Liberal Grace

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bush can and has cooperated with Iran and Syria

James Baker likes to point out that Bush already cooperated with Iran. I'd like to point out that they've already cooperated with Syria.

James Baker has been making the rounds after the ISG report and I've heard him point-out a couple of times that America and Iran found a way to talk and even cooperate after the fall of the Taliban.

He's referring to a surprising development after the Afghanistan invasion when Iran helped us track down Taliban who had fled into their country. It was such an anomalous little story that most people never noticed it and most everybody -- but not James Baker -- have forgotten about it.

Basically, Iran came to our aid after 911 and the Bush administration cooperated with them briefly but then -- true to form -- totally rejected the opportunity to build on this hopeful opportunity.

How Neo-Cons Sabotaged Iran's Help on al Qaeda

WASHINGTON - After the Sep. 11 attacks, U.S. officials responsible for preparing for war in Afghanistan needed Iran's help to unseat the Taliban and establish a stable government in Kabul. Iran had organised resistance by the "Northern Alliance" and had provided arms and funding, at a time when the United States had been unwilling to do so.
The bureaucracy recognised that there was an opportunity to work with Iran not only on stabilising Afghanistan but on al Qaeda as well. As reported by the Washington Post on Oct. 22, 2004, the State Department's policy planning staff had written a paper in late November 2001 suggesting that the United States should propose more formal arrangements for cooperation with Iran on fighting al Qaeda.
But the cooperation against al Qaeda was not the priority for the anti-Iranian interests in the White House and the Pentagon.
Soon after that decision, hardliners presented Iranian policy to Bush and the public as hostile to U.S. aims in Afghanistan and refusing to cooperate with the war on terror -- the opposite of what officials directly involved had witnessed.

Bush has already cooperate with Syria -- on torture

There is another anomalous sub-story going around that few people have noticed: the Bush administration has already cooperated with Syria -- on torture.

Maher Arar s a Canadian software engineer who was falsely accused of being an Al-Qaeda operative and was subsequently tortured in Syria. On September 26, 2002, during a stopover in New York en route from Tunis to Montreal, Arar was detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service who may have been acting upon false and misleading information supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Despite carrying a Canadian passport, he was deported to Syria in accordance with a U.S. policy known as "extraordinary rendition."[2] Arar was then held in solitary confinement in a Syrian prison where, according to a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor, he was regularly tortured until his eventual release and return to Canada in October 2003.
Maher Arar at Wikipedia

The basic outline of this case don't seem to be in much dispute -- and clearly the Bush administration had to talk to and cooperate with Syria in order for this to happen.

Less clear is if there was a feed-back loop from Syria to America about intelligence gathered from the torturous interrogation. To me, it seems only logical that there was. After all, the Bush administration insists that the point of "harsh interrogation" is to gather intelligence about planned attacks.

So, clearly, America has and can cooperate with Syria under Bush. Very likely, America and Syria have even cooperated on sensitive intelligence gathering about al Queda.

So, why can't the Bush Administration talk with Syria regarding a solution to Iraq?

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