ISIS Reportedly Executes Seven Year Old Boy For Cursing After Death Sentence By Sharia Court

Flag_of_the_Islamic_State.svgIslamic State militants gave the world yet another shocking atrocity this week by executing a 7-year-old Syrian boy in front of his parents because he cursed. ISIS insists that Islamic justice, or Sharia, demanded that the boy be shot.

The boy was accused of “cursing divinity” while playing in the street with his friends. He was taken before an Islamic court which held that “the act was considered an insult to the Caliphate, regardless of the age of the boy.” He was killed in front of a crowd and his sobbing parents made to watch.

Another victory for Sharia “law” and the great Caliphate.

341 thoughts on “ISIS Reportedly Executes Seven Year Old Boy For Cursing After Death Sentence By Sharia Court

  1. Tom, ISIS dominates Iraq because ISIS was born in Iraq, and rather than fighting the iraqi military at the time, which had been disbanded and a tiny portion of it being rebuilt, Isis was a sunni force fighting the shia militias, which were the de facto iraqi military, and which were targeting sunnis.
    So it is not like ISIS ever faced the Iraqi military of Sadaam, not has it faced any real military of note in Iraq in full battle,including the Sadr brigades.
    ISIS would have no chance against either.

  2. tnash80hotmailcom:
    “Whatever presence Al Qaeda may have had pre-2003, it was dwarfed by Al Qaeda’s network in Iraq after Saddam was overthrown.
    If an objective of the invasion, and a rationale for the invasion, was a possible Saddam-Al Qaeda link, it actually had the effect of greatly increasing Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

    What you perceived as a dramatic growth of al Qaeda with OIF wasn’t actually a dramatic growth of AQ, but rather a rebranding of the Saddam side of the Saddam-AQ alliance. If anything, AQI and ISIS appear to behave more like Saddam’s UNSCR 688 humanitarian violations and occupation of Kuwait than AQ – not that typical AQ behavior is benign, either.

    According to IPP author Jim Lacey (and Orton), Saddam’s terrorism rivaled and, among his greater terrorism, worked with the al Qaeda network. By key measures, Saddam’s terrorism was (and, in legacy form, is) more dangerous than the AQ network.

    See the quotes and links from the Iraqi Perspectives Project report and related Lacey article regarding Saddam’s terrorism in my comment on May 16, 2016 at 3:11 am.

    Saddam’s terrorism in breach of UNSCR 687 was not a benign alternative to bin Laden’s terrorism. It was malignant along with the rest of Saddam’s breach of the Gulf War ceasefire. It was a key piece of the Saddam problem that OIF was meant to solve.

    Recall Secretary of State Powell’s vial representing the danger of a small amount of CW/BW agent in the hands of terrorists in his February 2003 speech at the UNSC. Then recall that while ISG did not find battlefield-level factory production on-line and stockpiled munitions, ISG did find plenty of readily convertible WMD-related items and activity, and most striking (to me), an active covert undeclared chemical and biological lab network in the Iraq intelligence services that was evidently capable of terrorism-level production. The IIS was also the regime arm that managed Saddam’s terrorism.

    To wit, President Clinton at the Pentagon, February 17, 1998:

    [This] is not a time free from peril — especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals. We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information, and ideas. And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
    There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region, and the security of all the rest of us.

    In this century we learned through harsh experience that the only answer to aggression and illegal behavior is firmness, determination, and, when necessary, action.
    In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers, or organized criminals, who travel the world among us unnoticed.

  3. stevegroen:
    “Desert Storm was not an action authorized by Congress, and 41 exceeded his authority in invading Iraq because only Constitutional to Congress can declare war.”

    Paul Schulte:
    “On the US side, after 10 years, we needed new Congressional authority.”

    You’re both incorrect. See the answer to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?”.

    Public Law 102-1: “The President is authorized…”.

    Setting aside the unsettled relationship between the Article 1 power to declare war and the Article 2 power to go to war, the 1991 AUMF, P.L. 102-1, and the 2002 AUMF, P.L. 107-243, fulfilled the “specific statutory authorization” standard of 50 USC 1541 (1973 War Powers Act), which is legally equivalent to a Congressional declaration of war. The Constitution doesn’t specify a ‘perfect’ format for a declaration of war. Congress can decide an authorization checks the Article I box for a declaration of war.

    Laws, including AUMF, can be effective for more than 10 years.

    Public Law 102-1, with Public Law 102-190 addenda, was effective for President Bush in 2003 as it was for President Clinton in 1998 as it was for President HW Bush in 1991, as it was (and is) for the whole course of enforcing the UNSCR 660-series resolutions, including the no-fly zones, ODF, OIF, and other military actions since 1991.

    President Bush cited both the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs when he explained the legal basis of OIF to Congress on March 18, 2003:

    The President has full authority to use the armed forces in Iraq under the U.S. Constitution, including his authority as Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces. This authority is supported by explicit statutory authorizations contained in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243).

    Legally speaking, the 2002 AUMF was convenient but not necessary. The legal set for ODF was sufficient for OIF. As with UNSCR 1441, the 2002 AUMF added updates and enhancements to standing terms of the ceasefire enforcement, not novel terms. The 2002 AUMF mainly served a political and policy function.

    stevegroen:
    “and the allegations related to Niger, al-Qaeda, and WMD (the nearly exclusive emphasis of which was always framed as nuclear capability and proliferation, not chem-bio warfare until there was nothing else palpable to hang Saddam with)
    …The reason for all the clamor about WMD, fuel cells, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, inter alia, was that the President needed authority from Congress which he got with the Iraq War Resolution. It wasn’t an illegal war, but it was a war founded on crap evidence brought by sleazeballs in 43’s administration.”

    Actually, the case presentation was framed in accordance with the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, including the disarmament and terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, with an emphasis on the UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates consistent with the operative focus of UNSCR 1441. From the outset in 1991, among the various ceasefire mandates, the UNSCR 687 disarmament process was the policy priority and practical centerpiece of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement.

    Saddam’s guilt of breach on WMD and the other ceasefire mandates was established fact – see my comment with the linked references to IAEA’s Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (INVO) and UNMOVIC’s March 6, 2003 report on May 16, 2016 at 5:57 pm as well as my comment on May 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm.

    Saddam was ‘hung’ before Bush – or Clinton for that matter – was president. Rather, the UNSCR 1441 inspections were Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” in order to unhang.

