Ken Katzman, a terrorism expert with the Congressional Research Service -- the in-house think-tank of the U.S. Congress -- said the letter contained elements that raised doubts about its authenticity.Look, you can't help but question these guys. Their intelligence is too often either wrong or made up. Are those words too harsh for you? Then how about "inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading" as Colin Powell put it?
"The purported letter has Zawahri admitting to certain things that it's not realistic for him to admit, because he would know there's a potential this letter might be intercepted," Katzman said.
He said they included a request for money from Zarqawi, an admission that Pakistan's army is hunting for al Qaeda and how the arrest of a top operative affected the network.
On top of that, it just seemed too well-timed to go along with Bush's recent terror speech. There's a lot of that going around, though.
In the end, I can't say whether or not the document is real or not, but neither can any of the conservative bloggers who will trumpet this as an excuse to "stay the course." As a 13-year veteran of the armed forces, though, I find it repulsive that veterans like myself are put in the position where we're forced to decide whether our commander-in-chief is lying or al Qaeda is--and it's actually a hard decision!
However, what I find even more disgusting is this administration's use of the military as a wing of its party's propaganda machine. No, I'm not talking about the embarrassing bit of theater this morning (and, trust me, I know exactly how those things are put together), I'm talking about this web site that CentCom runs. Here's a snippet.
The letter demonstrates that pulling US forces out of Iraq is the wrong approach – that terrorists will not simply lay down their arms when American forces depart Iraq. Al-Qaida and its terrorist brethren will not go away when the Coalition hands over security control to Iraqi forces; rather, they are committed to overthrowing the elected, democratic Iraqi government and ruling the country according to their interpretation of Islamic law.Since when did it become the job of the military not to carry out a commander's orders but to justify them? Whatever happened to "ours is not to reason why"?
Quote: “And it is that the Mujahidin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq , and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal. We will return to having the secularists and traitors holding sway over us.”
No one should be happy about the politicizing of the military (I've written about this before.) Would the Instapunditeers have liked it if the web had been flooded with "Why we're in Kosovo (and, no, it doesn't have anything to do with the president getting fellatio)" sites run by Wesley Clark? Hell, no. And neither would I. The military should not be a tool for either party.
Right now, I'm simply sickened by the fact that these goddamn chickenhawks feel like they can use the military in which they feared to serve as a tool for their wrongheaded, bullshit ideology. And, if you doubt my take on their leadership, consider this: If the Zawahiri letter is actually real, then doesn't it prove that the bad guys are actually smarter than the Bush administration? I mean, for all the claims that they're a bunch of thugs in a wounded operation, this letter, if true, proves that they're at least taking the time to do some post-war planning. The Bush administration, on the other hand, ignored the facts the were given and couldn't be bothered to plan for "winning the peace."
Because of that, sadly, there's no peace to win.
Update: As I said, I know how b.s. photo-ops are run in the military and, yeah, this sounds about right. (Link via Atrios.) Trust me, anyone who's ever even considered voting for a Democrat would be kept miles away from that little set-up. In fact, I was also ordered to stay away from Rush Limbaugh when he made his drive-by lying trip to Afghanistan. I was told by a Major that I couldn't disagree with the Commander-in-Chief on air. I said that the regs say nothing of the sort, but, anyway, I was going to disagree with Limbaugh if given the opportunity, not the president. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was to stay away. Limbaugh, she said, didn't want to deal with that on this trip. Like Bush, he's not only scared to serve, but scared of the honest opinions of those who do.