Even if Post reporters missed the section in the 230-page report on terror training camps operated by the Fedayeen Saddam, the militia of soldiers most loyal to the ruthless ruler, that issue was raised again in Congressional hearings last month. The camps, which were started in 1994, trained some 7,200 Iraqis in the art of terrorism in the first year alone. “Beginning in 1998,” according to the full report, “these camps began hosting ‘Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria.’”
So in the late 1990’s and beyond, during which time conventional wisdom tells us that Saddam was “contained,” Iraq was training thousands of terrorists from across the Arab world. Saddam was not slowing down. “The training activity of the groups were increasing both internal and apparently external. It was increasing over time,” testified Lt. Col. Kevin Woods (retired), the report’s chief author.
Many Democrats, leading leftists, and even ostensibly objective members of the Fourth Estate scoff at Bush’s contention that the war in Iraq was a necessary component of the war on terror. Yet when fairly compelling proof emerges that Saddam was actively involved in both training terrorists and planning attacks, the collective response was silence.
Most baffling, though, is that the White House has been equally silent.
Had President Bush made even one mention of “Blessed July,” Saddam’s plans for a “wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations” would have dominated cable newscasts and newspaper headlines for at least a day. Maybe not dominated, but it would have garnered at least some attention.
Had the White House press office decided that the mainstream media couldn’t be trusted to disseminate the information accurately, it could have at least highlighted Saddam’s terror training camps for friendly columnists, talk hosts, and bloggers. It didn’t.
The White House doesn’t believe in re-fighting the decision to go to war, which is painfully logical. But politics isn’t logical. Neither are Bush’s political enemies. If the President wants people to trust that he made the right call by toppling Saddam, he needs to reiterate everyday what we know: Saddam was a threat who could no longer be tolerated.
“Blessed July” and Saddam’s terror training camps would be as good a place as any to start.
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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