Bush shares al Qaeda plans he says sup­ports pres­ence in Iraq

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Jon Ward

Pres­i­dent Bush on May 23 shared pre­vi­ously clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion — that Osama bin Laden has asked al Qaeda op­er­a­tives in Iraq to plan at­tacks on Amer­i­can soil — as ev­i­dence that U.S. troops in Iraq are de­fend­ing U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity.

“How­ever dif­fi­cult the fight in Iraq has be­come, we must win it,” Mr. Bush said dur­ing a com­mence­ment speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New Lon­don, Conn. “Al Qaeda is pub­lic en­emy No. 1 for Iraq’s young democ­racy. Al Qaeda is pub­lic en­emy No. 1 for Amer­ica as well.”

“9/11 taught us that to pro­tect the Amer­i­can peo­ple, we must fight the ter­ror­ists where they live, so that we don’t have to fight them where we live,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush also re­jected com­par­isons be­tween the Iraq war and the Viet­nam War.

“There are many dif­fer­ences be­tween the two con­flicts, but one stands out above all. The en­emy in Viet­nam had nei­ther the in­tent nor the ca­pa­bil­ity to strike our home­land. The en­emy in Iraq does.”

Democrats in Congress want to with­draw U.S. troops from Iraq, al­though they backed down last week from in­clud­ing a with­drawal time­line in an emer­gency war-fund­ing bill.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, said the pres­i­dent’s speech was prop­erly fo­cused on al Qaeda but im­prop­erly fo­cused on Iraq.

“The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has be­come dis­tracted from fight­ing al Qaeda along the Afghanistan/Pak­istan border where Osama bin Laden is be­lieved to be hid­ing,” Mr. Reid said.

Mr. Reid’s of­fice cited a state­ment by Di­rec­tor of Na­tional Intelligence Mike McCon­nell, who in Fe­bru­ary told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee that an al Qaeda at­tack “most likely would be planned and come out of the lead­er­ship in Pak­istan.”

A se­nior intelligence of­fi­cial, who spoke on the con­di­tion that his name not be used, said Mr. McCon­nell’s tes­ti­mony did not con­tra­dict Mr. Bush’s as­ser­tion that al Qaeda has planned at­tacks from Iraq.

Al­though bin Laden may be in­struct­ing al Qaeda op­er­a­tives in Iraq, the at­tack is “still com­ing from Pak­istan, even if it’s flow­ing through Iraq,” the intelligence of­fi­cial said.

The pres­i­dent will face an­other po­lit­i­cal test in Septem­ber when Gen. David H. Pe­traeus, com­man­der of U.S. forces in Iraq, is to brief Congress on progress from the surge of about 30,000 ad­di­tional U.S. troops.

Mr. Bush said that U.S. intelligence and mil­i­tary units in 2005 foiled plans by al Qaeda in Iraq to start plan­ning at­tacks on Amer­i­can soil.

In Jan­uary 2005, Mr. Bush said, bin Laden told Abu Musab Zar­qawi, who was leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, to start plan­ning at­tacks on the U.S. Bin Laden asked an al Qaeda oper­a­tive, Hazma Rabia, to send Zar­qawi “a brief­ing” about ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the U.S., and one top bin Laden deputy, Abu Far­raj al-Libbi, sug­gested that Rabia go to Iraq to help Zar­qawi.

Rabia was killed in 2005, and Zar­qawi was killed last year. Al-Libbi was cap­tured in May 2005 and is in CIA cus­tody.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.