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In his press conference today, George Bush once again claimed that terrorists were hoping to drive the US out of Iraq "before the mission is done":

If we were to abandon that country before the Iraqis can defend their young democracy, the terrorists would take control of Iraq and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America.

How do I know that would happen? Because that's what the enemy has told us would happen. That's what they have said.

And as commander in chief of the United States military, and as a person working to secure this country, I take the words of the enemy very seriously, and so should the American people.

Well, fair enough...and some might say it's about time.

Here is what an al Qaida leader named "Atiyah" wrote to the former leader of Al Qaida in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, on Dec. 11, 2005 (PDF):

The most important thing is that you continue in your jihad in Iraq, and that you be patient and forbearing, even in weakness, and even with fewer operations; even if each day had half of the number of current daily operations, that is not a problem, or even less than that. So, do not be hasty. The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God's permission. The best acts are those that last, however few they may be, provided that we guard against mistakes building up and that we have integration in the jihadist enterprise. The only thing that you have to fear is yourselves and your own mistakes, not your enemy. By God, your enemy will never defeat you as long as you are patient and steadfast, not having caused damage that is great or frequent; and you seek help in God.

For more context on this letter, see my post from last week, plus Robert Parry at his Consortium News, who points out that a second al Qaida letter from July 2005, by Zawahiri, also states that a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq would be disastrous for al Qaida. Over the weekend the Christian Science Monitor picked up the story about this important passage in the Atiyah letter.

So, Mr. Bush, are you going to take those statements from al Qaida seriously? Are you prepared to admit that al Qaida wishes to keep the U.S. bogged down in Iraq as long as possible, wearing down our military strength, sapping our prosperity, undermining our international standing, and assisting al Qaida itself as it tries to repair its damaged reputation in Iraq and cement its base of power there?

Or will you continue to take seriously only to what you want to hear the terrorists saying? Will you continue to dwell upon their fantasies about reviving the caliphate?

The stakes couldn't be any higher, as I said earlier, in the world in which we live. There are extreme elements that use religion to achieve objectives. And they want us to leave. And they want to topple government. They want to extend an ideological caliphate that has no concept of liberty inherent in their beliefs.

We know all about extremists using religion to achieve their objectives. Here in the U.S., they're called Republicans.

But why, Mr. Bush, are you obsessing about will-o-wisps like a caliphate, when you ignore al Qaida's statements about their tactical, their real, their actual plan to keep the U.S. bogged down in Iraq?

The enemy's doing everything within its power to destroy the government and to drive us out of the Middle East, starting with driving us out of Iraq before the mission is done.

The stakes are high. As a matter of fact, they couldn't be higher....

They want to control oil resources and they want to plot and plan and attack us again. That's their objectives.

If the stakes are so damned high, then why have you never sent more than minimal forces to Iraq? If it truly is a "clash of civilizations", upon which the very future of the U.S. depends, then why did the Army not have enough troops to establish order in Iraq in April 2003? Why have you drawn down our forces there, rather than building them up as chaos ensued? Why did you not find the forces to win this "high-stakes" war? Why have you never asked Congress to re-introduce the draft?

No, Mr. Bush, you give the impression that you believe only part of what al Qaida's leaders say...and, only part of what you yourself say.

Originally posted to smintheus on Wed Oct 11, 2006 at 10:06 AM PDT.

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