Difference between revisions of "Operation Iraqi Freedom"
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==Results of the Surge on casualties and terrorist attacks==
==Results of the Surge on casualties and terrorist attacks==
The surge has resulted in a 60% reduction in terrorist attacks and causalities since June of 2007 to the present.<ref>http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=48515</ref>
The surge has resulted in a 60% reduction in terrorist attacks and causalities since June of 2007 to the present.<ref>http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=48515</ref>
==Iraq Strategy in Relation to the Global War on Terrorism==
==Iraq Strategy in Relation to the Global War on Terrorism==
Revision as of 04:34, December 31, 2008
Operation Iraqi Freedom is the largest of several active fronts in the ongoing War on Terrorism. Other fronts include Afghanistan, Philippines, and the Horn of Africa. Operation Iraqi Freedom began on 3 March 2003 with the removal of the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein by a "Coalition of the Willing" led by the United States and allies including the United Kingdom. An interim government, Constitutional Assembly, and later an elected Parliament and Executive have assumed authority, however sectarian insurgent violence has hindered stability and reconstruction efforts by US contractors and the new government. Iraq's new Constitution strictly limits the emergency powers of the Executive in dealing with civil strife--a post Saddam democratic reform.
President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain are among the strongest proponents of Operation Iraq Freedom, and support continuing it until a sustained democracy is in place that can repel terrorism on its own.
- 1 Background To Regime Change
- 2 Arguments For Regime Change
- 3 Liberation From Ba'athist Tyranny
- 4 Insurgency
- 5 The Surge And Progress In Iraq
- 6 Results of the Surge on casualties and terrorist attacks
- 7 Iraq Strategy in Relation to the Global War on Terrorism
- 8 Weapons of Mass Destruction
- 9 The Duelfer Report
- 10 Costs
- 11 Casualties
- 12 Summary of Justifications for the Iraq War Taken From This Entry
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Background To Regime Change
In the post-9/11 analysis to determine discontent in the Islamic world that had produced a flurry of dedicated suicide jihadists, the twelve year old UN imposed sanctions imposed upon Iraq and the resultant humanitarian crisis was one such often cited reason. After the Gulf War of 1991 the United States kept troops permanently stationed in Saudi Arabia to defend against an Iraqi invasion of the Kingdom. In the findings of the the 9/11 Commission Report for example, in a section entitled, The Foundation of the New Terrorism, referring to Osama bin Laden's motivations for his Declaration of War and attack on the United States, the Commission found the following:
- He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, and he protested U.S. support of Israel.
Saddam had taken advantage of corruption in both the United Nations Secretariat and Security Council to revive the Iraqi economy after the 1991 Gulf War through the Oil for Food program, nevertheless few of the intended beneficiaries of these alleged UN humanitarian efforts saw the intended relief. Meanwhile, Saddam kept intact the "intellectual capital" or "know-how" to revive weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs which were credited with ensuring the survival of the Ba'athist regime in both the 1980-1988 War with Iran, and preventing a US overthrow of the regime in 1991. As the 90s progressed and the millennium changed, Saddam's top priority was ending the sanctions, and then a full resumption of operational WMD programs. 
|“||There is a very easy way for to prevent anyone from being put into harms way and that is for Saddam Hussein to disarm. And I have absolutely no belief that he will. I have to say that this is something that I have followed for a decade. If he were serious about disarming, he would have been much more forthcoming. There may be progress, we may be destroying his missiles, there is no accounting for the chemical and biological stocks. I just have to respectfully disagree what the proximate cause of any action that might be taken is. …For now nearly 20 years the principal reason why women and children in Iraq have suffered is because of his leadership. His not only tyrannical and dictatorial leadership, but his reign of terror against women and children. ||”|
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek and Libyan Socialist General Secretary Muammar Gaddafi in negotiations with Saddam Hussein relayed a message through Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush that Saddam would be willing to avoid removal by force and voluntarily go into exile, provided Saddam was allowed to take $1 billion dollars and "all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction."  For 12 years, the international community gave Saddam chance after chance, Saddam defied it all including WMD declarations. Dozens of UN resolutions and mandated sanctions failed to persuade Saddam's grip on power. In 1998, the course for present day Iraq began in earnest. President Clinton signed into law H.R. 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act. This act declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.
Arguments For Regime Change
The concern which has led to this front on the War on Terror was summarized by Raymond S. Kraft in his "Historical Review of the Iraq Situation"  He states, quote: "there is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so. France, Germany, and Russia, have been selling them weapons technology as recently as 2002, as have North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan. These weapons were paid for with billions of dollars that Saddam Hussein skimmed from the "Oil For Food" program administered by the UN with the complicity of Kofi Annan and his son.
The militant Muslim Jihadis believe that a radically conservative form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world; and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel and purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East - for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win - the Inquisition, or the Reformation. If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East and the OPEC oil. The US, European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC - not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away. A moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge." (end of quote)
What the West decided to do was help the Reformation side win. To do that the West had to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist movements. The battle had to happen somewhere, and since the West could not fight everywhere at once, the West chose to create a focal point for the battle, in Iraq. Mr Kraft went on to summarize what the West did and is doing which is important in Iraq, quote:
(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is or was a terrorist, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.
(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. This has focused the battle. The ones killed there won't have to be killed here, or somewhere else. We have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
The Europeans could have done this, but they didn't, and they won't. We now know that rather than opposing the rise of the Jihadist, the French, Germans, and Russians were selling them arms - we have found more than a million tons of weapons and munitions in Iraq. If Iraq was not a threat to anyone, why did Saddam have a million tons of weapons?
The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it (or are defeated by it), whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. Now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons unless WE prevent them.
The Iraq war is expensive, and uncertain, yes. But the consequences of not fighting and winning it will be horrifically greater. The history of the world is the history of civilization clashes - cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas. Ideas about what society and civilization should be like. The most determined always win. Those who are willing to be the most ruthless win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
Today, in Iraq, the stakes are high . . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms . . . or a world dominated by the radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihadist under the Mullahs and the Sharia. The Liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. But if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy. If the Jihad wins, it will be the death of Liberalism. (end of quote)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a floor speech on October 10, 2002,
|“||In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members. ||”|
Liberation From Ba'athist Tyranny
After the decapitation of the Ba'athist leadership from the military under its command in April 2003, President Bush said in his address:
- Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. 
Other comments from President Bush's May 1, 2003 speech  show that the context of these victory comments include warnings to Americans of an ongoing struggle to establish Iraqi democracy and counter the threat of terrorism. Quotes, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq. Our mission continues. Al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And we will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike. The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory." 
Many Iraqis welcomed the American invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and in the preceding months, showed optimism about their country's future. An 'American Enterprise'-'Wall Street Journal'-'Zogby' poll in September 2003 found that "Seven out of 10 say they expect their country and their personal lives will be better five years from now. On both fronts, 32% say things will become much better." Furthermore, in a March 2004 poll of Iraqis, the BBC found that Iraqis have great hope in a stable, unified government for their country, with 80% of respondents favoring a centralized state ruled from Baghdad.  From 2004 to before the surge, the unceasing violence by the insurgents had caused some people (mainly in the West) to refer to the ongoing strife as a 'civil war'.  Since the surge, this has ceased as 60-80% of the violence has been stopped. On Sat Feb 16, 2008 reuters reported, "Attacks by insurgents and rival sectarian militias have fallen up to 80 percent in Baghdad. The U.S. military says attacks have fallen across Iraq by 60 percent since June on the back of security clampdowns and the deployment of 30,000 extra American troops." 
2007 - Four years into the war, the biggest poll since coalition troops entered Iraq on March 20, 2003 showed that by a majority of two to one, Iraqis preferred the current leadership to Saddam Hussein’s regime, regardless of the security situation and a lack of public services. It also revealed that contrary to the views of many western analysts, most Iraqis did not believe they were embroiled in a civil war; indeed, only 27% believed they were caught up in a civil war and 64% of the Iraqis still wanted to see a united Iraq under a central national government. 
ABC News (and USA Today) conducted a poll and found that 56 percent of Iraqis did not believe there was a “civil war,” and a British poll determined 61 percent did not believe they were in a civil war. The Times of London's summary of the poll: “Iraqis: life is getting better."  A version of the combined articles as posted by The Australian: “It's better than Saddam, say hopeful Iraqis.” 
On January 21, 2008 there was a report about a cache of documents discovered in the fall of 2007 by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar. It gave the individual records of 606 foreign fighters who entered Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007 saying, "Based on the Sinjar records, U.S. military officials in Iraq said they now think that nine out of 10 suicide bombers have been foreigners, compared with earlier estimates of 75 percent. Similarly, they assess that 90 percent of foreign fighters entering Iraq during the one-year period ending in August came via Syria, a greater proportion than previously believed. Although Saudi Arabia was by far the most common country of origin of foreign fighters, with about 40 percent of the total, a surprising share -- 19 percent -- came from Libya. Overall, about 40 percent were North African."  This certainly justifies these poll results where Iraqis stated that many of the attacks against the Iraqi populace are the work of foreign forces rather than out of the Iraqi population (civil war).
Since the removal of Saddam, Iraq has seen the rise of sectarian violence between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. To many Sunnis, the US has been viewed suspiciously because it supports the democratically elected Shia majority rule. Though a minority, the Sunni have traditionally ruled Iraq and view themselves entitled to continue the privilege of doing so. There are also some intractable Sunni whose interpretation of Muslim law says that the Shia are considered heretics and thus not fit to lead the nation.
