We’ve written several times about our old friend Paul Pillar, who went to work for the CIA and rose to very near the top of that organization. Sadly, Pillar was one of the chief architects of the CIA’s “book” on Saddam Hussein, pretty much all of which turned out to be wrong. Paul has now retired from the CIA, but is still spinning furiously, most recently in defense of his pet theory that the “secular” Saddam (never mind the Koran written in his blood, or the Baghdad conventions he put on for Islamic terrorists) couldn’t possibly support or collaborate with al Qaeda.
At the Weekly Standard, Tom Joscelyn dissects the latest misinformation published by Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, based on Pillar spin. You have to read it all to get the details, but here is an excerpt:
A clear pattern emerges from the available evidence: Zawahiri and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad were major influences on Osama bin Laden early on, long before their formal merger. There were, of course, tactical differences from time to time, but this never stopped the two groups from working hand-in-glove. In fact, as Wright, al-Zayyat, and other sources have reported, it was Zawahiri and his EIJ lieutenants who steered bin Laden towards the absolute jihadist approach that defines al Qaeda. They were, in fact, always as much a part of al Qaeda as bin Laden himself. It is highly significant, therefore, that the IIS document Pillar and Isikoff refer to says that the IIS and the EIJ had an agreement in place to collude against Hosni Mubarak