2006-02-09

Afternoon Roundup

Zachary Abuza at The Counterterrorism Blog has some harsh words for the Bush administration:
There is something terribly disingenuous about the President’s assertions today that a 9/11 styled attack on the West Coast was thwarted. The President, then later his Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend in a conference call with the press, argued that un-named Al Qaeda operatives arrested in un-named countries were actively planning the attack (though they would not say how far along it was) at an un-named time. All details are classified. How convenient. How un-verifiable for the public. The administration is simply trying to justify its blatantly illegal NSA wire-tapping program to the public. The failure of their legal arguments has been reduced to one point: we are defending America, so anything we do goes.

But was the President’s example really an active plot? I have been studying JI for over five years now and it does not smell good. The facts and history just do not add up to what the president said ...


New York Sun: AFOSI investigator says WMD leads were ignored.
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.

David Gaubatz, a former member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, was assigned to the Talill Air Base in Nasiriyah at the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His job was to pick up any intelligence on the whereabouts of senior Baathists and weapons of mass destruction and then send the information to the American weapons inspectors gathering in Baghdad that would later become the Iraq Survey Group. For his intelligence work he received accolades and meritorious service medals in 2003 and prior years. Before the war he helped uncover a spy in the Saudi military. He also assisted with the rescue and repatriation to America of the family of Mohammed Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who helped save Private Jessica Lynch.

Mr. Gaubatz said he walked the streets of the largely Shiite city of Nasiriyah, interviewing local police, former senior civilian and military leaders in Saddam Hussein's regime, and local civilians.

Between March and July 2003, Mr. Gaubatz was taken by these 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. But in all but one case, they never arrived. ...