Tuesday, June 24, 2008

US Army Creating Its Own Air Attack Wings In Iraq And Afghanistan

Clashes Between US Army And Air Force

The US Army has decided that the US Air Force aren't pulling their weight, or bombing enough people from the sky. They've got a plan, apparently, already underway, that remarkably enough seems to be pitting the Army against the Air Force. Or so this New York Times story would lead to believe :
Ever since the Army lost its warplanes to a newly independent Air Force after World War II, soldiers have depended on the sister service for help from the sky, from bombing and strafing to transport and surveillance.

But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have frayed the relationship, with Army officers making increasingly vocal complaints that the Air Force is not pulling its weight.

In Afghanistan, Army officers have complained about bombing missions gone awry that have killed innocent civilians. In Iraq, Army officers say the Air Force has often been out of touch, fulfilling only half of their requests for the sophisticated surveillance aircraft that ground commanders say are needed to find roadside bombs and track down insurgents.

The Air Force responds that it has only a limited number of those remotely piloted Predators and other advanced surveillance aircraft, so priorities for assigning them must be set by senior commanders at the headquarters in Baghdad working with counterparts at the Air Force’s regional command in Qatar. There are more than 14,000 airmen performing tasks on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Air Force civil engineers replacing Army construction engineers.

But now in Iraq, the Army has quietly decided to try going it alone for the important surveillance mission, organizing an all-Army surveillance unit that represents a new move by the service toward self-sufficiency, and away from joint operations.

Senior aides to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates say that he has shown keen interest in the Army initiative — much to the frustration of embattled Air Force leaders — as a potential way to improve battlefield surveillance.

The work of the new aviation battalion was initially kept secret, but Army officials involved in its planning say it has been exceptionally active, using remotely piloted surveillance aircraft to call in Apache helicopter strikes with missiles and heavy machine gun fire that have killed more than 3,000 adversaries in the last year and led to the capture of almost 150 insurgent leaders.

The Army aviation task force became fully operational last July with headquarters at Camp Speicher, in the north-central city of Tikrit, and focuses its efforts on insurgents planting roadside bombs. But it also has located and attacked insurgents in battles with American and Iraqi troops, and has supported missions of the top-secret Special Operations units assigned to capture or kill the most high-value targets in Iraq.

The battalion is called Task Force Odin — the name is that of the chief god of Norse mythology, but it also is an acronym for “observe, detect, identify and neutralize.” The task force of about 300 people and 25 aircraft is a Rube Goldberg collection of surveillance and communications and attack systems, a mash-up of manned and remotely piloted vehicles, commercial aircraft with high-tech infrared sensors strapped to the fuselage, along with attack helicopters and infantry.

The Army cobbled together small civilian aircraft, including the Beech C-12, and placed advanced reconnaissance sensors on board. Also assigned to the task force are small, medium and larger remotely piloted Army surveillance vehicles, including the Warrior and Shadow, with infrared cameras for night operations and full-motion video cameras.

All are linked by radio to Apache attack helicopters, with Hellfire missiles and 30-millimeter guns, and to infantry units in armored vehicles.

Civilian casualties are always a risk in air raids, particularly those attacking bomb-placing teams that operate in cities and villages. Army officials declined to say whether they believed the casualties from the new Army raids included innocent civilians, but they sought to pre-empt some criticism by screening an aerial surveillance video that they said showed the precise nature of the raids.

The video showed an insurgent who had escaped attack and hid in a courtyard a few feet from a grazing mule. It then showed Apache helicopter fire killing the insurgent, while the mule was left grazing beside the corpse.

In contrast to Predators, which are assigned by the top headquarters for missions all across Iraq, Task Force Odin is on call for commanders at the level of brigade and below, an effort by the Army to be responsive to the needs of smaller combat units in direct contact with adversaries — and a clear sign of rivaling concepts with the Air Force.

