Friday, January 20, 2006

Osama & Saddam Were In Cahoots

Think Saddam Hussein didn't harbor or abet terrorists, much less work hand-in-glove with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization? Well you'd better think that out again. For background, consider that part of the meritless charge that President George W. Bush "lied us into war" in Iraq stemmed from the allegation that Mr. Bush or his representatives claimed that Saddam actually helped plan or directly assisted the 9/11 terrorists. Of course, they never made such a claim. But they did say that Saddam sponsored terrorism and that he had clear ties to al-Qaida. Those assertions have always been true, and now the evidence is becoming more and more definitive.
Osama bin Laden & Saddam Hussein
Conservative sources such as The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal editorial page have jumped all over the new evidence. But they aren't the only ones. Newsweek magazine, which could never be accused of conservative leanings, posted on its Web site several weeks ago a series of Pentagon slides summarizing solid intelligence about the nefarious Saddam-terrorism connections. For example, in 1998: "Zawahiri visits Baghdad and meets with Iraqi vice president." Ayman al-Zawahiri is the No. 2 man in al-Qaida -- the guy who frequently is seen on videotape making threats against the United States. He's the guy an American drone aircraft tried to kill with a bomb last week that killed at least 18 people. In 1999: "IIS Iraqi Intelligence Service officials meet OBL bin Laden in Afghanistan; additional contacts through Iraq's embassy in Pakistan." And, after a host of such reports, the official "findings" page lists these conclusions:
"More than a decade of numerous contacts."
"Multiple areas of cooperation."
"Shared anti-U.S. goals and common bellicose rhetoric."
"Shared interest and pursuit of WMD."
"Some indications of Iraqi coordination with al-Qaida specifically related to 9/11."
All of this was from a Pentagon report in 2002. Critics could write that off, mistakenly, as yet another example of bad pre-war intelligence, except that a treasure trove of documents captured in Iraq after the war confirm and amplify those earlier reports. For that matter, the independent 9/11 commission confirmed that Iraq and al-Qaida were in frequent contact. Of some 2 million documents and computer drives recovered from Saddam's regime, only 50,000 have so far been analyzed. The Bush administration, having been burned so badly on pre-war intelligence concerning deadly weapons, does not seem to be in a hurry to re-fight the Iraq-as-terrorist-state public-relations battle. But the administration should work to speed up the analysis of these documents, and disseminate them publicly. The American people deserve to know the evidence of how important it was to topple Saddam's regime.