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Al Queda camp in No. Iraq! Isn't that our jusrisdiction?(15 posts)

Al Queda camp in No. Iraq! Isn't that our jusrisdiction?czardonic
Feb 5, 2003 3:55 PM
I've been reading through reactions to Powell's speech, and several pointed out that the Al Queda camp that Powell "revealed" to the Security Council is actually in a part of Iraq that we control militarily on behalf of our good buddies the Kurds.

And this camp continues to operate. . . .why? Why didn't we carpet bomb this area when we discovered it? So we could play gotcha with the evidence in front of the UN? Is sandbagging Saddam more important than dealing with terrorists?

Other newly revealed evidence begs similar questions. It seems that Saddam isn't the only one hindering the enforcement of Resolution 1441.

And no, I am not saying that Saddam should thus be let off the hook. I am simply suggesting that this situation could be dealt with more effectively if the US would stop trying to undercut the inspection process (in order to "prove" that it won't work).
Feb 5, 2003 6:32 PM
The areas of Northern Iraq that you refer to aren't "ours" by any stretch. Rather, they are far more similar to the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan where tribal family units rule by threat of force ("my dad is bigger than your dad"). While there is a Kurdish majority throughout the region, not all Kurds like us. In fact, a great many don't because of Turkey's membership in NATO (a lot of ethnic Kurdistan is in Turkey). There are also sub-sets and tribes that are rabidly fundamentalist; thus, the feaux religious piety that AQ preaches appeals to them.

The only unifying facet of the region is that they all hate Saddam, but I'd wager to guess that they'll gladly kill each other once he's gone too. Remember, we don't think like they do, and they don't think like us. Vastly different cultures and such....

As for carpet bombing, I think your choice of words is inaccurate, but it does raise a good point. Why not intervene in some forcable way? My best professional guess would be that the Green Berets present in the region have been busy doing typical Greenie Beenie stuff, namely, insurgency training and coalition building among the various tribes and families. Their job is to develop a unified front among most of the Kurds once hostilities commence. As such, they've probably been trying to negotiate an end to AQ support. Bombing would undermine their efforts.

How about the offensive special operators like SEALs or SAS? Well, what do you think those that are in Iraq are presently doing? I'll tell you what--they are moving around covertly trying like crazy to locate the mobile SCUD launchers and to nab the mobile WMD facilities. ...That, and I'm "sure" we've got some "people" in Bahgdad and Basrah "doing stuff." We did the same thing during the first war and even during the f-ed up Iranian hostage mission.

The key is that these people don't exist in large numbers, and most are already engaged in Afghanistan, the Phillipines and other places that I'm not at liberty to discuss.
But, doesn't all that nation building. . .czardonic
Feb 5, 2003 6:51 PM
. . .underscore the fact that Saddam is most definitely not responsible for what is going on up there?

Interesting info on the Kurds. To hear most people talk about them you'd think they were straight out of "It's a Small World". In fact they are militantly seperatist, with designs on carving their own domain out of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Heck, maybe they deserve it, and they certainly don't deserve Saddam. But Americans need a serious reality check about who is living in Iraq, and what they wouldn't mind doing to each other if given the chance.

Why are we are feverishly working to locate SCUDs and WMD facilities if we aren't going to do anything about them? Shouldn't we take these things out, rather than save them for UN theatrics?

Not at liberty to discuss. I appreciate that you have your own responsibilites, but I personally think this this unwillingness to discuss things is part of the problem.
God, I hate the term "nation building,"sn69
Feb 5, 2003 7:22 PM
as do most of my peers. Truth be told, nation building is best left to the diplomats, the economists, the humanitarianists and such. The Peace Corps builds nations, not the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, however, it's become in vogue during the past 15 years for DOD to get saddled with the job, undertrained in the ideosynchrocies of cultural demographics, economic infrastructure, etc. Don't get me wrong--I like the concept of nation building in the sense of helping someone get back on their feet. But, is DOD the right entity to do that? I don't think so.

As for Saddam's culpability in the North, yes, he bares a great deal of responsibility. He created the current animosity that exists up there, and he spent 20+ years playing one tribe against another. Many of his gassings were to ostensibly curry favor with one tribal group by wiping out another one. ...Only then he'd turn around and eventually whack the first group. Thus, they all hate each other, but they hate him more.

