When asked to verify a British account of meetings at a summer villa north of Baghdad between American officials and "some members of the insurgency," as NBC's Tim Russert fashionably put it, Donald Rumsfeld disputed only one assertion: the number of meetings said to have taken place. The Times of London counted two, but "there have probably been many more than that," the secretary of Defense replied, launching into a secretarial defense of "reaching out to the people who are not supporting the (Iraqi) government."
Can we take a roll call of these "people" who are "not supporting" the Iraqi government?
According to the Times report -- which, again, Rumsfeld let stand, correcting only that one small detail -- it seems that an American delegation, including senior military and intelligence officers, a congressional staffer and an employee of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, has met probably multiple times with non-supportive people, including representatives of Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Iraqi Liberation Army, Jaish Mohammed, Thawarat al-Ishreen, the Shoura Council of Mujahideen and "other smaller factions." In other words, some number of U.S. officials have sat down to tea with some number of Islamic terrorists -- or, as they are now officially known, "people who are not supporting the government."
There are two absolutely mind-boggling aspects to this story. The first is that such meetings even took place. Aren't we the people who don't negotiate with terrorists? The ones who voted George W. "You're-Either-with-Us-or-Against-Us" Bush back into office? Apparently not. Or, if we are, something has changed to the point that such lines in the sand don't matter anymore. Additionally mind-boggling is the fact that practically no one in the world has noticed the change, or considered its disastrous ramifications.
After all, who are these groups we apparently had in for tea? They may not exactly register with the Chamber of Commerce, but Ansar al-Sunna, for example, is known to be either an offshoot of or an alias for Ansar al-Islam, a post-9/11 jihadist group believed to have ties with Iran and Al-Qaeda. Moreover, Ansar al-Sunna, which officially opened shop in 2003, is said to be linked to the Zarqawi network. Among the many bestial acts it is believed to have committed in the name of Allah are last year's murders of 12 Nepalese laborers -- one beheaded with a knife and 11 shot in the back of the head, with their point of death on perpetual Internet display -- as well as 22 American servicemen, Iraqi soldiers and civilian contractors, suicide-bombed to death as they sat down to lunch in a Mosul mess tent a few days before Christmas.