The Shia majority, notably the Jaysh Al-Madhi, have had militant factions who have not only attacked Sunni Muslims but have also attacked American and other coalition troops even while the coalition has been protecting the democratically elected Shia from Sunni attacks. Other Shia groups that have not attacked coalition forces have pursued their own factional aims while relying on the US to ensure Shia majority rule instead of seeking unity and a cohesive and representatively fair national political structure, which has hampered political progress and reconciliation efforts. 
However, as reported on May 31, 07, in the article "US Eyes Cease-Fires End Violence in Iraq" the No. 2 American commander Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he thinks 80 percent of Iraqis — including Sunni insurgents and Shia militants — can reach reconciliation with each other. "We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces. I believe there are elements that are irreconcilable, but I believe the large majority are. I believe about 80 percent are reconcilable, both Jaysh Al-Madhi as well as Sunni insurgents." 
With 80% of the violence ended, the united government of Iraq will be much more able to fight the remaining intractable 20% of fighters left - including the foreign and imported terrorist entity Al-Qaeda with its recruits.
Since the invasion in 2003, both Shiite and Sunni clerics have been repeating over and over again that the Americans and their mostly "Christian" allies are in Iraq to destroy Islam in its cultural heartland as well as to steal the country’s oil. The clerics dismiss all talk of democracy and human rights by the invaders as mere hypocrisy--except for women’s rights, which are promoted in earnest, the clerics say, to induce Iraqi daughters and wives to dishonor their families by aping the shameless disobedience of Western women.
At first, a majority of Iraqis believed these religious leaders. The alternative was difficult for them to believe--that foreigners have been unselfishly expending their own blood and treasure to help them. Some polls and incidents demonstrate to insurgents that Americans are out to rob Muslim Iraqis not only of their territory and oil, but also of their religion and even their family honor. The most visible effects of these sentiments were the deadly attacks, the aiding and abetting of such attacks, and celebration by impromptu crowds of spectators. When the victims are members of the Iraqi police or National Guard, bystanders, family members, and local clerics routinely accused the Americans of being the attackers--usually by missile strikes that cleverly simulate car-bombs. As to why the Americans would want to kill Iraqis they are themselves recruiting, training, and paying, no explanation was offered, because no obligation was felt to unravel each and every sub-plot of the dark "Christian conspiracy" against Iraq, the Arab world, and Islam. 
One key to the success which has now spread all across Iraq and caused a drop in violence in Iraq by 60-80%  is the willingness of the Sunnis to take back their country from the insurgent violence. In an article February 10, 2008 called, "U.S. Military Says Seized Docs Show Al Qaeda in Iraq Is Weakened" it states, "A diary and another document seized during U.S. raids show some Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders fear the terror group is crumbling, with many fighters defecting to American-backed neighborhood groups."
The reason for this shift, "the author describes an Al Qaeda in crisis, with citizens growing weary of militants' presence and foreign fighters too eager to participate in suicide missions rather than continuing to fight, "We lost cities and afterward, villages... We find ourselves in a wasteland desert," Smith quoted the document as saying. The memo — believed to have been written in summer 2007 — cites militants' increasing difficulty in moving around and transporting weapons and suicide belts because of better equipped Iraqi police and more watchful citizens, Smith said."
The populace of Iraq has rejected the extremist viewpoint and are now willing to stand up and do what it takes to get peace in the country for themselves and their future. The article further states, "The diary, seized by U.S. troops south of Balad, was written in autumn 2007 by Abu Tariq, who refers to himself as sector leader for al-Qaida in Iraq, Smith said. Tariq wrote that he was once in charge of 600 fighters, but only 20 were left "after the tribes changed course" — a reference to how many Sunni tribesmen have switched sides to fight alongside the Americans, Smith said. The new organizations, called awakening councils or neighborhood watch groups, were key to helping push Al Qaeda in Iraq out of Anbar province, once one of the country's most violent. The terror network's top leaders are now based somewhere in northern Iraq, Smith said, having moved out of Anbar and into Diyala province last year.
The indomitable spirit of the Iraqis has been put to the test and is prevailing against their enemies as they stand up for their country and reject the extremist view and their brutal ways (including torture) which are documented in the next section.
Most U.S. media companies have a significant stake in shaping the view of this conflict with the American public. Propaganda by U.S. media companies reported a common theme; advocating American failure and defeat in Iraq. As the conflict raged, the American public was given large doses of negative reporting for four years. During 2007, General Petraeus got approval and implemented the 'Surge' strategy for securing Bagdad. Result, deaths and bombings by militias, rogue bandits and terror cells have significantly decreased. Success was rarely reported including the 'Surge' progress. No longer the chance of a failed state along with an extraordinary decrease in violence, U.S. media reportings on Iraq are now virtually non-existent.
Al-Qaeda's Use Of Torture
Key to any insurgency is its ability to have the support of the people, or at least their assent. If the people turn against the insurgency as they now have in Iraq, the insurgents have no basis of operations to hide in and the insurgency crumbles. This is why the insurgents have fled to northern Iraq, as stated above. However, working toward forcing cooperation by the populace, the terrorists in Iraq have used incredible amounts of intimidation - kidnap, torture, threats and murder - to prevent the local Iraqi populace from cooperating with those who will bring them a free and democratic Iraq (the US/Coalition forces and the Democratically aligned Iraqi government forces). From the ordinary Iraqi's point of view, cooperating with those who will bring them freedom can have a high cost. If found out, the media will splash their name all over the papers, making it easy for the terrorists to target them for reprisals. Family members can go missing or they can. They could be tortured or killed.
The great tragedy in the Mainstream Media (MSM) covering up the inhumane torture methods of the terrorists while trumpeting outrage at the far milder US intimidation techniques (Abu Gharib, etc), is that it hides from public view what risks the Iraqi population must take to cooperate with those who would bring them their freedom. In the article, "Media Totally Ignore Al Qaeda Torture Manual" it says, "Glenn Reynolds this morning pointed out that “Silence is complicity,” while leading the reader to Don Surber’s piece on the subject which went much further in condemning the media boycott (emphasis added): And yet such false stories as the “flushed Koran” got widespread play in the newspapers and on television. We are hearing those awful “Sounds of Silence” that Simon and Garfunkel warned us about. Whether intentional or not, the message is clear: The United States must be above even false reports of torture, while the enemy is allowed to promote eye removal, blowtorching skin and horrors I won’t go into. The handbook shows that the enemy really is perverted; they are sickos who like to torture people. As much as I admire and respect John McCain’s war service, he is wrong when he says our interrogation methods encourage the enemy to torture our people. The enemy was torturing and beheading people well before 9/11."
Apart from brief mentions on Fox News and CNN, reports on this issue in the days prior or subsequent have been few. As a result, the populace of the US sees daily news coverage of just how ruthless the insurgents are in their attacks upon the populace in the way of guns and bombs, but are not given substantive evidence of the intimidation (torture) which the Iraqi people face. And it is this torture and intimidation which was the direct cause of slowing US progress, hampering the swift end of the insurgency in Iraq. Thinking that the people of Iraq support the insurgency and are not merely being intimidated by them, the US populace has been impatient for instant progress and their support for the Iraqi people obtaining their freedom from such a ruthless enemy waned. As a result - before the success of the surge, the drop in violence and the standing up of the Iraqis against this intimidation - US support for the war dropped significantly and many discouraged American people turned to supporting the anti-American sentiments of the far left saying America should pull the troops from Iraq.
CNN Headline News anchor Glenn Beck stated "[If the United States were to withdraw, it] would be America’s most shameful act of immorality since slavery". He added that Democrat Congressional war opponents are "just plain stupid" and "can't see the future." Beck stated that if U.S. forces pull out, a "genocide" will take place that will make Darfur "look like a picnic." For support he turned to Van Hipp, Chairman and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army who said, "Unfortunately, Glenn, I believe you`re right. And I tell you, if we surrender now, I believe you will see a humanitarian catastrophe much like or even worse than the situation in Darfur right now, the death count -- and the estimate right now beginning in a few months, they could be looking at 100,000 deaths a month." 
John McCain, on Feb 15, 2008 delineated his position for the continuance of the war effort stated in this article, "Republican frontrunner John McCain drew sharp distinctions with his Democratic White House rivals over Iraq, saying an untimely US withdrawal would bring about "genocide." "Both Senator Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal. That means chaos. That means genocide," the Arizona senator told CNN's Larry King late Thursday. "That means undoing all the success we've achieved, and Al-Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America. I won't let that happen, as president of the United States."
The Surge And Progress In Iraq
Since the new US-Iraqi offensive was launched in February 2007, anti-government forces have been put on the defensive in their former insurgent stronghold of Anbar, Britain’s top general in Iraq said (March 2007).  The insurgency “didn’t do too well in Anbar . . . Their claims have failed to come to fruition,” he said, referring to the declaration by Islamic radicals that they had established a “caliphate”, or successorship, encompassing much of western Iraq. Lt Gen Lamb said that US and Iraqi forces were recruiting hundreds of police for the first time in towns in the Anbar region and that the forces were working together in shared combat outposts. While conceding that car bomb attacks In Baghdad and a surge of violence in neighboring Diyala had to be addressed, he said that US and Iraqi planners were learning to reduce the threat, establishing an outer cordon around the city as well as barriers, or “point defense” protection around key targets inside. The US military has reported cases in which car bombs have been stopped at checkpoints. In some cases the bombs detonated killing Iraqi security forces, but the casualties would arguably have been much greater had the blasts hit crowded commercial districts. General Lamb, who commanded British ground forces in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 said that multinational forces now had the benefit of four years of experience in fighting the insurgents.
