Saturday, June 16, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- June 16th edition

June 16, 2006: Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment fire an M198 howitzer during an exercise at Contingency Operating Base Speicher

June 16, 2002:

President Broadens Anti-Hussein Order

President Bush early this year signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use lethal force to capture the Iraqi president, according to informed sources.

The presidential order, an expansion of a previous presidential finding designed to oust Hussein, directs the CIA to use all available tools, including:

• Increased support to Iraqi opposition groups and forces inside and outside Iraq including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence information.

• Expanded efforts to collect intelligence within the Iraqi government, military, security service and overall population where pockets of intense anti-Hussein sentiment have been detected.

• Possible use of CIA and U.S. Special Forces teams, similar to those that have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Such forces would be authorized to kill Hussein if they were acting in self-defense.

The administration has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to the covert program.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

June 16, 2003:

Bush raps 'revisionist historians' on Iraq

President Bush on Monday strongly defended the U.S.-led war to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein against "revisionist historians" he suggested were trying to diminish the threat once posed by the deposed Iraqi leader.

The president made his comments on Iraq as he addressed a group of business leaders about the economy, touting recent tax cuts he signed into law as the kind of boost small businesses need.

But, as he often does when addressing audiences outside Washington, he talked about the war on terrorism, and he briefly turned his attention to Iraq.

"This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq," Bush said. "Now there are some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what I like to call them.

"Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free world in '91, in '98, in 2003. He continually ignored the demands of the free world, so the United States and friends and allies acted."

To applause, Bush added, "And this is for certain: Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies."

The president's comments followed weeks of criticism from some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, and critics in Europe who question whether the administration manipulated intelligence data on Iraq to bolster its case for war.

In particular, some have said the administration exaggerated Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction, a claim various Bush aides have rejected.

The president never directly mentioned the WMD question in his comments and he never mentioned anyone by name.

But his use of the phrase "revisionist historians" is similar to a line used by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who earlier this month warned against "revisionist history" in the context of Iraqi WMD.

Read the rest at CNN

June 16, 2004:

No Evidence Connecting Iraq to Al Qaeda, 9/11 Panel Says

There is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Although Osama bin Laden briefly explored the idea of forging ties with Iraq in the mid-1990s, the terrorist leader was hostile to Hussein's secular government, and Iraq never responded to requests for help in providing training camps or weapons, the panel found in the first of two reports issued today.

The findings come in the wake of statements Monday by Vice President Cheney that Iraq had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda, and comments by President Bush yesterday backing up that assertion.

The commission issued its report on al Qaeda's history at the start of a two-day round of hearings this morning. In a separate report on the planning and deliberations for the Sept. 11 plot, the panel cited numerous pieces of FBI evidence in concluding that ringleader Mohamed Atta never met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9, 2001, as Cheney and some other Bush administration officials have alleged.

"Based on the evidence available -- including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting -- we do not believe that such a meeting occurred," the second report said.

The report on al Qaeda's history said the government of Sudan, which gave sanctuary to al Qaeda from 1991 to 1996, persuaded bin Laden to cease supporting anti-Hussein forces and "arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda." But the contacts did not result in any cooperation, the panel said.

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan [in 1996], but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report says. "Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States"...

In testimony before the commission, CIA and FBI officials said they agreed with the staff report's assessment of the abortive relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq.

A CIA counterterrorism analyst who testified using the pseudonym Ted Davis said, "We’re in full agreement with the staff statement," which he said did "an excellent job" of representing the agency’s current understanding of the al Qaeda-Iraq relationship.

John Pistole, the FBI's executive assistant director for counter-terrorism, concurred.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

Bush administration quotes linking Iraq and al-Qaeda


Rice, Sept. 25: "There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here. ... And there are some al-Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad."

Bush, Oct. 7: "We know that Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade" and "we've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."


Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 28: "And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda."

Bush, Feb. 6: "Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al-Qaeda" and "Iraq has also provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."


Cheney, Jan. 21: "I continue to believe — I think there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I'm very confident that there was an established relationship there."

Cheney, Monday: Saddam Hussein "had long-established ties with al-Qaeda."

From USA Today

June 16, 2005:

Bush Is Expected to Address Specifics on Iraq

White House officials acknowledged yesterday that the public's gloomy mood about the Iraq war is forcing President Bush to take a more assertive and public role to reassure nervous Americans and Republican lawmakers about the White House plan for victory.

Bush had hoped the successful January elections in Iraq would boost the popularity of the conflict and allow him to distance himself from it. But his aides have concluded that recent events in Iraq have contributed to an erosion in support for the president -- and that he needs to shift strategies. Bush's new approach will be mostly rhetorical, however, as the White House does not plan any changes to the policy or time frame for bringing home the 140,000 U.S. troops, as some lawmakers are demanding.

"The president takes seriously his responsibility as commander in chief to continue to educate the American people about the conduct of the war and our strategy for victory," said Dan Bartlett, a senior adviser...

Nearly six in 10 Americans in a Gallup poll released this week said they support withdrawing some or all U.S. troops from Iraq, the highest level ever recorded for that question. Several lawmakers who supported the war are considering backing a resolution that calls on Bush to do that.

Bush, however, offers a generally optimistic view of Iraq that aides say comes from what he sees as substantial long-term progress. The president considers the January elections that allowed the United States to turn over more control of security one of the biggest triumphs of the broader battle against terrorism. He also believes the Iraqis are moving closer to a deal to form a new government and are creating a functioning security force that will eventually allow the United States to pull out.

Bush has no plans to change his upbeat assessment of Iraq, where fresh waves of attacks since the beginning of last month have killed nearly 100 Americans and many more Iraqis. Vice President Cheney recently said the insurgency is in its "last throes".

Read the rest at the Washington Post

June 16, 2006:

U.S. toll in Iraq at 2,500

WASHINGTON - American deaths since the invasion of Iraq have reached 2,500, marking a grim milestone in the wake of recent events that President Bush hopes will reverse the war's unpopularity at home.

The Pentagon provided no details on the nature of the 2,500th death. Nevertheless, reaching the marker shined a new spotlight on the continuing violence in Iraq just after an upbeat Bush returned from a surprise visit to Baghdad determined that the tide was beginning to turn.

"It's a number," White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle