June 17, 2004

When Worlds Collude


CNN reported today: Blair: Al Qaeda worked in Iraq; 9/11 panel finds no link between terror network, Saddam.

Notice the subhead, which asserts no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Other news outlets used similar headlines giving the impression that the 9/11 commission has dismissed all links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. But even the CNN article recites links between Al Qaeda and Iraq that are mentioned in the commission's report.

CNN later reported: Bush insists Iraq, al Qaeda had 'relationship'.

Bush reiterated that the administration never said that "the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," he said. [...] "I always said that Saddam Hussein was a threat," Bush said. He was "a threat because he provided safe haven for a terrorist like (Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi, who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq."

In a news release, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made this point:

"We don't have evidence that Saddam Hussein helped plan the attack on September 11th, but we do have plenty of evidence that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden shared a similar view of the United States and were exploring ways to develop closer ties. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are cut from the same cloth. One leads a terrorist organization, while the other led a terrorist government."

And Andrew C. McCarthy takes a detailed, critical look at the 9/11 commission's report and how the media are presenting it: Iraq & al Qaeda: The 9/11 Commission raises more questions than it answers. (Via Little Green Footballs)

This is clear -- if anything in this regard can be said to be "clear" -- from the staff's murky but carefully phrased summation sentence, which is worth parsing since it is already being gleefully misreported: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." (Italics mine.) That is, the staff is not saying al Qaeda and Iraq did cooperate -- far from it. The staff seems to be saying: "they appear to have cooperated but we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that they worked in tandem on a specific terrorist attack, such as 9/11, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or the embassy bombings."

[...]al Qaeda is a full-time terrorist organization -- it does not have the same pretensions as, say, Sinn Fein or Hamas, to be a part-time political party. Al Qaeda's time is fully devoted to conducting terrorist attacks and planning terrorist attacks. Thus, if a country cooperates with al Qaeda, it is cooperating in (or facilitating, abetting, promoting -- you choose the euphemism) terrorism. What difference should it make that no one can find an actual bomb that was once in Saddam's closet and ended up at the Cole's hull? If al Qaeda and Iraq were cooperating, they had to be cooperating on terrorism, and as al Qaeda made no secret that it existed for the narrow purpose of inflicting terrorism on the United States, exactly what should we suppose Saddam was hoping to achieve by cooperating with bin Laden?

Glenn Reynolds has more on the subject here and here.

UPDATE June 18: From CNN: Putin: Russia warned U.S. of Iraq terror.

Posted by Forkum at June 17, 2004 10:05 PM