Task Force Odin was created on orders of Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s outgoing vice chief of staff, as a way to improve the detection of roadside bombs before they explode, and to strike more adversaries more safely, from a distance. Thus far, not a single helicopter or piloted surveillance airplane has been lost in the unit’s missions.

“Task Force Odin provides a current example in Iraq that reveals how reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition improves survivability,” General Cody said in a statement.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Mr. Gates “wants to make sure that we are looking at not just top-down solutions, but ground-up solutions. We need to pay attention to anything that works.”

Strains between the services have surfaced in the years since the military undertook the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army and Marine Corps officers in Afghanistan have complained that Air Force pilots flying attack missions in support of ground operations do not come in as low as their Navy and Marine counterparts. Instances of civilian casualties from bombing and missile attacks have increased tensions among local populations, which have to be eased by ground commanders, adding to their burden of winning hearts and minds in the counterinsurgency efforts.

“We are supporting the Army as best we can,” Michael W. Wynne, the departing Air Force secretary, said Friday. He said that as the Army and Marine Corps increased ground forces in Iraq as part of the so-called troop surge over the past year, the Air Force quadrupled its number of sorties and increased its bombing tenfold. The number of surveillance flights by Predators and the larger Reaper vehicles over Iraq and Afghanistan has doubled since January of 2007.

Army officers who are promoting the new concept have shown senior Pentagon officials classified video clips intended to advertise the service’s increasing go-it-alone ability. One clip from a remotely piloted vehicle shows an insurgent using palm fronds to smooth dirt over a bomb he had buried late at night along a major convoy route. Moments later, he disappeared in 30-millimeter fire from an Apache that was alerted by the remotely piloted Army surveillance craft overhead.

The Army is asking for money to create a similar unit in Afghanistan within the next six months.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Giants Of Oil Return To Iraq

Some forty years after being kicked out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein, four Western oil giants are plotting their return :

By the end of the month, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total will sign agreements with the Baghdad government, Iraq's first with big Western oil firms since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The deals are for repair and technical support in some of the country's largest oilfields, the Oil Ministry in Baghdad said yesterday. The return of "Big Oil" will add to the suspicions of those in the Middle East who claimed that the overthrow of Saddam was secretly driven by the West's desire to gain control of Iraq's oil. It will also be greeted with dismay by many Iraqis who fear losing control of their vast oil reserves.

Iraq's reserves are believed to be second only to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, but their exploitation has long been hampered by UN sanctions, imposed on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The major oil companies have been eager to go back to Iraq, but are concerned about their own security and the long-term stability of the country. The two-year no-bid agreements are service agreements that should add another 500,000 barrels of crude a day of output to Iraq's present production of 2.5 million barrels a day (b/d).

The companies have the option of being paid in cash or crude oil for the deals, each of which will reportedly be worth $500m (£250m). For Iraq, the agreements are a way of accessing foreign expertise immediately, before the Iraqi parliament passes a controversial new hydrocarbons law.

But they mean that the four oil companies, which originally formed the Iraq Petroleum Company to exploit Iraqi oil from the 1920s until the industry's nationalisation in 1972, will be well-placed to bid for contracts for the long-term development of these fields. The oilfields affected are some of the largest in Iraq, from Kirkuk in the north to Rumaila, on the border with Kuwait. Although there is oil in northern Iraq, most of the reserves are close to Basra, in the far south.

Since the US invasion, Iraqis have been wary of foreign involvement in their oil industry. Many are convinced that the hidden purpose of the US invasion was to take over Iraqi oil, but the Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussein Shahristani, has said that Iraq will hold on to its natural resources. "If Iraq needs help from international oil companies, they will be invited to co-operate with the Iraqi National Oil Company [Inoc], on terms and conditions acceptable to Iraq, to generate the highest revenue for Iraq".

For the four oil giants, the new agreements will bring them back to a country where they have a long history. BP, Exxon Mobil, Total and Shell were co-owners of a British, American and French consortium that kept Iraq's oil reserves in foreign control for more than 40 years.

