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Softball on Hardball

Chris Matthews gives Michael Scheuer a pass--again.

4:00 PM, Nov 10, 2005 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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We know for certain that bin Laden was seeking CBRN weapons . . . and that Iraq and Sudan have been cooperating with bin Laden on CBRN weapon acquisition and development. On the last point, Milan's Corriere della Sera reported that in late 1998 that Iraq's ambassador to Turkey and former intelligence chief, Faruk Hidjazi, met bin Laden in Kandahar on 21 December 1998. The daily said Hidjazi offered bin Laden sanctuary in Iraq, stressing that Baghdad would not forget bin Laden's protests against U.S.-U.K. air attacks on Iraq. Whether Hidjazi discussed CBRN issues with bin Laden is unknown, but is [sic] interesting to note that Al-Watan Al-Arabi reported that in October 1998 the Iraqis "suggested to bin Laden to involve [in his search for CBRN weapons] elements from the Russian Mafia who were above suspicion." It was learned that these trusted elements were Red Army officers who established ties of friendship and trust with officers in the Iraqi army in the past when Iraqi army and intelligence officers used to go to the Soviet Union for training courses and Moscow sent its military specialists to Baghdad.

There is also abundant evidence that Scheuer's other claims are meaningless. That the northern part of Iraq, where hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists took refuge, was not formally under Saddam's control is a given. But there is still plenty of evidence that these al Qaeda terrorists, who went after Saddam's enemies among the Kurds and not Saddam's forces, received Saddam's support. (See, for example, here.)

Scheuer's claim that the al Qaeda terrorists who relocated to northern Iraq and received WMD training were "Shia" is also contradicted by the evidence. One of these terrorists was al Qaeda's rising star, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who briefly led one of al Qaeda's camps in northern Iraq. Zarqawi is renowned for his vehement hatred of the Shia.

One year later Michael Scheuer is still making media appearances.

And one year later interviewers such as Matthews still don't play hardball with him.

Thomas Joscelyn is an economist and writer living in New York.