Is the CIA Helping More al-Qaeda Associates?

Obama has reportedly signed a secret order authorizing CIA operations in Libya, where the agency is there “to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.” Al-Qaeda, a great enemy of the Libyan regime, has also offered assistance to these rebels, whose commander has admitted ties to the terrorist group implicated in the 9/11 attacks—you know, that terrorist group that drew the United States into perpetual war with the Arab world back in 2001.

This would not be the first time the U.S. government found itself associated with al-Qaeda, even if by a degree or two of separation. Indeed, the anti-Soviet fighters supported by the United States in Afghanistan eventually formed the core of this organization. Then of course there was the U.S. support of the al-Qaeda-connected Kosovo Liberation Army in Clinton’s war with Serbia. More recently, there are credible allegations that the U.S. has been covertly supporting Jundallah, a Sunni revolutionary group in Iran, which also has likely al-Qaeda ties.

One irony in all this is that the U.S. waged its largest post-Cold War military operation, the one in Iraq, with two major national-security pretenses. One was the elusive WMD threat. The other was Saddam Hussein’s supposed link to al-Qaeda. The U.S. tried desperately to find such a link, and the best they could do was torture false “intelligence” out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and later cite it at the United Nations. This “evidence” was absolutely crucial to the Bush administration’s case for war, even though it had no credibility whatsoever, given the extreme torture used. Isn’t it crazy that the U.S. government went to war with Iraq, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths, largely with the excuse that Saddam had al-Qaeda connections—and this is the best they could come up with—meanwhile, U.S. intelligence probably has far more plausible and substantial al-Qaeda connections than Saddam ever did? Certainly, its allies in Libya seem to.

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