By Katy Granath Posted February 18, 2009
During the Bush administration, the invasion of Iraq was characterized as an assault on al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In 2003 Vice President Cheney said the invasion had “struck a major blow right at the heart of the base…the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” As it turned out, Cheney wasn’t telling the truth.
In March 2008, five years after our invasion of Iraq, the military finally began its first investigation into whether or not Saddam Hussein actually had ties to al-Qaeda. This was the first and only investigation into Hussein’s terrorist ties ever conducted by the United States military. After searching through more than 600,000 seized documents, the investigation reported that no ties whatsoever could be found between the fallen Iraqi leader and the terrorist network.
The front lines of the War on Terror should never have been set in Iraq because the true center of Al Qaeda operations is in Afghanistan. While the US turned its attention to Iraq, Afghanistan began to fall back into the hands of the Taliban, aided by al-Qaeda. The terrorist network and its leader, Osama bin Laden, have been hiding out in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while our military invaded Iraq. Top military experts have always placed bin Laden’s hideout as being somewhere on the Afghan-Pakistani border.
General Michael V. Hayden, director of the CIA in 2006, called the border al-Qaeda’s “jump-off point for its guerrilla forays into Afghanistan.”
President Barack Obama now faces a challenge in retaking control of Afghanistan. Although the new president has promised to remove troops from Iraq, he has pushed for a troop surge into Afghanistan. Obama has also pledged to renew US efforts to locate and bring terrorist leader bin Laden to justice. Obama’s advisers have promised that the new president is looking to increase military force and intelligence in Afghanistan, and plans to include the border areas as part of a new assault on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.