Kevin Drum's Amnesia
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Breaking News — Comments (16) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
In this rather snarky post, Kevin Drum dismisses this ABC News video detailing contacts between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda by saying that "this is nothing new." Well, it doesn't have to be "new" to have value, of course. The value comes in reminding people that once upon a time, there was a powerful consensus on the belief that Saddam and Osama had ties and that said consensus helped formulate policy on Iraq in both the Clinton and the Bush Administrations.
Kevin then snarkily offers up the 9/11 Commission Report "for those with short memories." Here is what Kevin excerpts:
Around [March 1997] Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response.
....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....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.
....But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship.
Quoth Kevin, "And that's it."
Well, no. That's not "it."
Consider what Dan Darling wrote about the Senate Intelligence Committee Report. Be sure to read the whole thing for all of the information, but here is just a teaser:
In general, this document is a lot better than that Staff Statement No. 15 that was churned out by the 9/11 commission. One other thing to be mentioned, incidentally, is that this report specifically undercuts some of the 9/11 Commission's key findings with respect to Iraq and al-Qaeda. It cites post-1999 contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, which the 9/11 commission claims to possess no information on. Perhaps someone should hand the commission members a copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee report?
Also, this demolishes 2 of Richard Clarke's key claims with respect to Iraq: that there was no Iraqi involvement in terrorism post-1993, and that there is no evidence whatsoever of Iraqi support for al-Qaeda. Both of these claims, to put it quite simply, can now be shown to be factually untrue.
Consider what Lee Hamilton, the Democratic Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission himself said about Iraq-al Qaeda ties:
Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton blasted the mainstream press yesterday for distorting the Commission's findings on links between Iraq and al-Qaida, saying those findings actually support Bush administration contentions.
"The sharp differences that the press has drawn [between the White House and the Commission] are not that apparent to me," Hamilton told the Associated Press, a day after insisting that his probe uncovered "all kinds" of connections between Osama bin Laden's terror network and Iraq.
Hamilton's comments followed a deluge of mainstream reports falsely claiming that the 9/11 Commission had discredited the Bush administration's claim of longstanding links between Baghdad and bin Laden.
But the Indiana Democrat said the press accounts were flat-out wrong.
"There are all kinds of ties," he told PBS's "The News Hour" late Wednesday, in comments that establishment journalists have refused to report.
"There are all kinds of connections. And it may very well have been that Osama bin Laden or some of his lieutenants met at some time with Saddam Hussein's lieutenants."
Consider what James Joyner wrote, making clear that while there is little to no evidence that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks, there is plenty of evidence linking him and his regime to al Qaeda on other operational matters.
And consider as well the 1998 Justice Department indictment of al Qaeda, which includes the following passage:
Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.
Once more: While the case cannot be made that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, there is plenty of evidence to show that there was an operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda on a whole host of other matters. And "a subscription to Nexis" is not necessary to find all of this information. Just access to Google.