Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, the co-author with Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely on their book Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror. He is a retired Air Force Fighter Pilot who has been a Fox News Military Analyst for the last four and a half years and continues to appear regularly on Fox. He just returned from his second visit to Iraq in December, 2005.
FP: Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
McInerney: Thank you Jamie.
FP: The released audiotapes of Saddam Hussein's conversations with his key officials are turning up more and more evidence of WMDs and the Osama connection. The documents released by the U.S. government last Wednesday, for instance, reveal more about the Saddam-Al Qaeda link. Can you shed some light on this for us?
McInereny: I just reviewed this additional release of documents. This release continues to confirm that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were in contact with Iraq intelligence for sanctuary, training, and plans for acts of terrorism against the US and in the US.
This just supports the 12 hours of tapes we heard of Saddam Hussein’s that discussed using proxies (Al Qaeda) to attack the US with WMD i.e. nuclear or biological. The latest release has pictures of Zarqawi while he was in Iraq prior to our liberation. It is obvious that he was living there as a sanctuary after he left Afghanistan. Stephen
Hayes of the Weekly Standard has done a superb job in describing this relationship in great detail in several articles and TV appearances on Fox News. In addition the CIA director George Tenet confirmed this prior to the liberation of Iraq as did Under Secretary Doug Feith in a memo on Al Qaeda’s involvement with Iraq prior to hostilities. However some people are still in denial even with the latest release as it gets in the way of their agenda.
FP: It appears that many people also remain in denial about the WMD issue. The released audiotapes reveal Saddam Hussein and his key officials discussing their WMD programs from the mid-1990s onwards, correct?
McInerney: Yes, Jamie. It was a fascinating experience to see the transcripts of Saddam’s conversations. He discussed hiding WMDs from the UN inspectors and knowing where the inspectors were going to go in advance. He discussed their efforts to develop Plasma Enrichment for nuclear weapons totally unknown to the UN inspectors.
But the most telling to me was the conversation between Tariq Aziz his foreign minister and Saddam in which they discussed having proxies implant nuclear and biological weapons in US cities. They concluded that Iraq would be blamed for an explosion but not biological as they could use deception and blame US facility ( Ft Dietrick) which makes me conclude that Iraq was responsible for the anthrax attack in US less than 30 days after 9/11.
The FBI has not determined who did it although they tried to charge unsuccessfully a former Ft Dietrick employee. It is obvious that we should aggressively be translating the remaining 3,000 hours of tapes!
FP: So the evidence appears to suggest the Russians moved the WMD’s out of Iraq, correct?
McInerney: Yes -- to three locations in Syria and one in Lebanon (Beka Valley) in the Sept – Dec 2002 time frame. This information was provided by Jack Shaw, the former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for international technology security. He charged that Saddam’s stockpiles of WMDs were moved by a Russian Spetznatz team headed by Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian Intelligence Chief, who came to Iraq in December 2002 to supervise the final cleanup.
Mr. Shaw found this out through a meeting in London with the head of MI–6 (UK CIA), the Ukrainian Intelligence Chief and others in the summer of 2003. The Ukrainians were very close and supportive of the Russians at that time.
FP: This information destroys the Left’s main arguments and vindicates the Bush administration. Why do you think the administration is not talking about this?
McInerney: The President is being ill served by his Intelligence staff. In some cases the diplomats don’t want the world to know this as the three primary violators were Russia, China and France -- all permanent members of the UN Security Council and whom they need to deal with Iran and future contingencies in the war on terror. I assume he did not want to trash our future “allies.” However, he directed in mid-Feb that they all be released and I understand that it is imminent.
FP: Your book instructs that we must go after the state sponsors of terrorism in order to win the terror war. You even argue that some nations might have to be invaded by U.S. forces. Can you talk a bit about this strategy and what it entails?
McInerney: There existed a Web of Terror group of nations before 9/11. They were Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and North Korea. Three have been removed two by regime change and Libya voluntarily. Iran is now our most serious threat and the regime must be changed -- but I would use the Afghanistan model using covert operations with massive coalition air support. We should let the Iranian people take back their country.
FP: Your thoughts on Islam?
McInerney: Islam needs a reformation just like Christianity had plus they need a cultural renaissance to bring them into modernity. This must come from within driven by moderate Muslims. Dr Tawfik Hamid has just written a brilliant book ‘The Roots of Jihad” that describes our challenge. He states that Islamic Terrorism has the support of the majority of Muslims and must be reformed to become a religion of tolerance. Now it is a religion of intolerance. I think it will get worse before it gets better. Al Qaeda are killing more Muslims than coalition forces in Iraq and until the Muslim world acknowledges this and destroys this cancer from within we will have continued conflict that will spread. It could be catastrophic for Islam. Dr Abdurrahman Wahid the former President of Indonesia wrote an excellent OP ED in the Wall street Journal on December 30, 2005 describing what must be done to defeat the Wahhabi ideology.
FP: Is Islamic extremism an ideology just like Fascism and Communism?
McInerney: Exactly and it must be fought in much the same way. The West has not acknowledged this and consequently we have not educated our population that it is an ideology rather than a religion. This is confusing people because of our tolerance for the diversity of religion.
FP: So overall, where is the central front in the terror war? Iraq? Are we winning this war? What are we going to have to do to win it?
McInerney: Iraq is the central front on the war on terror and that is why the insurgency is so intense. Al Qaeda is indiscriminately killing innocent people and the Iraqi people recognize this and we are seeing them providing much more intelligence to the coalition forces. In the final analysis it will be the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi people who will defeat this insurgency. Hopefully Iraq will be a corner stone for reform in the region. It will take time but it spreads like a virus which terrifies the Extremists so much. Unfortunately the left does not understand this.
Afghanistan and Iraq and Saddam Hussein is on trial and Osama bin Laden is in hiding as are his aides moving every 3-6 hours. We still must change the regimes in Syria and Iran but I would use the Afghan model and let the Syrian and Iranian people take their countries back assisting them covertly. In addition Saudi Arabia must stop funding the expansion of this extreme form of Islam called Wahabiism which is driving the Extremists with funding and ideology
We are winning but it is a tough fight. 50 million people are now free in
FP: Tom McInerney, thank you for joining us today.
McInerney: Thank you.
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