The increasing pressure from US forces with this Surge strategy has caused Sadr and his commanders flee to Iran as The Guardian reported Feb 15, 07, "Senior commanders of the Mehdi army, the militia loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have been spirited away to Iran to avoid being targeted in the new security push in Baghdad, a high-level Iraqi official told the Guardian. "Over the last three weeks, they [Iran] have taken away from Baghdad the first and second-tier military leaders of the Mehdi army," he said. The aim of the Iranians was to "prevent the dismantling of the infrastructure of the Shia militias" in the Iraqi capital -- one of the chief aims of the United States-backed security drive. The chief US military spokesperson in Baghdad said the anti-Western cleric had fled to Iran. US forces were tracking him "very closely", he said. 
The Surge is showing signs as a solid strategy which is being used to good effect as Al Jazeera reports that the Baathist terrorists have begun to criticize Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in their article Sunni group condemns Iraq al-Qaeda  where it states: "An influential Iraqi Sunni armed group has called on al-Qaeda in Iraq to “review” its behaviour in the country. The Islamic Army in Iraq, believed to be the largest group of former Baathists and army officers fighting Iraqi and US forces, called on Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, to take more responsibility for al-Qaeda in Iraq. “Killing Sunnis has become a legitimate target for them, especially rich ones. Either they pay them what they want or they kill them,” a statement from the group said. “They would kill any critic or whoever tries to show them their mistakes.” Sunni Arab officials have also urged what they call “the real resistance” to disown al-Qaeda and engage in talks with the government to end violence which has driven the country closer to an all-out civil war."
Now, the increasing pressure appears to have caused an actual break in relations between terrorist groups as this April 12, 07 article states, quote, "One of Iraq's main armed groups has confirmed a split with al-Qaeda, according to a spokesman for the dissenting organisation. Ibrahim al-Shammari told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the Islamic Army in Iraq had decided to disunite from al-Qaeda in Iraq after its members were threatened. ".. after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died, the gap between us [and al-Qaeda] widened, because [they] started to target our members. They killed about 30 of our people, and we definitely don't recognise their establishment of an Islamic state - we consider it invalid." The Islamic Army in Iraq is one of several nationalist groups which opposes hitting Iraqi civilians, but it has carried out high-profile attacks against multinational forces. Al-Shammari said they would be willing to deal with the Americans if certain conditions are met. Al-Shammari said that his group didn't consider US forces to be the main danger in Iraq. "There are two occupations: Iranian and American, and the Iranian one is more dangerous than American because Iran considers Iraq as a part of their country." The Islamic Army in Iraq's statement comes after Iraq's president said the presidential office was in contact with five insurgent groups. Jalal Talabani said on Wednesday that the contacts mark an attempt to bring the groups into the mainstream political process. 
Additional progress was detailed in "Corps Commander Highlights Progress in Iraq", Apr 13, 2007, where Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps in Iraq said there has been progress in the security situation in Baghdad. Three of the five promised U.S. brigades are in place in the city, an additional three Iraqi brigade headquarters and 11 additional battalions have moved into Baghdad in support of the operation. Twenty-six joint security stations in Baghdad are manned by Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition forces, as are more than 21 combat outposts. "This continuous presence is making the Iraqi people feel safer and has greatly increased the amount of information provided to the Iraqi army, police and coalition forces by the public," Odierno said. Sectarian murders have dropped in Baghdad, and some displaced families are returning to the city. In addition, coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled the number of arms caches found since the beginning of the operation two months ago. Security forces allow citizens to return to a more normal existence. "Across Baghdad, markets are being hardened with checkpoints and barriers, and merchants have returned to sell their produce," he said. "And Iraqis are busy shopping in the markets of Rusafa and Dura, and there are more projects such as these ... that will occur in the near future."
Positive changes are not limited to Baghdad, he said, they are also happening in Anbar province, where coalition and Iraqi security forces are working with local tribal leaders. "The people of al Anbar are fighting back and winning," Odierno said. "They've effectively turned back the tide of al Qaeda, but there will be counterattacks by al Qaeda." The general said there were nine attacks last week in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. "During the same week a year ago, there were over 84 attacks," he said. Odierno said he also sees promise in the northern part of Iraq. Coalition forces there have set up 33 U.S. police transition teams to build law enforcement capability in that region. Oil is flowing out of the Bayji refinery thanks to Iraqi security force efforts to protect distribution tankers. Progress continues in the country's south, as well. "In the south, Operation Black Eagle in Diwaniyah, conducted by joint Iraqi and coalition forces, uncovered a headquarters of a rogue element of Jaysh al-Mahdi, with a major weapons cache including materials for IED-making," he said. Even the demonstrations called by radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr on April 9 to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq are a good sign, Odierno said. "This demonstration took place without incident," he said. "It is worth mentioning three points related to this demonstration. First, the government of Iraq allowed the demonstration to take place, unthinkable under the former regime. Second, the demonstrators waved Iraqi flags rather than black flags or pictures of ayatollahs. And third, the demonstrators numbered no more than 15,000, rather than the one million its organizers called for." 
That being said, anti-democratic and sectarian violence in the war, as expected and predicted by the Bush Administration, is continuing: a recent Al-Qaida attack at the Parliamentary cafeteria killed one, and on April 18 2007, a series of car bombs killed 131 Baghdad residents. 
In the ABC article, "Al-Qaida claims Iraq parliament attack", the U.S. military revised the death toll sharply downward to one dead in the the parliament suicide bombing. Iraqi officials said the bomber was believed to have been a bodyguard for a Sunni lawmaker who was not among the casualties. Parliament officials said the victim was Mohammed Awad, a moderate Sunni lawmaker. Iraqi lawmakers gathered Friday in a rare - and defiant - session of parliament on the Muslim day of prayer. A red and white bouquet sat in Awad's place in the parliament chamber. Lawmakers took the podium one after another to denounce the bombing. One MP had his arm in sling and a woman lawmaker wore a neck brace. "The more they (terrorists) act, the more solid we become. When they take from us one martyr, we will offer more martyrs," Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi said. "The more they target our unity, the stronger our unity becomes." Iraqi parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said Friday's session was "a clear message to all the terrorists and all those who dare try to stop this (political) process, that we will sacrifice in order for it to continue." 
At a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates (reported Fri Apr 20, 2007), Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obaidi said the Iraqis are making progress in countering the insurgency. "Our need for support is getting less and less each day," al-Obaidi said. Gates said the U.S. troop buildup will continue at least until late summer. "We need some time for things to work," he said. Three of the five extra brigades Bush ordered into Iraq to stem violence have arrived. Officials want the rest in place by June, for a total of 160,000. Soon after that, they will assess how much longer the higher troop level — about 30,000 more than before the buildup — will be needed. Since the troop buildup or "Surge" has not even been completed, it is not surprising that the premature and rash comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying the war was already lost and the troop buildup was not stemming violence in Iraq were rejected by Gates. "I respectfully disagree," Gates said when asked by a reporter about Reid's Thursday remarks. He assured al-Maliki that the U.S. continues to be committed to the Iraqi government and the Baghdad security plan, Gates said.
April 20, 2007 - Iraqi President Nouri al Malaki affirmed the indigenous Iraqi Assyrian Christians' right to have a Province of their own, which could be provided for under the Iraqi Constitution. Malaki was addressing questions concerning the minorities, many of whom are in neighboring countries, including an estimated nearly 500,000 Assyrian Christians. Additionally, Malaki said, "I think it is important to let the world know that things in our country are improving dramatically. Our unemployment rate has gone from nearly 70 percent to now under 30 percent. Our most recent growth rate was 3 percent and we have seen, in particular as a result of the recent Baghdad program, a dramatic drop in so-called sectarian violence. What is particularly encouraging to me is the changes we have seen in our security forces and the trust from our people once again. We are finally seeing individual citizens provide information to our forces, which has changed the situation dramatically in rooting out those who are determined to ruin our country."
Malaki stressed three key goals. National Reconciliation, Economic Development and Expanded Security as the way forward. "In spite of much information to the contrary, we are seeing a return to the Iraq we all once knew when we considered ourselves all Iraqis and not belonging to a particular sect or group," he said. "Recently we have brought back large numbers of former members of the Ba'ath Party who were not involved in any problems in the past and this has significantly helped to bring our people together. Economic development is taking place at a good rate. Part of the reason we are here is to encourage even more investment into our country. The monthly income of our people has gone from about $20 a month to now over $200. The dramatic rise in electrical use is one good sign that the economy is taking off. The stores are full." Describing the current military situation as "moving from sectarian to outside interference," Malaki stressed that the so called Baghdad Plan was working. "We are seeing a dramatic drop in the sectarian conflicts and see our major challenge as that from the outside including Al Quaida and remainders of the Ba'athist groups," he said. "In the end we will be able to take care of ourselves. Meanwhile, we need the help of our friends to stand against those who want to harm us." 
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said in a recent interview, that the increase of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in the country had achieved "modest progress" but had also had setbacks such as a rise in suicide bombings and other problems. Petraeus also stated that he was uncertain whether his counterinsurgency strategy would be ultimately succeed, but he stated "We have certainly pulled [Baghdad] neighborhoods back from the brink." Assessing the first two months of the U.S. and Iraqi plan to pacify the capital, senior American commanders -- including Petraeus; Adm. William Fallon, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of military operations in Iraq; and top regional commanders -- see mixed results. Critical now, they said in interviews last week, is for Iraqi leaders to forge the political compromises needed for long-term stability. The deployment of additional troops in Baghdad is only 60 percent complete, and a major concern shared by U.S. military leaders is whether al-Maliki's government is capable of solidifying gains in security as well as making the crucial political compromises needed to achieve peace. 
