If they want it, the Democrats have a focal point which blatantly speaks to the cynical and incompetent way the Republicans have conducted the war on terror. His name is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Zarqawi is also believed to be responsible for the assasination of USAID diplomat Lawrence Foley. Wikipedia lists these incidents as well:
- Zarqawi is believed by the former Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to have written an intercepted letter to the al-Qaida leadership in February, 2004 on the progress of the Iraqi jihad. Many observers do not believe that Zarqawi wrote the letter. (See Zarqawi Letter.)
- U.S. officials believe that Zarqawi trained others in the use of poison for possible attacks in Europe, ran a terrorist haven in northern Iraq, and organized the bombing of a Baghdad hotel
- Jordan accuses Zarqawi of plotting to release a chemical cloud in Amman. Men were arrested in Amman who purportedly were planning to release the chemical attack.
- According to suspects arrested in Turkey, Zarqawi sent them to Istanbul to organize an attack on a NATO summit there on June 28 or June 29.
- On July 11, 2004, Zarqawi claimed responsibility for a July 8 mortar attack in Samarra, Iraq. Five American soldiers and one Iraqi soldier were killed.
* U.S. officials blame Zarqawi for over 700 killings in Iraq during the occupation, mostly from bombings.
* Zarqawi has also purportedly claimed responsibility for the Canal Hotel bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq on August 19, 2003. This attack killed 22 people including the UN Secretary-general's special Iraqi envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
While the White House initially claimed Zarqawi proved the link between al-Qaida and Saddam, the CIA has since concluded that's untrue. In fact, Zarqawi's connection to al-Qaeda has always been a subject of controversy. Regardless of any formal connection, he's not a Saddam loyalist, he's a religious fundamentalist with Islamic nationalist views similar to those of Osama bin Laden. But he's becoming an important figure in the insurgency.
Clearly, Zarqawi is a threat to global security. And, as Americans (or Westerners) he's a threat to you and me. He's already attempted a chemical attack in a European city, and he's shown a willingness to target civilians. If ever there was a terrorist who should have been caught and killed, it is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. So why did George W. Bush let him go?
Slate reports on the controversy.
Why didn't the Bush administration kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when it had the chance?
That it had opportunities to take out the Jordanian-born jihadist has been clear since Secretary of State Colin Powell devoted a long section of his February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council. In those remarks, which were given to underscore the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, Powell dwelt at length on the terrorist camp in Khurmal, in the pre-invasion Kurdish enclave. It was at that camp that Zarqawi, other jihadists who had fled Afghanistan, and Kurdish radicals were training and producing the poison ricin and cyanide.
Neither the Khurmal camp nor the surrounding area were under Saddam's control, but Powell provided much detail purporting to show Zarqawi's ties to the Baghdad regime. His arguments have since been largely discredited by the intelligence community. Many of us who have worked in counterterrorism wondered at the time about Powell's claims. If we knew where the camp of a leading jihadist was and knew that his followers were working on unconventional weapons, why weren't we bombing it or sending in special operations forces--especially since this was a relatively "permissive" environment?
In recent months, the mystery of the administration's inaction has only grown. News reports--including, most recently, one in the Wall Street Journal this week--make it clear that military leaders and the CIA felt Zarqawi was a threat that could and should be removed. On at least three occasions between mid-2002 and the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon presented plans to the White House to destroy the Khurmal camp. Each time the White House declined to act or did not respond at all.
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.
The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.
Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.
The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.
"People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president's policy of preemption against terrorists," according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi's operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
700 human beings have been killed. A terrorist is on the loose. American troops are under attack. And all of this to make sure Bush could argue for war? Where's the fucking outrage here?
This is an issue that could destroy Bush if Democrats run with it. Every MTP appearance, every Hardball appearance, every interview on NPR, Democrats need to ask "why did you let Zarqawi go, Mr. President?" We have established news sources on our side here, why are we shying away from asking the question? Don't you think the American people deserve to know WHY their President let a known terrorist escape? Don't you wonder how George W. Bush feels about the American casualties he should have prevented?
Democrats need to start asking this question over and over. "Why did you let Zarqawi go?" And we need to pressure them. I've written letters to my local paper and to my Congresspeople about them, but one voice asking isn't enough. I need your help. If you're as curious or outraged about this, ask your representatives (of either party) to try and get an answer. We deserve to know.