It was only a matter of time before the Republican bloggers found a new myth to counter this report, CIA Learned in ’02 That Bin Laden Had No Iraq Ties, Report Says (link fixed)
The CIA learned in late September 2002 from a high-level member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle that Iraq had no past or present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader considered bin Laden an enemy of the Baghdad regime, according to a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Although President Bush and other senior administration officials were at that time regularly linking Hussein to al-Qaeda, the CIA’s highly sensitive intelligence supporting the contrary view was apparently not passed on to the White House or senior Bush policymakers.
So like drowning rats on a spongecake canoe conservatives bloggers have lashed themselves to this thin gruel from that pinnacle of journalism the New York Sun, Iraqi Official Testifies to Links Between Saddam and Al Qaeda
A deputy prime minister of Iraq yesterday offered a sharp contradiction of the conventional wisdom here that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Al Qaeda had no connection before the 2003 war, flatly contradicting a recent report from the Senate’s intelligence committee.
A Kurdish politician who took his high school exams from inside a Baathist prison, Mr. Salih said he was the target of the alliance between jihadists, Baathists, and Al Qaeda in 2001, when a group known as Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him. In 2002, envoys of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two Kurdish parties sharing sovereignty over northern Iraq between the two Iraq wars, presented the CIA with evidence that the organization that tried to kill Mr. Salih had been in part funded and directed by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.
Those words directly contradict a recent report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that declassified a 2005 CIA assessment of Iraq’s pre-war ties to Al Qaeda and found that none existed. In an interview after the speech yesterday, Mr. Salih said he was unaware of the CIA assessment. But he added, “There were links between Ansar al-Islam and Al Qaeda. The information at time [in 2002] was quite different. Now, we could not prove this in a court of law, but this is intelligence.”
The Senate’s report declassifies a July 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency study of Ansar al-Islam as a possible link between Saddam’s Iraq and Al Qaeda that concludes that, even if it can be proven, as Mr. Salih at the time alleged, that the Baathist regime supported the group, “it will not necessarily implicate the regime in supporting Al Qaeda.” The DIA concludes that Ansar al-Islam “receives assistance” from Al Qaeda but is not a branch of the terrorist organization.
Who is Barham Salih, the man who says he knows for certain that Saddam had Al Qaeda connections. He is an engineer who left Kuristan in 1979 after which he lived in London. One has to wonder how a man that left northern Iraq and could never have had intimate knowledge of the workings of Saddam’s inner circle knows for a fact that there were links to Al Queda. He claims that Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him which may be true, but Ansar al-Islam was dedicated to fighting the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of who Salih was a member. Ansar operated in northern Iraq, an area outside of Saddam’s control. Ansar is reported to have had connections to Al Queda, but there is no evidence what so ever that Ansar was supported by Saddam. That doesn’t stop conservative blogger The Jawa Report from trying to make the connection no matter how tenuous, Iraqi Minister: Saddam Was Tied to al Qaeda, September 14, 2006, Posted by Dr. Rusty Shackleford at September 14, 2006 02:19 PM
If you still don’t believe Saddam supported terrorists, well then you are just ignorant. If, however, the larger point is that Saddam had no connection to 9/11, then your point is well taken.
He links to the article and supplies no evidence, then concludes, If you still don’t believe Saddam supported terrorists, well then you are just ignorant.
Jawa has done a nice little dance here. A terrorists group was in northern Iraq. This group had some ties to Al Queda. Then great leaping logic, Saddam had ties to terrorists. By this reasoning if you have heroin dealers living on your street then you have connections to drug dealers.
John(Assrocket) at Time magazine’s former blog of the year, September 14, 2006, Quick, Someone Tell the Intelligence Committee!, Posted by John at 10:42 AM
This last point is the kind of sophistry that defenders of Saddam are forced to resort to. There is no doubt that Ansar al Islam was a dangerous terrorist group; among its activities was the production of ricin to be used in terrorist acts in Europe. The left’s conventional defense of Ansar al Islam is that it was located in the northern part of Iraq, and therefore under the presumed dominion of the Kurds. But so what? They were in Iraq, and Saddam not only tolerated but supported them. The Kurds had no ability to drive them out. The idea that Saddam is insulated from al Qaeda because Ansar was only supported by al Qaeda, but was not a “branch” of al Qaeda, is the kind of silliness liberals engage in on this issue. Ansar was a terrorist Islamic group, and Saddam both harbored and supported them.
Assrocket doesn’t acknowledge that Barham Salih left Iraq in 1979 and might be speaking more as a gossip with a grudge rather then someone knowledgable of the secret political machinations of Saddam’s regime. Salih in the article states , “Now, we could not prove this in a court of law..” Which Assrocket and Jawa conviently ignored. It probably wouldn’t matter anyway, Salih has said what they wanted to hear. As to the, ” Saddam not only tolerated but supported them” (them is Ansar). Yet I can find no proof at all that Ansar, a radical and very fundamentalist Islamic organization had any ties or support from Saddam. This kind of fact checking is exactly the kind of things liberals do. Its obviously a thorn in Assrocket’s side. The facts just do not lend credibility to his claims no matter how hard he beats the drums of far right agiprop. Assrocket sights Saddam’s conflict with Iran as one reason he had to be removed, that would be the conflict where Iraq had the full support of Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and Colin Powell. Another sad attempt by the fringe Right to somehow justify the fact that more Americans have died in Iraq then died on 9-11. Odd fact given that the invasion of Iraq was supposed to make the US and the world safer. Saddam was beyond redemption but ironically the neocons answer to Saddam’s brutality has been to kill over 60,000 Iraqis and have most of the rest of the population live without basic amenities like electricity and clean water.