In an interview of Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak Al-Rubaie aired May 10, 2007, Mr. Rubaie stated, "This is an ideological war. This is a -- a long-term war. This is a war on a global scale. This is a war, if it gets out of control, it will spill over to Europe and America in no time. And it will disturb the oil flow in the Gulf. What happened in Iraq is not something minor and simple, like a coup d'etat or a revolution. What happened is a hurricane. What happened is a huge, major shift, from the old order of 1,000 years of persecution, of dictatorship, of religious supremacy, of prosecuting minorities, to a completely new order, which is called democracy, human rights, accountability, and transparency, and all this. This paradigm shift needs some time. You cannot -- it needs strategic patience. And it needs time. You cannot fit this major shift and the strategic objectives in the election cycle of Washington. You cannot do that."
He went on to note progress and plead for patience, "I think we made a remarkable progress over the last three years. In June 2004, we had only one battalion in the Iraqi army. Now we have 11 divisions. And, in June 2004, we did not have policemen. We did not have national police, local police, an intelligence service. We didn't have anything. Now we have Iraqi security forces, several hundreds of thousands of them. And what we need, we need some refinements, some tuning. We need some training. And we need some equipment and logistical support. We need to build the system within the Iraqi security forces. In a very short period of time, we're going to be self-reliant."
"Take, for example, in Baghdad. Last year, Baghdad was under the command of an American general called General Thurman. And now Baghdad is under the command-and- control of general -- an Iraqi general called General Abboud. And he is commanding and leading and controlling 2.5 Iraqi army division and 11 or 13 Iraqi police, national police, brigades. -- we needed the upsurge, and we need the upsurge to clear some areas of these neighborhoods and to hold them and to build them. When we have this upsurge, let's the best use of it. And let's clear these areas and hold it and build it." 
May 12, 2007, "Iraq's top Shi'ite party changes platform" gave the stunning news that "Iraq's biggest Shi'ite party, The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), pledged its allegiance to the country's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in a move that would distance it from Shi'ite Iran where it was formed. They said the party had been close to Sistani for some time, but a two-day conference formalised relations with the influential cleric. Officials said the party, which was formed in Iran in the 1980s to oppose Saddam, had previously taken its guidance from the religious establishment of Welayat al Faqih, led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran. The party then pledged to follow the guidance of the Shi'ite establishment and also said it had introduced significant policy changes and changed its name to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) -- dropping the word "Revolution". 
This was hailed in the Middle East as a very significant development, stating "The real change of direction and leadership of Iraqi Shiites to Sistani is the greatest victory of the new era of constitutionalism and civility in Iraq. The shifting of Shiite Islam to Najaf, instead of Qum, is a huge change and a direct result of Iraq's freedom that has changed the balance of power in Iraq and Iran. The New York Times-owned Boston Globe reports from Tehran that the influence of Iraqi Shiites is growing even there: "Some Iranians are intrigued by the more freewheeling experiment in Shi'ite empowerment taking place across the border in Iraq, where--Iraq's myriad problems aside--imams can say whatever they want in political Friday sermons, newspapers and satellite channels regularly slam the government, and religious observance is respected and encouraged but not required." 
CBS Evening News May 29, 2007 presented, "an exclusive interview, Iraq's Prime Minister tells CBS News the security crackdown is working." The network relayed how, “in his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's Prime Minister told CBS News today the additional forces here have prevented an even greater catastrophe.” Maliki also disclosed that there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. 
Then on May 31, 07, the article "US Eyes Cease-Fires End Violence in Iraq" added, quote: U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease-fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said. He thinks 80 percent of Iraqis — including Sunni insurgents and Shia militants — can reach reconciliation with each other. "We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces. I believe there are elements that are irreconcilable, but I believe the large majority are. I believe about 80 percent are reconcilable, both Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Sunni insurgents." He said the increased effort by commanders to reach out to militants goes hand in hand with reconciliation efforts by the Iraqi government. Odierno noted that efforts to engage tribal leaders in Anbar province — who have been turning against al-Qaida there — has helped draw people to serve in the Iraqi security forces in record numbers and has helped reduce attacks there. For example, the attacks in Anbar in May 2006 totaled 811, while this May they were just barely over 400. Since the beginning of 2007, over 12,000 Iraqi citizens have volunteered for Iraqi security forces in Anbar. In all of 2006, only 1,000 had volunteered. 
Even Newsweek's June 4 edition on page 33, has a story by Melinda Liu on actual progress in Iraq, headlined: "Gathering the Tribes: U.S. field commanders are finally beginning to tap the traditional networks that helped Saddam stay in power." Liu reported from Ramadi that "Marines and Iraqi tribesmen and police are sitting together, swapping jokes and stories. Some of these Iraqis were probably shooting at Americans less than a year ago. Now they and the Marines are fighting side by side against Al Qaeda." The story also carried a large, bolded quote: 'Last year the Americans were our biggest enemies,' says one cop. 'Now they're how we get what we need.' The captions on the pictures read: PEACE SIGNS: Tribal recruits man a check-point in Ramadi (above); children and others now freely interact with Americans (right). 
And on May 31 a report "Sunnis Revolt Against al-Qaida in Iraq" confirmed the trend stating, "U.S. troops battled al-Qaida in west Baghdad on Thursday after Sunni Arab residents challenged the militants and called for American help to end furious gunfire that kept students from final exams and forced people in the neighborhood to huddle indoors. Backed by helicopter gunships, U.S. troops joined the two-day battle in the Amariyah district, according to residents of the Sunni district. Lt. Col. Dale C. Kuehl, commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, who is responsible for the Amariyah area of the capital, confirmed the U.S. military's role in the fighting in the Sunni district. "The events of the past two days are promising developments. Sunni citizens of Amariyah that have been previously terrorized by al-Qaida are now resisting and want them gone. They're tired of the intimidation that included the murder of women," Kuehl said. Casualty figures were not immediately available. But the district councilman said Haji Hameed, the al-Qaida leader in Amariyah, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained. 
Meanwhile, U.S. forces handed over responsibility for security in Iraq's three northern provinces to the Kurdish regional government. Seven Iraqi provinces, including Najaf, Muthanna, Dhi Qar and Maysan, now have responsibility for their own security – a third of the total. The United States hopes to add more as Iraqi forces grow in capability. 
March 2008 - 62% of Iraqis now say they want the US troops to stay in their country.. and a full 55% say their lives are going well.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, ABC's anchor Charles Gibson on World News Monday March 18, 2008 explained “we have polled inside Iraq and there is some good news.” Specifically, “today, 55 percent of Iraqi say their lives are going well. Last summer that number was 39 percent.” From Iraq, Terry McCarthy reported, "As our poll takers spread across the country they found that for the first time in three years, people were more worried about economic and social problems than violence. And almost half think their country will be better off in a year -- double the number six months ago. In Dora, in southern Baghdad, we found these kids playing on the street. A year ago, they would haven't dared to come outside.... McCarthy also noted in a telling reality check, only 38 percent want U.S. troops to leave now, afraid that the gains in security might be reversed.” This obviously means that 62 percent of the Iraqis polled want US troops to stay in their country until they are certain the gains in security and stability will not be reversed. “Even Fallujah has turned around,” McCarthy learned, “as the local population has largely abandoned the insurgency and now they're focusing on rebuilding the city from the ruins of war,” though tough tasks remain with most complaining about electrical shortages and poor health care services. 
Results of the Surge on casualties and terrorist attacks
The surge has resulted in a 60% reduction in terrorist attacks and causalities since June of 2007 to the present. Indeed, the year 2008 saw a decline in soldier deaths to 309 from 906 the year before.
Iraq Strategy in Relation to the Global War on Terrorism
As reported in the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism  released April 30, 2007, there are steep declines in terrorist attacks and murders in many regions of the globe. Though terrorism has increased markedly in Iraq, aside from the Middle East (which does not include Afghanistan according to State), the number of terrorist attacks worldwide is down from a year ago by over 300 incidents. In other words, the Bush administration's idea that making Iraq the "central front in the war on terror" seems to be working. According to the State report, terrorism in South Asia is down by 10 percent from a year ago. In Europe, it's down 18 percent. In Central and South America, terrorism-related deaths are down 54 percent. 
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Although no large physical stock piles of weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, the search is not over, and has yielded some results so far. Only about one-third of 36 million captured pages have been examined by a linguist and a summary gist of the document prepared. Many believe the physical WMDs that had been produced prior to the invasion were smuggled out of the country, possibly to Syria, before the onset of the war. But recently in July 2008,  The USA Military found 550 metric tons of yellow cake uranium and parts to make nuclear weapons in Tuwaitha 12 miles south of Baghdad, as proof that George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and the CIA were right about Saddam owning yellow cake uranium.
Saddam's General says they had WMD - As FrontPageMagazine.com reported in its article "Symposium: Iraq, WMDs and Troubling Revelations" on May 29th 2006 - "Just recently, Saddam Hussein's former southern regional commander, Gen. Al-Tikriti, gave the first videotaped testimony confirming that Iraq had WMDs up to the American invasion in 2003 and that Russia helped remove them prior to the war. His testimony confirms numerous other sources that have pointed to Russia's secret alliance with Iraq and the coordinated moving of WMDs before the American liberation."  However, there is no way to obtain hard physical evidence to back up their assertions due to the fact that Syria will not allow such intrusive inspection and searching in their country. Intelligence sources do, however, say that General Al-Tikriti is a credible witness as is the pilot who also testified that he flew such missions.
