Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Saturday, July 31, 2004

DoD News: Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Newt Gingrich

DoD News: Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Newt Gingrich: "Laurie Mylroie: It's inconceivable that the events of September 11 were carried out by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda alone. There was a state involved in terrorism on that scale -- that state seems to be Iraq.

(commercial break)

Gingrich: Welcome back to our report on America and the Axis of Evil: Not If, But When. As you heard in the first half-hour, there is some debate over which countries to add to the list, but there's no debate over the three countries currently on the axis of evil. North Korea, Iran and Iraq, all are major supporters and funders of terrorism worldwide, all three dabble in weapons of mass destruction, each regime is a dictatorship brutal to its own people and fiercely anti-American. But, of the three, one regime, one despotic leader stands out.

Mylroie: There has been continuing Iraqi involvement in terrorism.

Gingrich: Laurie Mylroie is considered to be one of the world's leading experts on Saddam Hussein and his terrorist ties, ties which she says links Saddam directly to September 11th.

Mylroie: It's inconceivable that the events of September 11 were carried out by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda alone. There was a state involved in terrorism on that scale, and that state seems to be Iraq. The Czechs are saying, until this day, that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers in the United States, met at least once in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent. There was a training camp for terrorists just south of Baghdad where terrorists were trained to take over -- hijack airplanes using knives and things like that. And there are even satellite photos of that airplane sitting in the terrorist training camp in the middle of nowhere. An airplane has to be in an airport because it needs some runway to take off and land. But that airplane is just sitting there, there's no airport anywhere around it.

Gingrich: So, you see a major investment by Saddam and the Iraqis in developing a relationship with terrorists, and training them and supporting them?

Mylroie: Since the Gulf War, Saddam has lived for revenge against the United States. And he's been taking out that revenge by acts of terrorism. He's been working with Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden. They are up-front, they provide the cover, the foot soldiers, the ideology. Iraqi intelligence provides the training, direction and expertise.

Gingrich: And, as Saddam continues to fund and train terrorists, his stock among Arab leaders seems to be rising.

Mylroie: I think, in large part, they are afraid of him. They recognize that Saddam is capable of doing terrible things to them. If he did that to the United States, what might he do to them. I think that's part of it. I think another part of it is that the Saudis really aren't the best of allies. It's not clear that they want a democratic regime in Iraq. They might -- they do see it as a threat to their own quasi-authoritarian, if not authoritarian rule, and it may be their judgment that they would prefer to live with Saddam Hussein under sanctions with weapons inspections than to see an effort at democracy in an Arab country.

Gingrich: Some people argue that the road to Iraq lies through Palestine, and others argue that the road to Palestinian-Israeli peace lies through replacing the regime in Iraq. How do you weigh that? I mean, what should the U.S. priorities be?

Mylroie: It has to be removing Saddam Hussein. After all, you know, it was the Gulf War and the apparent victory in 1991 that paved the way for the Madrid conference, and the peace negotiations that followed. Of course, those peace negotiations led to nothing. But it is by removing radical regimes in the Middle East that one will create a climate in which it is easier for Israel and the Palestinians to talk to one another.

Gingrich: If you were advising the president and his choice was to make a higher priority of finishing up al Qaeda or going after the Hussein regime in Baghdad, which would you place as the higher priority for American safety?

Mylroie: I would think we'd be able to do both of them, because the longer we wait -- we want to wrap up al Qaeda as much as possible, but at the same time the longer we wait to go to war with Iraq, the longer Saddam Hussein has time to produce more biological/chemical weapons, even nuclear weapons. He's working on a bomb right now as we speak."

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