    Instead, Saddam failed to take even the 1st step (total verified declaration of Iraq’s entire WMD-related program) of the 1st step (WMD disarmament) towards meeting Iraq’s burden with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441). The Iraq intervention was “founded” on the Saddam regime’s breach across the board of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), including the disarmament and terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687.

  4. hahaha…Steve, Eric and I went through this a year or two ago… he ended up alienating even his allies based on his insistence on certifying his conclusion and sources as the sole authority in this matter.

      • Paul, you must remember you are not the best standard for judging what sources are impeachable…I mean ,we remember the claims about the Muslim brotherhood and Hamas having offices in the white house you offered, vouched for and defended vehemently…:)

        As for Eric’s sources, we already rode that rodeo ages ago…I have no interest in revisiting it in that depth (especially considering the volume)…meanwhile, I do not challenge the international law source, I challenge the conclusions he derives from them and I also challenge the historical conclusion of his sources.

  5. Correction for my comment on May 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm:


    For context for the February 2008 [PNAC ended in 2006, anyway] 1998 PNAC letter, see Secretary of State Albright’s March 1997 summation of the US policy on Iraq that was updated for the beginning of Clinton’s 2nd term.

  6. po:
    “his conclusion and sources as the sole authority”

    Paul Schulte:
    “I found Eric’s sources to unimpeachable.”

    There is only the sole set of primary sources of the mission: the controlling law, policy, and precedent that defined the operative enforcement procedure for the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) and, on that basis, the determinative fact findings that confirmed Iraq’s breach of the Gulf War ceasefire to trigger enforcement.

    Hewing to the primary source authorities in the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom is the reliable way to cut through the conjecture and misinformation that have skewed the history, and to set the record straight by re-laying the foundation of the issue on bedrock law, policy, and facts.

    The primary sources of the mission are straightforward. They include:

    The Congressional authorization to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (PL 107-243), determination that “it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary” (Public Law 107-243), and direction to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (Public Law 105-235).

    The President’s determination that “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material[,] … immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions[,] … cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions[,] … immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program … The Security Council resolutions will be enforced — the just demands of peace and security will be met — or action will be unavoidable” (Bush, UN, 12SEP02), and explanation that “the United States has clear authority to use military force against Iraq to assure its national security and to compel Iraq’s compliance with applicable UNSC resolutions” (Bush letter to Congress, 18MAR03).

    The UN authorization to “use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area” (UNSCR 1441 recalling UNSCR 678), recognition of “the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security” (UNSCR 1441), decision that “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991)” (UNSCR 1441), and mandate for “full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions” (UNSCR 1441) with “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council” (UNSCR 1441).

    The confirmation with the UNSCR 1441 inspections that Iraq “remains in material breach of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) with “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues … [for example] With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq. … Little of the detail in these declarations, such as production quantities, dates of events and unilateral destruction activities, can be confirmed … in some instances, UNMOVIC has information that conflicts with the information in the declaration … as well as the areas of uncertainty, including areas where the Iraqi account is unsupported by evidence or where there is conflicting information … UNMOVIC must verify the absence of any new activities or proscribed items, new or retained. The onus is clearly on Iraq to provide the requisite information or devise other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive” (UNMOVIC).

    The corroboration that “Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities — one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material” (Kay, SASC, 28JAN04) and “ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs” (Iraq Survey Group).

    As well, pursuant to the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687 (1991), “Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. … Because Saddam�s security organizations and Osama bin Laden�s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. … At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence … evidence shows that Saddam�s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime” (Iraqi Perspectives Project), and pursuant to the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688 (1991), “The [United Nations] Commission on Human Rights … Recalling: … [UNSCR] 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, in which the Council demanded an end to repression of the Iraqi civilian population and insisted that Iraq cooperate with humanitarian organizations and that the human rights of all Iraqi citizens be respected … Strongly condemns: (a) The systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror”.

    Conclusion from the primary sources of the mission is Res ipsa loquitur (“The thing itself speaks”).

    • Eric
      …..my position is that whatever presence and influence Al Qaeda had in Iraq, it was minor compared to Al Qaeda’s presence, activities, and influence after the 2003.
      I understand your position to be that the post-2003 Al Qaeda activities represent “a rebranding of the Saddam side Saddam-AQ alliance”, not an increase.
      I have yet to see convincing evidence that there was a strong link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, or that Al Qaeda was active in Iraq with Saddam’s complicity.
      Citing Saddam’s offenses in Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 does not link him with Al Qaeda.
      I happened to watch most of the PBS special on ISIS last night.
      The Saddam-Al Qaeda link Colin Powell attempted to make was with Zarqawi…..he went in to a good deal of detail about that alleged link in his Feb. 2003 presentation to the U.N.
      In the PBS Frontline documentary, he now claims that he does not remember the details of the “Saddam/Zarqawi” part of his speech…..I found that statement to be really interesting, especially in view of the fact that the alleged link to Zarqawi was used as a central part of the “evidence” that Saddam worked with Al Qaeda.
      By any measure of what I followed in Iraq, the post-2003 Al Qaeda problem in Iraq exploded after the 2003 invasion.
      If there is specific evidence supporting a threat from a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection, I haven’t seen it.
      And Colin Powell doesn’t seem to remember it.

  7. po,

    See the linked references to the November 2007 Iraqi Perspectives Project report (“Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents”) pursuant to UNSCR 687 and the IPP report author’s additional commentary in my comment on May 16, 2016 at 3:11 am.

    At the same time – and this also goes to tnash80hotmailcom – keep in mind that “a strong link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, or that Al Qaeda was active in Iraq with Saddam’s complicity” was not the bar for enforcing the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) on terrorism.

    As President Bush reiterated UNSCR 687 at the UN General Assembly on September 12, 2002, “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will … immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it”.

    UNSCR 687 (1991):

    32. Requires Iraq to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organization directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism;

    Saddam breached that Gulf War ceasefire mandate, too.

  8. tnash80hotmailcom:
    “Absent an extraordinary and direct threat to the U.S., I still can’t envision Bush 41 invading Iraq with the objective of ousting Saddam.
    …So we’re left with the area of debate about the level of Shia-Sunni conflict pre and post-Saddam
    … If an objective of the invasion, and a rationale for the invasion, was a possible Saddam-Al Qaeda link, it actually had the effect of greatly increasing Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

    po paraphrased your comment about al Qaeda in Iraq, which spurred me to think about your view, “I still can’t envision Bush 41 invading Iraq with the objective of ousting Saddam.”

    That position, as I understand your reasoning, contains 3 flawed premises.