According to the Duelfer Report, Saddam used the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) through its universities and research programs to maintain, develop, and acquire expertise, to advance or preserve existent research projects and developments, and to procure goods prohibited by United Nations Security Council sanctions.
Additionally, concerning the 36 million captured pages of documentation, when it was put on the net for public translation, it was removed after they found quote, "detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb." As The New York Times confirmed in their issue November 3, 2006, Saddam had complete plans for a nuclear weapon and was in the process of procuring parts when the US removed him. Quote: "nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away." 
Additionally, tapes with Saddam speaking on them also surfaced and certain sinister remarks Saddam made on the tapes were translated which showed that he threatened to use WMD on Washington, DC. In the article , "Saddam Translator: ABC Reinterpreted Tapes" dated Feb. 17th 2006, the FBI translator who supplied the 12 hours of Saddam Hussein audiotapes excerpted by ABC's "Nightline" says the network discarded his translations and went with a less threatening version of the Iraqi dictator's comments. In the "Nightline" version of the 1996 recording, Saddam predicts that Washington, D.C., would be hit by terrorists. But he adds that Iraq would have nothing to do with the attack. Tierney says, however, that what Saddam actually said was much more sinister. "He was discussing his intent to use chemical weapons against the United States and use proxies so it could not be traced back to Iraq," he told Hannity. In a passage not used by "Nightline," Tierney says Saddam declares: "Terrorism is coming. ... In the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction. What if we consider this technique, with smuggling?" 
Concerning additional tapes uncovered where Saddam is being briefed by his Son-in-law, Lieutenant General Hussein, ABC News reports his words to Saddam Hussein: "Sir, I would not be speaking so openly if it were not for your excellency's and Mr. Tariq's clarification and statement that we produced biological weapons. We did not reveal all that we have. Secondly, they don't know about our work in the domain of missiles. With regard to the issue of the chemical, sir, ... In the chemical, sir, they have a problem far bigger than the biological, bigger than the biological. Not the type of the weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct. They don't know any of this. We did not reveal the volume of the chemical weapons that we had produced. We did not reveal the type of the chemical weapons. We did not reveal the truth about the volume of the imported materials. In the nuclear, sir, in the biological, we also disagree with them. As for the nuclear, we say we have disclosed everything but no. We have undeclared problems in nuclear as well, and I believe that they know. There are teams working with no one knowing about some of them. I go back to the question of whether we should reveal everything or continue to be silent... I would say it is in our interest not to reveal. Not just out of fear of disclosing the technology we achieved, or to hide it for future work... 
Another of the documents show that Saddam ordered suicide attacks on the US, which then, within a year, could have become nuclear. In the article "Saddam Ordered Suicide Attacks on U.S. Targets" dated April 6th 2006, it states, "A newly translated document from Saddam Hussein's intelligence files indicates that the Iraqi dictator ordered suicide attacks against U.S. targets six months before the 9/11 attacks." 
Also, there was another document discovered proving that Saddam was intending to attack London in this article "Saddam was training terrorists for attacks in London" dated March 27th 2006 - "Among the documents released last week was a translation of a three-page Iraqi Intelligence memo regarding a wave of attacks to be conducted by the Saddam Fedayeen.According to those orders, the Fedayeen Saddam was "to start planning from now on to perform special operations (assassinations/bombings) for the centers and the traitor symbols in the fields of (London/Iran/self-ruled areas) and for coordination with the Intelligence service to secure deliveries, accommodations, and target guidance."" 
The UK government Feb 18, 2008 released an early draft of its controversial dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, after losing a bid to keep it secret. The government has always maintained Williams' paper was not relevant as the final dossier was the work of its intelligence agencies. The dossier, quote: "concentrates on allegations that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's regime had acquired uranium, retained the ability to manufacture chemical and biological weapons and was developing long-range missiles." Even the UK's opposition Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davey conceded that, "The core analysis of the threat allegedly posed by Iraq is the same in both documents." 
These allegations are not in dispute, as the quoted detractors in the article make clear when it says of them, "Campaigners have been pushing for it to be made public, claiming it could show that the final dossier -- in which it was claimed Iraq could launch WMD within 45 minutes -- was the work of government "spin doctors"."
Apart from whether Iraq could have launched WMD in that time frame, the core analysis shows ample reason and justification for beginning Operation Iraqi Freedom - including weapons grade uranium, the ability to launch long-range missiles at Western allies and the ability to manufacture at will chemical and biological weapons. Saddam was a WMD threat with malicious intent and although how close to launching such attacks he was remains in question, the fact he was one year from aquiring the bomb and was calling for attacks and agents to be in place (in the West) while developing missiles to deliver these weapons against allied Western targets, figured strongly in the case for war.
CNSNews.com reported that an Oct. 4, 2004, report by Cybercast News Service included 42 pages of Iraqi Intelligence Service memos that revealed Saddam's purchase of mustard gas and anthrax as recently as the summer of 2000 and his extensive ties to al Qaeda. Then in June, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) released declassified portions of an intelligence report that they said confirmed Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction, including mustard gas. The report indicated that 500 such weapons had been destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition since 2003 and that the U.S. and its allies were racing against terrorist groups in trying to control the remaining weapons in Iraq. "It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq," Santorum said during the news conference.
How many WMD means Saddam had some? - Fox News reported on May 17th, 2004 that a roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent was confirmed to have exploded near a U.S. military convoy, but the incident was downplayed along with the note that mustard gas had also been found. Quote, "The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy." Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas was also recently discovered. 
Concluding that "the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective,"" these deadly agents were ignored and the view that WMD do not exist remains remains perpetuated. The same Fox News article notes, "They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 projectiles for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. Iraq also failed to then account for 450 aerial bombs with mustard gas. That, combined with the shells, totaled about 80 tons of unaccounted for mustard gas. It also appears some top Pentagon officials were surprised by the sarin news; they thought the matter was classified, administration officials told Fox News."
ABC News reported on 7/1/2004 this article, "Polish troops find sarin warheads in Iraq" which stated, "Polish troops have found two warheads in Iraq believed to contain a deadly nerve agent. The two warheads were found in early June in a bunker in the area controlled by Polish forces, and they tested positive for cyclosarin, a substance many times stronger than sarin, the ministry said in a statement. Another dozen were found later in June.  This finding was updated 2 days later as testing found that all sixteen rockets had initially showed traces of sarin, but were now "all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals."  The article went on to state, "In January 2003, U.N. inspectors discovered a dozen old 122-millimeter rockets that chief inspector Hans Blix described at the time as "designed to carry chemical weapons." Iraq later turned up several more, and all were destroyed. Blix later said he was not sure whether Iraq mentioned them in the 12,000-page weapons declaration it submitted in December 2002.
As for anthrax, on Jan 1st 2004, aim.org covered an article saying of Saddam's anthrax production capability, quote, "Investigative journalist Richard Miniter says there is evidence to indicate Saddam’s anthrax program was capable of producing the kind of anthrax that hit America shortly after 9/11. Miniter (said) that during November he interviewed U.S. weapons inspector Dr. David Kay in Baghdad and that he was "absolutely shocked and astonished" at the sophistication of the Iraqi program. Miniter said that Kay told him that, "the Iraqis had developed new techniques for drying and milling anthrax—techniques that were superior to anything the United States or the old Soviet Union had. That would make the former regime of Saddam Hussein the most sophisticated manufacturer of anthrax in the world."" 
Saddam's Links to Al Qaeda
BEFORE the United States went to war to depose the threat of Saddam to its Homeland, in March 2002 and February 2003, CIA Director George Tenet Testified that Iraq had clear ties to Al Qaeda. Coupled with the above statement by the NY Times article that they were only one year from a nuclear bomb and the sinister statements by the translator Tierney, along with the article about Saddam ordering preparation for suicide attacks on US targets before 911, the case for invading Iraq to secure the US from further destruction was both logical and justified.
In February 2003, CIA Director George Tenet Testified That Iraq Had Links To Al Qaeda. TENET: "Iraq is harboring senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a close associate of al Qaeda. ... Iraq has in the past provided training in document forgery and bomb-making to al Qaeda. It has also provided training in poisons and gases to two al Qaeda associates. One of these associates characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful. ... I know that part of this - and part of this Zarqawi network in Baghdad are two dozen Egyptian Islamic jihad which is indistinguishable from al Qaeda - operatives who are aiding the Zarqawi network, and two senior planners who have been in Baghdad since last May.
Now, whether there is a base or whether there is not a base, they are operating freely, supporting the Zarqawi network that is supporting the poisons network in Europe and around the world. So these people have been operating there. And, as you know - I don't want to recount everything that Secretary Powell said, but as you know a foreign service went to the Iraqis twice to talk to them about Zarqawi and were rebuffed. So there is a presence in Baghdad that is beyond Zarqawi." (George Tenet, Select Committee On Intelligence, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 2/11/03)
Tenet Testified That Iraq Was Providing Safe Haven To Al Qaeda. SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): "Would you say, Mr. Tenet, that the Zarqawi terrorist network is under the control or sponsorship of the Iraqi government?" TENET: "I don't know that, sir, but I know that there's a safe haven that's been provided to this network in Baghdad." LEVIN: "So you're not - well, you're saying that you don't know if they're under the support - that they are under the control or direction?" TENET: "Yes, sir. We have said - what we've said is Zarqawi and this large number of operatives are in Baghdad. They say the environment is good. And it is inconceivable to us that the Iraqi intelligence service doesn't know that they live there or what they're doing." (George Tenet, Select Committee On Intelligence, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 2/11/03)
In March 2002, Tenet Testified On Iraq's Links To Al Qaeda. TENET: "We continue to watch Iraq's involvement in terrorists' activities. Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It is also had contacts with Al Qaeda." (George Tenet, Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 3/19/02)
As mentioned above, CNSNews.com reported that an Oct. 4, 2004, report by Cybercast News Service included 42 pages of Iraqi Intelligence Service memos that revealed Saddam's purchase of mustard gas and anthrax as recently as the summer of 2000 and his extensive ties to al Qaeda. 
