Al Qaeda in Iraq

Lets hope that blowing up Zarqawi, Prince of Al Qaeda, takes them off their game for a while. It's not even being referred to as a "corner" turned, so at least our leadership is being realistic about how little this means. Having him dead is definitely a good thing, and every little bit helps, but it will hardly solve our Iraq problem.

Steve Benen, filling in for Drum at the Washington Monthly, reminds us all that Zarqawi could have been dead long before he was dead:

NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself -- but never pulled the trigger.

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.

"Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn't do it," said Michael O'Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

And why did we not strike at Zarqawi? Because it was already becoming clear that this war was not going to be one of necessity, and if we were able to strike at the terrorists without committing troops, why commit the troops? It would have decreased public support for a full invasion, and then Bush couldn't have been seen as a War President, key to having a "successful Presidency."

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