    First, you extrapolated President HW Bush’s decision to suspend Desert Storm to conclude that HW Bush was opposed to peace operations with Iraq. On that basis, you “envision” that in his son’s shoes with the Saddam problem, HW Bush would have surrendered the Gulf War ceasefire to noncompliant Saddam rather than order regime change.

    However, you only accounted for HW Bush up to the point he suspended Desert Storm. You overlooked that the Gulf War was suspended with a strictly enforced ceasefire that depended on Iraq’s compliance with a comprehensive set of conditions.

    President HW Bush evidently was not opposed to peace operations with Iraq given that he established the policy and practical basis for peace operations with Iraq, especially with the invasive multifaceted enforcement of the UNSCR 688 humanitarian mandates. Instead, HW Bush’s justification that the parameters for the Gulf War prevented Iraqi regime change with Desert Storm apparently informed the parameters of the Gulf War ceasefire that enabled Iraqi regime change with OIF.

    Second, you imply Iraqi exiles misled US leaders on the ‘explosive’ sectarian character of Iraqi society and that Saddam’s governance was necessary to control Iraqi sectarian conflict.

    In fact, Iraqi exiles did not mislead US leaders. Rather, they recall the Iraqi society that Saddam inherited as president but then subsequently changed in reaction to setbacks in the Iran-Iraq War. Saddam’s “all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights) was the cause of the sectarian radicalization of Iraqi society, not the solution for it.

    The sectarian conflict we encountered in the OIF peace operations was Saddam’s Frankenstein creation, not an validation of his governance. OIF was not the cause of the sectarian conflict. It was the cure for Saddam’s legacy, until Obama prematurely disengaged the peace operations with a consequence like prematurely disengaging cancer treatment.

    Third, you’ve misunderstood the terrorism-based “rationale for the invasion” as a narrow “possible Saddam-Al Qaeda link”, or a narrower “Al Qaeda in Iraq”, or an even narrower relationship with Zarqawi.

    In fact, the central issue of the terrorism-based “rationale for the invasion” was pursuant to UNSCR 687, ie, Saddam’s “regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations” (Iraqi Perspectives Project) in its own right, which included but was not limited to “considerable overlap” (Iraqi Perspectives Project) with the AQ network.

    The Saddam link to AQ, AQ in Iraq, and Zarqawi were not the main substance of the terrorism-based “rationale for the invasion”, but rather only an aspect of the central issue of Saddam’s breach of the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687.

    • Eric…..what I was actually looking at in the runup to Gulf War II in 2003 was the justification for the invasion.
      The WWD issue appeared, at the time, to be solid. There was virtually no dis-9agreament that Saddam was not cooperating fully with the inspectors….Hans Blix himself “hedged” on the degree of Saddam’s cooperation and disclosure on the very eve of Gulf War II.
      That’s why cooperation on the WMD issue was a much stronger ground for the Bush 43 administration upon which to base the 2003 invasion.
      That aspect of justification was not, in my view, “teaked” nearly as much as the supposed Saddam/ Al Qaeda link.
      This is why I take issue with your position that the post-2003 Al-Qaeda activity in Iraq was somehow a continuation of the pre-2003 Saddam-Al Qaeda connection.
      It became a whole “different ballgame” after 2003 with Al Qaeda, and whatever nexus MIGHT have existed between Saddam and Al-Qaeda…pre-2003…was insignificant compared to Al Qaeda in Iraq post-2003.

    • Eric….there’s really no way of knowing what Bush 41, Bush Sr., would have down re Saddam/Iraq had he been reelected.
      It’s probably as fruitless as speculating what JFK would have done in Vietnam, had he been reelected in 1964.
      In my opinion, the guesses about Bush 41’s possible course in Iraq are easily to “read” than what JFK might have done in Vietnam.
      I think he had an awareness of the complications/ fallout from a predominantly American role in taking out Saddam, and the responsibilties for what followed.
      I still think he would have needed a much stronger rational for going on to Baghdad to replace Saddam than Bush 43 used.

  9. tnash80hotmailcom:
    “This is why I take issue with your position that the post-2003 Al-Qaeda activity in Iraq was somehow a continuation of the pre-2003 Saddam-Al Qaeda connection.”

    Again, this goes to your flawed premise on the issue. You keep using AQ as your core definition of the terrorism issue in the decision for OIF. But that’s incorrect. Saddam’s terrorism defined the terrorism issue in the decision for OIF.

    Saddam regime in OIF ≠ Taliban regime in OEF. Rather, as IPP report author Jim Lacey characterized their relationship, the Saddam-AQ “considerable overlap” derived from “Saddam and bin Laden were operating parallel terror networks aimed at the United States.”

    While the verified Saddam-AQ “nexus” and AQ in Iraq were persuasive in light of 9/11, they were an aspect, not the core of the issue. The national security threat of Saddam’s “regional and global terrorism” (IPP) was not limited to, subordinate to, nor dependent on its relationship with AQ. Not when the terrorism mandate was made part of UNSCR 687 with HW Bush in 1991, not when Saddam’s combined terrorism-WMD danger was evaluated a primary national security threat by Clinton in 1998, and not for Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” enforced by Bush in 2002-2003.

    That Saddam’s terrorism rebranded to AQI to adapt Saddam’s “all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights) to the insurgency didn’t retroactively redefine the terrorism issue in the decision for OIF.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “I think [HW Bush] had an awareness of the complications/ fallout from a predominantly American role in taking out Saddam, and the responsibilties for what followed.”

    Of course he had. That’s on record – the “awareness of the complications” and “responsibilities for what followed” were a primary focus of the HW Bush administration’s UNSCR 688 enforcement and concurrent engagement with Iraqi opposition that set the path to regime change and US-led peace operations if Saddam failed to comply as mandated.

    The topic was also a primary focus for the Clinton administration as it carried forward HW Bush’s enforcement of UNSCRs 687, 688, etc.

    As solution to the Saddam problem, regime change and US-led peace operations were settled policy. Section 7 of the Iraq Liberation of 1998, carried forward in section 4 of the 2002 AUMF, was an explicit codification that locked in HW Bush’s implicit commitment to regime change and US-led peace operations that was carried forward by Clinton.

    The policy debate was not over regime change nor US-led peace operations in case Saddam failed to comply as mandated, but rather the agent of the regime change to enable US-led peace operations.

    Your view is that HW Bush rejected “a predominantly American role in taking out Saddam” altogether.

