- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

President Bush has reportedly decided, wisely, to accept the inevitable and endorse the creation of yet another blue ribbon bipartisan commission. Consequently, we will soon have a new group of worthies examining highly classified information about what we thought we knew about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and, if we were wrong, why.

Mr. Bush recognizes that, while those are interesting questions, this panel would be much more helpful if its mandate is a broader one than evident intelligence shortfalls and, perhaps, failings. According to press accounts, he wants the new commission to think about the sorts of intelligence presidents, Congress and other policymakers need to understand — and to act on — the various threats with which we must contend in this War on Terror. This would be a natural and appropriate extension of the initial inquiry.

The commission’s mandate should also require it to address one other, related and very important topic: Was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq involved in previous terrorist attacks against the United States?

After all, if Saddam not only repeatedly declared his desire for revenge against the United States following his humiliating defeat in Operation Desert Storm, but mounted operations aimed at exacting it, the wisdom — indeed the necessity — of President Bush’s decision to remove him from power would be manifest.

Therefore, these are among the right questions for an Iraq threat commission to explore:

Is there evidence Iraqi nationals and/or operatives helped engage in murderous acts of terror against targets in this country?

If the answer is yes, could Saddam have reasonably been expected to continue doing so in the future, had he not been stopped?

And could such attacks have incorporated the use of even small quantities of Iraqi-supplied weapons of mass destruction, which David Kay acknowledges he probably had, as well as the assured capacity quickly to produce such quantities of WMD?

These questions take on all the more importance insofar as preliminary answers are already available. Two intrepid women, Mideast expert Laurie Mylroie and former TV journalist Jayna Davis, have devoted much of their lives to documenting evidence of Iraqi complicity in two of the most deadly attacks in the nation’s history.

In her book, “The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks — A Study in Revenge” (Harper Collins, 2001), Dr. Mylroie laid out a case not made in the prosecution of the first World Trade Center bombers. She describes the hapless Islamist radicals who were tried for attempting in February 1993 to topple one of the twin towers into the other as mere pawns used by far more sophisticated operatives with ties to Iraq.

One of the latter, Ramzi Youssef, was subsequently arrested in Pakistan, extradited and convicted for his role in the bombing. But as Dr. Mylroie wrote in a National Interest article in 1995, when she told prosecutors “that Iraq was probably behind the Trade Center bombing, they replied, ‘You may be right, but we don’t do state sponsorship. We prosecute individuals.’ Asked who does ‘do’ state sponsorship, they answered, ‘Washington.’ ‘Who in Washington?’ No one seemed to know.”

The need to get to the bottom of apparent Iraqi complicity in attacks on the American homeland is even more apparent in a new book by Ms. Davis titled “The Third Terrorist: The Middle Eastern Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing,” to be published next month by WND/Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The author did path-breaking reporting for the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City after the deadly destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. The fruits of that on-air work and the exhaustive research behind it were a wealth of eyewitness accounts, affidavits, interviews and other documentary — if circumstantial — evidence that lead inexorably to the conclusion that two convicted perpetrators, American militiamen Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, did not act alone. According to Ms. Davis and her sources, their principal co-conspirator, the once-sought John Doe No. 2, appears to have been a former Iraqi soldier who wears a tattoo from Saddam’s elite Republican Guard.

The extraordinary reluctance of government officials, which dates back to the Clinton administration, to give serious consideration to the evidence compiled by Dr. Mylroie and Ms. Davis argues for making a fresh look at this data an important responsibility for the independent commission on the Iraq threat. If this is done, the conclusion seems inescapable: Whether or not it can be established Saddam Hussein was also involved in the September 11 attacks, he was what President Bush has called him — a “grave and growing danger.” And the president was absolutely right to deny him the ability to translate his residual capacity for WMD-equipped attacks into future, far more lethal acts of revenge against the United States and its people.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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