Our efforts to locate the WMDs and SCUDs IS a precursor to direct action. I think you (as do most people) lack an in-depth understanding of how special forces work. There's no Aaahnold-kill-200-guys-with-one-clip-in-the-rifle type shit; no mystical quart of blood technique or Vulcan death pinch. Rather, SpecWar units operate in small teams who's primary mission objective is usually facilitated by remaining covert. In this case, they are probably seeking to provide the real-time targeteering info for the TLAMs and JDAMs that will be dropped in the first salvo.

Why not use those skills now and simply waste the weapons? Unfortunately, we probably haven't found them all yet. Think about the statistic cited regarding the five mobile chem/bio factories that are housed inside tractor/trailors. How does one single-out those five of the thousands in Iraq? Thus the statistical diffuculty, only compounded by the sheer vastness and desolation of the country. It's the classic needle in the haystack analogy. ...And I'm sure there are bizarro politcal reasons that far transcend our meager understanding. Who knows what Annan, Blix and Dubya agreed upon?...

Your final comment is the paradox of this business. In some ways you are right, in so far as some of this sort of information must be shared. The question--actually the "art"--is how much to share without tipping your hand to the other players at the table, and, more importantly (to me at least) NOT exposing your operators in the field. Sometimes that's the most compelling reason. For example, were you aware that our teams in Iran during the hostage crisis had to be left in there covertly after Beckwith screwed away Desert One? They couldn't be exposed lest the Revolutionary Council skin them alive (literally) in Tehran Square. They walked out....quite literally...all the way through Iran, Iraq and into Turkey. What's more is that was a planned contingency.

Most military secrets are hushed for a reason.
I was being slightly facetious.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 10:54 AM
Getting back to two points:

On the terrorist camp, I am still not convinced that there is any practical reason to let this continue to operate (assuming it is). Hasn't it been connected with Al Queda's continued attempts to produce chemical weapons and the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan? Isn't this type of installation begging for a Tomahawk missle?

And on Saddam and Northern Iraq, I am not suggesting that the chaos up there is not his fault. But, my impression is that he is no longer in control of the territory that falls under the no-fly zone, and thus it is disingenuous to imply that he is somehow connected to this particular facility. Is that wrong?
I was being slightly facetious.sn69
Feb 6, 2003 11:18 AM
Second question first. I'm not sure that you're either wrong or right. I think the truth exists somewhere in the shades of gray in between. He has spotty control of certain regions in the North, mostly those where he can adequately support his interests with ample road infrastructure since we don't let him fly there. Likewise, there are regions of the northern zone that are rabidly pro-AQ. It's largely a lawless area. If you get closer to the Turkish border, the Kurds in that area spend more time worrying about the Turks than Saddam. See what I mean? It's a mess, really.

First question: Tomahawk/TLAM diplomacy is fraught with peril. One of the reasons the Taliban bellied-up to Osama was because of our poorly executed TLAM stirkes on them, Sudan and Chad. Prior to that, Omar was set to hurl BinLaden out on his tushie. Afterwards, given the inacuracy of the attack, it strengthed their bond and gave rise to the Taliban's resolved to aid AQ. Again, this is only conjecture, but I'd guess that there's a lot of heavy bargaining going on with the various Kurdish tribal leaders and we don't want to upset whatever balance has been struck. I'd bet even money, though, that the camp will eventually be snuffed. I doubt the mobile checm/bio labs are there either. If so, it'd be a no-brainer and the strike would have been launched by now. I've got a hunch that the mobile labs have been on the road non-stop since Blix and Co. arrived.
Shades of gray.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 11:28 AM
What is interesting to me, and what Bush/Powell might consider, is that "gray" is infinitely more persuasive than the implausibly black or white version of the facts they are presenting to the public.

Thanks for taking the time to clear up (pun intended) these issues. Seriously.
The sad truth is/seemssn69
Feb 6, 2003 12:33 PM
that most of our elected and appointed leadership lack the eloquence to adequately explain the subtle significances and intricacies that those shades pose. Everything always has to be black and white, positive or negative with them. Perhaps that's a reflection on the public's aggragate ability to process information, as evidenced by the Knight Ridder study you posted. When I was a journalist, we used to tailor our writing to a junior high school reading level. In the late 80s/early 90s, that was the national average. Yikes...that's scary and suggests all sorts of issues with our communal ability to process data. How else does one explain NASCAR, Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and Joe Millionare?!?!

