The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by â€œcorrupt and complicitâ€ Iraqi officials.
As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments â€” previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy â€” paid $30 million in ransom last year.
A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.
Here’s the critical part:
The report offers little hope that much can be done, at least soon, to choke off insurgent revenues. For one thing, it acknowledges how little the American authorities in Iraq know â€” three and a half years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein â€” about crucial aspects of insurgent operations. For another, it paints an almost
despairing picture of the Iraqi governmentâ€™s ability, or willingness, to take steps to tamp down the insurgencyâ€™s financing.
Iraq government officials are probably in on it. Why would they want to stop it?
â€œIf accurate,â€ the report says, its estimates indicate that these â€œsources of terrorist and insurgent finance within Iraq â€” independent of foreign sources â€” are currently sufficient to sustain the groupsâ€™ existence and operation.â€ To this, it adds what may be its most surprising conclusion: â€œIn fact, if recent revenue and expense estimates are correct, terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq may have surplus funds with which to support other terrorist organizations outside of Iraq.â€
Some terrorism experts who saw the report are skeptical of its findings, and say that data and conclusions both seem speculative. The report was compiled by an interagency working group headed by Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.
American, Iraqi and other coalition forces are fighting an array of shadowy Sunni and Shiite groups that can draw on huge armories left over from Mr. Husseinâ€™s days, and benefit from the willingness of many insurgents to fight with little or no pay. If the $200 million a year estimate is close to the mark, it amounts to less than what it costs the Pentagon, with an $8 billion monthly budget for Iraq, to sustain the American war effort here for a single day.
Seems to me this indicates that the longer our troops stay in Iraq, the more likely the insurgency will grow into something bigger and more widespread.
Prediction: Tomorrow rightie blogs will complain that the New York Times is aiding the enemy by reporting this stuff, even though its stuff the bleeping enemy already knows.
Update: My prediction comes true. Rightie #1:
The leakers also broke federal law by providing classified information and reports to reporters. Such leaks, regardless of the purpose or intent of the leakers, is a criminal act. … the leakers may have provided critical details of the surveillance of the insurgency, but the report indicates just how little the intel services actually know about what is going on. Wonderful.
The New York Times article clearly says that the 7-page document they obtained provided no “documentation of how authors had arrived at their estimates. … such data may have been omitted to protect the groupâ€™s clandestine sources and methods.” I read the article and saw nothing that came even close to “critical details of the surveillance of the insurgency” other than there doesn’t seem to be much effective surveillance. There’s nothing in this document that the insurgents in Iraq don’t already know. The only people in the dark are American citizens.
When will this kind of baloney stop? Does classified even mean anything anymore to our MSM?
Ok, stupid questions. Of course they care little about the security of our intelligence nor our country. As long as they can keep towing the liberal line and promote their ideals then hey, everything is up for grabs.
Consequences be damned.
The “consequences,” of course, is that the American people might find out how badly our government is botching the War in Iraq. The “enemy,” I suspect, already knows what it’s up to.
Righties, translated: Please keep us ignorant! Any effort to shatter our delusions is treason!
From the Left — Chris at AMERICAblog:
So I’m guessing that many on the right will now use this as a new chance to flog the anti-France sentiment again but we already know that our own accountants have identified an $800M gap in the books and we know that US taxpayer money, weapons and equipment goes in the front door and out the back door to help crooked individuals as well as the insurgents. How is it even possible to be in this war for so long and yet know so little? Who in the hell is putting blinders on? It’s no wonder the war is going so poorly when the US leadership knows so little.
So when Cheney said the US would be greeted with flowers, was this was he was talking about? Is “flower” a code name for “self financed insurgency?” He’s such a clever guy, isn’t he?
The overwhelming impression I’m left with from the piece is that more than three and half years after ostensibly seizing control of Iraq, the U.S. government is still largely ignorant of the armed groups arrayed against its efforts there.
It would seem the primary thing that has emboldened the terrorists–and strengthened their hand–since 9/11 has been the disastrous incompetence and adventurism of the Bush administration.