In the article The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden dated 27/04/2003 The Telegraph claimed to have found Iraqi intelligence documents in Baghdad which "provided evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime." It went on to state, "Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998. The documents show that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Baghdad and al-Qa'eda based on their mutual hatred of America and Saudi Arabia. The meeting apparently went so well that it was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being discussed for bin Laden to visit Baghdad. Intriguingly, the Iraqis talk about sending back an oral message to bin Laden, perhaps aware of the risk of a written message being intercepted." The article ends, "The file contradicts the that there was no link between the Iraqi regime and al-Qa'eda."  Additional citations of the documentation are given by The Telegraph in their article titled, "'We'll pay all expenses to gain the knowledge from bin Laden and convey a message back" which is a quote from the documentation itself. The intelligence documents are again cited by a Canadian eyewitness source in "Saddam, bin Laden link found: Canadian reporter" 
It is noteworthy that under President Clinton, reported in February of 1999, the article (still available to view on the net) titled, "Saddam link to Bin Laden" - Terror chief 'offered asylum' in Iraq? The article states, "Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials. The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. "There's a threat, and it's real," Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons "are being considered for use." US embassies around the world are on heightened alert as a result of threats believed to emanate from followers of Bin Laden, who has been indicted by a US court for orchestrating the bombing last August of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 259 people died. US delegations in Africa and the Gulf have been shut down in recent weeks after credible threats were received. In this year's budget, President Clinton called for an additional $2 billion to spend on counter-terrorist measures... Ahmed Allawi, a senior member of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), based in London, said he had heard reports of the December meeting which he believed to be accurate. "There is a long history of contacts between Mukhabarat [Iraqi secret service] and Osama bin Laden," he said. Mr Hijazi, formerly director of external operations for Iraqi intelligence offered Mr bin Laden asylum in Iraq, most likely in return for co-operation in launching attacks on US and Saudi targets." 
Bin Laden was a threat to the United States at the time Saddam was in power and his efforts have been ongoing in terrorism since Saddam's regime was toppled. His plots have included targeting the United States as disclosed May 22, 2007 in the article "White House says bin Laden ordered Iraq plots" where it cites newly declassified intelligence which states, "Osama bin Laden ordered al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to form a cell in 2005 to plot attacks outside of Iraq and make the United States his main target. Townsend said that in the spring of 2005 bin Laden also told Hamza Rabia, then al Qaeda's top operations man, to brief Zarqawi on the group's "external operations planning, including homeland plots (targeting the United States)." 
SEE: The Saddam Connection To Osama by ABC News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWFWCg1BdRg
Foxnews reported March 23, 2008 that "Saddam Hussein’s Son Plotted London Assassination Attack", stating that "Saddam Hussein's son Uday planned to carry out an attack in London, England to assassinate the leader of an Iraqi opposition group in April 2000." Based on seized documents, Uday Hussein's elite paramilitary group — the Fedayeen — were given orders "to carry out assassinations and bombings in London, the Times reported."
Further, "While the study showed no link between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda, it does detail the former Iraq dictator's support for Middle Eastern terror groups, including those linked to Al Qaeda. Also in the report are memos showing Uday ordered officials to “start planning special operations in the centres of the traitors’ symbols in the fields of London / Iran / self-ruled areas [Kurdish northern Iraq]”, it was reported."  The Ba'athist party was a terror organization. Seeking additional support for terror in the region, Saddam was paying Palestine families $25,000 in U.S. dollars, if their sons blew themselves up in Israel
Summary update on WMD and Iraq/terrorist/Al Qaeda connections NOT being falsified
The Los Angeles Times article, "Bush never lied to us about Iraq - The administration simply got bad intelligence. Critics are wrong to assert deception." By James Kirchick, June 16, 2008, a great deal of summary about these two previous sections on WMD and links to the Al Qaeda are given. The article states that, "Nearly every prominent Democrat in the country has repeated some version of the charge.. that the Bush administration deceived the American people. Yet in spite of all the accusations of White House "manipulation" -- that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods." 
In 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved a report acknowledging that it "did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments." The following year, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report similarly found "no indication that the intelligence community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
Even concerning the Senate Intelligence Committee report issued June 5, 2008, quote, "what did this report actually find? That Iraq-Al Qaeda links were "substantiated by intelligence information." The same goes for claims about Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons, as well as his alleged operation of a nuclear weapons program."
The article contends that if Democrats wish to contend they were "misled" into war, they should vent their spleen at the CIA. It then asserts, "This may sound like ancient history, but it matters. After Sept. 11, President Bush did not want to risk allowing Hussein, who had twice invaded neighboring nations, murdered more than 1 million Iraqis and stood in violation of 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions, to remain in possession of what he believed were stocks of chemical and biological warheads and a nuclear weapons program. By glossing over this history, the Democrats' lies-led-to-war narrative provides false comfort in a world of significant dangers." 
Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt also brought out what Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee found in their June 5, 2008 report, saying, quote: 
There's no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.
But dive into [Sen. Jay] Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.
On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."
On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."
On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."
Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence."
Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."
As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.
But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information."
Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information."
The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.
Hiatt then noted what the Republican part of the report said, "the reports essentially validate what we have been saying all along: that policymakers' statements were substantiated by the intelligence."
The Duelfer Report
In 2004, the Iraq Survey Group, ISG, whose intelligence analysts are managed by Charles Duelfer, a former State Department official and deputy chief of the U.N.-led arms-inspection teams, released what has been called the Duelfer Report.  The ISG found "hundreds of cases of activities that were prohibited" under U.N. Security Council resolutions, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.  <b>Both Duelfer and his predecessor, David Kay, reported to Congress that the evidence they had found on the ground in Iraq showed Saddam's regime was in "material violation" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, the last of 17 resolutions that promised "serious consequences" if Iraq did not make a complete disclosure of its weapons programs and dismantle them in a verifiable manner. The United States cited Iraq's refusal to comply with these demands as one justification for going to war.
When former weapons inspector Kay reported to Congress in January that the United States had found "no stockpiles" of forbidden weapons in Iraq, his conclusions made front-page news, as did Duelfer's similarly worded conclusion in his report. But when Kay detailed what the ISG had found in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, few took notice.
Both Duelfer and Kay found Iraq had "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses with equipment that was suitable to continuing its prohibited chemical- and biological-weapons [BW] programs," the official said. "They found a prison laboratory where we suspect they tested biological weapons on human subjects." "Reference strains" of a wide variety of biological-weapons agents were found beneath the sink in the home of a prominent Iraqi BW scientist. "We thought it was a big deal," a senior administration official said. "But it has been written off [by the press] as a sort of 'starter set.'" They found equipment for "uranium-enrichment centrifuges" whose only plausible use was as part of a clandestine nuclear-weapons program. In all these cases, "Iraqi scientists had been told before the war not to declare their activities to the U.N. inspectors," the official said.
In testimony before Congress on March 30, Duelfer revealed the ISG had found evidence of a "crash program" to construct new plants capable of making chemical- and biological-warfare agents. The ISG also found a previously undeclared program to build a "high-speed rail gun," a device apparently designed for testing nuclear-weapons materials. That came in addition to 500 tons of natural uranium stockpiled at Iraq's main declared nuclear site south of Baghdad.
How did this happen? According to the Duelfer Report, half of the picture rests with entities outside Iraq. Saddam was trying to end the UN sanctions to pursue his conventional, dual-use, and WMD-related programs. In Saddam’s efforts to influence United Nations Security Council members - namely Russia, France, and China - to end sanctions, Saddam’s ordered the Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to formulate and implement a strategy aimed at these Security Council members and international public opinion with the purpose of ending UN sanctions by diplomatic and economic means. Saddam also made use of “Protocols” or government-to-government economic trade agreements to generate a large amount of revenue outside the purview of the UN. His success emboldened Saddam to pursue his reconstitution efforts of conventional, dual-use, and WMD-related programs starting in 1997. Quote: "By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support," the (Duelfer) report said. 
The Regime’s authorities devised front companies that had close relationships with foreign government officials who worked to procure illicit goods, services, and technologies for Iraq’s WMD-related, conventional arms, and/or dual-use goods programs. Saddam used the Mukhabarat, or Iraqi Intelligence Servise (IIS) to facilitate importation of UN sanctioned and dual-use goods through Syria, Jordan, Belarus, Turkey and others. Numerous foreign trade intermediaries disguised illicit items, hid the identity of the end user, and/or changed the final destination of the item to move it to the region. For a cut of the profits they smuggled prohibited items to entry points along the Iraqi border. Companies in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen assisted Saddam with the acquisition of prohibited items through deceptive trade practices. In the case of Syria and Yemen, this included support from agencies or personnel within the government itself.
The Iraqi Survey Group in interrogations of Ba'athist officials from the leadership of the intelligence and security services, and Qusay’s inner circle, undertook interviews of Ba'athists in custody. Some detainees’ statements were made to minimize their culpability leading to potential prosecution. Detainees were very concerned about their fate and were not willing to implicate themselves in sensitive matters of interest such as WMD, in light of looming prosecutions. Debriefers noted the tendency to place blame or knowledge with individuals who were not in a position to contradict the detainee’s statements, such as deceased individuals or individuals who were not in custody or who had fled the country, or providing debriefers with previously known information. Some former high ranking officials, such as ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid Al Tikriti (Chemical ‘Ali), never gave substantial information, despite speaking colorfully and at length. Some obstructed all attempts to elicit information on WMD and illicit activities of the former Regime. Others, however, were keen to help clarify every issue, sometimes to the point of self-incrimination.