Or perhaps it's a recurrent fault in the system that breeds these nutbags that our presidents consistently hire as their advisors. "Yes, Mr. President, I think it will be fine if we/you:
1. Invade Cuba.
2. Start a low-grade proxy war in some little country in SE Asia.
3. Break into the headquarters of the opposing party.
4. Illegally fund a proxy war with drug money.
5. Get a hummer from your intern in the oval office."

...blah, blah, blah, blah....

I think that the truth often lies in between. I only wish we had more people who could explain it that way.
Great post as always. . .js5280
Feb 6, 2003 9:20 AM
I always enjoy your posts sn69. Most of the U.S. (including myself) only get their information from the mainstream media which is more akin to info-tainment and a forum for politicans to get free face time nowdays. Thanks for giving us an inside scoop to the realities of this situation. My guess is that we (i.e. U.S. military/intelligence) KNOW Iraq has WMDs but that evidence can't be shared because it would endanger our sources and/or hamper future military objectives.

Another question, my guess is that the photos Powell presented yesterday don't necessarily represent the full capabilties of our spy satellites. True?
Thanks, although I've been thinking about Czardonic's point.sn69
Feb 6, 2003 10:25 AM
Specifically, I've been giving a lot of thought to the infomational gaps that are present. I think that only some of the gaps can be accredited to military or governmental secrecy.

I think a lot of it is also due to shoddy journalism. Don't get me wrong; I'm not bemoaning the so-called left wing agenda of the press. I was a journalist before I came in the Navy, and I know that the corporate entity of the media isn't left-leaning. Rather, I'm talking about the business aspect that drives journalists and their companies to get the hot stories to the audience faster, not necessarily better. Shows like Nightline, Nova and Frontline can afford to take their time to fully research and develop multi-facetted, well-thought-out journalism detailing all aspects of the issues. But, the nightly news, the daily paper, and even the weekly publications like Newsweek and Time, operate under tight deadlines where revenue is decided by who can sell the most copy the fastest. Succint, complete journalism often falls by the wayside. Most of the information I post is readily avialably for those who have the resources and/or knowledge of where to seek it. Of course, as I've mentioned before, Iv'e also got access to a couple other sources. Tee hee.

Regarding our reconnaisance capabilities, you saw a fair approximation of what we have. These systems are catagorized as "national assets" (I've always found that term amusing), and they encompass satellites taking various types of imagery, classic spy aircraft like SR-71s and U-2Rs/TR-1As, signals and electronic intelligence aircraft and ships, human intelligence, special operations (SEALs, SOG, etc) and other exotic things (flying saucers, Aurora or whatever Aviation Week dreams up). What you saw wasn't our full capability, but we don't have the ability to view all parts of the earth's surface with high fidelity or real time. Satellites have to be positioned and aircraft flown. Atmospheric inconsistencies disrupt imagery, radar and IR returns. Air is fluid and not makes recon. difficult at best. BUT, I'm sure there's more stuff of much higher quality that Annan, Blair, the Krauts, the Russians and others have seen.
If you want the low-down on recce systems, goto:sn69
Feb 6, 2003 12:10 PM

The Federation of American Scientists has one of the best on-line, unclassified databases available. Of course, being the big geek that I am, I enjoy the Mystery Aircraft section.

Lets look at the other side.eyebob
Feb 6, 2003 9:11 AM
Has anyone come out to refute any type of Al Queda/Saddam link? With all of the banter, where are those who can show that there isn't a link? Did I miss it?

Interesting article at today that brings out this point. Also, the article mentions the possible reasons why Iraq wasn't taken to task in the 90's for their obvious flouting of the disarmament agreement.

No one can "prove" a negative.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 10:44 AM
It is technically impossible to "prove" that there is no link between Saddam and Al Queda. That is partly why our system of justice -- the one we practice domesticly, not the kangaroo court we are operating at the UN -- places the burden of proof on the accuser, not the accused. (Can you prove that you are not an Al Queda operator? I mean you can deny it all you want, all guilty people deny the charges against them. . .) What "proof" could Saddam offer that would convince you?
I thought of that too. But the fact that no one (other thaneyebob
Feb 6, 2003 12:01 PM
Saddam) is saying "no link" gives rise to the suspicion that there's something to it. It's a stretch. But that's just one little thing that I keep in the back of my mind.

NOthing more to that thought process.

Quite the contrary.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 12:09 PM
No one apart from the Bush Administration (especially not the CIA, who would know better than anyone) is saying that there is a link.