Mac's "Keeping it Real" Alert

MSM is jumping on a report from the Sunday Times in London that claims that "US officials held secret talks in Iraq with the commanders of several Iraqi insurgent groups recently in an attempt to open a dialogue with them."

I doubt this report's veracity on several counts. First the "sources" quoted by the Times cannot be colarborated:

AP via MSNBC:

"The story, which quoted unidentified Iraqis whose groups were purportedly involved in the talks, said those at the first meeting included Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Iraq and an attack that killed 22 people in the dining hall of a U.S. base at Mosul last Christmas."

"Two others were Jaish Mohammed, or Mohammed’s Army, and the Islamic Army in Iraq, which in August reportedly killed Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, the newspaper said."

I'm extremely skeptical about "unnamed" sources and "ex" Iraqi officials.

Secondly, you could imagine the implications that would come from a "negotiation with killers" that are directly involved in specific incidents involving the US and Italy. It would be a diplomatic nightmare, and fly in the face of our "no negotiation with terrorist" rule.

Yes, it's possible (heck anything is possible), and the article does talk about the prior talks with Sunni leaders. Again, this story may be possible, but in my mind it's highly unlikely these meetings actually took place.

Third, keeping the geo/political implications in mind, neither American or Iraqi officials have colaborated this report. True, the US would possibly deny it as SOP (Standard Procedure), but Iraqi officials have been a little bit more forthcoming on things like this. Ok, they have "slip of the lip" disease. Yet at this point with no other source except the statements of the terrorists themselves; I throw this report to the wind with a grain of salt.

As former military with PSYOPS and Intelligence background I don't doubt the varacity of some CIA activity here (rogue?)or even MI (Military Intelligence); but to say, "They sat down to drink tea to discuss "demands and grievances." Sounds more like a Tom Clancey novel than reality. I don't know, the report makes my "bullshit" alert meter go off.

I'll wait for further confirmation from my "sources" ; or from a source that is a little more credible than what is being given us so far.

UPDATE: Like I said, I could be wrong....Fox News is now reporting a certain amount of "colaboration" on occassion between some Iraqi groups, but no direct colaboration of this particular story.

UPDATE 2: I watched Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace where he questioned Mr. Rumsfeld, specifically on this report. Here is an excerpt:

WALLACE: Were there direct meetings with insurgent commanders?

RUMSFELD: Look, my understanding is that some London paper reported this and everyone's chasing it. I would not make a big deal out of it.

Meetings go on frequently with people. The wonderful thing about what's happened since the election is the Shias have said, "Let's reach out to the Sunnis."

The Sunnis made a mistake not participating in the election as fully as they could have. They now know that. They said they've made a mistake. They're leaning in.

The Shia could have said, "Well, you didn't play, you're out." They didn't. They said, "Let's get the Sunnis in. We want to have one country, the Kurds, the Shia, the Sunni."

WALLACE: But let me ask you specifically about these reports. Is there an effort -- you talk about this, sort of, spectrum...

RUMSFELD: I can't comment on that.

WALLACE: But let me just ask you about this one specific idea. Is there an effort -- you talk about the spectrum of groups -- to try split off the homegrown insurgents from the foreign fighters, the Zarqawi group?

RUMSFELD: Well, sure, my goodness, yes. The first thing you want to do is split people off and get some people to be supportive.

The same thing's going on in Afghanistan. President Karzai is reaching out to the Taliban. He doesn't want those that have blood on their hands, but he is reaching out to the lower-level people and saying, "Look, let's have one country."

So I think the attention to this is overblown." (end of transcript).

I think overblow and disingenuous.

Like I said, are there meetings here and there taking place - absolutely. Yet there is still no direct confirmation on this report - either from the Pentagon or from what I can find out - of direct meetings between "US Officials" meeting with terrorists. Reading the article it appears to give the impression that the US is desparate and pulling out all stops to stop the insurgency - a position which is totally bogus. Therefore, I still stand by my orginal position that the article should be viewed with skeptism.

Just from "Did you know?" Department: I didn't see this at first, but I noticed the STL story byline is credited Hala Jaber, who is the author of Hezbollah. A rather sympathetic look at the group (source alert).

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