The ISG's key findings stated that Saddam never abandoned his intentions to resume a chemical weapons effort when sanctions were lifted. Saddam and many Iraqis regarded chemical weapons as a proven weapon against an enemy’s superior numerical strength, a weapon that had saved the nation at least once already—during the Iran-Iraq war— and contributed to deterring the Coalition in 1991 from advancing to Baghdad. After 1991, Saddam did express his intent to retain the intellectual capital, or the know-how that was developed during the Iraqi Nuclear Program. Saddam indicated that he would develop the weapons necessary to counter any Iranian threat. Starting around 1992, in a bid to retain the intellectual core of the former weapons program workers with know-how, Baghdad transferred many nuclear scientists to related jobs in the Military Industrial Commission (MIC). The work undertaken by these scientists at the MIC helped them maintain their weapons knowledge base. The Regime prevented scientists from the former nuclear weapons program from leaving either their jobs or Iraq. Moreover, in the late 1990s, personnel from both MIC and the IAEC received significant pay raises in a bid to retain them, and the Regime undertook new investments in university research in a bid to ensure that Iraq retained technical knowledge.
The way Iraq organized its chemical industry after the mid-1990s allowed it to conserve the knowledge-base needed to restart a CW program, conduct a modest amount of dual-use research, and partially recover from the decline of its production capability caused by the effects of the Gulf war and UN-sponsored destruction and sanctions. Iraq implemented a rigorous and formalized system of nationwide research and production of chemicals. The Regime employed a cadre of trained and experienced researchers, production managers, and weaponization experts from the former CW program. Iraq constructed a number of new plants starting in the mid-1990s that enhanced its chemical infrastructure.
ISG judged, based on available chemicals, infrastructure, and scientist debriefings, that Iraq at OIF probably had a capability to produce large quantities of sulfur mustard within three to six months. A former nerve agent expert indicated that Iraq retained the capability to produce nerve agent in significant quantities within two years, given the import of required phosphorous precursors. However, we have no credible indications that Iraq acquired or attempted to acquire large quantities of these chemicals through its existing procurement networks for sanctioned items. In addition to new investment in its industry, Iraq was able to monitor the location and use of all existing dualuse process equipment. This provided Iraq the ability to rapidly reallocate key equipment for proscribed activities, if required by the Regime.
Iraq’s historical ability to implement simple solutions to weaponization challenges allowed Iraq to retain the capability to weaponize CW agent when the need arose. Iraq could indigenously produce a range of conventional munitions, throughout the 1990s, many of which had previously been adapted for filling with CW agent.
Saddam’s Leadership Defense Plan consisted of a tactical doctrine taught to all Iraqi officers and included the concept of a “red-line” or last line of defense. Uday — head of the Fedayeen Saddam — attempted to obtain chemical weapons for use during OIF. ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories of which were never declared to the UN. The IIS program included the use of human subjects for testing purposes.
The IIS provided the BW program with security and participated in biological research, probably for its own purposes, from the beginning of Iraq’s BW effort in the early 1970s until the final days of Saddam Husayn’s Regime. In 1991, Saddam Husayn regarded BW as an integral element of his arsenal of WMD weapons, and would have used it if the need arose. At a meeting of the Iraqi leadership immediately prior to the Gulf war in 1991, Saddam Husayn personally authorized the use of BW weapons against Israel, Saudi Arabia and US forces. Saddam envisaged all-out use. For example, all Israeli cities were to be struck and all the BW weapons at his disposal were to be used. Saddam specified that the “many years” agents, presumably anthrax spores, were to be employed against his foes. ISG judged that Iraq’s actions between 1991 and 1996 demonstrate that the state intended to preserve its BW capability and return to a steady, methodical progress toward a mature BW program when and if the opportunity arose.
Misreporting the Duelfer Report
As The Washington Times reported in their editorial titled "Misreporting the Duelfer Report"  the day following its release, October 08, 2004, quote: ""Gotcha, Mr. President." This was the consensus of the headlines from nearly every daily newspaper yesterday responding to the CIA's Iraq Survey Group report on Iraq's prewar weapons programs. Yes, the report found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. But were these the findings that the report highlighted in the first line of its Key Findings summary? No. "Saddam [Hussein] so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone," the summary begins. "He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted." This hardly sounds as if the Iraq Survey Group, headed by Charles A. Duelfer, thought Saddam was cooperating with the international community.
The article goes on to explain that Saddam was attempting to get the sanctions lifted, targeting the three members of the Security Council - France, China and Russia - and then he intended to use the Oil for Food program "to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development." Then notes, "While the United Nations turned a blind eye, Saddam cheated and committed mass murder in an effort to achieve his goals. To suggest that "containment" could have been sustained without dire results verges on the delusional. There is a very pertinent lesson in the Duelfer report; too bad no one told the headline writers."
Threat Level Concern
It is worth noting the following concerning a current controversy about the level of threat Saddam posed. If you consider the terrorists as various minority factions all working toward the same goal, as stated by Mr. Kraft on this page when he says, "there is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so." It doesn't matter which of these factions would have been used to specifically target the civilized world in a nuclear or biological/chemical attack. Although recently the extent of Saddam's ties to one specific group (the Al-Qaeda terrorists) has been questioned and a recent article stated that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, the same article goes on to say concerning Al-Qaeda that "it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups."  Therefore, it is known that Saddam had forged long term relationships with known terrorist GROUPS (plural) and so it was not that there was no threat from any terrorists groups, just that the threat would have come from those OTHER terrorists as the threat to the collective security of the civilized world if the US hadn't taken out Saddam.
It also remains to be seen if the ties with Al-Qaeda would have remained "limited" if that group had stepped up and volunteered to take the completed nuclear weapons from Saddam (which he would have had within a year according to The New York Times - see the WMD section, this page) into Washington and detonate them using sophisticated and existing sleeper cell suicide bombers as Saddam was contemplating. It appears likely that Saddam would have listened and handed them his stocks of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons by his statements (see Mr. Tierney's translation on this page). From his past actions, Saddam was an equal opportunity employer for all the terrorist groups.. including those they admit in this report with whom he had "long-term relationships." As Mr. Kraft observes, it is many "barbarians" at our gates with sophisticated weapons of mass destruction for the first time, not only one group (Al-Qaeda.) It is global in scope, hence the reason for calling this a "Global War on Terror" not a "War on Terror in Iraq." As such, it is a fight for world supremacy, and the civilized world would do well not to ignore or minimize what the civilized world is fighting over.
Accusations of Cover-Ups
While both parties continue to squabble over the above documents and claims, quote, "Both Republicans and Democrats charged the other side was trying using the release of more information for its political purposes,"  there were others who claimed there were cover-ups happening to stop further evidence becoming public. A NYsun article states, "A former special investigator for the Pentagon during the Iraq war said he found four sealed underground bunkers in southern Iraq that he is sure contain stocks of chemical and biological weapons. But when he asked American weapons inspectors to check out the sites, he was rebuffed. Between March and July 2003, Mr. Gaubatz was taken by (his) sources to four locations - three in and around Nasiriyah and one near the port of Umm Qasr, where he was shown underground concrete bunkers with the tunnels leading to them deliberately flooded. In each case, he was told the facilities contained stocks of biological and chemical weapons, along with missiles whose range exceeded that mandated under U.N. sanctions. But because the facilities were sealed off with concrete walls, in some cases up to 5 feet thick, he did not get inside. He filed reports with photographs, exact grid coordinates, and testimony from multiple sources. And then he waited for the Iraq Survey Group to come to the sites. "I have no doubts the sites were never exploited by ISG. We agents begged and begged for weeks and months to get ISG to respond to the sites with the proper equipment," Mr. Gaubatz said in a telephone interview. "An adequate search would have required heavy equipment to uncover the concrete, and additional equipment to drain the water." Mr. Gaubatz would not disclose the names of his Iraqi sources, but he said they were "highly credible" by his supervisors. 
In the exhaustive search for WMDs in Iraq, CNN has left all stones unturned - or have they? These are the words right out of the mouth of CNN reporter Jane Arraf , quote: "And if you had a bureau there, like we did, and it was a known bureau and a known company like CNN was, it was a beacon for everybody. It was a beacon for Iraqis who believed they had stories. Iraqis would show up, there would be Iraqis lined up outside the door. There... would be the Iraqis who told you they had nuclear documents in their basement and would you like to come and look [laughter]. You know, there was almost that pang when you turned somebody away, [you were] thinking, “Damn, maybe this guy really does have nuclear weapons in his basement, but I don’t have time.” So you never really knew."
(Needs more statistics) Since the war is not yet over, the total cost has yet to be tallied. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the war has, as of 3/12/2007, cost less than $400 Billion. The National Priorities Project, though, indicates that the war costs some $195,000 per minute, according to numbers based on Congressional appropriations, and the tally had reached $412.8 billion as of 3/30/2007. A 2008 study estimated that the Iraq War cost the United States $12 billion a month. This makes the Iraq war the most expensive endeavor in U.S. history.
Former U.S. Attorney General in the Johnson Administration, Ramsey Clark, wrote the UN Security Council on 29 July 29 2002 claiming UN sanctions , "are the direct cause of the very cruel deaths of more than a million people"  A 1999 UNICEF Report stated that there were, at that time, 500,000 deaths of children under the age of five probably attributable to the U.N. sanctions. 
