Joel Mowbray
Ask even news-savvy Americans what they know about Saddam’s plans to deploy suicide bombers against the West, and the most common response will be blank stares. Ditto for asking about how Saddam’s thugs trained thousands of terrorists from around the Arab world, right up through 2002.

Both stunning revelations surfaced recently, one in Congressional testimony last month and the other in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. The Pentagon has known about these items on Saddam’s terrorist agenda since the end of 2003, which is when it received the after-action analysis report it had commissioned. (It served as the basis for the testimony and the magazine article.)

Now declassified, the book-length report analyzed thousands of Iraqi documents and interviews with over 100 officials of Saddam’s regime to piece together what was going on in the tyranny’s final days. Much of it is darkly humorous, such as the lengths to which minions would go to deceive Saddam or how the despot actually appeared to believe the ridiculous propaganda spewed by Baghdad Bob.

To the extent the report or its summaries were covered by the mainstream media, attention mostly was focused on the finding that Saddam apparently behaved himself in late 2002 and early 2003 in a vain attempt to stave off the invasion. Yet entirely ignored by the supposedly objective news outlets were the rather newsworthy items indicating that, in fact, Saddam was interested in exporting terror.

According to a Nexis search, only four news outlets have even mentioned “Blessed July,” which was, in the words of the Foreign Affairs article, “a regime-directed wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations against targets in the West.” All nine articles were editorials or opinion pieces. The New York Times essentially avoided covering the report or the magazine summary of it, as the paper instead excerpted a book co-authored by one of its reporters that relied heavily on the report. Even the Associated Press declined to print a quick mention that preparations for “Blessed July,” again quoting from the magazine article, “were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.”

The Washington Post, however, did cover the release of the Foreign Affairs article, but with this headline: “U.S. Said To Misread Hussein On Arms.” The not-so-subtle implication of the rather brief story was that Saddam didn’t pose as big a threat as we thought. In the weeks following the Post article, the full report was released and its authors appeared before Congress. Neither event triggered additional coverage.


Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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