    But that position presumes HW Bush was ultimately bluffing about bringing Iraq into compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire mandates, so that when Saddam called our bluff in his “final opportunity to comply”, HW Bush would have surrendered to noncompliant Saddam like an Obama red line.

    From what I’ve gathered, there is no evidence in the record that President HW Bush was committed to any less than Iraq’s full compliance with the purpose-designed ceasefire mandates.

    At the same time, there is ample evidence that HW Bush established the path to regime change and US-led peace operations to bring Iraq into compliance with the ceasefire conditions if Saddam did not comply as mandated.

    I don’t know for sure what President HW Bush would have decided, either. But the stronger suggestion of the evidence from his Gulf War ceasefire formulation and enforcement is that when Saddam crossed the “final” red line breaching the ceasefire, HW Bush would have, in his son’s shoes, concluded the ceasefire enforcement established by HW Bush by following through with OIF like he did with Desert Storm.

    Practically speaking, you assume that the mandated US-led peace operations would have been easier if they occurred in the context of a revolt alternative rather than an invasion.

    That assumption is more fitting with a coup alternative. But Saddam snuffed the coup in 1996. Whereas (setting aside whether a revolt was realistic after Saddam put down the Gulf War revolt in 1991) using the Syrian civil war as a reference point – while keeping in mind that the Saddam regime, including Saddam’s terrorism, was worse than the Assad regime – I believe a revolt would have made the Iraq intervention much more difficult than the control afforded by the OIF invasion that included an immediate transition to SASO.

    As it turned out, the insurgency viciously wrested the initiative that we had seized with the OIF invasion and immediate SASO, until we took back the initiative with the COIN Surge. But the revolt alternative would have automatically granted the insurgents and other foreign influences, such as Iran, the initiative and control over the situation right out of the gate.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “I still think he would have needed a much stronger rational for going on to Baghdad to replace Saddam than Bush 43 used.”

    In terms of “needed”, the rationale for OIF was legally sufficient.

    In terms of policy, there was no other rationale for Bush to use. The ceasefire-enforcement law and policy basis for the resumption of the Gulf War with Iraq’s material breach as casus belli was carried forward from Presidents HW Bush and Clinton.

    OIF is often isolated out of context and misrepresented as a new policy by Bush. In fact, Operation Iraqi Freedom was the coda of the US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq that began when Saddam seized Kuwait in 1990 and continued through the subsequent Gulf War ceasefire. President Bush inherited Saddam’s “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (Clinton) and carried forward the mission to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (P.L. 107-243) from President Clinton, who inherited them from President HW Bush.

    The ad hoc post-ODF ‘containment’ was evidently broken by 2001. Once Saddam called our bluff with the UNSCR 1441 inspections in 2003, the only alternative to OIF was surrendering the Gulf War ceasefire to noncompliant Saddam and waiting for a “smoking gun” while the American leader of the free world impotently watched Saddam illicitly reconstitute his WMD program and conventional military – “From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency” (ISG) – and continue his “regional and global terrorism” (IPP) while fully understanding, in that context, what it has meant that “Saddam wanted personal greatness, a powerful Iraq that could project influence on the world stage, and a succession that guaranteed both. … WMD was one of the means to these interrelated ends” (ISG).

    President Clinton, February 17, 1998:

    [This] is not a time free from peril — especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals. … And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

    There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region, and the security of all the rest of us.

    President Bush, 2003 State of the Union:

    Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. … Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

    • Eric…1998 was indeed a pivotal year in events involving Saddam, and events involving Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
      I remember when the inspectors pulled out of Iraq due to a lack of cooperation , and Bill Clinton’s statements about the dangers posed by Saddam.
      Clinton responded with Operation Desert Fox, a 4 day intensive bombing campaign.
      What he did NOT do was sent in U.S. ground troops to topple Saddam Hussein.
      He did not involve us in a multiyear $Trillion war and occupation of Iraq.
      These were the costs to America in temoving Saddam. Like Bush 41 before him, I think Clinton concluded that removing Saddam was not worth a huge commitment of U.S. “blood and treasure”.
      If any of the coups against Saddam had succeeded, it does not follow that the U.S. would then have to occupy Iraq to stabilize it.
      That “ownership/ custodianship” does come with sending in American troops to remove an existing regime.
      It is correct, as you have stated, that Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions was the goal.
      But regime change and occupation are intertwined with, inseparable from, an operation like Iraqi Freedom.
      The final reports of the CIA and the Iraq Survey Group found no substantial stockpiles of WMDs.
      Of course Saddam MIGHT reconstitute a WMD program, but the prewar conclusion was that he had both the stockpiles and the active programs- those were given as the key reasons for taking out Saddam.
      You provided a quotation which claimed that Saddam and Al Qaeda both had parallel terror networks aimed at the U.S.
      Bin Laden’s goals and activities were evident by 1998, with the African embassy bombings and his exhortation for Muslims to kill Americans.
      The threat from Saddam seemed minor to me, compared to the threat (and executed terrorist plots) of Al Qaeda.
      You referred to a U.S. led “peace operation”. What followed the ouster of Saddam was far from a peace operation…..it became a long-term occupation of a society that unravelled post-Saddam.
      There was brutal repression under Saddam, and terrorism isn’t too strong of a word for his gassing of the Kurds, intolerance of any opposition, etc.
      But there was not anarchy in Saddam’s Iraq. That, we unleashed by removing him.

  10. tnash80hotmailcom:
    “the prewar conclusion was that he had both the stockpiles and the active programs- those were given as the key reasons for taking out Saddam.”

    Actually, the WMD-related key reasons given for OIF were unchanged from the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement for ODF and the rest of it: Saddam’s evidential failure to comply with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSR 1441) for disarmament.

    The pre-war intelligence was assessed in the operative context of the ceasefire disarmament process. As Charles Duelfer said, “It’s worth recalling that the UN weapons inspectors also found it impossible to give Saddam a clean bill of health [and] … their work formed the basis for many key assessments.” And, as President Clinton justified his successor’s decision for OIF (before he caved in to partisan pressure), “it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons”.

    The pre-war intelligence estimates reflected that Saddam’s “unaccounted for” (Clinton) proscribed WMD-related items and activities were established fact in the ceasefire disarmament process. (Again, see IAEA’s “INVO: Iraq Nuclear File: Key Findings” & UNMOVIC’s “A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF IRAQ’S PROSCRIBED WEAPONS PROGRAMMES” linked in my comment on May 16, 2016 at 5:57 pm.)

