Monday, February 09, 2004

This AP story about the Zarqawi letter basically gets it right:

A letter seized from an al-Qaida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against America, raising questions about the Bush administration's contention that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

The 17-page letter, cited as a key piece of intelligence that offered a rare window into foreign terrorist operations in Iraq, appealed to al-Qaida leaders to help spark a civil war between Iraq's two main Muslim sects in an effort to "tear the country apart," U.S. officials said Monday....

"Many Iraqis would honor you as a guest and give you refuge, for you are a Muslim brother," it said. "However, they will not allow you to make their home a base for operations or a safe house."

That suggests that Iraqis may be willing to support their homegrown insurgency but have little interest in backing foreign infiltrators. The letter's appeals for outside help raises questions whether al-Qaida had a support network here before Saddam's downfall....

But the cynical bastards in the White House know this is all hard for most Americans to follow. Alas, they know that they can robotically repeat the Big Lie ("White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the letter, first reported Monday by The New York Times, shows that 'Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism'") and most of us will swallow it.

And there's a chance they're actually going to revive the "increased violence means we're succeeding" line they tried out a few months ago:

One senior U.S. officer, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, warned the plea could mean more "spectacular" attacks because the rebels were despairing that their devastating car bombs and the steady killing of U.S. troops were failing to shove the Americans from Iraq or spark massive discord.

And now the administration can blame any truly nasty violent act in Iraq on al-Qaeda, with or without evidence -- just in time for the campaign.

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