Monday, May 17, 2004

Liberal Lighthouse: Fred Kaplan Revisits a Dirty Little Secret - In his most recent piece for Slate, Fred Kaplan gives us a convincing argument that the responsibility for Abu Ghraib goes all the way up the chain of command to none other than Bush himself. But even more striking, in my mind, about Kaplan's piece is that he points us via a weblink to an NBC News report written by Jim Miklaszewski on March 2, 2004, about one Abu Musab Zarqawi, the infamous al Qaeda terrorist who most recently sawed off American Nick Berg's head. You've got to read this article to believe it. Upon retrospect, it's quite astounding. Here's one part of it:

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
What's incredible about this article is that it reveals that the Bush Administration had the opportunity to do something about Zarqawi long before the Iraq war started, thus potentially preventing the grisly murder of Berg, but chose not to for political reasons having to do with keeping alive a justification of the war. Conservatives like to complain that Clinton blew his chance to get Osama before 9/11 from the Sudan, but they are eerily silent on this little Bush fiasco regarding Zarqawi. What can we make of this?

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