    On the established fact of ceasefire-proscribed Iraqi WMD, the “prewar conclusion” was chiefly based on the fact that, to date, Iraq had not disarmed as mandated and, once again, did not disarm as mandated throughout Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).

    From UNMOVIC report, “Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes 6 March 2003”:

    UNMOVIC must verify the absence of any new activities or proscribed items, new or retained. The onus is clearly on Iraq to provide the requisite information or devise other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive.

    As earlier mentioned, after the defection of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamal in August 1995, Iraq provided new chemical, biological and missile declarations. And on 7 December 2002, Iraq provided a further declaration that in essence repeated the information in the earlier declarations.
    Little of the detail in these declarations, such as production quantities, dates of events and unilateral destruction activities, can be confirmed. Such information is critical to an assessment of the status of disarmament. Furthermore, in some instances, UNMOVIC has information that conflicts with the information in the declaration.
    … [for example] UNSCOM considered that the evidence was insufficient to support Iraq’s statements on the quantity of anthrax destroyed and where or when it was destroyed[,] … UNMOVIC has credible information that the total quantity of BW agent in bombs, warheads and in bulk at the time of the Gulf War was 7,000 litres more than declared by Iraq[, and] … With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq.

    Iraq never did account for (“declare”), let alone disarm its WMD stocks as mandated.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “Of course Saddam MIGHT reconstitute a WMD program”

    There’s no “MIGHT reconstitute a WMD program”.

    According to Iraq Survey Group findings, the Saddam regime’s reconstitution of its WMD program was underway:

    Saddam had direct command of the Iraqi intelligence services and the armed forces, including direct authority over plans and operations of both. … The IIS ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations.
    … The Regime made a token effort to comply with the disarmament process, but the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions. Outward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities.
    … In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his [Saddam’s] intent to resume WMD as soon as sanctions were lifted.
    … Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.
    … The successful implementation of the Protocols, continued oil smuggling efforts, and the manipulation of UN OFF contracts emboldened Saddam to pursue his military reconstitution efforts starting in 1997 and peaking in 2001. These efforts covered conventional arms, dual-use goods acquisition, and some WMD-related programs.
    … Saddam invested his growing reserves of hard currency in rebuilding his military-industrial complex, increasing its access to dual-use items and materials, and creating numerous military research and development projects. He also emphasized restoring the viability of the IAEC [Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission] and Iraq’s former nuclear scientists.
    … At this time, Saddam Husayn also directed the IAEC to begin a multi-year procurement project called the IAEC Modernization Program. This program, which was still functioning up to the Coalition invasion in 2003,strove to revitalize the IAEC capabilities.

    As po reminded us upthread, recall that Iraq’s as-of-Gulf War WMD program was developed with “dual-use items and materials” (ISG).

    By reasonable consideration and the definitive “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), an active program was found in Iraq on top of the “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” (UNMOVIC) in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) that were the principal trigger for OIF.

    If you’re asking for predictive precision from the pre-war intelligence estimates with an exact match of the post hoc ISG findings – even though that’s not how military intelligence works – keep in mind that the ISG qualified the Duelfer Report with cautionary notes that much potential evidence was lost prior to, during, and after the war, key regime officials were not cooperative, statements conflicted, suspect areas were found “sanitized”, and other practical factors limited its investigation. Significant questions remained undisposed.

    Although OIF opponents cite the Iraq Survey Group conclusion, “it appears that Iraq, by the mid-1990s, was essentially free of militarily significant WMD stocks”, as proof that Bush lied his way to war with Iraq – premised on a false standard of Iraqi compliance and switched burden of proof – actually, ISG heavily qualified that conclusion:

    ISG’s investigation of Iraq’s ammunition supply points—ammunition depots, field ammunition supply points (FASPs), tactical FASPs, and other dispersed weapons caches—has not uncovered any CW munitions. ISG investigation, however, was hampered by several factors beyond our control. The scale and complexity of Iraqi munitions handling, storage, and weapons markings, and extensive looting and destruction at military facilities during OIF significantly limited the number of munitions that ISG was able to thoroughly inspect.
    • ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq, and visited fewer than ten ammunition depots identified prior to OIF as suspect CW sites.
    • The enormous number of munitions dispersed throughout the country may include some older, CW-filled munitions, and ISG cannot discount the possibility that a few large caches of munitions remain to be discovered within Iraq.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “Clinton responded with Operation Desert Fox, a 4 day intensive bombing campaign.
    What he did NOT do was sent in U.S. ground troops to topple Saddam Hussein.”

    Right. Like HW Bush kicked the can despite reporting to Congress, “Iraq has repeatedly ignored and violated its international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions”, on literally his last day in office on January 19, 1993, Clinton also kicked the can on the festering Saddam problem.

    However, if you look at the law and policy basis for ODF, it set a baseline for regime change.

    Like President HW Bush’s deliberate formulation and enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire at the formative stage of the ceasefire enforcement, especially with UNSCR 688, President Clinton deliberately formulated the complete set of law, policy, and precedent with the penultimate enforcement step of ODF that set the final stage for the ultimate enforcement step with (eventually) OIF.

    Notably, when Clinton switched from ceasefire enforcement to ‘containment’ on December 19, 1998, the President set up a hair trigger for the ‘containment’ along with the completed set of law, policy, and precedent for the ultimate enforcement step:

    [We] will maintain a strong military presence in the area, and we will remain ready to use it if Saddam tries to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, strikes out at his neighbors, challenges allied aircraft, or moves against the Kurds.

    “Tries to…”.

    Bush declined to use Clinton’s ‘containment’ hair trigger. Instead, President Bush opted to restore the ceasefire enforcement with UNSCR 1441 to give Saddam a full 2nd “final opportunity to comply” after President Clinton had determined, “Iraq has abused its final chance” in 1998 and “a change of regime in Baghdad is inevitable” in 1999.

    So, while HW Bush and Clinton both (irresponsibly, in my opinion) kicked the can, both US presidents were instrumental in establishing the law, policy, and precedent for regime change and US-led peace operations in the expected eventuality of the US president running out of room to kick the can.

    The President’s room to kick the can on the festering Saddam problem ran out by 2001 with Saddam evidently reconstituting his WMD program (not to mention heavily firing on the craft enforcing the UNSCR 688 no-fly zones) versus the evidently broken post-ODF ‘containment’. Then the 9/11 attacks shifted the threat calculation for Saddam’s terrorism-WMD danger, which was already evaluated as a primary national security threat under Clinton, and which included (but was not limited to) the Saddam-AQ “de facto link” (IPP).