For right-wing blogger Macsmind the facts are indeed awful things, so awful that he is pissed, About that Senate Intelligence Report on Saddam and Al Qaeda, Posted by Macranger on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 at 10:51 am.
You know, this isn’t about politics folks, but that’s what it has become. Democrats could care less about security or intelligence, they’re only concern is defeating President Bush in 2006 and 2008 (even though he isn’t running). It’s about “he said, she said, they said”, but not about the facts and the fact is that if anyone thinks Saddam and Al Qaeda weren’t linked has their head up their ass, it’s just that simple.
Mac is a believer, he believes, that makes it true and no facts, no evidence will change his mind. He is the Robert Cardinal Bellarmine of wing-nuttery determined to fight against the Copernican theory to the death. If you dare to question Mac he’ll slap you with his ad hominem. He is correct that it is all about politics, not is what is best for America or humanity. He sights neocon poster boy Stephen Hayes as more definitive proof of the Saddam-Al-Queda connection, but Steve has some credibility problems, Stephen Hayes: Conservatives’ favorite authority on “The Connection”
The most vigorous critique of Hayes’s article came from a November 19, 2003, Newsweek article titled “Case Decidedly Not Closed: The Defense Dept. memo allegedly proving a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam does nothing of the sort,” in which Investigative Correspondents Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball wrote that Hayes’s article was “mostly based on unverified claims that were first advanced by some top Bush administration officials more than a year ago — and were largely discounted at the time by the U.S. intelligence community, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.
We all get the idea and lets state this strange event in the simplest terms, rather then believe a report by the Republican dominated Senate Intelligence commitee Republican bloggers would rather believe an expatriot Kurd that lived in London for the 24 years before Bush elected to invade Iraq. It would be nice if conspiracy theories balanced out, the 9-11 conspiracy theorists that think it was an inside job canceling out the conspiracy theorists that insist there was a connection between Saddam and Al Queda. Unfortunately both are like some creeping alien mold that can’t be reasoned with.
The following is from the Columbia Journalism Review. I’ve left it out of blockquotes in order to make it easier to read. It is part of a response to reporters of the Los Angeles Times and Knight Ridder to a letter written by neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Bold emphasis is mine.
[ Jonathan S. Landay responds:Mr. Chalabi is correct that on April 3, 2004, Knight Ridder published a story that quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying that the Iraqi National Congress supplied the Iraqi defector code-named “Curveball.” He is also right that the Silberman-Robb commission found that the defector wasn’t connected to the INC.
He fails to mention, however, that a defector who was provided by the INC and later determined to have been a fabricator was used to corroborate Curveball’s false claims about Iraqi mobile biological warfare facilities. Chalabi also neglects to acknowledge that after learning that the Silberman-Robb commission had concluded that the INC had not provided Curveball, Knight Ridder reported that on March 29, 2005 — two days before the Silberman-Robb report was released.
Further, Chalabi is wrong to assert that in its extensive reporting on pre-war Iraqi intelligence, Knight Ridder portrayed his organization as “the main source of U.S. intelligence on Saddam.” In fact, much of our reporting was about the intense clashes between U.S. officials who wanted to use information provided by the INC and others who were deeply suspicious of INC-supplied information.
Chalabi also claims that the Silberman-Robb commission found that INC-related sources had a minimal impact on the Bush administration’s pre-war assessments. This is true only with respect to the formal intelligence assessments the commission was charged with examining. His assertion sidesteps two equally critical issues:
* The commission did not examine the use of INC-supplied defectors’ claims by the Bush administration, which also was receiving some materials directly from the INC’s U.S.-funded Information Gathering Program — unfiltered for accuracy by the Intelligence Community. In a June 26, 2002, letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff, the INC itself reported that it was providing information directly to a senior official in the office of the vice president and to another one in the office of the secretary of defense.
* Nor did the commission examine the impact on U.S. and international public opinion of the multitude of media stories alleging that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was training terrorists, stories that were based on interviews with defectors and other information that the INC supplied to print and electronic news media. The INC’s own June 26, 2002, letter lists 108 stories containing information it fed to journalists during a five-month period beginning in October 2001. Much of that information, it later turned out, was exaggerated or fabricated.
*A case in point: When President Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 12, 2002, the White House released a background paper titled “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism. This paper was distributed to foreign governments, members of U.S. and international journalists, and it remains available to the general public on the White House Web site . The first item in the chapter entitled “Saddam Hussein’s Development of Weapons of Mass Destruction” is a claim by an INC-supplied defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, a chemical engineer, that he had visited twenty secret nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons sites. The White House published this claim even though DIA and CIA interrogators nine months earlier had rejected Mr. Saeed as unreliable after he flunked a lie detector test by the CIA in Thailand. When he was brought back to Iraq by the Iraq Survey Group after the war, Mr. Saeed was unable to identify a single WMD facility. Mr. Saeed’s claim was also the focus of the lead story in The New York Times on Dec. 20, 2001, and was picked up and reproduced by other media outlets.
*In a chapter entitled “Saddam Hussein’s Support for International Terrorism,” the White House paper claimed that, “Former Iraqi military officers have described a highly secret terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations.” This allegation came from two INC-supplied defectors, Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, a former Iraqi army captain, and Brig. Gen. Abu Zeinab al Quairy, the purported commander of the training facility. Both men were rejected as unreliable by U.S. intelligence professionals. Nevertheless, the White House published their claims. Their claims, including suggestions that the September 11 hijackers may have been trained at the alleged facility, also appeared in the American and British media. After the invasion, the only training facility found at Salman Pak was determined by U.S. officials to have been used by Iraqi counter-terrorism units. ]
Bush and his administration are serial fabricators and it is all about the politics of manipulation.