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Intelligently Misleading on Saddam and Terror

ThreatsWatch's Michael Tanji has written an excellent piece published today at the Weekly Standard. In Intelligently Misleading, Michael addresses the cognitive dissonance in media coverage of the Iraq Perspectives Project report on the linkages between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and international terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

Saying Iraq was not supporting al Qaeda, when there was no meaningful distinction between the EIJ and al Qaeda, strains credulity.

Therein lies the problem: this report--and every assessment dealing with intelligence or national security matters--is crafted with such extreme precision in an impossible quest to be "right" that they end up being absurdly wrong. This quest for false precision skews our understanding of very clear and simple truths. This is part of the reason why so many policymakers of all political persuasions hold intelligence in such disdain. The books and articles that document Saddam's relationship with terrorist groups that were published before this report was issued are numerous and draw largely the same conclusions that this review of classified material shows. Secrets are only valuable if they tell you something meaningful that you didn't already know.

With so many journalists latching onto the solitary line stating that the report found "no smoking gun" linking Saddam Huseein to al-Qaeda - while ignoring the rest of the report that details definitive linkages to international terrorist groups (including Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al-Qaeda's #2) - seemed to be a collective attempt to further the notion that, somehow, if it's not al-Qaeda and bin Laden, it just doesn't count. That's a dangerous, dangerous mindset.

Read the rest of Michael's article Intelligently Misleading at the Weekly Standard.

1 Comment

I actually have talked to a few people in the press about this exact topic and asked a few of them to define the difference between EIJ and al Qaeda. I was met with silence each time. Surprised?