    As with President HW Bush, there’s no evidence in the record that President Clinton was less than fully committed to Iraq’s compliance with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), whereas there is ample evidence Clinton actively supported regime change and US-led peace operations if Saddam did not comply as mandated.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “He did not involve us in a multiyear $Trillion war and occupation of Iraq.
    These were the costs to America in temoving Saddam. Like Bush 41 before him, I think Clinton concluded that removing Saddam was not worth a huge commitment of U.S. “blood and treasure”.”

    Actually, the vast majority of the cost incurred with the OIF peace operations, not the OIF invasion. And the record of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement plainly shows that Presidents HW Bush and Clinton committed the US to regime change and peace operations with Iraq if Saddam did not comply as mandated.

    There are areas, especially before the COIN Surge, with ‘wasted’ cost while our peace-building method lagged behind the enemy’s highly effective peace-sabotaging method. But that’s not unusual, whereas in military history, the necessity to catch up with the enemy on a costly learning curve is usual.

    Despite extensive planning, our military has always undergone steep learning curves in war that have often included devastating – and costly – setbacks, such as the battles of New York, First Manassas, Kasserine Pass, and Chosin Reservoir. The enemy teaches. OIF just demanded a steeper learning curve for the peace operations than the invasion that deposed Saddam’s regime due to the kind of enemy that adapted to the inviting weakness ingrained in the US military by the Powell Doctrine.

    But, like American soldiers usually do when given a sufficient opportunity, we did catch up to the enemy in Iraq.

    Again, you’re assuming that a different agent for regime change than the OIF invasion would have followed with less costly peace operations. But your belief isn’t self-evident. While a fair argument can be made that peace operations following an abdication or coup would be expected to be (but not necessarily) less costly, it seems to me that peace operations in revolutionary conditions, the next likeliest alternative for regime change, would have been more difficult and, inherently, at least as costly.

    It also seems to me that due to the social corruption caused by Saddam’s rule, the mandated peace operations with Iraq were only going to become more difficult with an attendant rise in cost the longer that Saddam’s breach of ceasefire was allowed to fester. Like I said upthread, the Iraqi society of 2003 was no longer the Iraqi society we could (should) have worked with in 1991, nor the Iraqi society when Saddam snuffed the coup in 1996, nor even the Iraqi society when the Iraq Liberation Act was enacted in 1998.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “If any of the coups against Saddam had succeeded, it does not follow that the U.S. would then have to occupy Iraq to stabilize it.”

    Incorrect. US-led peace operations with post-Saddam Iraq were set in law and policy, and were not restricted by the agent of regime change.

    Excerpt from the answers to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom about WMD or democracy?” & “Was the invasion of Iraq perceived to be a nation-building effort?”:

    Practically, HW Bush’s invasive multifaceted enforcement of the UNSCR 688 humanitarian mandates set the path for humanitarian intervention in general and peace operations with Iraq in particular.

    By the start of President Clinton’s second term, while the preferred outcome remained for Saddam to reverse course and comply volitionally, it was plain that Iraq would continue to violate the Gulf War ceasefire. In conjunction with the August 1998 legal mandate to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (P.L. 105-235), in October 1998, section 3 of Public Law 105-338 codified regime change as the solution for Iraq’s material breach. At the same time, Congress made peace operations with post-Saddam Iraq a legal mandate with section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which committed the United States to “support Iraq’s transition to democracy … once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq” by whatever agency:

    SEC. 7. ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQ UPON REPLACEMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME.
    It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq’s foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq’s foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

    On December 19, 1998, President Clinton affirmed the American commitment to “help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments”:

    [We] will maintain a strong military presence in the area, and we will remain ready to use it if Saddam tries to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, strikes out at his neighbors, challenges allied aircraft, or moves against the Kurds. … And we will stand ready to help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments and respects the rights of its own people. We hope it will return Iraq to its rightful place in the community of nations.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “The threat from Saddam seemed minor to me, compared to the threat (and executed terrorist plots) of Al Qaeda.”

    Setting aside the “considerable overlap” (IPP) between the two “parallel” (Lacey) terrorist networks, the President obviously did not consider Saddam’s terrorism danger to be “minor” compared to bin Laden’s terrorism. The IPP findings support the President’s position on the issue.

    Besides, the War on Terror wasn’t binary like that. AQ-centered counter-terrorism continued concurrent with OIF. From the enemy’s standpoint with the Saddam-AQ alliance, bin Laden considered Iraq to be the central battleground for his war with us, and he was devastated when Iraq’s Sunnis chose the American side in the COIN Surge.

    The COIN Surge with Anbar Awakening should have been foundational and marked the ‘end of the beginning’, in the Churchill sense, of the War on Terror. Instead, President Obama opted for the US to betray Iraq, especially the Sunnis who had staked their lives on the COIN Surge and Anbar Awakening, and change course with MENA in general, and Iran and Iraq in particular.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “You referred to a U.S. led “peace operation”. What followed the ouster of Saddam was far from a peace operation”

    “Peace operations” is the correct technical term.

    See Department of Defense JP 3-07.3:

    Peace operations (PO) include peacekeeping operations (PKO), peace building post-conflict actions, peacemaking processes, conflict prevention, and military peace enforcement operations (PEO).
    Peace operations (PO) are crisis response and limited contingency operations, and normally include international efforts and military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and to facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. PO may be conducted under the sponsorship of the United Nations (UN), another intergovernmental organization (IGO), within a coalition of agreeing nations, or unilaterally.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “it became a long-term occupation of a society that unravelled post-Saddam.”

    Unraveling Saddam’s corrupted version of Iraqi society was an objective pursuant to UNSCR 688.

    Peace operations are normally “multiyear” and “long-term”. They’re normally multi-decade and indefinite. OIF contemporaries include the 1999 Kosovo and 2001 Afghanistan interventions, both of which preceded OIF, both of whose peace operations are ongoing today.

    Looking further back as well as contemporary, US forces continue to serve in post-WW2 peace operations in Europe and Asia. For historical context, the COIN Surge with Anbar Awakening started in 2006-2007 at the 3-4 year mark of the OIF peace operations. The Berlin Airlift was in 1948-1949 at the 3-4 year mark of post-WW2 in Europe. The COIN Surge was more-or-less completed by 2008, the 5th year of the OIF peace operations. At the 5-year mark of post-WW2 in Asia, Task Force Smith was being slaughtered in Korea, sacrificed to buy time to organize a defense against the north Korean onslaught.

    tnash80hotmailcom:
    “There was brutal repression under Saddam, and terrorism isn’t too strong of a word for his gassing of the Kurds, intolerance of any opposition, etc.
    But there was not anarchy in Saddam’s Iraq. That, we unleashed by removing him.”

