Petraeus vs. Hagel

Gen. David Petraeus recently returned from Iraq to brief the leaders of our government about the war there. Perhaps most notably, he took direct aim at the "Iraq is in a civil war" mantra of the media and Democratic leaders by stating that "80 percent to 90 percent of the suicide attacks" - the spectacular car bombings racking up the horrific fatalities - are carried out by foreign fighters who are al Qaeda members or affiliated with al Qaeda.  

At nearly the same time, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) sat down at an interview with Robert Novak for the Washington Post.  The Senator just returning from another trip to Iraq brings bad news. He sides with Democrats in determining the war in Iraq is a losing effort against sectarian violence with US forces stuck in the middle. The Senator claims that al Qaeda is only responsible for "maybe 10 percent" of the violence. He says "Iraq is not embroiled in a terrorist war today." By contrast, General Petraeus says "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of al Qaeda's global campaign and we devote considerable resources to the fight against al Qaeda Iraq."

This condition of contrasting views is aggravated by the fact that the Senator is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Which begs the question: where is Senator Hagel getting the military intelligence to form his opinion if not from the senior uniformed military commander of the war? Who is telling him that al Qaeda is not the central opponent or the leader of the anti-Iraqi forces? Did he derive his viewpoint from military briefings? Or does it come from other, more political, considerations?

The Senator doesn't say in his Novak interview. In fact, he presents almost no specific information to support his views. But we can evaluate the claims of both men based on free press and military reporting from Iraq.

American Forces Press Service (AFPS) reports that a senior al Qaeda leader who was closely associated with Usama bin Laden was recently transferred to Gitmo after being picked up some time late last year. He was captured while traveling to Iraq to direct the al Qaeda efforts there in late 2006. (He is also a former Iraqi army officer, a fact that fits nicely with the research that ties Saddam and al Qaeda together in my new eBook, Both In One Trench: Saddam's support to the global Islamic jihad movement and international terrorism.)

But perhaps six or seven months ago is not timely enough, and the Senator was talking about more recent developments. Did al Qaeda pack up and leave Iraq since then? Dated April 29th, 2007 AFPS reports that twenty one al Qaeda terrorists were taken into custody in actions against that terrorist network.

Our friends certainly think Iraq is a central front for al Qaeda. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer just responded to another horrific car bombing by stating,

"This is a deliberate attempt by al-Qaeda to incite sectarian violence in Iraq and it's very important that the international community understands what al-Qaeda's tactics are."  

The Iraqi government seems to think al Qaeda is the chief opponent. It worries in this Reuters article that the political infighting in the US is being exploited by al Qaeda.

Even al Qaeda seems to think al Qaeda is responsible for the worst of the violence as evidenced by dozens of recent news article - such as this one from the AP, which is also notable because it refers to al Qaeda as an "insurgent group". Just search the phrase "al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility" under Google News and you will find dozens of references to al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the worst attacks.

It would appear that our military, our allies, the Iraqi government and even al Qaeda itself believes that Iraq is the central front in the war against al Qaeda. At the other end of the spectrum is the Democratic leadership and Senator Chuck Hagel, oh yes, and certain media outlets, which insist we have set off a civil war with al Qaeda responsible for a minor share of violence.

Given the opportunity the Senator has had to influence the review of prewar intelligence, it is more than a little disconcerting that he has ignored our own military intelligence, allies and the admission of the enemy, in determining his stance.

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
Gen. David Petraeus recently returned from Iraq to brief the leaders of our government about the war there. Perhaps most notably, he took direct aim at the "Iraq is in a civil war" mantra of the media and Democratic leaders by stating that "80 percent to 90 percent of the suicide attacks" - the spectacular car bombings racking up the horrific fatalities - are carried out by foreign fighters who are al Qaeda members or affiliated with al Qaeda.  

At nearly the same time, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) sat down at an interview with Robert Novak for the Washington Post.  The Senator just returning from another trip to Iraq brings bad news. He sides with Democrats in determining the war in Iraq is a losing effort against sectarian violence with US forces stuck in the middle. The Senator claims that al Qaeda is only responsible for "maybe 10 percent" of the violence. He says "Iraq is not embroiled in a terrorist war today." By contrast, General Petraeus says "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of al Qaeda's global campaign and we devote considerable resources to the fight against al Qaeda Iraq."

This condition of contrasting views is aggravated by the fact that the Senator is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Which begs the question: where is Senator Hagel getting the military intelligence to form his opinion if not from the senior uniformed military commander of the war? Who is telling him that al Qaeda is not the central opponent or the leader of the anti-Iraqi forces? Did he derive his viewpoint from military briefings? Or does it come from other, more political, considerations?

The Senator doesn't say in his Novak interview. In fact, he presents almost no specific information to support his views. But we can evaluate the claims of both men based on free press and military reporting from Iraq.

American Forces Press Service (AFPS) reports that a senior al Qaeda leader who was closely associated with Usama bin Laden was recently transferred to Gitmo after being picked up some time late last year. He was captured while traveling to Iraq to direct the al Qaeda efforts there in late 2006. (He is also a former Iraqi army officer, a fact that fits nicely with the research that ties Saddam and al Qaeda together in my new eBook, Both In One Trench: Saddam's support to the global Islamic jihad movement and international terrorism.)

But perhaps six or seven months ago is not timely enough, and the Senator was talking about more recent developments. Did al Qaeda pack up and leave Iraq since then? Dated April 29th, 2007 AFPS reports that twenty one al Qaeda terrorists were taken into custody in actions against that terrorist network.

Our friends certainly think Iraq is a central front for al Qaeda. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer just responded to another horrific car bombing by stating,

"This is a deliberate attempt by al-Qaeda to incite sectarian violence in Iraq and it's very important that the international community understands what al-Qaeda's tactics are."  

The Iraqi government seems to think al Qaeda is the chief opponent. It worries in this Reuters article that the political infighting in the US is being exploited by al Qaeda.

Even al Qaeda seems to think al Qaeda is responsible for the worst of the violence as evidenced by dozens of recent news article - such as this one from the AP, which is also notable because it refers to al Qaeda as an "insurgent group". Just search the phrase "al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility" under Google News and you will find dozens of references to al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the worst attacks.

It would appear that our military, our allies, the Iraqi government and even al Qaeda itself believes that Iraq is the central front in the war against al Qaeda. At the other end of the spectrum is the Democratic leadership and Senator Chuck Hagel, oh yes, and certain media outlets, which insist we have set off a civil war with al Qaeda responsible for a minor share of violence.

Given the opportunity the Senator has had to influence the review of prewar intelligence, it is more than a little disconcerting that he has ignored our own military intelligence, allies and the admission of the enemy, in determining his stance.

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.