The Iraq Petroleum Company (once the Turkish Petroleum Company) was formed in 1912 by oil companies eager to grab the resources in parts of the Ottoman Empire.

The company was formalised in 1928 and each of the four shareholders had a 23.75 per cent share of all the oil produced. The final 5 per cent went to Calouste Gulbenkian, an Armenian businessman.

In 1931, an agreement was signed with Iraq, giving the company complete control over the oi fields of Mosul in return for annual royalties. After Saddam's coup in 1958, nationalisation came in 1972.

More from the IHT :

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq's Oil Ministry.

Sensitive to the appearance that they were profiting from the war and already under pressure because of record high oil prices, senior officials of two of the companies, speaking only on the condition that they not be identified, said they were helping Iraq rebuild its decrepit oil industry.

For an industry being frozen out of new ventures in the world's dominant oil-producing countries, from Russia to Venezuela, Iraq offers a rare and prized opportunity.

While enriched by $140 per barrel oil, the oil majors are also struggling to replace their reserves as ever more of the world's oil patch becomes off limits. Governments in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela are nationalizing their oil industries or seeking a larger share of the record profits for their national budgets. Russia and Kazakhstan have forced the major companies to renegotiate contracts.

The Iraqi government's stated goal in inviting back the major companies is to increase oil production by half a million barrels per day by attracting modern technology and expertise to oil fields now desperately short of both. The revenue would be used for reconstruction, although the Iraqi government has had trouble spending the oil revenues it now has, in part because of bureaucratic inefficiency.

For the American government, increasing output in Iraq, as elsewhere, serves the foreign policy goal of increasing oil production globally to alleviate the exceptionally tight supply that is a cause of soaring prices.

The first oil contracts for the majors in Iraq are exceptional for the oil industry.

They include a provision that could allow the companies to reap large profits at today's prices: the ministry and companies are negotiating payment in oil rather than cash.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

NeoCon Predicts US War With Russia, China

When you're pimping for the world's largest war industry, you've got to learn to look beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. You've got to see the bigger picture, a clash of nations that has the potential to be more devastating than even World War II.

Robert Kagan, one of the most insidious NeoCon propagandists for the War On Iraq is flogging his new book, laying out a new NeoCon agenda for their golden child, John McCain, and the UK Observer has a review :

The potential challenge posed by the emergence of China as a great power, the rise of India, the hardening of Iranian anti-Westernism and the rise of Islamicist fundamentalism tend to be seen in Britain as discrete and disconnected dramas. How they might relate to the European Union or Latin America, say, is almost never asked. The overriding British default position in foreign policy - that any proposal for co-operation or collaborative action that comes from the EU is necessarily bad and anti-British - only makes discussion even more cramped.

Americans think differently. Rather as Britain did when it had an empire, the global scale of American commitments and interests forces American thinking on a grander, more joined-up scale. And Kagan, arch neoconservative, adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain and influence on Barack Obama, certainly thinks grandly. He sees the 21st century as a battleground between liberal democracies and authoritarian states seeking to avenge injustices and reassert their nationalism. The West has no option but to join battle.

Thus his call to create a league of democracies that would promote 'political liberalisation, support human rights, including the empowerment of women, and use its influence to support a free press and repeated elections that will, if nothing else, continually shift power from the few to the many'. We should never forget that the liberties and international order we enjoy today had to be won by struggle. So it will be again. In a global era, democracy is stronger the more widely it is entrenched and, in any case, our interests, whether combating climate change or fighting Islamicist terror, require more democracy and accountability, not less. Nation states that host terror cells or those that pollute the planet need to know that they risk legitimate intervention from others.

