neljapäev, juuni 17, 2004

Dana Milbank's the Man

And Walter Pincus is alright too.

The response of the Bush administration and its allies to yesterday's 9/11 report has been to argue that Bush only said al Qaeda and Saddam had "contacts", "links", or "ties" and that this did not imply cooperation. Well, first of all, "links" and "ties" do imply cooperation and anybody who says otherwise is either lying or completely blinded by partisanship. Or they're so stupid that they actually think we went to war with Iraq because it refused to support al Qaeda after being contacted.

This is where Milbank and Pincus come in. The accompanying article contains more references, including:

In late 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official before the attacks, in April 2000 in Prague; Cheney later said the meeting could not be proved or disproved.

Bush, in his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, asserted: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding."

In September, Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press": "If we're successful in Iraq . . . then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

Speaking about Iraq's alleged links to al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney connected Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by saying that newly found Iraqi intelligence files in Baghdad showed that a participant in the bombing returned to Iraq and "probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." He added: "The Iraqi government or the Iraqi intelligence service had a relationship with al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s."

Shortly after Cheney asserted these links, Bush contradicted him, saying: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th." But Bush added: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties."

In January, Cheney repeated his view that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda, saying that "there's overwhelming evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. He said he was "very confident there was an established relationship there."

The commission staff, in yesterday's report, said that while bin Laden was in Sudan between 1991 and 1996, a senior Iraqi intelligence officer made three visits to Sudan, and that he had a meeting with bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden was reported to have sought training camps and assistance in getting weapons, "but Iraq never responded," the staff said. The report said that bin Laden "at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan."

As for the Atta meeting in Prague mentioned by Cheney, the commission staff concluded: "We do not believe that such a meeting occurred." It cited FBI photographic and telephone evidence, along with Czech and U.S. investigations, as well as reports from detainees, including the Iraqi official with whom Atta was alleged to have met. On the 1993 trade center bombing, the staff found "substantial uncertainty" about whether bin Laden and al Qaeda were involved.

In other words, anyone who tells you the 9/11 report doesn't contradict Bush's statements is quite simply lying to you. Kick them in the nuts.

Also, read that last sentence of the excerpt again. We're not sure al Qaeda was behind the first WTC attack? Shouldn't that be bigger news?

More on the lying here, here, here, and toward the very end of this.

And with that, I say fuck you, Glenn Reynolds.

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