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    30 June 2007

    Al Qaeda Enjoys US Propaganda Machine?

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    Since the second bombing of the Shi'ite Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq the Bush Administration has been quick to blame al Qaeda. It seemed logical and, more importantly, fit their choice of rhetoric for the upcoming Congressional battle over Iraq in the House and Senate this July. The plan is to promote al Qaeda as the centerpiece of this war in hopes of placing the Bush Administrations policy in Iraq on the remaining coattails of 9/11. This new rhetoric is a strategic semantic shift made in preparation for September's assessment of the "new way forward."

    But whether or not al Qaeda is second biggest force in Iraq behind that of the Americans, I'm skeptical that this assertion of al Qaeda involvement of either attack on the Askariya shrine. A pragmatic view fingers numerous potential culprits of such an attack such as baathists or numerous other Sunni nationalist groups. There is also the viable contention that al Qaeda in Iraq operates parallel to or independent of the international terrorist organization, al Qaeda and doesn't deserve the elevation (though they'll happily accept it). But what makes me the most skeptical is that al Qaeda has never claimed to be responsible (something that they traditionally bask in as an organization) All accounts of their culpability made by the Iraqi government are inconclusive and no US governmental agency or official (military or civilian) is able to provide proof of such a connection. Secretary of Defense Gates Friday highlighted this seemingly baseless shift in rhetoric nicely.
    "I believe that it is al Qaida that has done the most in terms of trying to stoke sectarian violence, from the bombing of the Samarra mosque a year ago February to the second bombing of the mosque just a couple of weeks ago, and to try and provoke exactly the kind of reaction that happened after February of last year," Gates said. "So I think that at least in terms of the combat operations that we're conducting now, the principal enemy that they are facing is in fact al Qaida."

    But when a McClatchy reporter asked him about the assertion, Gates said that he knew of no hard evidence linking al Qaida in Iraq to the explosion.

    So I guess the facts don't really matter now, it's what fits. Hopefully the media will continue to point out these inconsistencies. McClatchy certainly leads in that category. Additionally, hopefully the American people will have curious and open minds as this debate continues. Unfortunately they've both failed in the past, especially in the presence of choice rhetoric and constructed misperceptions. Such a point of view that condenses all the blame for Iraq's problems onto al Qaeda is fatility obscuring the realities there.

    But perhaps the most alarming attribute of this trend is it's effect on al Qaeda, which is probably joyful accepting blame for both potentially incorrect accusations surrounding the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra.

    Posted by Geoff

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