It is controversial stuff. The objections are obvious. The United Nations would be devalued and, whatever its weaknesses, it is surely better to have the great powers as members of one global organisation than dividing into two opposing camps. One, centred on the Shanghai Co-operation Council, would be the authoritarian states of China, Russia and others; the second, under US leadership, would be the European and American democracies, Australasia, Japan and India. Instead of struggling for unachievable UN resolutions blocked by the authoritarians, the democracies would be free to go head to head in ideological and political competition.

The book's description of the strong nationalist forces emerging in China, Russia and Iran, with their visceral desire to avenge injustices together with their governing classes' stranglehold on power, is sobering. And those who would defend today's UN at all costs need to be able to show how Japan, Germany, India and Brazil - all great democracies - are ever going to become members of the security council in the face of the implacable opposition of authoritarian China and Russia.

There is a battle going on. Authoritarianism is on the rise and it is dangerous. Putting some well-judged edge behind the democracies' defence of their principles and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a stupid proposal. Kagan would have made his argument even stronger had he shown how democracy contributes to economic and social strength and thus been more sceptical about the sustainability of Chinese and Russian economic growth without it. But that would have implied that the European approach is more right than American thirst for pitched battles, and there is still something of the neocon night about Kagan's thinking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Our Middle East Dementia Continue..."

Robert Fisk provides an informative rant on the state of the Middle East today :

...Israelis deserve security. But so do Palestinians. So do Iraqis and Lebanese and the people of the wider Muslim world. Now even Condoleezza Rice admits – and she was also talking to Aipac, of course – that there won't be a Palestinian state by the end of the year. That promise of George Bush – which no-one believed anyway – has gone. In Rice's pathetic words, "The goal itself will endure beyond the current US leadership."

Of course it will. And the siege of Gaza will endure beyond the current US leadership. And the Israeli wall. And the illegal Israeli settlement building. And deaths in Iraq will endure beyond "the current US leadership" – though "leadership" is pushing the definition of the word a bit when the gutless Bush is involved – and deaths in Afghanistan and, I fear, deaths in Lebanon too.

It's amazing how far self-delusion travels. The Bush boys and girls still think they're supporting the "American-backed government" of Fouad Siniora in Lebanon. But Siniora can't even form a caretaker government to implement a new set of rules which allows Hizbollah and other opposition groups to hold veto powers over cabinet decisions.

Thus there will be no disarming of Hizbollah and thus – again, I fear this – there will be another Hizbollah-Israeli proxy war to take up the slack of America's long-standing hatred of Iran. No wonder President Bashar Assad of Syria is now threatening a triumphal trip to Lebanon. He's won. And wasn't there supposed to be a UN tribunal to try those responsible for the murder of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005? This must be the longest police enquiry in the history of the world. And I suspect it's never going to achieve its goal (or at least not under the "current US leadership").

There are gun battles in Beirut at night; there are dark-uniformed Lebanese interior ministry troops in equally dark armoured vehicles patrolling the night-time Corniche outside my home.

....Bush and his cohorts go on saying that they will never speak to "terrorists". And what has happened meanwhile? Why, their Israeli friends – Mr Baracka's Israeli friends – are doing just that. They are talking to Hamas via Egypt and are negotiating with Syria via Turkey and have just finished negotiating with Hizbollah via Germany and have just handed back one of Hizbollah's top spies in Israel in return for body parts of Israelis killed in the 2006 war.

And so our dementia continues.

Go Here To Read It All

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Iraq Vows To Never Allow US To Attack Iran From Inside Its Borders

The Iraq government is now stalling on a verbal agreement given to BushCo. in late 2007 that they will sign on to allowing US forces to be based inside the country beyond 2008. More than 70% of Iraqis are now reported to be in favour of the rest of the 'Coalition of the Willing' removing its troops, sooner rather than later. Later being 2009, or 2010.

