Though the Bush administration has for months claimed that foreign fighters were entering Iraq to kill Americans, U.S. military commanders who are responsible for monitoring the borders here say that they have not witnessed a large infiltration of foreign terrorists.
As recently as Tuesday, President Bush said that 'the foreign terrorists are trying to create conditions of fear and retreat because they fear a free and peaceful state in the midst of a part of the world where terror has found recruits.'
But officers whose areas of operations include Iraq's borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran -- the primary Arab entry points into Iraq -- all said there is no evidence that a significant number of foreign terrorists have entered the country.
'We cover the border, so we would know if they came in or not,' said Lt. Col. Antonio Aguto, executive officer of the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which monitors Iraq's border with Syria and Saudi Arabia. 'Most of them are locals.'
The officers said that very few foreigners have been captured while crossing into Iraq illegally, arrested later inside Iraq or detained when trying to enter the country at existing border checkpoints.
One intelligence officer said emphatically that there was simply no evidence to support the claim.
'We keep hearing that, but we haven't seen anything to back it up,' the officer said.
Just more of the same, spinning Washington is more important than anything actually happening on the ground.