According to the US Department of Defense, over 4,200 U.S. and 300 troops from coalition countries have died in the war. Over 30,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in combat. Despite a dramatic decrease in violence in the latter half of the year, 2007 was the worst year in Iraq in terms of U.S. casualties. Over 900 American troops died or went missing in action during the year.
in March, 2007, Larry Schweikart, Professor of History at the University of Dayton, a military historian, calculated that, "a low estimate is that we have removed from the order of battle about 210,000 on the low end to 360,000 on the high end. This is an entire generation of jihadists, and will, if nothing else, significantly feminize Muslim society." 
Estimates of civilian casualties vary. According to Fox News, March 20, 2007, over 54,000 civilians have been killed in the war.  However, due to suicide bombings and other such activity, the fatalities caused by US/Coalition forces in action was only 31 percent of the total number given according to CNN's report October 2006,  down from 32 percent quoted by this Boston Globe report  dated December 19, 2005. In the Fox News study, that would mean 16,740 of the 54,000 casualties. On November 11, 2006, Iraqi Health Minister Ali al-Shamari estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 civilians had been killed during the war. A 2008 estimate by the World Health Organization placed the civilian death toll at 151,000.
Summary of Justifications for the Iraq War Taken From This Entry
If President Bush had not removed Saddam Hussein we now know that, QUOTE: The New York Times confirmed in their issue November 3, 2006, Saddam had complete plans for a nuclear weapon and was in the process of procuring parts when the US removed him. Quote: "nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away."  (end quote)
And we know that Saddam was discussing using WMD on Washington, DC (remember/keep-in-mind his soon nuclear capability from the last paragraph), QUOTE: In the article , "Saddam Translator: ABC Reinterpreted Tapes" dated Feb. 17th 2006, the FBI translator who supplied the 12 hours of Saddam Hussein audiotapes excerpted by ABC's "Nightline" says the network discarded his translations and went with a less threatening version of the Iraqi dictator's comments. In the "Nightline" version of the 1996 recording, Saddam predicts that Washington, D.C., would be hit by terrorists. But he adds that Iraq would have nothing to do with the attack. Tierney says, however, that what Saddam actually said was much more sinister. "He was discussing his intent to use chemical weapons against the United States and use proxies so it could not be traced back to Iraq," he told Hannity. In a passage not used by "Nightline," Tierney says Saddam declares: "Terrorism is coming. ... In the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction. What if we consider this technique, with smuggling?"  (end quote)
President Bush's decision to depose Saddam Hussein meant that this plan Saddam was discussing in these tapes here - or with the atomic nuclear capacity he was to possess within a year - never came into execution. It is credible that literally MILLIONS of Americans are alive today because Saddam was stopped before he had the ability to put his plans into action. We know he had ties to terrorists, including, QUOTE:
In the article "The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden" dated 27/04/2003 The Telegraph claimed to have found Iraqi intelligence documents in Baghdad which "provided evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime." It went on to state, "Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998. The documents show that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Baghdad and al-Qa'eda based on their mutual hatred of America and Saudi Arabia. The meeting apparently went so well that it was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being discussed for bin Laden to visit Baghdad. Intriguingly, the Iraqis talk about sending back an oral message to bin Laden, perhaps aware of the risk of a written message being intercepted." The article ends, "The file contradicts the that there was no link between the Iraqi regime and al-Qa'eda."  Additional citations of the documentation are given by The Telegraph in their article titled, "'We'll pay all expenses to gain the knowledge from bin Laden and convey a message back" which is a quote from the documentation itself.  The intelligence documents are again cited by a Canadian eyewitness source in "Saddam, bin Laden link found: Canadian reporter" 
It is noteworthy that under President Clinton, reported in February of 1999, the article (still available to view on the net) titled, "Saddam link to Bin Laden" - Terror chief 'offered asylum' in Iraq?" The article states, "Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials. The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. "There's a threat, and it's real," Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons "are being considered for use." US embassies around the world are on heightened alert as a result of threats believed to emanate from followers of Bin Laden, who has been indicted by a US court for orchestrating the bombing last August of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 259 people died. US delegations in Africa and the Gulf have been shut down in recent weeks after credible threats were received. In this year's budget, President Clinton called for an additional $2 billion to spend on counter-terrorist measures... Ahmed Allawi, a senior member of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), based in London, said he had heard reports of the December meeting which he believed to be accurate. "There is a long history of contacts between Mukhabarat [Iraqi secret service] and Osama bin Laden," he said. Mr Hijazi, formerly director of external operations for Iraqi intelligence offered Mr Bin Laden asylum in Iraq, most likely in return for co-operation in launching attacks on US and Saudi targets."  (end quote)
To say that the US should never have deposed Saddam when he posed such a threat is irresponsible. The detractors from the Iraq War today would presently be decrying the dead and dying in America and saying President Bush should have gone to war to prevent such devastating losses, had he refrained from engaging in the Iraq War. We know that since then Bin Laden has worked toward attacking the US on his own, without the assistance of Saddam. QUOTE:
Bin Laden was a threat to the United States at the time Saddam was in power and his efforts have been ongoing in terrorism since Saddam's regime was toppled. His plots have included targeting the United States as disclosed May 22, 2007 in the article "White House says bin Laden ordered Iraq plots" where it cites newly declassified intelligence which states, "Osama bin Laden ordered al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to form a cell in 2005 to plot attacks outside of Iraq and make the United States his main target. Townsend said that in the spring of 2005 bin Laden also told Hamza Rabia, then al Qaeda's top operations man, to brief Zarqawi on the group's "external operations planning, including homeland plots (targeting the United States)."  (end quote)
The act of war on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein was justified to protect the Homeland of America from Saddam's planned and certain future catastrophic attack. The red herring  of not finding the WMD in Saddam's backyard does not diminish the threat to the Homeland of America because Saddam had proven his willingness to use such WMD on the Kurdish people in Iraq  and he would have had the atom bomb within a year by expert opinion. To expect that he would not have put into execution his stated aims against America is to act like an ostrich and put one's head in the sand.
If the atomic threat is not sufficient, under "regime intent", above, the Iraqi Survey Group's key findings stated that Saddam never abandoned his intentions to resume a chemical weapons effort when sanctions were lifted. The section on The Duelfer Report points out that there were reference strains of biological agents which were found and evidence of the ability to quickly start chemical and biological warfare production, QUOTE: Both Duelfer and Kay found Iraq had "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses with equipment that was suitable to continuing its prohibited chemical- and biological-weapons [BW] programs," the official said. "They found a prison laboratory where we suspect they tested biological weapons on human subjects." "Reference strains" of a wide variety of biological-weapons agents were found beneath the sink in the home of a prominent Iraqi BW scientist. In testimony before Congress on March 30, Duelfer revealed the ISG had found evidence of a "crash program" to construct new plants capable of making chemical- and biological-warfare agents (end quote)
Saddam's son in law tells Saddam, quote: In the chemical, sir, they have a problem far bigger than the biological, bigger than the biological. Not the type of the weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct. They don't know any of this. We did not reveal the volume of the chemical weapons that we had produced. We did not reveal the type of the chemical weapons. We did not reveal the truth about the volume of the imported materials. In the nuclear, sir, in the biological, we also disagree with them. As for the nuclear, we say we have disclosed everything but no. There are teams working with no one knowing about some of them. I go back to the question of whether we should reveal everything or continue to be silent... I would say it is in our interest not to reveal. Not just out of fear of disclosing the technology we achieved, or to hide it for future work...  (end quote) Also, there is credible testimony that Saddam had the weapons and moved them, quote: Saddam Hussein's former southern regional commander, Gen. Al-Tikriti, gave the first videotaped testimony confirming that Iraq had WMDs up to the American invasion in 2003 and that Russia helped remove them prior to the war. His testimony confirms numerous other sources that have pointed to Russia's secret alliance with Iraq and the co-ordinated moving of WMDs before the American liberation."  (end quote)
There are those who think that attacks upon America must actually happen in order to prove that these things exist or pose an imminent threat. The Iraq War was a preventative war and as such its merit relies on the mental ability of the public to perceive future threats and act in keeping with that threat and not ignore it - just as a person must swerve their car in the face of oncoming traffic in order to avoid an accident. As with this example, it does little good to discuss the merits of whether there would have been a crash or not after the fact since the evidence of past destruction which was avoided will never be obtainable.
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- Iraq insurgents ‘on the defensive’, retrieved March 21, 2007
- US CENTCOM Press Release, 131 Dead, More Than 160 Wounded by Multiple Car Bomb Attacks in Baghdad Multi-National Division, Release Number: 07-01-03P, 4/18/2007.
- Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, retrieved March 21, 2007
- The USA Military found 550 metric tons of yellow cake uranium in Iraq
- Duelfer Report, Vol. 1, Regime Finance and Procurement, p. 10 (pdf)
- http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/1017004766310.html , Sydney Morning Herald Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash, March 26,2002
- Duelfer Report, Vol. 1, Regime Finance and Procurement, p. 9 (pdf)
- Iraq: the hidden cost of the war
- Studies: Iraq costs US $12 billion per month
- Letter from Ramsey Clark to the U.N. Security Council members, 29 July 29 2002.
- Iraq Surveys Show Humanitarian Emergency, (August 12, 1999).
- Department of Defense
- [www.icasualties.org Iraq War casualties]
- Iraq death toll may go as high as 150,000
- 151,000 Iraqis killed since U.S.-led invasion: WHO