In fact, there is something of a quiet, very democratic revolution boiling in Iraq's halls of power, as Iraq not only faces a future where US troops are no longer roaming free on their cities' streets, but now rumbles to get foreign forces out of the country as soon as possible. BushCo. has made it very clear they have no intention of leaving, having just completed the world's largest embassy complex in Baghdad, which will be permanently manned by hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops. But Iraq's politicians are clear in their intent :
A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday.

The proposed pact has become increasingly controversial in Iraq, where there have been protests against it. It has also drawn criticism from Democrats on the presidential election campaign trail in the United States, who say President George W. Bush is trying to dictate war policy after he leaves office.

"The majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq," the letter to the leaders of Congress said.

"What are the threats that require U.S. forces to be there?" asked Nadeem Al-Jaberi, a co-founder of the al-Fadhila Shi'ite political party, speaking through a translator.

"I would like to inform you, there are no threats on Iraq. We are capable of solving our own problems," he declared. He favored a quick pullout of U.S. forces, which invaded the country in 2003 and currently number around 155,000.

A Sunni Iraqi lawmaker, Khalaf Al-Ulayyan, founder of the National Dialogue Council, said bilateral talks on a long-term security deal should be shelved until American troops leave -- and until there is a new government in Washington.

"We prefer to delay until there is a new administration in the United States," he said.

Meanwhile, Iraq is now actively reassuring Iran that it will not let BushCo. populate the country with more bases, or more troops. Iraqis are making it clear that withdrawal comes before long-term security negotiations, a stand that Iran no doubt backs.

Can't imagine the reaction inside the White House to this exercise in self-determination by the newest democracy in the Middle East is pleasant.

If Iraq refuses to agree to the sadistic American deal detailed below, it's easy to imagine a coup attempt by plotters that will never be brought to justice, along with an upsurge of extreme violence :

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has tried to reassure Iran over a planned security pact with the US, vowing Iraq would never allow use of its territory to "harm" the Islamic republic.

"We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbours," Mr Maliki said after a late-night meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran.

Mr Maliki's comments come amid Iranian alarm over US pressure on Baghdad to sign an agreement that would keep US soldiers in the country beyond 2008. Iran has always called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

US President George W Bush and Mr Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July. But Iraq has now said it has a "different vision" from the United States on the issue.

Iran's concern about the deal comes amid renewed tensions over its nuclear program, which the United States fears is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge vehemently rejected by Tehran.

The United States has never ruled out a military attack to punish Tehran's defiance while Israel has also been warning there may be no alternative to a strike against Iran.

Mr Maliki, quoted by Iran's state news agency IRNA, said "Iraq's stability and security can have a great impact on the region ... We see the implementation of peace and security in Iraq and Iran as what both countries want."

Iraqi Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh had said Mr Maliki would be using the visit to assure Iranian leaders that Iraq "will not serve as a base or staging ground to launch attacks against neighbouring countries."

The Shiite Premier - on his third visit to Tehran since taking office two years ago - was due to also hold talks with other top officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Mottaki, meanwhile, vowed that relations would expand further, saying the Iraqi delegation would "find good ground for creating new strategies in deepening the two countries' ties," according to IRNA.

US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker stressed in Washington on Thursday that Iran and Iraq were neighbours and had to conduct a relationship. "The question is: what kind of relationship is it going to be?" he said.

It's hard to imagine that air strikes on Iran by the United States and Israel will be welcomed by the Iraqi government, who now host more than 160,000 American soldiers and more than 100,000 American private security guards and support services personnel.

Hitting Iran before the nuclear threat is resolved will make many Iraqis fresh enemies of Americans, and Iran may already have extensive special forces personnel inside Iraq. No doubt they have plenty of intelligence on how to conduct the most punishing retaliatory strikes on Americans inside Iraq. Attacking Iran would further unite Iran and Iraq, with Russia and China backing them both against the United States. EU state leaders may support the US and Israel if they hit Iran, but there would be little support amongst most Europeans, who now view the United States as probably the most dangerous threat to world peace in the world today.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Of Course BushCo. Lied Its Way Into War On Iraq

A US Senate report provides further proof that not only did the Bush White House purposely exaggerate the the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq through 2002, but the administration's officials, including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, ignored intelligence assessments that told them truths they didn't want to hear.