    Same cancer. The “anarchy” was “unleashed” in Iraq by the same causes of the “brutal repression under Saddam”, which had also “unleashed … anarchy” in Kuwait and the Gulf War revolt in 1990-1991, and whose legacy has been carried forward with ISIS.

    My usual metaphor for the 1991 Gulf War in the context of the whole Iraq intervention is an emergency surgery for an immediately life-threatening cancerous tumor. Iraq brutalizing Kuwait while threatening Saudi Arabia and trying to ignite a regional conflict compelled the UNSCR 660 demand for Iraq to desist and President HW Bush to declare a “national emergency with respect to Iraq” per the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine.

    However, removing an immediately life-threatening malignant tumor does not by itself cure the cancer. It is only the first step of treatment. Cancer treatment with surgery, chemo, radiation, medicine, etc, is usually difficult and costly, and in the midst of treatment, often hurts more than the malignancy. But if the first step of treatment is not followed through to completion, then the cancer that is still intact in the body will most likely follow evolved into a more lethal form.

    Unfortunately Presidents HW Bush and Clinton fell short of the necessary Gulf War ceasefire mandated ‘treatment’ for the Saddam problem while it might have been easier and less costly to cure, until there was no more room to kick the can. Then President Obama prematurely disengaged the vital treatment, OIF peace operations, before we followed them through to completion like we have with post-WW2 peace operations.

    The OIF peace operations were truncated at 8 years, really less than that if you consider that Obama changed course with Iraq from the start of his presidency in 2009.

    For context, recall the condition of our post-WW2 peace operations at the 8 year mark, and imagine the consequences if President Eisenhower, like President Obama, had opted to renege on American leadership commitments and prematurely disengage from Europe and Asia in the early 1950s.

  11. Paul Schulte:
    “po – Frontline is the 60 Minutes of public television. They are known for leaving out important information.”

    po:
    “Paul, thank you, would you please tell us the important information that was left out?”

    The Bakos interview is a good example for the importance of laying a proper foundation with primary sources of the mission in order to develop a critical framework to sort through conjecture and misinformation on the issue.

    It looks okay within the context of her pre-war analysis. But it’s not informative where it touches on Saddam’s followers versus the peace operations, Saddam’s terrorism that included (but was not limited to) the Saddam-AQ link, the law and policy basis for OIF, and planning for the peace operations. Which isn’t her fault necessarily, other than going along with the interviewer.

    Rather, the interviewer (Breslow) seems to fish for implied conclusions from ambiguous impressions outside of her particular area. And to be fair, her pre-war analysis doesn’t (and couldn’t) include the post-war analysis of captured Iraqi materials by the Iraqi Perspectives Project, which found Saddam’s terrorism – which was in breach of UNSCR 687 regardless of the Saddam-AQ link – to be greater than had been understood by analysts like Bakos.

    An odd assertion in the interview regarding the Iraqi sectarian issue is that officials receiving a post-war briefing related to the Iraqi sectarian issue means that the Bush administration was ignorant and lacked prior analysis on the Iraqi sectarian issue. That’s incorrect on its face – see this comment and these sources on Bush administration planning for the peace operations.

    In fact, there was extensive planning for the peace operations in which the Iraqi sectarian issue was a basic piece. Again, keep in mind that the US had been dealing with Iraq since the 1980s and had been closely engaged with Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq since the Gulf War per UNSCR 688. Some Iraq scholars contend that the US, if anything, over-planned on the Iraqi sectarian issue, meaning that US officials, perhaps due to input from analysts like Bakos, at times imputed sectarian reasons for essentially political issues.

    The Iraqi sectarian issue was known. Rather, what was not anticipated and which upset the planning for the peace operations was the insurgency that viciously seized the initiative that we had initially gained with the OIF invasion and immediate transition to SASO. Bakos’s impression is a glimpse of Bush officials trying to catch up to an insurgency that had a sectarian character rather than on the basic Iraqi sectarian issue. Unfortunately, it was not the 1st time in military history where the enemy upset a careful initial plan.

    Bakos’s point about a “Cold War” (ie, circa Gulf War) view of Iraq supports that Saddam altered Iraqi society, starting in the late 1980s, more radically than many observers outside of Iraq understood, including Iraqi exiles who also had a “Cold War” (circa Gulf War) view of Iraqi society.

    Another odd assertion in the interview is that being closely questioned as an intelligence briefer was anything other than normal, especially about an issue with the relevance of the Saddam-AQ link, which was known about pre-OIF, but was, as Bakos points out, “murky” on the details.

    • Eric and Paul…..I thought that the strangest part of the PBS Frontline program was Colin Powell’s statement that he did not remember the details of the allegations he made in Feb.2003 about the Saddam-Zarqawi link.
      That was the key piece of evidence that was put forward at the time about the claimed Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance.
      The 2005 CIA report concluded that there was no Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance, as did the 2008 Pentagon report.
      If the Frontline program contained important omissions, the biggest one was by Colin Powell himself…..he could have either rejected or defended his 2003 U.N. Saddam Zarqawi link.
      “Not remembering” does nothing to clarify where Powell “was at” in 2003, or where “he’s at” now re the Saddam-Al Qaeda link.
      That seemed to be the weakest claim of Powell’s presentation, and of the Bush administration, even at the time it was presented in 2003.
      As I stated before, there was virtually a universal belief that Saddam possessed WMDs, and had active WMD programs.
      It Saddam was trying to convince the world that he was concealing WMDs, he was successful.
      If he thought that bluff protected him from Iran, and that Iran was a greater threat to him than inviting American invasion, he once again made a huge miscalculation.
      The bounty Saddam gave to families of Palestian suicide bombers, and his repression and execution/assassination of potential rivals and opponents, are established facts of Saddam’s terrorism.
      Those facts still do not demonstrate a Saddam-Zarqawi or Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance.
      The evidence presented in 2003 was appeared to be thin at the time, and subsequent reports by the 9-11 Commission, by The CIA, and the Pentagon have concluded that there was not a Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance.

  12. tnash80hotmailcom:
    “The 2005 CIA report concluded that there was no Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance, as did the 2008 Pentagon report. … and subsequent reports by the 9-11 Commission, by The CIA, and the Pentagon have concluded that there was not a Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance.”

