyed 600,000 captured documents in the Harmony database.

There are two problems with that claim. The Harmony database contains some two million documents. So the report examined less than a quarter of the captured Iraqi documents — hardly exhaustive. In the fine print, the report concedes it was not able to access many documents because they were being actively used by “other agencies” — meaning one or more of the nation’s 16 intelligence services, the State department, or other elements of the Defense department.

The second problem: The researchers didn’t even examine all 600,000 documents available to them, the report concedes. Only 15% — about 90,000 — of those 600,000 documents have been translated into English. The remaining 510,000 documents were, in the language of the report, “screened” not read. Every Harmony document has a title, number, and several key words in English. Researchers simply sifted through the labels looking for “bin Laden,” “Al-Qaeda” and so on. That isn’t very exhaustive; officials who have used the Harmony database say that the key words and titles were typed in by hourly contractors who often missed the significance of what they were inputting. Besides, they were rewarded for speed, not thoroughness. Worse still, Al-Qaeda did not refer to itself by its name until after 2001. Instead, it was known as “the company,” “the organization,” and so on, and bin Laden was simply referred to as “the director.” So it would be unusual for the phrase “Al-Qaeda” to show up in captured Iraqi documents. In short, the keyword search applied to 85% of the available documents is meaningless.

The report definitely missed documents that established the Iraq-Al-Qaeda connection. On Friday, I spoke with a former government official whose position required him to review captured Iraqi documents in the Harmony database. (He insisted on anonymity because his work was classified and he continues to consult on intelligence matters.) “I have been in that database and I saw an instruction from the [Iraqi] foreign ministry to its embassy in Havana, instructing them to cooperate with members of Al-Qaeda. The document named specific individuals we know are connected to Al-Qaeda.” Yet, that document does not appear in this report. Why? Most likely, my source says, because it is still being used by the State department or the CIA.
But, read the whole article...he lists all the evidence that Saddam had some sort of connection to Al-Qaeda.


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