Frank Gaffney

11/17/2003 12:00:00 AM - Frank Gaffney

Most Americans were cheered by recent news of an improving economic forecast, but not the Democrats who have made blaming George W. Bush for the last few years’ downturn the primary argument for turning him out of office.  One can only imagine how depressed they must feel now that their fall-back argument – that Bush demonstrated his incompetence as Commander-in-Chief by engaging in an unnecessary and costly diversion from the war on terror when he went into Iraq – has been shown to be no better grounded in fact.

 The strategic wisdom, indeed the imperative, of putting Saddam Hussein out of business as an integral part of the global effort to root out and destroy terrorist organizations has been underscored by the cover story of the November 24th edition of the Weekly Standard.  Under the headline “Case Closed,” Steven Hayes reveals details from a highly classified, 16-page Defense Department memorandum sent last month to the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

 The unavoidable conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime had been guilty as charged – tied for over a decade to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network (among other terrorist groups) for the purpose of waging attacks on their mutual foe, the United States.

 The Pentagon memo was compiled for my friend and colleague, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith.  It was forwarded to the intelligence panel last month in response to bipartisan questions put to him by the Committee’s top Republican and Democratic members, Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, respectively.  The memo’s contents reflected years of reporting compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies from various sources.  

 According to Hayes, fifty individual items (which he infers must be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, since the bulk of materials seized from Iraqi files have yet to be analyzed) establish that Saddam Hussein collaborated extensively with bin Laden and his ilk in, for example, the following ways:

 In short, thanks to a much-maligned Pentagon effort to perform an independent review of existing intelligence on Iraq -- undertaken at Secretary Feith’s initiative – it is simply not possible any longer to claim that there is “no evidence” of links between Saddam and al Qaeda.  It behooves most especially those who have access to the full classified memo, like Intelligence Committee member Carl Levin, to stop misleading the public on this point for transparently partisan purposes.

 The Feith memo should be helpful in one other way, as well.  It underscores the validity of the “drain the swamps” strategy President Bush has been pursuing from Day One in the war on terror – and the unsuitability to be Commander-in-Chief of those, like General Wesley Clark, who disagree, as he derisively put it Sunday, that “these old states are central to the problem of terrorism.”