Breaking News: No Operational Relationship Between Iraq and Al Qaeda
News flash! The Pentagon will release a report on Wednesday that shows that there was no operational link between Iraq and Al Qaeda:
Sponsored by the Pentagon, the report found no "direct operational link" between Saddam's government in Iraq and bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror ring before the U.S. invasion, an official told McClatchy.
The Bush administration put forth the argument that there was a connection between Saddam and bin Laden when it made the case to go to war with Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Ah ha! We've got 'em now! This is big news! They LIED to us! Rumsfeld himself said there was "bulletproof evidence" that Al Qaeda were in Iraq. And now, six years and 600,000 documents later, we finally find out that it's all untrue! What shocking, shocking news! The sources cited above are unnamed intelligence reports from 1998, 1999 and 2001, as well as a CIA report called "Ansar al-Islam:Al Qa'ida's Ally in Northeastern Iraq," CTC 2003-40011CX, Feb. 1, 2003. An Al Qaeda operative also claimed that the two sides discussed chemical weapons and explosives training, but then later recanted that testimony (Report footnotes: p. 470).
At least it was back in July of 2004, when the 9/11 Commission Report was released.
-----Continue reading Breaking News: No Operational Relationship...Here is the first half of Page 66 of that report:
There is also evidence that around this time Bin Ladin sent out a number
of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported
to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein's
efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle
Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin.
In mid-1998, the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative.
In March 1998, after Bin Ladin's public fatwa against the United States,
two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence.
In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with
the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps
both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin's Egyptian
deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. In 1998, Iraq was
under intensifying U.S. pressure, which culminated in a series of large air
attacks in December.
Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have
occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban.
According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq.
Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan
remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe
friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of
the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier
contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor
have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing
or carrying out any attacks against the United States.
OK, so two things:
First, it continues to amaze me that people can't understand the difference between "no relationship" and "no operational relationship." Back in 2002-2003, here's what we knew: Meetings in Iraq in March of 1998, meetings in Afghanistan in July of 1998, and similar meetings in 1999. And so, when asked, the President and the SecDef both claimed evidence of a relationship. After interrogating prisoners, capturing documents in Afghanistan and Iraq, and continued intelligence gathering, we reached the conclusion that this relationship never blossomed into anything operational.
So, like the weapons of mass destruction, we got it wrong. Evidence existed on both sides, and Bush/Rumsfeld picked the wrong side. Were they cherry picking to put the nation on a war footing? Probably. Were they knowingly lying to the American people to line the pockets of Haliburton? Well, that's quite a leap, given what we've read above. But, for reasons that continue to mystify me, it's simply not good enough to stand up and shout, "Bush was wrong!" It has to be "Bush lied!"
Of course, I'm screaming into the wind here. "Bush lied" has been printed, spoken and repeated so many times, that the above three paragraphs read like some Limbaugh/Hannity One Act play, rather than the careful result of the most respected bi-partisan commission in the country's history. C'est la guerre, I guess...
Second thing: why is this considered shocking news in March of 2008? I know not everyone has read the 9/11 Commission report, but surely someone in the news media has, no? Hasn't anyone realized that this "shocking news" is four years old? I mean they even use the same term - "operational relationship." It's like the media is plagiarizing itself.
Now, there's a scandal...
The sources cited above are unnamed intelligence reports from 1998, 1999 and 2001, as well as a CIA report called "Ansar al-Islam:Al Qa'ida's Ally in Northeastern Iraq," CTC 2003-40011CX, Feb. 1, 2003. An Al Qaeda operative also claimed that the two sides discussed chemical weapons and explosives training, but then later recanted that testimony (Report footnotes: p. 470).
posted by Brian at 1:42 AM