    That depends on how narrowly you define “alliance”.

    First, I don’t recall that the 2005 CIA “report” was about the general Saddam-AQ link, but rather it was an update about pre-OIF link to Zarqawi.

    Second, the 9-11 Commission briefing on the issue was based on pre-OIF analysis, which established a diplomatic relationship, but not an operational partnership, between Saddam and bin Laden.

    However, third, the “2008 Pentagon report” is the November 2007 – released March 2008 – Iraqi Perspectives Project report, “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents”, which is linked in my comment on May 16, 2016 at 3:11 am.

    Again, IPP reported:

    Because Saddam�s security organizations and Osama bin Laden�s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a �de facto� link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence … evidence shows that Saddam�s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.

    In his additional commentary that I also linked in the comment, IPP report author Jim Lacey added, “there is also proof of Saddam’s support of Islamic groups that were part of the al-Qaeda network”.

    Again, it depends on how narrowly you define “alliance”.

    Saddam’s terrorism had “considerable overlap” (IPP) alliance with the AQ network (definition: a merging of efforts or interests, eg, an alliance between church and state) as opposed to a direct per se ‘treaty’ alliance with bin Laden (definition: a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes).

  13. Reading the Bakos interview and re-reading the related 9-11 Commission briefing, I was reminded of a flawed premise about Saddam’s reach under the no-fly zones related to Ansar al-Islam and by association, Zarqawi.

    Both analysts (Judith Yaphe briefed the 9-11 Commission) apparently presumed in their analysis that the no-fly zones were akin to bubbles that wholly sealed off those areas of Iraq from Saddam’s reach.

    But the no-fly zones were just that, no-fly zones. They weren’t total no-go zones for Saddam. As President HW Bush said about the no-fly zones, they “cannot detect lower-level acts of oppression, however”.

    By the same token, while the no-fly zones and attendant detection system could read, react to, and thus offer protection to Iraqis from a particular degree and kind of military/security action, exemplified by Saddam’s response to the Gulf War uprisings, the no-fly zones did not speak to all of Saddam’s activities – including terrorist-related activities – in those areas of Iraq.

  14. tnash80hotmailcom, po,

    The thing about Secretary of State Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 is that while some of its pre-war intelligence-based details that were predictively imprecise have been severely panned in the politics, on the fact record – knowing what we know now – Powell’s presentation actually holds up very well. On the main points of his case presentation against Saddam, Powell was correct nearly across the board.

    Of foundational importance, Powell correctly reiterated the burden of proof and standard of compliance with the UNSCR 1441 inspections, and that enforcement would be triggered by Saddam’s failure to comply and disarmed as mandated.

    UNMOVIC confirmed and ISG corroborated Powell’s view that Iraq did not comply and disarm as mandated by UNSCRs 687 and 1441.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view that Saddam was in fact covertly reconstituting Iraq’s WMD program in violation of UNSCR 687.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view regarding “denial and deception operations” and “concealment and destruction efforts” (ISG) and “many of these [suspect WMD-related] sites were…sanitized by the Regime” (ISG).

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view that Saddam had no intention to comply with the UN mandates.

    UNMOVIC confirmed Powell’s view that Iraq did not turn over the information required to establish the total verified declaration that accounted for Iraq’s entire WMD-related program, including for anthrax and other BW.

    Albeit not the “mobile production facilities used to make biological agents” (Powell) that Powell depicted, ISG confirmed a covert IIS chemical and biological lab network along with CW- and BW-convertible capability.

    For example, ISG: “The UN deemed Iraq’s accounting of its production and use of BW agent simulants … to be inadequate. … the equipment used for their manufacture can also be quickly converted to make BW agent.”

    UNMOVIC, ISG historical accounts confirm Powell’s context setting of Iraq’s proscribed activity “when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting”. Again, Iraq’s ceasefire-proscribed WMD was established fact on which the burden of proof was on Saddam to disarm as mandated.

    Powell’s statement, “There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more” is panned because ISG didn’t find them. But in fact, Iraq failed to account for its BW program as mandated. Then ISG could not answer for the fate of Iraq’s missing BW agents, stocks, and equipment due to Iraq’s “denial and deception operations” and “concealment and destruction efforts” (ISG).

    UNMOVIC confirmed Powell’s view that Iraq failed to account for its CW stores: “These quantities of chemical weapons are now unaccounted for.” The historical account also confirm Powell’s context setting of Saddam’s track record of “denial and deception operations” (ISG) on CW.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view that “Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry”. ISG found a plethora of convertible dual-use items and activity.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view that “Iraq procures needed items from around the world using an extensive clandestine network”. ISG: “The IIS ran a large covert procurement program”.

    ISG confirmed, “Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD.”

    ISG confirmed that the covert undeclared IIS labs experimented on humans.

    IAEA and ISG confirmed Powell’s context setting on Iraq’s track record of nuclear ambitions. ISG confirmed Saddam was revitalizing Iraq’s nuclear program and the indicators of proscribed nuclear-related activity, especially related to possible centrifuge activity, and that the aluminum tubes were properly flagged for possible nuclear application. The only part of Powell’s nuclear presentation that falls down in hindsight is the extent to which Iraq sought fissile material.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view on Iraq’s ceasefire-proscribed missile development.

    On terrorism, Powell does speak at length with inordinate focus on Zarqawi.

    However, the Iraqi Perspectives Project confirmed Powell’s main point that “Iraq and terrorism go back decades” and validated Powell’s warning about “the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder”.

    IPP also confirmed the “regional and global” (IPP) scope of Saddam’s terrorism.

    While Powell emphasized the Saddam-AQ link with inordinate focus on Zarqawi, he did not define Saddam’s terrorism exclusively with the Saddam-AQ link:

    And the record of Saddam Hussein’s cooperation with other Islamist terrorist organizations is clear … Terrorism has been a tool used by Saddam for decades. Saddam was a supporter of terrorism long before these terrorist networks had a name. And this support continues. The nexus of poisons and terror is new. The nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal.

    Various human rights organizations (I refer mainly to the UN Commission on Human Rights due to their regular reference to UNSCR 688) confirmed Powell’s view of Saddam’s humanitarian violations.

    ISG confirmed Powell’s view of Saddam’s WMD intent. ISG: “we have clear evidence of his intent to resume WMD as soon as sanctions were lifted … the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions. Outward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities.”

    Finally, Powell was correct that “We wrote 1441 to give Iraq one last chance” and “Iraq is not so far taking that one last chance.”

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