The New York Times is as complicit as most mainstream media in allowing BushCo. to lie the United States into a stunningly expensive and utterly deadly war, but even as they shred the Bush White House for fabrication the publication still pretends as though it has no case to answer for.

And why does the mainstream media continue to portray the Bush White House, at worst, as getting a few things wrong about Iraqi WMDs instead of stating the undeniable truth that Bush and Cheney were planning War On Iraq from the earliest days of the administration?

They did not accidentally spread misinformation about the threat from Saddam Hussein in 2002, they lied, again and again, and they did not care. War On Iraq was a possibility in 2000, the 9/11 attacks gave the Bush White House the excuse they needed to smash the country into pieces.

Here's the New York Times lead editorial from yesterday :

It took just a few months after the United States’ invasion of Iraq for the world to find out that Saddam Hussein had long abandoned his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. He was not training terrorists or colluding with Al Qaeda. The only real threat he posed was to his own countrymen.

It has taken five years to finally come to a reckoning over how much the Bush administration knowingly twisted and hyped intelligence to justify that invasion. On Thursday — after years of Republican stonewalling — a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee gave us as good a set of answers as we’re likely to get.

The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.

The report shows that there was no intelligence to support the two most frightening claims Mr. Bush and his vice president used to sell the war: that Iraq was actively developing nuclear weapons and had longstanding ties to terrorist groups. It seems clear that the president and his team knew that that was not true, or should have known it — if they had not ignored dissenting views and telegraphed what answers they were looking for.

Over all, the report makes it clear that top officials, especially Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew they were not giving a full and honest account of their justifications for going to war.

The report documents how time and again Mr. Bush and his team took vague and dubious intelligence reports on Iraq’s weapons programs and made them sound like hard and incontrovertible fact.

“They continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago,” Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002, adding that “we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.”

On Oct. 7, 2002, Mr. Bush told an audience in Cincinnati that Iraq “is seeking nuclear weapons” and that “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.” Saddam Hussein, he said, “is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.”

Later, both men talked about Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa and about the purchase of aluminum tubes that they said could only be used for a nuclear weapons program. They talked about Iraq having such a weapon in five years, then in three years, then in one.

If they had wanted to give an honest accounting of the intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney would have said it indicated that Mr. Hussein’s nuclear weapons program had been destroyed years earlier by American military strikes.

As for Iraq’s supposed efforts to “reconstitute” that program, they would have had to say that reports about the uranium shopping and the aluminum tubes were the extent of the evidence — and those claims were already in serious doubt when Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney told the public about them. That would not have been nearly as persuasive, of course, as Mr. Bush’s infamous “mushroom cloud” warning.

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies and against us,” Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 29, 2002.

Actually, there was plenty of doubt — at the time — about that second point. According to the Senate report, there was no evidence that Mr. Hussein intended to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, and the intelligence community never said there was.

...Mr. Bush declare that “Saddam Hussein would like nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill and leave no fingerprints behind.”

...he said: “Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX nerve gas or someday a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally.”

The Senate report shows that the intelligence Mr. Bush had did not support those statements — or Mr. Rumsfeld’s that “every month that goes by, his W.M.D. programs are progressing, and he moves closer to his goal of possessing the capability to strike our population, and our allies, and hold them hostage to blackmail.”

Claims by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld that Iraq had longstanding ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups also were false, and the Senate committee’s report shows that the two men knew it, or should have.

We cannot say with certainty whether Mr. Bush lied about Iraq. But when the president withholds vital information from the public — or leads them to believe things that he knows are not true — to justify the invasion of another country, that is bad enough.

Of course the New York Times can say "with certainty" that Bush lied about Iraq. The question is why they won't.