Posted by on 2 July, 2007 at 8:59 pm. 1 comment.


In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed former DIA analyst Christina Shelton discussed her intelligence work analyzing links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and countered some of the conventional wisdom on the subject while taking issue with the way her background and work were depicted in former CIA director George Tenet’s recent book "At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA."

Responding to Tenet’s charge that she claimed the debate over Iraq – al Qaeda links was "open-and-shut" and in no need of further analysis Shelton wrote:

I said the covert nature of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda made it difficult to know its full extent; al-Qaeda’s security precautions and Iraq’s need to cloak its activities with terrorist networks precluded a full appreciation of their relationship.

Cooperation or meetings between the two sides would likely be something which would necessitate extreme secrecy and the information of such meetings/cooperation would likely be compartmentalized on a "need to know" basis if/when such meetings took.

Shelton referred to a 2002 letter from Tenet to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (available here) that discussed the training, meetings and safehaven that were cited as details of the links between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda and indicated that this information (including a decade of high ranking contacts between the two) coupled with the information that was made public in Tenet’s book (high ranking al Qaeda/Egyptian Islamic Jihad members moving to Baghdad prior to invasion) make a pretty compelling case for the argument that there was enough cause for concern about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda (which Tenet also said in his book).

Shelton concluded her piece saying:

A more complete understanding of Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaeda will emerge when historians can exploit the numerous seized documents free from the politics of the Iraq war.

A full analysis of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq links to both al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, which Shelton correctly notes won’t be fully possible until all of Iraq’s documents and all relevant interrogation logs are released, is something this site has argued in favor of previously.

Crossposted from Regime of Terror

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