Last night, I heard a Democratic Party pundit say the United States ought to withdraw from Iraq because it had accomplished the three things it set out to do there: give the people of Iraq a chance at democracy, remove Saddam Hussein from power, and determine if Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Yet the resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq that Senators Biden, Clinton, Hagel, Kerry, Reid, and Rockefeller all voted for, along with Congressman John Murtha, in October 2002 also addressed a concern brought to the fore the moment American Airlines Flight 11 was slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center:
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;
Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);
The intelligence that thousands of terrorists had trained in Iraq prior to the September 11, 2001 and continued to train on bases inside Iraq afterward, has never been refuted by the seven elected officials cited above.
Some Members of Congress, who have since redeployed their thinking about the war in Iraq, appear to want us to believe the latter job is also done, that al Qaeda and other terrorists have been all but eliminated there. Yet this report indicates they are still being eliminated in large numbers:
The media accounts claim ‘insurgents’ attacked the village, but do not provide a reason for the attack. “The clashes on Wednesday began about 1 p.m. when insurgents attacked a village near Fallujah, about 35 miles west of Baghdad, and ended about six hours later when Iraqi soldiers, police and the tribal fighters killed 50 suspected insurgents and captured 80 others, according to Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Khalaf declined to say how many Iraqi security personnel were killed or injured,” The Washington Post reports.
But the full story, according to an American military officer and an American intelligence source, is that al-Qaeda in Iraq, under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq, assembled several hundred fighters to attack a prominent leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of local tribes and Baathists, and former insurgents who now oppose al-Qaeda in Iraqi. The leader of the Anbar Salvation Council was to attend the funeral of one of those killed in last week’s suicide bombing in Habbaniyah.
The Iraqi police in Amiriya held off the attack, and radioed for backup from Iraqi Army, police and members of the Thurwa al-Anbar, the tribal militias assembled by the Anbar Salvation Council. U.S. air support was called in to help fend off the attack. The Anbar Salvation Council leader escaped as Army, police and tribal fighters poured into the village and routed the al-Qaeda force, which was estimated to be several hundred fighters. Once intelligence source claims the figure of 50 al-Qaeda killed is low, and the number is likely over 100.
The New York Times claims “two groups that have had ties to insurgents, the Islamic Party Fighters and forces of the 20th Revolution brigade, counterattacked in support of the local residents.” The proper name for the insurgent groups are the Islamic Army in Iraq, and the 1920s Revolution Brigades. And they also fought with Iraqi Army and police units.
While al-Qaeda in Iraq, via its political front the Islamic State of Iraq, claims the Islamic Army in Iraq and the 1920s Revolution Brigades are now part of its organization, this is only partially true. Al-Qaeda, through a campaign of intimidation and assassinations, has co opted some elements of the domestic Sunni insurgent groups, as well as at least 6 of the 31 major tribes in Anbar province. But the full contingents of the domestic insurgent groups such as the Islamic Army in Iraq and the 1920s Revolution Brigades did not go over to al-Qaeda. Some have chosen to stand up against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
While it remains to be seen if stepped up efforts by the Iraqi Security Forces and the surge of US troops will quell the sectarian violence in Iraq, the mission that Congress authorized and the President sent our troops there to complete is still a work in progress.
Which leads me to wonder, seeing how that mission is on going, what language the current Congress would eliminate from the original authorization for the use of force? I suspect they would seek to remove any mention of the terrorists in Iraq and, like that pundit last night and some members of the media, deliberately mislead the American people as to the continuing threat.